As a musician, the sensation of being “in the flow” occurs when music is easily moving through me; when group interplay rises to unexpected levels; when everything happens with ease. I experience this on many occasions while playing music, and less often off of the stage or away from the piano bench. So on a recent trip to Pittsburgh which yielded new friendships, introduced me to new colleagues, and opened up a plethora of work opportunities, I kept marveling at how “in the flow” my life felt during my ten day sojourn.
Last spring when Christa Burneff invited me to perform a solo concert in Pittsburgh at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts, I immediately started thinking about making an extended trip to continue my research on Mary Lou Williams. At the time when Christa contacted me, I had recently received an inquiry from the Catholic publisher, Liturgical Press. They approached me with the idea of having me write a book on Williams for their “People of God” biographical series. After the book contract was finalized, I knew that I had to take advantage of the opportunity to spend some time in Williams’ hometown of Pittsburgh.
Leading up to my trip, I started questioning my decision to go to Pittsburgh an entire nine days in advance of my December 8 concert at Hillman. After all, I hadn’t yet made many contacts in Pittsburgh, and I didn’t want to sit around without having meetings set up in advance.
The flurry of events that followed quelled any doubts that I had about the length of my trip.