Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Making the Earth Move

On Tuesday morning I was in Encinitas playing some Chopin on a friend's piano. Just as I was approaching a loud climax, my friend who was sitting nearby said, "Paul, stop playing!" At first this seemed oddly out of character for her because I thought I was playing rather well at the moment. But then a split second later I noticed the mirrors shaking on the other side of the room and felt the floor rumbling beneath me. Since moving to southern California 18 years ago we have had very few earthquakes, and most go unnoticed by me (deep observer that I am). Still the this was an amazing, even if unsettling, phenomenon to experience. The weird thing about this trembler was the close synchronization of the vibration with the music I was playing at the time. For a moment the shaking did not seem incongruous to me at all, but rather that it belonged as part of the composition. A short while later the story of the quake was leading news coverage and we learned that it had measured 5.4 (rather mild) with no significant damage or loss of life. Later in the day I had a rehearsal at the church where I will be playing tomorrow evening. When I got to the moment in the music where I had been interrupted earlier in the day by the quake I had to laugh at myself when I wondered if I would ever play well enough to make the earth move again.

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