by Lisa McDivitt
Several months later, on a cold, snowy night in February, Greg nervously walked Liz up to his apartment on West 106th Street. None of his three roommates were home, and the two of them took off their shoes on his hardwood floor and walked down the hallway to his bedroom. A few weeks prior, Liz and Greg had been asked by Juilliard to compose and perform something to replace John Williams on the “Cinematic Serenades” concert in Alice Tully Hall, another event celebrating Juilliard’s centennial year. The famed movie composer, a Juilliard alumni himself, originally agreed to compose a work for the event but later withdrew due to his busy schedule. Liz and Greg, elated at the chance to exploit their compositional skills and put their own pianistic spin on popular culture, chose to compose and perform an original work based on motives from Star Wars. Finally, here was something that was undeniably “Anderson & Roe.” They could blend their obsession with movies, their flair, and their passion for putting their own unique stamp on recognizable tunes. Greg devoted two solid weeks to composing the first and second movements of their four-movement piece, but Liz had different ideas for the second movement. Earlier that day Greg had altered the score, and that night Liz would hear it again. They were running out of time, Greg was becoming exhausted, and both of them had many other things to think about, such as auditions for doctoral programs, master degree recitals, and end-of-the-year juries at Juilliard.
The two sat down at Greg’s keyboard. It has no speakers, and it blocks the ornate fireplace of his high-ceilinged bedroom. Each of them wore headphones, and they faced each other. Greg pressed the play button to begin the movement he had recorded earlier that day. The wind seeped in through the cracks around the window, but the two of them were deaf to its song of loneliness and to the wheels of trucks breaking in the snow outside. They sat, Greg nervous for her reaction, Liz lost to the themes he spent all day to create. Scores of music from geniuses past sat behind the scribbled outline of Greg’s unreadable Star Wars adaptation.
Their feet almost touching, they did not make eye contact. They were overworked, unsure of their future, and nervous. But all the vastness of doubt in their lives, their careers, and their prospects as a duo never came in through the cracks of the room that only the wind could permeate. Because for a time, for 20 minutes on a cold Saturday night, it was just Liz, Greg, and the music that only they could hear.