It is hard to explain in words what it was like to watch Nita walk onstage of storied and beautiful Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis last Sunday, home of our world-renowned Minnesota Orchestra. And walk she did with her characteristic strength, determination, and beauty. It was a watershed moment for me as her performance drew upon and synthesized all elements - spoken and unspoken - experienced during the eleven plus years we have worked together. Her appearance on stage was a golden-hued arch carrying me from when she was a "cute as a button" five year old to the mature young lady of sixteen who lives, thinks, feels, and performs much beyond her years. It was a surreal experience.
I have always said that Nita's playing and approach to her work was the perfect balance of the intuitive and conceptual. Jo Anne and I preach this endlessly. Nita exhibited this balance when she was five and it has grown exponentially to today. It is as clear to me today as it was then. Nita has achieved this at the highest possible level. I told her the other day that . . . "her hands had become the music". She was astonished by this comment and may have thought at first blush that it was another one of my "corny jokes" as she puts it. But what I meant by this is that her mind, heart, soul, hands, and entire body had become one with the music. It is a profoundly elevated existence experienced by very few of even the most distinguished artists. It is as if there are no barriers between her inner soulful life as a young artist and the music that comes from her hands.
In the finals, Nita performed the second and third movements of one of Chopin's greatest masterpieces: the Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Opus 21. Chopin himself believed that the slow movement represented one of the two greatest melodies to ever flow from his pen. Nita played this movement with her characteristically exquisite golden tone. It floated, caressed, and pierced the heart all the way to the back of the hall. The beyond belief beauty of the melody was delivered on a multi-colored cloud. It was free yet disciplined. It was spiritual yet deeply human. It brought tears to the eyes as her playing often does. The third movement is a vivacious Mazurka filled with the most difficult and thorny technical challenges for the pianist. Nita played it at breakneck speed. It was on the edge right where I wanted her. But she never faltered. Nita has a wild side (which her mother and I can attest) which completes her artistic portrait. She delivered this movement with a wild and breathtaking elan made more potent by its' virtual perfection. Everything was there. It was brilliant.
As a result of this prize, Nita won $1,500. and the opportunity to perform multiple times with the Minnesota Orchestra during the 2019-2020 season. This will be
another watershed moment.
Yours in Music -
Joe & Jo Anne