Deep thoughts or aftermath of IMF

Musical Bridges’ 5th International Music Festival was truly an international endeavor! Guest artists from 28 countries participated in one-of-a-kind programs including six gold medalists of the former San Antonio International Piano Competition playing together – 60 golden fingers at the same time. The Russian dancing ensemble from New York, Barynya, crowned the excitement at the Grand Finale! We were honored with the presence of the Mayor Nirenberg, Tim Quigley of Sister Cities International from Washington DC, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, Carlos Contreras, President for the Tricentennial Committee and many other dignitaries during the festival. After all of the concerts, all of the parties were over, and all of the dignitaries and international artists went home, we – the “glamorous” leadership of Musical Bridges Around the World did not fly to Cancun for a week or so as it would be expected after such undertaking…

This is how we spend the Monday aftermath of the glamorous 5th International Music Festival: at 9 am, Suhail and I dressed in a gym clothing, met by the back door of the Empire Theater and spent 2 hours loading our cars with plates, tablecloths, dishes, silverware and wine glasses left there during the festival. Then we drove it to my house where we unloaded it for our devoted Nora to gradually wash, clean, and organize for the next event. Needless to say my house has an unmistakable look of a catering warehouse, 900 wine glasses alone take enough room to appear as furniture after a while. Green commercial crates of dishes when placed next to each other replace a lounging couch to fit seven with no struggle for space and buckets of forks and serving utensils remotely reminding vases with flowers. By now, neither Rob nor I notice the presence of large alien objects in our entryway.

I love what I do, but at the moments of hauling dishes and heavy catering equipment, I ask myself, is it worth it? We are still not paid market salaries and do not provide benefits for the employees. We do not have working hours because during the festival, concerts and sizable community outreach programs and events we work nights, weekends on an as needed basis. We do not have clear job division as well, while we all have our own thing to do we all come together like musketeers “One For All and All For One”  to do whatever. I am still very good at cleaning the facilities and making the BEST EVER chicken soup for art openings and board meetings. I am over 50 now and still value enthusiasm more then something tangible… like a real job, with normal working hours, benefits and other perks normal people have. And very often when I have these thoughts something magical happens…

During this festival, we had guest artists from China perform at two festival concerts as well as for 2000 kids as a part of our Kids To Concerts program.  Two beautiful pipa players from China did not speak any English. In order to accommodate them we brought a Chinese translator from Cincinnati. By the end of the festival  this is want they told Jason, our translator: “ we were afraid to visit US because everyone is having guns here and this is the most dangerous county in the world. If it would not be for the translator we would not leave our hotel rooms because we would be afraid to go out”. After performing with other musicians from all over the world, they loved their visit to US. Their hearts melted when in one of the Title 1 schools on the Southside of San Antonio one little girl came up to the ladies and said,,, I love you, I want to be just like you!… this was the cherry on the pie.

I guess, this summarizes why I and all my staff love this crazy job. We do not have normal benefits but the benefits we receive are spectacular!