RIP, Reynaldo Reyes

My husband’s piano teacher at Towson University passed away last night. I only met Reynaldo Reyes a handful of times – a few years ago when we came to visit Baltimore and stopped in at his office and Bill introduced me to him, 2 years ago at a recital given by his piano trio, and a little less than a year ago, at his retirement recital and celebration. His musicianship was stellar – I did not have the opportunity to hear him at the peak of his performing career, but the strength and intensity of his playing in the two performances I did see were extremely impressive.  At last year’s event, I was struck by the glowing accolades given by his former students and colleagues of his pedagogical brilliance. I wish I had blogged while the insights from that event were still fresh in my mind. I might have journaled them somewhere, but I don’t use paper journals anymore. (My journal app has a password and no one has it but me, so if I die suddenly, no one will read any of my secrets or whatever vitriol I may have directed on any particular day.) If I find my notes or suddenly have a vivid recollection of what impressed me the most that day, it will be fodder for another blog entry.

I don’t want to make this about ME and say, “I hope my students will speak like that about me when I’m done teaching,” because I wrote an obituary about Alfredo Kraus once for Classical Singer magazine, and a very self-indulgent and famous mezzo I contacted to ask for her insights said pretty much that and it struck me as “It’s not about YOU, lady!” But at the same time, I do hope that I can have even half the impact on my students, personally and professionally, that Reynaldo Reyes had on his students, from my husband and his peers to his most recent charges, including Will Zellhoffer, who will begin his collegiate collaborative piano studies in the fall at Goucher. (Hopefully Will will be my studio pianist in the future – I’m kind of grooming him to be the Baltimore equivalent of Ryan Cappleman.)

My husband hasn’t talked much about his feelings since he got the message that Professor Reyes had passed away last night. He did get to visit him in hospice the day before, so he was able to say goodbye to him. I know that Reynaldo Reyes was a significant influence in his life and many other lives and that he will be missed.

What cabaret means to me

This weekend, I was part of a cabaret performance entitled LoveSICK at An Die Musik on Charles Street in Baltimore. The theme of the show was dysfunctional love songs – whether the songs were inherently dysfunctional or we just performed them with a twist (and believe me, some of them were quite twisted) – and I sang them with Dyana Neal, Steven Lampredi, Jim Knost, and Sean Powell, who also served (brilliantly) as our pianist. We had a full house of wonderful, appreciative folks and it was a great place to sing!

What I like about cabaret is the avenue for self-expression it provides. It’s not about being background music, singing songs for people drinking and talking at private tables who really don’t care what you’re doing. In fact, I will split with the traditional definition that the audience has to be seated at individual tables for it to be considered a cabaret and not a concert. Maybe the former setting is a cabaret setting, but I think cabaret can exist as a genre that is not defined by its setting.

I just read an article that said cabaret “is an overlapping group of constantly mutating forms of performance that can’t be pinned down.” It is also referred to “transgressive, upending everyday ideas about art and bodies, politics and sex, provoking as well as pleasing. It loves you but sometimes it likes to see you squirm.” This goes along with my friend Michael Tan’s post after our show as, “I laughed, I cried, I was scared, it became a part of me.” THAT’s what cabaret should do. Be funny, be vulnerable, be sexy, be challenging. And I want to do more of it. Here and elsewhere. NYC, Chicago, wherever. 

And maybe next year we’ll do another version of LoveSICK. LoveSICKER? LoveSICK, the Relapse? (That last one was Dyana’s suggestion – I kind of like LoveSICKER.)