It was a clear, cool night in Rosario, Argentina.  I was there on tour as a bassist, with a Broadway review group.

We were staying with host families for the night, and since I was the only female musician in the group, a family of musicians requested that I stay with them.

Their house was long – railroad style, like the apartments on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with a baby grand piano in the living room – the first thing you saw when you walked into the house.

We spent most of the night playing duets:  cello & piano, piano & violin, English horn & cello…and then, the daughter asked me if I had ever heard the tango “Malena”.  

The first few notes played over the speakers – the pulsing of the piano alongside a sad accordion.  It sounds silly to say now, but it was as if my whole life became meaningful at that moment, with those notes.  I existed for a purpose!  I had a song!  

From the moment I was handed my first violin, I knew I wanted to be a musician.   I played in all my school’s orchestras, bands, I dabbled in fiddle, I won concerto competitions.  When I asked if I could play violin in my high school’s jazz band, my teacher said “no, but you can play bass.”  I taught myself how to play bass over the weekend, and came back ready to play jazz.  I played in the SLC Olympics Closing Ceremonies.  I played with Harry Connick Jr. and Moby.  I missed my senior prom to attend a Joshua Bell concert. 

And then, after 18 years of playing, I found myself in a doctor’s office.  I will never forget that day, the cold exam table, the crinkle of the tissue paper underneath me.  I had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a condition that made it very painful to play an instrument, and very dangerous as well.  I finished out the semester, and gave up playing forever.

After college I went through a series of careers.  I worked as a litigation secretary in my dad’s law firm, interned at Warner Music, moved to Universal Music, Film Independent, a few entertainment law firms, and then somehow I landed at Time magazine in New York.  In New York I pursued tango dancing!  I actually got pretty good at it!  But it reminded me of that night, in Argentina.  It reminded me of all the years of training and experience I had in music – and the passion I once had for classical music.  I quit my job at Time, to pursue a job in classical music advocacy.

Since beginning my advocacy job, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been tango dancing.  I wish I could go more often.  There’s nothing quite like dancing the tango.  You learn to read the smallest cues given by your partner.  Your frame is connected to his – your breath in  synch.  You are perfectly balanced, and grounded to the earth beneath you.  Your feet glide backwards across the floor and you feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself.  I hope that some day I will be able to travel back to Buenos Aires and feel that initial spark I felt so many years ago.