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Spotlight on Improvisation, Part 4: an Interview with Dorothy Papadakos

November 28, 2023
Dorothy Papadakos at the Wanamaker Organ
Dorothy Papadakos at the console of the Wanamaker Organ, Macy’s Department Store, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (photo credit: Tracy McCullen)

Robert McCormick has been organist and choirmaster of Saint Mark’s Church, Locust Street, Philadelphia, since 2016. Previously he held similar positions at Saint Paul’s Church, K Street, in Washington, D.C., and at Saint Mary the Virgin, New York City. He is represented in North America exclusively by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists, LLC.

Editor’s note: Part 1 of this series (Matthew Glandorf) may be found in the May 2022 issue, pages 20–21; Part 2 (Mary Beth Bennett) in the September 2022 issue, pages 12–13; and Part 3 (Jason Roberts) in the July 2023 issue, pages 16–17.


Introduction

We continue our series focusing on American organist-improvisers with a name familiar to many—Dorothy Papadakos. I first met Dorothy more than two decades ago, when I was director of music at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Times Square, New York City, and she was cathedral organist of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. The first time I ever heard Dorothy play live was at the seating of the Right Reverend Mark Sisk as Fifteenth Bishop of New York in 2001. Dorothy began the first hymn on the celebrated State Trumpet, and off we went. “We’re about to have church,” I thought, and we certainly did. It was a marvelous and memorable liturgy, hardly least due to Dorothy’s glorious playing.

Dorothy surely must be one of the most multifaceted and versatile persons in our profession: she is not only an organist, but also a jazz musician, musical theater composer, and author. She also may well be one of the warmest and most joyful among us. In addition to interviewing Dorothy via email, I have just had the privilege of seeing her for the first time in over a decade over lunch in Philadelphia, alongside her delightful husband, Tracy McCullen, and marvelous fellow organist Peter Richard Conte. After an extraordinary shared meal, two hours later, I walked back to my church refreshed and full of Dorothy’s infectious happiness.

Writing this article, seeing Dorothy in person, and pondering her inspiring responses reminded me yet again of music’s power to stir, heal, and renew. Dorothy is a wonderful example of a life devoted to making the world a better place through the art of music. How many people has she inspired through her musical gifts? (Countless numbers, of course.) Case in point: I have been prompted again to seek to rediscover and recapture a sense of childlike joy and awe in music making. Like many of us, especially being an absolute perfectionist, I spend much of my time focused on the minutiae of music making. Without question, for any of us to practice our art at the highest levels, we must do this. Yet it is so easy to lose sight of the ultimate purpose of music making as a result, for our perspectives to become skewed.

In a church context, the goal of music is to glorify God and to inspire the people who hear it. How many times have I finished a service unable to think of anything other than whether or not I played a difficult passage cleanly enough, or why did I take such-and-such a turn in an improvisation when another would have been better, or whether the choir tuned as well as they could in a particular motet, only to have a congregant share heartfelt appreciation for the beauty of the music offered? (The answer, of course, is virtually all the time!)

Improvisation is perhaps the most personal way to make music. With that in mind, let us now hear directly from Dorothy Papadakos herself.

Discussion

When, how, and why did you start playing by ear and inventing your own music? Did it coincide with your early music training?

If it had not been for a fourth-grade crush, music and I may have never met! I was nine years old in Reno/Tahoe, Nevada, “going steady” with a boy taking piano lessons. Our mothers decided it would be cute if we played duets together, so they started me with his piano teacher, Loren McNabb, a hefty Scottish jazzman with a white goatee who moonlighted playing Reno’s nightclub circuit. To my surprise, I took to the piano instantly. I love math and science, and this was ultimate math and science to me. I enjoyed experiencing how my brain and fingers learned more and more technical pieces. And I loved the feel in my little hands of playing scales, amazed at what my fingers could do, especially when I stopped thinking about them and let them do their thing skiing up and down the keyboard like natural athletes!

After each half-hour lesson I begged Mr. McNabb to play me “his music:” Ellington, Gershwin, Porter, Broadway. Two years in, at age eleven, I went on strike! I refused to practice “that boring classical music” and insisted he teach me “his music:” jazz! I wanted to read lead sheets and chord changes. They were the gateway to a mysterious world, to musical freedom. Mr. McNabb complained to my mom about her problem child; she told him to teach me whatever I wanted if it kept me practicing! (Go, Mom!) I took to jazz like a bird to the air. In just a few years I could read any lead sheet and was playing jazz gigs for local events by age fifteen.

Enter the men who changed my early life and music forever: Liberace and blind British jazz pianist George Shearing. I got to meet Liberace several times backstage at John Ascuaga’s Nugget when he performed in Reno, because my mom knew him from her Hollywood days. I assiduously copied Liberace’s recordings note-for-note to learn his style and to get inside his stunning technique. (How did he do it with all those rings on?) Then the George Shearing Quartet came to town and blew this kid “outta da water!” His album Light, Airy, and Swinging changed my ears and tonal imagination. I knew then and there all I wanted to do was to improvise and compose “cool jazz.”

Tell us more about how you employed improvisation in childhood.

Those first jazz gigs at around age fifteen were for fashion shows in Reno and some Reno High School theater work. Then a turning point came: Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno (now Trinity Cathedral) asked me to join their folk ensemble since I’d been taking guitar lessons and sang in their youth choir. The next thing I knew, I was lead vocalist and guitarist of the ten-piece band playing the 9:00 a.m. service! This was the era of Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, and 1970s folk and pop. It was musical heaven for me, until my dear Mr. McNabb died suddenly. I was 16, devastated, lost, a ship without a rudder. My mother tried everything to find me a new teacher. Of course, no one could measure up. She even took me to the University of Nevada-Reno’s head piano professor for whom I improvised on Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady. Mom and I were so proud of my audition; I nailed every note and nuance! But this piano professor just shook his head, clicking his tongue saying, “It’s too bad she doesn’t play classical.” Mom, furious, grabbed me by my arm saying, “Come on, Dorothy Jean! We’re getting out of here!”

That next Sunday in church my ears heard the organ as if for the first time (a three-manual 1967 Allen). That’s when I approached Mr. James Poulton, Trinity’s wonderful 11:00 a.m. organist and choirmaster, who agreed to give me organ lessons. As with the piano, I’d never given the organ a moment’s thought, but I was so lost without Mr. McNabb, I thought, “Why not organ? It’s a stack of synthesizers!” (Yes, that’s how my sixteen-year-old brain saw the organ.) I now know that if it weren’t for death and grief, the organ and I may have never met—and fallen in love. My scientific mind went crazy for the stops, pistons, 32′ pitches, pedals, the whole tonal palette. I felt like a one-woman orchestra!

I noticed, too, I could “noodle” around on the organ, but no one else I knew noodled (in public), so I assumed this was simply not done. My first organ piece with Mr. Poulton was the famous (attributed to) Bach Toccata in D Minor, every sixteenth note’s fingerings and meticulous counting penciled in. To this day, I still use that really worn-out original score at my Phantom of the Opera (1929) silent film performances (my show opener to set the mood) to remember where I come from. And, of course, I now play the Toccata like the improvisation it’s meant to be!

As a child, did you understand the music theory behind what you were doing, or did that understanding catch up later?

Yes, oh yes, I was very fortunate that both Mr. McNabb and my next mentor, Don Rae, the great jazz pianist/arranger for the legendary Las Vegas comedy team Gaylord and Holiday, insisted I master jazz harmony, voicings, and scales, and listen to classical composers to learn how they put harmonies together. They instilled in me the fierce mental discipline that I rely on today. Once I discovered major and minor ninths, thirteenths, and Burt Bacharach, I was hooked. But when I discovered how just one harmonic shift, or one simple, sexy jazz chord could change the key and slip my improv into a brand-new musical world, it ignited the composer in me.

At age eleven, I learned the circle of fifths and how to read complex charts. It was fun, hard work yet easy to memorize, and it laid the groundwork for reading figured bass when I started playing Baroque continuo. I spent thousands of hours at my stepfather’s Steinway grand piano and couldn’t wait to get home from school to play through a new fake book or disco tunes Don Rae brought me. Don’s big improvisation game changer was teaching me the Blues. In losing Mr. McNabb, I understood gut-wrenching loss and grief, but I didn’t know how to get there musically, how to turn anguish into beauty. Don had me prepare a new improvisation weekly by memory in all twenty-four keys, major and minor, over twenty weeks, on anything I wanted. I remember that first time I played one of my improvs for him, it was about four minutes long. Nervous as I was, I let myself go in it. When I finished, he was silent. I turned and saw him, his jaw open. I remember it so well. That’s when he knew I had a gift; me, I wasn’t so sure. I thought I was a copycat, just imitating Duke Ellington and George Shearing. I still didn’t feel original or unique because I worked so hard to emulate others.

I must add here a pivotal moment almost every successful person I’ve met has experienced. It happened at the end of my freshman year at the University of Nevada, Reno. Remember the piano professor my mother stormed out on? They assigned him to teach me organ! Oh no! He was no organist, and I knew this would be bad. At our last lesson he dismissed me in no uncertain terms: “Missy, I suggest you give this up. You don’t have what it takes to make it in music.” In that instant I thought of Liberace, George Shearing, Mr. McNabb, Don Rae, Duke Ellington, my improvs. (I also thought of words that are unprintable here!) He was wrong, and I knew it. But what was I to do, having been told, “Don’t come back”? Well, the gods were listening!

Was there a watershed moment that inspired you to become a professional organist and church musician?

Yes! Enter Saint Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue, New York City, and Robert K. Kennedy, organist and master of the choirs at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, Long Island. One springtime Sunday morning in Reno before church I serendipitously caught the TV broadcast of the 9:00 a.m. contemporary service at Saint Bartholomew’s with guitars, drums, organ, handbells, a big choir, and congregation singing amazing jazz church music!

I froze, mesmerized in total disbelief. Oh, the joy in their music! I knew I was meant to be there. I packed up and drove across the country to live with my dad in Saint James, Long Island, and started commuting on Sunday mornings to St. Bart’s as a choir member and guitarist in the 9:00 a.m. band. At the same time, I began organ lessons as a sophomore at SUNY Stony Brook traveling to Garden City to work with the brilliant, warm, and wonderful Kennedy, who gave me the “You get serious or else!” talk. He whipped me into shape like a real organ teacher. The Bach-Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor always makes me think of Robert. I credit him with helping me decide to become a professional organist and believing I could do it if I gave everything to my craft. So I did­—everything. I dove into repertoire and completely forgot about jazz and improv. I told myself they were no longer of any use. At this point I still had no idea anyone improvised on the organ, even though Robert was teaching at the same time his astonishing protégé Peter Richard Conte, my dear friend and improvisation colleague!

Beyond Robert Kennedy, who were your principal teachers and influences in organ and organ improvisation? How did you learn from them?

At Saint Bartholomew’s I met the great conductor and organist Dr. Dennis Keene, who was at the time St. Bart’s assistant organist, while finishing his doctoral degree at Juilliard. Dennis would become pivotal in my organ education.

St. Bart’s by now had hired me as their Christian education secretary, and one night working late I heard Dennis practicing two pieces on St. Bart’s glorious Aeolian-Skinner organ: Messiaen’s Le Banquet Céleste and Duruflé’s Scherzo. I stopped my work. I quietly snuck out to a partially opened chancel door and listened and watched him play in that sparkling, golden Byzantine mosaic space.

Le Banquet Céleste brought tears to my eyes. What on earth was this exquisitely inexpressible music? And this playful scherzo! Who on earth wrote this jewel of pure spontaneous magic? Both were jazz but not jazz; earthly yet other-worldly. Duruflé and Messiaen became my repertoire gurus. Soon Dennis was teaching me French Romantic and contemporary repertoire on the organ in St. Bart’s side chapel. (Organist Jack Ossewaarde prohibited anyone but Dennis and him from touching the great organ, especially newbies like me!) When Dennis became organist and choirmaster downtown at the Church of the Ascension, our work continued, and he trained me up for Juilliard and Eastman auditions. Those years studying with Dennis and the thousands of painstaking hours of blood, sweat, and tears formed my technique into what it is today. I have Dennis to thank for not letting me get away with anything less than excellence. And he gave me a front row seat as organ-page-turner at some of the finest choral and orchestral concerts in the world presented by his Ascension Music. I have lifelong gratitude for all he gave me, especially the privilege of hosting Madame Duruflé in my cathedral apartment (because Je parle français) for a week at Saint John the Divine— wow—il n’y a rien à dire! (There are no words!) She and I remained dear friends for many years after and shared unforgettable visits in France. Now there was une grande improvisatrice! And with such petite hands!

May I digress and share with you the thrill of a lifetime? On a visit to Marie-Madeleine’s lovely stone house in Cavaillon in Provence where she was on holiday with her dear sister Elianne, we were having tea in her living room when I commented on the lovely old brown upright piano against the far wall, a candle mounted on each end, fine lace lying across the top. She told me, “That’s where Maurice composed his Messe Cum Jubilo.” I started to cry as I so love that gorgeous work. I can still feel that hot Provence August afternoon with her and smell the fragrance of her giant rosemary bushes infusing that cool stone living room.

While studying with Dennis, I won the New York City AGO organ competition, and to my joy and astonishment got into Juilliard for fall 1983 to pursue my dream of studying Messiaen’s works with Messiaen’s protégé, the sublime artist Dr. Jon Gillock. What a world Jon brought me into; what an extraordinary friendship we built. Messiaen’s harmonies, registrations, birdsongs, and Hindu rhythms blew my mind. Through all this, improvisation took a back seat until three things happened at once: first, Dennis gave me Marcel Dupré’s two improvisation books; second, I began studying improvisation at Juilliard with my dear friend and colleague, the legendary improviser “Uncle” Gerre Hancock at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue (that’s an article all its own!); and third, I heard Paul Halley’s iconic improvisation album Nightwatch on the great organ at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, where he was organist and choirmaster.

If there was a seminal person, moment, place, and organ in my improvisation career, this was it: Paul Halley at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and the mind-blowing Aeolian-Skinner Opus 150-A, “Miss Scarlett,” housed in the cathedral’s astounding eight-second acoustic (now nine seconds since the 2001 post-fire restoration!). Paul Halley’s organ improvs exploded my mind, ears, and musical imagination. In his playing I heard jazz improvisation like nothing I’d ever heard; he used the organ in ways I never imagined possible, especially the strings. I memorized Paul’s album, tried to replicate his sophisticated progressions, his sonic palette, his tricks with acoustics. I worked my butt off learning this extraordinary new thing: jazz-infused improvisation on a pipe organ, wonder of wonders! My four improvisers (two hands, two feet) found their home. This is when I made the commitment to find my voice and forge my own style.

My “second childhood,” as I call my twenty-three years at Saint John the Divine, began prior to my Juilliard studies, as a Barnard College junior in 1980. One autumn Friday I was unexpectedly called in as a last-minute sub to play for the cathedral’s weekend sleepover-in-the-crypt youth program, Nightwatch. It went so well that I was invited back on many Friday nights when Paul Halley was on tour with the Paul Winter Consort. Nightwatch and I would continue together for the next nine years, and it became my weekly “improv lab” to try out new ideas! Can I even begin to describe what it was like to be in that vast, dark cathedral on those marvelous cold winter Friday and Saturday nights, improvising in the dark and speaking to thousands of kids visiting from across the country about the great organ, showing off its cool sounds and taking them on a grand sonic ride they still to this day write to me about?

While at Juilliard in 1983, I found my courage to write Paul Halley asking if he’d consider taking me on as an improv student, knowing he didn’t teach because of his heavy touring and cathedral schedule. But, oh my goodness, he asked me to come in and play for him! He’d heard about my subbing at Nightwatch, and I’ll always remember that audition: afternoon light in the great organ loft, me seated on the bench, terrified in awe to be in Paul’s presence as he opened the hymnal to a Gregorian chant, one I would soon come to cherish, Conditor alme siderum.

I don’t remember what I improvised; I do remember thinking I made a total hash of it! I finished, waited in silence, then turned. Paul was relaxed, leaning back, arms stretched wide along the organ loft railing. With that great smile of his, he nodded saying, “Yes, I’ll work with you.” I thought I would die. My spontaneous squeal of joy echoed through the cathedral! What a privilege to become Paul’s improvisation protégé. And what a challenge: I never worked so hard in my life, never felt such a drive to excel, to prove myself and to achieve my dream of becoming a great improviser. And in all those years of study, Paul never charged me for a lesson.

In January 1984 Paul asked me to substitute for him in my first ever Paul Winter Consort gig at the Princeton University Chapel on their colossal organ. Thus began my nearly forty-year friendship and life-changing work with my dear friend and musical guru Paul Winter. Here was an entire band of world-class improvisers who welcomed me with open arms. And who knew one could improvise with humpback whales, timber wolves, or canyon wrens? Again my sonic world exploded! In 1986 Paul Halley named me cathedral organ scholar and trained me up on how to devise choral accompaniments and hymns in the English Cathedral style. In 1987 he and the dean appointed me cathedral assistant organist and then in 1990, when Paul left the cathedral, I was appointed cathedral organist. I remember once asking Paul why he hired me, and I’ve never forgotten his answer: “Because you’re great with kids (the Cathedral Choristers), you’re an accomplished woman organist (an endangered species in 1980s New York), and you read Samba charts (unheard of for an organist!).” Wow. There it was: all my years of improvisation and jazz landed me the coolest job on planet Earth.

A funny side note to this: at Juilliard my dear teacher Dr. Jon Gillock fully supported my improvisation work with Paul Halley. Jon deeply revered the great French organ improvisers and wanted me to give my improv and repertoire studies equal effort like the French do. But Juilliard found out and threatened to expel me for studying with a teacher outside the school, even though I had Dr. Gillock’s blessing. So, I assured the powers-that-be that I would stop—and of course, I didn’t! Never in a million years could I have imagined when I graduated from Juilliard with my master’s degree in organ at age twenty-five that in four short years I would be appointed the first woman cathedral organist at Saint John the Divine, because of my improv chops!

How does improvising in concert settings differ to you from liturgical settings?

There is quite a difference for me, like two alternate sonic worlds with very separate harmonic languages, techniques, themes, timings, feeling, purpose, audience, energetic intent, all of it. In accompanying silent films, my job (as I learned in reading my hero Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography) is to provide the emotional subtext of every scene: to improvise music that provides the emotional counterpoint to the action to enhance, not compete with, its drama, comedy, and conflict, and also to prepare the audience for what’s coming in the next scene. The music is the narrator. It must be subtle yet blunt, amorphous yet cued, often with specific timed “hits” (like a crash or surprise), and it is very much about surrendering to the three-way micro-millisecond relationship between oneself, the audience, and the actors. It’s a powerful and very real energetic triangle, and when you give yourself over to it, that’s when the magic happens, when the audience gets lost in the film and forgets you’re there.

In liturgical settings it’s all about surrender, again, but this time it’s surrender to what is ineffable, wonder-filled, and sacred inside each person in a holy gathering. Here we are, friends and strangers gathered in worship in a once-in-a-lifetime gathering that’ll never be repeated in all of time, with all our burdens, sorrows, challenges, and joys. I’ve found that yearning is at the core of everyone’s worship—our deep yearning for divine intervention, divine comfort, for the sublime, for answers, transformation, the soul aching to be heard and held. Organ music can express and even meet this yearning like nothing else. Whether it helps people cry and release, or is a cradle of peace, or uplifts them in an ecstatic experience of the divine, it is a sacred honor and opportunity we organists are entrusted with.

The very first thing I do in any performance is “take the temperature” of the room. Even thirty feet up and three hundred feet away hidden in a cathedral organ loft, you can feel a congregation’s mood. It’s hard to describe, but it’s palpable. It’s a vibration that imbues the space. I use this as the starting point of my prelude improv, the launch of any Sunday morning’s spiritual journey in which we organists are the first soul to express our yearning. Gradually the congregation joins us in hymn singing, joins the clergy in prayer, and together we go on the journey.

My musical goal in any liturgy is to shift the mood from what it was at the start to something entirely new and different by the end. My liturgical harmonic language is completely different and more contemporary than my silent film language. Silent films tend to dictate what harmonies and progressions work so you don’t “take the audience out of the film.” In a liturgy, I find there’s room for broader expression and risk-taking, especially in a big acoustic on a big instrument with lots of toys onboard. My liturgical improvs are infused with jazz and French Romantic harmonic worlds and massive rhythm. I’m talking massive; rhythm is everything! It’s the heartbeat of any improvisation, loud or soft, fast or slow.

Paul Halley taught me this. It’s what thrills and soars and tingles and creates awe. You could vamp on plain old C major with a killer rhythmic pattern, a few textural shifts, a 32′ Bombarde, and it’ll make your congregation stomp and cheer! I aim for one thing in my liturgical improvs: to continually lift up, even in somber Lenten modal mysterious improvs. I constantly let myself let go—this keeps the journey lifting and wondering (versus wandering!) for whomever I’m playing. If I’m surprised, they’ll be surprised; if I’m moved, they’ll be moved. I tell my students that improv is sheer blind trust; it’s surrender to divine channeling. It’s losing one’s conscious thought, so time stands still and you can’t remember what you played. And that’s when they really go on the ride with you. That’s when you come out of it thinking, “Wow, what just happened?” That’s when your congregation knows you gave yourself to them. I never, ever forget this maxim: “You can’t fool an audience.” They just somehow know if you’re holding back or are bored, scared, unprepared, not into it, or not giving your all—they know when there’s no lift off!

Do you consider yourself to have your own distinct musical language? Is there anything distinctly “American” about your improvising?

My musical passion is world music. I love combining ethnic sounds, especially Greek, Brazilian, Celtic, Middle Eastern, and Asian. I love stretching where the organ can go, seeing what part of the world it can travel to through a culture’s musical voice. That’s what I loved at Saint John the Divine in those golden years under the visionary leadership of our global-minded dean, the Very Reverend James Parks Morton. One minute I’d be playing Tibetan music for the Dalai Lama, then Eritrean hymns at a Coptic funeral, then Sakura for a Japanese tea ceremony, then “Hava Nagila” at a Jewish-Christian wedding, then New York, New York on the State Trumpet celebrating a Yankees-Mets Subway Series! If you see our magnificent country as the great melting pot of immigrants, then yes, my improvs and compositions are highly “American” in that I embrace all our ethnic styles. In terms of my own style, I don’t know how to describe it. I just know it as me and that it’s ever evolving. I’m often told by people, “Oh, Dorothy, I just knew when I walked in it was you playing—I’d know that sound anywhere!” I always wonder to myself, which sound(s) gave me away?

Tell us more about your jazz background and how it informs your improvising at the organ.

In addition to what I described above, I’d add two things: the legendary jazz pianist Lyle Mays of the Pat Metheny Group, with whom I had the tremendous privilege of studying jazz composition, told me, “Dorothy, if I ever hear you cadenced with plain old V–I, I’ll call the jazz police!” And Lyle also said, “The greatest musicians on the planet are jazz players. They can improvise in any style because they get inside the style, they don’t just copy it.” I’ve bided by Lyle’s words throughout my career.

Do you ever imitate specific composers or historical styles?

Oh yes, of course! We all stand on the shoulders of those who’ve come before us, and we borrow from our contemporaries, too. No musicians, especially improvisers, are creative islands unto themselves. Day and night we unconsciously take in shards of music, hooks, and tunes we’re not aware of. They lodge and cook in our musical psyche, then days later pop out in a gig or writing session, and we’re like, “Whoa, where’d that come from?” I borrow rhythmic hooks from Bartók, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Ravel; toccata patterns from Cochereau, Vierne, and Dupré; and every day I listen on BBC Radio 1 to the hottest pop, chill, dance, and cutting-edge tracks. I relax to Indian ragas and cook to electronic soundscape artists like Aurah. It all informs my improvs, my music theater scores, my organ and choral works. In fact, I’m listening to Aurah while writing this: it’s “I Decree Peace” on their Etherea Borealis album. Check it out!

How does improvisation differ from composing to you? Do you prefer one or the other?

To me improvisation is spontaneous composition, and composition is repeated improvisation until you find something you want to save and write down. They are equal in fertility and joy to me. I’d say the great gift that improvisation brings to a composer is to know if you don’t like something you wrote, you can improvise a hundred other ideas to replace it with! Composer-improvisers trust the unlimited flowing fountain of ideas inside of them. It’s unfailing, and the perfect idea is always just an improv away. Improvisation is ultimately just about trusting the unknown yet to be revealed in you. Each of us is a creative giant we have this lifetime to get to know, so from me to you I say, “Go for it, and rock da house!”

Reflection

I hope readers are as fascinated and stirred by Dorothy’s words as I am. She reminds us, if I may use a tired cliché, not to neglect the trees (as Dorothy clearly has done her homework, thoroughly learning music theory and technique, inside and out), but truly to see and appreciate the whole forest. I’m not sure about each of you, but that’s a reminder I needed at this moment. May each of us heed Dorothy’s advice to “go for it.” ν

 

Dorothy Papadakos’s website: dorothypapadakos.com

Experience Dorothy’s artistry at our website: thediapason.com/videos/dorothy-papadakos-plays-phantom-opera

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