A Whale of a Ride

The December 9, 2012 performance on the Lake Forest Lyrica concert series marked a special day for Fifth House Ensemble — our first with new 5HE pianist Jani Parsons.  While we’ve played a couple of performances with Jani already, Black Violet in Detroit in October and at fresh inc 2012, this performance was Jani’s first performance as an official ensemble member.  It was a thrilling and exciting concert, and we’re ecstatic to continue our journey as artists with Jani on the team.  I asked Jani to reflect on her experience joining 5HE over the holidays, and she sent me this gem of a blog post.  Please forgive the quality of the photos; I snuck a few on my iPhone during sound check.  Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Jani Parsons!


I love airplanes and amusement parks…. the thrill of whooshing through space at breakneck speeds, the tug that gravity gives you when lifting off, and the elation of being suspended!  But no roller coaster could have prepared me for these past few months… in short, it has been a whale of a ride!

I was overwhelmed with joy and humbled by the incredible offer to join Fifth House Ensemble in late-November.  In short, I feel completely amazed at life’s great shifts and possibilities and am thrilled to be moving to Chicago, joining hands with some of the city’s finest musicians, and being part of such an outstanding team of artistic leaders.

My first concert as an official 5HE member took place at Lake Forest College as part of their Lake Forest Lyrica concert series on December 9th.  I was really excited to play on so many awesome pieces on the program, but especially Vox Balaenae by George Crumb, a work I had dreamed of playing for some time.

There are some pieces that really suspend or capture time, much like a roller coaster suspends matter, and for me it is a similar thrill.  Donning a mask and entering into that world represents a landmark for me, a mark in time, a transition to a new life-phase.

Interestingly enough, that is the theme of 5HE’s series this season, Caught. I am still juggling academic life at the University of Michigan, a church job, students, and this new move with the ensemble, and it is a time of overwhelming pressure and overlap. I am choosing to think of it as amusement park, and although I am frantically running from one ride to the next, there is a great joy in being scared and excited all at once, and just learning to trust that I will survive!

Creating moments of suspension and allowing oneself to simply be and float on that great body of time is, for me, one of the greatest joys of being a musician. The Lake Forest Lyrica concert was a memorable one, and that’s not even mentioning the humor and beauty in Poulenc’s Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Copland’s singing-and-sparkling Flute and Piano Duo, or the red lipstick required for Piazzolla’s Grand Tango!

What a great way to start off my journey with 5HE! It was exciting to see familiar faces from Michigan in the audience, and I know there are many great things in the future. So, as we embark on 2013, enjoy the wild ride, friends!

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