December Take 5

BARBARA MCKENZIE has been artistic director of Chamber Music Wilmington since she co-founded the organization in 1995. As a professional pianist, McKenzie toured all over the world, at one time working for the State Department as a cultural ambassador. Now her sights are focused closer to home, community, and the inward life.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?Listen and Leap! It has always been important for me to find direction in my life by listening to my ‘inner voice’ for guidance.” How do you spend your free time? “I concentrate on  activities that will connect me to a deeper, spiritual side of myself.  Traveling, going on retreats, being in nature, reading, meditation,  and yoga … it helps me stay grounded, confident, and less stressed.”  What is the definition of accomplishment for you? “Instead of knocking off a list of shoulds and to-dos, I think of the quality of my relationships and feel successful when I am causing my family members, my students, and friends to thrive in their lives.” If you weren’t a pianist, what would you be doing? “Something that feeds me spiritually and artistically – maybe creating opportunities for people to hear and explore their own voice.” You’ve traveled the world as a pianist. Where was your favorite place to play and why? “One that stands out was a tour in Syria. The impression that remained most with me was seeing firsthand how Christians, Jews, and Muslims were able to live peacefully and operate their small family-owned businesses next to one another. They all distinguished between the individual and ideology … honoring each other’s right to worship as they believed.”