I accepted a promotion within the company as Musical Director for a touring Big Top show to be created in 2012 in Montreal. As I prepared to pack up my life in Las Vegas, I was filled with great anticipation and excitement, buying myself a new car to travel in-between cities on the North America tour plan. Leaving Las Vegas, I drove across the US in 12 days, stopping along the way to experience parts of the country I’d never seen, and landed in Montreal on a cold wintery afternoon in November 2011 . The day after Christmas, I was ice-skating with a friend and her daughter and slipped on the ice falling backwards hitting my head. A visit to the hospital followed where they diagnosed a concussion. I had already made a plan to fly to Houston to visit a friend on December 28, and the doctor warned me that my symptoms might feel worse, but it was probably safe to fly. Merely hours after I arrived in Houston I found myself in the emergency room yet again with two broken wrists. It was never supposed to happen to me, the piano player. It was never supposed to happen 5 weeks in to my new position with Cirque Du Soleil. It was never supposed to happen. But it did. What followed for me was a year of uncertainty to say the least. I’d had surgery on my right wrist, and my left arm was in a cast. Unable to do most things, my sister joined me in the US to help me get through the first few months of recovery.
When I was able to fly the long distance 2 months later, I returned to Australia where my family and friends cared for me. I stayed with my mother for many months during my recovery. As I worked through the process of regaining my piano hands, Margriet was living only a few doors down from my mother’s place. I was able to visit Margriet once again. I literally had to start anew to build the strength in each finger and my wrists. On my debut album ‘I’ll Start in A Minor’ which is dedicated to Margriet, I include these liner notes to express what my composition “For Margriet” means to me.
“What can I say about a woman who welcomed the 8 year old me with open arms, who taught my little fingers to play, who nurtured and guided me throughout my years as a student, and way beyond that as a friend? What can I say about a woman who welcomed once again the 48 year old me and would guide me through the rehabilitation of my two broken wrists, so I could play again? Margriet was someone I loved dearly and someone who gave me more gifts than she could ever have imagined. Her wisdom in all things, her passion for life, her love of music and her unconditional love of me. As I reflect on her life, I celebrate someone who gave so much of herself to others, who saw the passion and gift of music in me and gently and sometimes not so gently, guided me on a path that would open up a world to me that I only ever imagined in my dreams~ the world of music that I walk in every day. Margriet, I hear your voice and feel your love in every note I play.”
Almost one year later after I recovered and was well enough to return to my job with Cirque, I finally began my touring life with the show ‘Amaluna’ as Musical Director. My responsibility was to run the music for each live show, leading 8 musicians through the cues as we played the music for each acrobatic act. I would have the stage manager’s voice in my ears calling cues for lighting, music and technical as I played keyboards, counted in the band and called the show for them to follow my lead for each act. It was a tight well-oiled machine as we performed around 400 shows a year. However, the job required immense focus and concentration, an excellent level of musical interpretation, versatility, an ability to improvise musical parts and the ability to work as part of team. After 12 years and more than 4000 shows with Cirque du Soleil I decided it was time to take some time for my personal life and it was also time to channel my creative passions into my own music.
Something profound happened after I broke my wrists. I gained a new understanding of the gift I have been given, that was temporarily taken away from me and returned, with the help of someone who I greatly admired, and with whom I began my musical journey with all those years ago. April 10, 2018 marks the release of my first album ‘I’ll Start in A Minor’. It would have been Margriet’s 87th birthday. I’ve dedicated this album to her. I am over the moon to bring my music to the world, from my world of music that I walk in every day.
I now compose and perform my solo piano music. I like to imagine that a door opens when you hear my music. And on the other side of that door is a new language. You can walk through the door and feel your heart. And that’s a feeling that can’t be put into words. At my piano, I am sitting at my altar. It is here where I feel my heart most fully.
I now live in Colorado with my beautiful grand piano, where the mountains and open spaces inspire me.