written by Mel Hsu
The first time and only time I played this piece, I was 16 years old and fearless. We were just a bunch of kids on a farm in rural Canada, gathered in a crooked barn with our wooden instruments after dinnertime. The sun always took its time to set over the fields – the entire sky painted in a blood orange wash. (Distracted and in deep awe, we were always late to orchestra for this reason). By the time we found our seats, the barn walls held us holy in an old barn reverent with magic and vulnerability.
I will admit, Mozetich’s “Postcards from the Sky” made me fall in love for the first time that summer. Yes, with a boy – But also with myself, with music and with everything around me. At the conductor’s downbeat, the entire world seemed to make complete sense, even if just for a moment. The violins fluttered something of another world. Each note plucked on the cello felt like the most intentional act my fingers had ever known. When we picked up our instruments to play together, it was as if we were holding each other tightly to say: “Hey, I know this world can be scary and uncertain sometimes. But I see you. And I’m here.
Life pulsated so honestly and so fearlessly in those moments.
We were a bunch of kids on a farm learning what it was to create something enormous and transcendent with the collection of our bare hands – something that none of us could have created on our own. There was an unspoken understanding that, by playing together, we had finally discovered a way to do justice to the intimacy that existed between all of us. That summer was the first time I understood music as a sacred conversation of all that we do not yet know the words for.
Mel Hsu is a cellist, composer and educator based in Philadelphia. She finds deep joy in the act of bringing people together through music. Visit www.melaniehsu.com.