Sitting in an airport in Denver, I am waiting for my flight to San Diego for a 5-day break for Thanksgiving. I just finished my elevenths concert this month, covering at least 3,300 miles on the road (which is more than the drive from NYC to LA by 500 miles). and going through a snowy winter wonderland. I have more concerts on this tour after the break until December 7, but I made it through the toughest part and have a moment to take a deep breath.
Each concert was unique. Each town had a different vibe. Each piano had a different sound, brand, character, shortcomings, strengths, and size. I stayed in a different room every night. All I could do in that ever changing environment was to stay focused and true to the meaning of what I do. When I finally had a moment to sit in an airport alone just now, I had an overwhelming rush of emotions coming to me, and then I cried for a while. The tears weren't of sadness nor joy. They were of relief from all that I had held onto. I survived it. Not only did I do it, I did it well with grace. You did it, Jeeyoon. Well done...
I know from the bottom of my heart that I couldn't have done these concerts without my lifelong friend Joseph Bercovici who stepped in as a road manager for the first half of the tour from Indianapolis. He helped me by driving the rental minivan, cooking every meal, packing lunch boxes, (we didn't go to a single restaurant, can you believe that?), loading and unloading, tech assistance for the concert, taking care of me, taking videos and photos, selling CDs, and basically everything else besides performing. Challenges that we faced for each concert became materials for a comic relief for life. We laughed and shared the pain as well as the victories. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, Joseph!
One of the things I've noticed on this tour is the fact that people found pronouncing my name very difficult. I often explain the pronunciation by asking people to say the month of June with a southern accent, which sounds fine enough to my ear. Many people found it almost impossible to say my name even with that trick, and were often stressed about it as they needed to announce me at the beginning of the concert. One presenter had a particularly long coaching session with me in the green room. He called me Shiyoon at first so I kindly corrected him that it is not 'Shi' but 'Jee'. He was shocked to learn that he had been practicing my name wrongly all week, and thankful to have figured it out before the concert.
Waiting behind the curtain for the concert to begin, I heard the presenter introducing me and pronouncing my name correctly several times. 'Good!', I thought. 'He finally figured it out.' Then he finally announced with higher energy: "Now without a further due let us welcome the pianist Shiyoon (a long pause) Jee~~~~!"
I almost died of laughter behind the curtain, but I held it together and walked on the stage. He realized that he had pronounced the name wrongly and led himself to an even bigger mistake. Ever since that event whenever I came to the living room in the morning, Joseph announces: “Here comes the greatest pianist Shiyoon Jeeeee!” in full of energy. In fact, we decided that the official name of the tour should now be “Shiyoon Jee!”.
I am thankful that I have this Thanksgiving break to come down to earth, regenerate, and take a deep breath to process what I have done. I am thankful for each and every concert that I gave this month. I am transforming and absorbing everything that life has to offer me.