8 assignments, 7 rehearsals, 6 work shifts, 5 class days left!

The campus has certainly been buzzing with excitement and anticipation as we move into our final week of classes here on the hill. The music department has been as busy as ever, with several concerts last week,  and the iconic lessons and carols coming up this week! Personally, I performed in our chamber music recital, and soon will participate in the end of the semester student concert, and lessons and carols with the orchestra, which will take place in  Brooks Concert Hall  and St. Joseph Chapel respectively.

One of my final assignments for my Montserrat seminar, entitled “The Theology of Making,” is to tell a five-minute Moth-style  story about something we made. I chose to tell mine about a decision I made — the decision to study music.

I started taking violin lessons when I was 4 years old, so music had always been a part of my life. However, complaining about music had also always been a part of my life. I typically spent more time figuring out how to get out of going to my lesson that week than actually practicing.

It’s no surprise then, that one day, when I was around 10 years old, before my lesson that week, my mom and I sat in the parking lot of the music store, where we were buying new strings and music. While she scrolled on her phone, I watched as a girl with a cello case — big and colorful, unlike my boring, black cloth violin case — stride into the store.

I thought that her case, and that she had an instrument that was as big as her was the coolest thing ever, and without thinking, I said, “I think playing the cello would be fun.”

The problem was, my mom thought I was serious. She turned and asked me if I wanted to play one. Ever the little schemer, I said “sure, why not?–” I was hoping that we’d go back in the store, waste some time, and maybe even forget about my violin lesson.

With no other planning on my part, suddenly I was back the music shop, trying out cellos. Then were driving to my first lesson. When my new teacher asked me why I wanted to play cello — after all, I had been playing violin for years — I just told them I liked the sound. I figured saying that I didn’t, and that it was all a big misunderstanding was a little too honest.

What happened next occurred so gradually that I didn’t even notice it was happening — like when you see a few snowflakes falling, and then you wake up to half a foot of snow the next morning.

When it came time for audition season that year, my parents encouraged me to try out for orchestras on violin and cello — they figured that I would be placed in a higher orchestra on violin, but that the audition would give me some good practice on cello.

To our surprise, when the audition results came back, I was placed in the same level orchestra on both instruments — I had made the same amount of progress on cello in 2 years that I had made on violin in 6.

That year, I played in orchestra on cello, eventually quitting violin altogether.

Finally, in December 2019, my conductor invited the front chairs of each section in the orchestra to play in a special nutcracker pit orchestra, accompanying the local ballet theatre in their winter production. I hesitantly said yes, and he made me the principal cellist, first chair.

Although covid put orchestra, chamber music, and competitions on pause the next year, I kept recording performances, and practicing — after all, what else could I do?

The next year we did nutcracker was 2021. I was made the principal cellist again, and this time, I couldn’t wait. I had become best friends with my stand partner in orchestra, and we talked every day. I looked forward to our rehearsals every night, watching the music slowly come together. I couldn’t wait to hear the cheering from the audience again, to look up from the orchestra pit at the dancers.

It took until halfway through our last performance to realize that I wouldn’t be coming back. It was my last time with that beloved music, that conductor, and those late-night rehearsals. It was my last time putting a Santa hat on my cello, and sightreading duets with my stand partner during the intermission.

I had promised myself and everyone around me that I would never study music, but in that moment, I knew that I didn’t want that performance to be my last. I knew that despite every vow and promise to the contrary, I had fallen in love with the cello — I had fallen in love with the blisters on my fingers from the strings and the rosin marks on my pants, with the hours of long rehearsals and with the constant critique and struggle to play better.

Much like my coming here, one of the largest sources of joy and meaning in my life came about completely by accident. If that isn’t something to be grateful for this Advent season, I’m not sure what is!

Dogs, Spiders, and Monkeys – Oh my!

This past weekend was Family Weekend and Halloweekend (Halloween Weekend) — an exciting and busy combination! Some highlights from the long weekend included:

the incredible view from my parent’s airbnb!
my parents and I on our mini tour!

-Relaxing with my parents in their Airbnb, where they had the most amazing view of the New England color change, and, more importantly, of their host’s three golden retrievers!

 

-Giving my parents a personal tour of campus, featuring my favorite study spots (one of which is directly in front of a mural of a spider) in the Science Complex and Dinand Library, the best shortcuts up and down the hill, and of course, my favorite foods at Kimball.

one of the views in the park!

 

-Exploring Blackstone Gateway Park and admiring all the varieties of plants and animals that call it their home!

my boyfriend and I went as Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat!

 

-Attending the HC orchestra Halloween Party, which featured a costume contest (which my boyfriend and I won!) and an egg hunt through the Prior Performing Arts Center (PPAC). 

Now it’s back to work, with a physics exam and a music theory midterm this week! (and the countdown begins until thanksgiving…)

The Hand of Christ

There is a bronze figure that sits, centered on the middle plateau of the steps, leading into Dinand Library: a hand, black and shining, pierced by a nail through the center of its’ palm, its fingers impossibly relaxed, reaching upwards, always shining with either the glint of the sun or the gentle sheen of raindrops. Reluctantly trudging up the stairs to tackle the day’s homework inside, walking across the front brick pathway to Smith, running down the steps to our class in Stein, it is seemingly impossible to ignore. It quite literally stands in one’s way; whatever path you take, it must be around that towering figure. Yet, it took me two weeks – 14 days of walking by – to stop and see its’ name: “The Hand of Christ.”

A 68" by 23" by 8" bronze hand and forearm. The hand is pointing up and outstretched with the thumb, index and middle fingers raised while the ring and pinkie fingers are curled inward. A spike is driven through the palm of the hand and the forearm shows welts. The figure sits on a granite base set on a brick landing. (via waymarking).
This awe-inspiring statue was crafted by Ezno Plazzotta in 1966.

As a freshman, one of the biggest questions we’re asked is, “why are you here?”. To that, I have no good answer. Unlike many students here, who have grown up as ‘crusaders,’ knowing that this was their first-choice school, I didn’t know Holy Cross existed until around this time last year. It was late one evening, sitting at my desk, panicking over college applications, that I was decided to look for schools that I could add to my list of choices. Desperate, and having no idea where to begin, I googled “Catholic Colleges,” and for no particular reason, I clicked on the link to “College of the Holy Cross.” The rest is history.

Quite like “The Hand of Christ,” that, despite having to walk past each day, multiple times a day, I took no notice of, I have often dismissed my finding of Holy Cross that night as chance: a random, lucky event. Apparently, it takes a massive bronze sign to catch my attention and make me realize that my coming here was no accident; it truly was the hand of Christ.

The figure is, in many ways, a gruesome sight to behold. No interior designer would tell you to decorate your space with a disembodied hand, let alone one pierced by a nail. Yet, every morning, as I walk past that figure, I smile. It is a reminder that He, a very human God, who has done everything (and much more) before me, has a better plan than I do. It is a reminder that good things, sometimes, are only a google search away.