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Triggering the Storm

I wonder if other people have had this kind of experience. This moment ranks in the top 5 coincidences of my life.

Flash back to the summer of 2004. I am fortunate enough to be designated “lead percussionist” for the American Music Abroad Red Tour Percussion Ensemble. In addition, I am in the percussion section of the concert band. The Red Tour consisted of roughly 80 high school students traveling across Europe, performing at cathedrals, concert halls, and outdoor venues as part of a cultural exchange program. This is a once in a lifetime experience for me.

Our first concert is in a small town in France. We set up our instruments in an outdoor town center and prepare for the performance. The weather is showing signs of a thunderstorm, but there is no telling whether or not it will actually happen, or how severe the storm will be.

The concert begins. I am overjoyed performing my first concert in Europe, sharing the experience with many talented musicians and new friends. The first song is coming to a close, and I know that for the final beat I must crash the marching cymbals with full gusto and then mute them quickly against my chest.

Crash! I play the cymbals to close out the first composition. Half a second later, a crack of thunder is heard and the sky opens up. Rain begins to pour and the entire concert band is scrambling to stow away all of the instruments. There is no time to think. Audience members start helping us with putting away our instruments and music stands. It feels good to be part of this community in France, albeit for a short evening.

That moment has stuck with me ever since it happened when I was 16 years old. It felt as if I had triggered the thunder storm with the crash of the cymbals. It was a surreal, inexplicable feeling. Coincidence? You could say that. To me it felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and in complete alignment with my place in the universe. What are the chances that the storm would begin almost simultaneously with my cymbal crash to end the song?

I would love to hear from other people about some of their similar experiences. A moment when something you did completely aligned with the forces of nature. It is magical when it happens.

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