‘NOT DEAD YET,’ a Summary of the past few Months


Here’s our merry band in Seattle on September 10, just before we left for Vancouver to play our first concert. I’d been preparing for months in a determined frenzy, practicing, transcribing music, coaching with John Mark, planning travel, programming concerts. It was a mammoth undertaking, 20+concerts and workshops over thirteen weeks to prepare for a 2-CD recording in January. The rep combined 18th c. sonatas and suites written for treble and 5 and 6 string pardessus, as well as borrowed rep like Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto and Forqueray. 

I funded it with Hesperus contributions, concert fees, selling donated instruments, and some cash left over from refinancing my house to pay for my newly-acquired 18th c. French baroque treble. Buying the treble in February actually sparked the whole project–once I had the 18th c. trinity of tiny instruments, (treble, 5-string and 6-string pardessus), I had to celebrate. So I offered a free concert to anyone who’d provide a venue, a harpsichord, and free lodging, and chose 16 presenters out of a surprising field of 32 who responded.

The first concert in Vancouver went beautifully, and we all took the ferry to Victoria the next morning in a good mood.

(Here’s a link to the first movement of Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto from that concert.)

This was going to be a private concert for donors and docents of the Early Music Society of the Islands, and we had been assured that their reception, (and their refreshments) would be first rate. The trouble started in the middle of the second piece, the Corelli…

(By the way, it’s not so easy to tell this story to you–scares the heck out of me to realize I’ll be playing the Corelli again on Friday). Note: this was written at the beginning of December just before our Texas tour.

All of a sudden, right in the middle of the second movement, I felt as if someone was reaching in and squeezing my heart. Hard. As I kept playing, I checked it out–Was it getting worse? No. Was it getting better? No. How come I had no feeling in my legs? No idea. Could I keep playing? Not a chance.

I remember finishing the movement somehow; announcing that I had to stop playing; leaning over and putting my pardessus on a chair and asking someone to make sure to put it in a case; and then, as I submerged into pain, I remember the concert organizer telling the audience, “We’ve got to stop the concert now, but won’t you have some of the very nice cake we’ve got on the back table.” And I thought, “Smart guy, everything’s better with cake.”

Can’t remember the next few hours very well so I’ve asked John Mark to share his memories.

FROM JOHN MARK On September 11, Tina and Annalisa and Joanna and Webb and I woke up in the loving home of our friends Ann Duranceau and Edgar Bridwell in Vancouver, having played the first concert of our big tour the night before. We piled into the rented van to drive to the ferry which took us through splendid vistas of sea and mountain to the beautiful city of Victoria, the location of concert number two. In Victoria we found a fine little pub for lunch, and as we sat at that meal I thought, “This is really fine, as good as it gets, being in this beautiful place with these wonderful people. We’ve been treated with such crazy, fine hospitality at every step of the way, and soon we will get to play beautiful music together and after that we’ve been promised cake. How ridiculously wonderful life is at this moment!”

Three hours later, we found ourselves mid-performance at the church. After the fourth of five movements of a Corelli sonata, Tina turned to me and said, “I’m having a heart attack. Please take my instrument and ask if there is a doctor in the house.” So I did those things. Indeed there was a doctor in the house, the kind and skilled Theresa van der Goes. What ensued was mostly precisely what you would expect. We got Tina on the floor, found aspirin for her, called the EMTs, I held Tina’s hand, and the audience repaired to the west end of the nave to enjoy cake. In the ambulance they did what tests they could for signs of heart attack and found none. But Tina was saying that she could not feel her legs. Dr. van der Goes was certain that her legs had simply gone to sleep while she was sitting on the floor nothing whatever to worry about; but out of an abundance of caution it was decided to take Tina to the nearby Royal Jubilee Hospital to have things checked out.

Again, in the emergency room things went as one would expect until the results of the CT scan came. Tina and I were informed that the trouble was indeed not a heart attack; it was worse, a severe aortic dissection. A 30 centimeter section of the inner lining of the aorta had shredded, leaving Tina with no blood supply to vital organs including the spinal chord. (A really bad aortic dissection might be 15 centimeters, they tell me.) The surgeon was on her way. As we waited for the surgeon I held Tina’s hand which was rapidly getting quite cold, and Tina started to Make Plans. Never mind. Theresa and I watched the blood pressure numbers on the monitor. These numbers were so improbably high that Theresa asked the technicians to re-set the machine. Indeed, Tina’s blood pressure was 180 over 130 and not going down. When the surgeon arrived she needed to ask Tina for her informed consent which could only be given after Tina had been informed. “Your chances of dying in this surgery are one in three. Your chances of dying without the surgery are sixty percent. It is possible that after the surgery you will be paraplegic, without use of your legs.” Tina was still able to do the arithmetic so she signed. “I’m scared,” Tina said, “I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to be paraplegic.” The orderlies wheeled her away for what they told me would be six hours of surgery.

11:00 that evening found me in a hotel room in downtown Victoria waiting for the call. It came, and I was overjoyed to be able to tell Tina’s friends that all had gone well and Tina would live to fight another day, at least.

The next morning Webb and I visited Tina in the recovery room. After six hours of open heart surgery you can’t just take a shower right away, so there was our Tina, literally caked with blood, in a room reeking of blood, saying to Webb and me, “Well, they say that I will need to take two months off, but I’m tough and I feel so good, I’m sure that it won’t take so long! You know, I was never scared.” And the rest is history, as they say.


In November the Grand Tina Chancey Pardesssus de Viole Tour was on the road again, and we completed five concerts with absolutely no hemorrhaging. And we’re looking forward to playing all five movements of that Corelli sonata on Friday. (And we did, and no one died.)


Here’s a link to Marais’ Plainte from our December 4th concert in Lubbock

BACK TO TINA: It’s going to take another few months before I’m fully recovered but we expect to record this program, Fêtes Galantes, on schedule, at the end of January. And I don’t know which is more improbable, that I actually survived, or that I’m planning, in midst of these uncertain times, to crowdfund this recording. Why continue? The simple answer is that if we stop doing what we love out of anxiety and fear, then they win. I’m wondering how many of you feel the same way? The campaign started last week; to visit it click here.  Love you all. Tina

I feel stronger every day, we played 8 touring concerts in November and December, and we’re on track to record in January. But with six performers it’s going to be expensive, so, as I said, the Indiegogo campaign is up and running. You can also visit it here.

Are you finding it hard to be festive this holiday season? Then please celebrate these things with me: gratitude for being alive, and the joy of making music with dear friends.