a spontaneous performance on a borrowed flute
A week ago, I got a text from a Filipina friend from church, inviting me to an outdoor, distanced dinner that day. "Bring your flute," she said. "We have a couple new friends for you to meet."
If I weren't a relatively spontaneous person, I might not have responded well to this.
Not only was my flute in the repair shop, but the flute I was borrowing was a student model. So I'd taken the week off from practicing, to avoid developing bad habits on a cheap instrument.
But as performances tend to go — at least, the spontaneous, outdoor ones — it was all about the joy of sharing my sound with a human audience.
My audience was a small circle of other Filipinas in Pittsburgh. To eat home-cooked Filipino food (!) with them, to listen as they spoke in English and Tagalog about their experiences as immigrants to the USA — it was a simple, organic version of everything I dreamed of organizing for my BXA capstone.
On request, I played whatever I could remember of "Ama Namin" by Manuel V. Francisco. Here are a couple excerpts:
Though unprepared & rough-around-the-edges, this was everything missing from my previous flute-post, in which I recorded a solo video for a senior home:
To know that what I'm playing is meaningful, even familiar to my audience.
The warm yet somewhat-elusive feeling of connection with people who share your ethnic background, especially as minorities.
Being able to see who I'm playing for. Knowing they can see me, and how vulnerable it is to perform.
The similarly-elusive connection among women who are in vastly different stages in life, yet share a sense of origin, language, food, faith, and culture.
Living and working in Squirrel Hill, I find it impossible to deny that my appearance sets me apart as "Other." That evening, I remembered how precious it is to belong.