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  • Paul Phillips

Still going strong at 98


Inspiring article in The New York Times about Täo Porchon-Lynch, who, at 98, teaches yoga 5 days a week in and around Scarsdale, NY, and maintains an active travel schedule teaching and attending yoga events all over. One line that caught my attention is: "To this day, Ms. Porchon-Lynch drinks only two beverages: tea and wine. She does not drink water." Doesn't drink water! How can that be?

This story reminds me of my piano teacher Kyriena Siloti, who had a big influence on me when I was in college and graduate school in New York in the late 1970s. I began studying with her in 1977 during my senior year at Columbia. She was about 83 then, and was filled with an amount of energy and vitality that I had rarely seen in anyone, particularly an octogenarian. I studied piano with her for three years and looked forward to those lessons enormously. She attended some of the concerts I gave in those years, and also had insightful comments to make that helped me grow as a musician. One that I particularly remember came after she attended a new music concert at Columbia in which I conducted one work of mine plus pieces by fellow composers. "Why", she asked, "don't you conduct the other composers' music the way you conduct your own?" Her point was that I was much more engaged with my composition, which, naturally, I knew intimately, since I composed every note. She was right, of course, and that observation has led me ever since to try to study each work I conduct so thoroughly that it almost feels as if I did compose it myself, and to approach it with as much engagement and concern as if it were a piece I had written.


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