New York is full of hyper-achievers. I saw a clip of Garrison Keeler once on American Masters where he said that within five minutes of landing in a New York airport, he already feels like he’s got to start working on something lest he fall behind the productive masses here. The downsides of this are complicated and too obfuscated to explore here, but the advantages to this condition are clear when you’ve got the opportunity to work with some of the genius busy bodies. As a musician, I’m constantly amazed at the number of folks I run into doing hard things simply because there are hard things to do. There are chamber groups, new music groups, composer/performers etc who are constantly creating new mountains to climb (Peter Evans comes to mind as someone creating mountains that won’t be climbed again for many years…) whether someone wants to come hear it or not. Money, prestige, notoriety…all seem to take a back seat to the complex pleasure of accomplishing something that few others could.
A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of working with a roomful of these folks at the Talea Ensemble, as they put together a few performances of Beat Furrer’s epic Fama, and if the group had consisted of anything less than hyper-achievers, a work like Fama wouldn’t have been pulled off. Instead though, it was 80 minutes of colors, rumbles, textures, bleats, and beauty that I was super humbled to be a part of. Thanks New York.