I was just perusing the Chamber Music America magazine, and noticed that something strange had happened. I used to be pretty imbedded in the chamber music community, and so when I would read that particular publication I knew half the people, had gone to school or to festivals with them. This time around, they were all strangers. It's a little alarming, and in a few different ways. First of all, I really would like to be imbedded in the community, if for nothing else, for the sake of my sanity (I consider chamber musicians my kin, or my tribe or something like that). Secondly, obviously all of my friends didn't just stop playing their instruments. The faces that I see now are younger (and hipper...more image conscious?) and the conclusion I'm forced to make is that chamber music is not really a viable long term career path for many of us - some, of course, hit the jackpot and get to do it and get paid and have a good time at it for their whole career. But does there come a point at which the traveling, the rigorous rehearsal schedule one must have, the low pay is just not worth it? And how in the world do mother's make it work? I couldn't, and I know a lot of other mom's who couldn't either. It's hard enough to get out of the house to go to my regular job 5 minutes away...I guess being a chamber musician is a little like being in a band, except that the long term success looks different (get probably paid more per gig at first, but the ceiling comes up faster even with a lot of success). Most groups that stay together full time do usually have main teaching gig at some university somewhere. My conclusion is that on it's own chamber music is not really a viable career path at all...and that makes me really sad! BUT, can it be a great career when combined with other music-making? I hope so!
Katri Ervamaa, cellist