There’s a moment in “A Piece of Work,” the documentary about her life, when the late comedian Joan Rivers brandishes a blank page from her appointment book and asks the cameraman, “You want to see fear? I’ll show you fear.”
San Antonio Tlayacapan resident Cynde Iverson can relate. Until Covid, the renowned bassoonist had been dividing her time between her sprawling Lakeside compound and a brownstone in Brooklyn, the calendars on her phone and computer jam-packed with rehearsal reminders and concert dates that included a run at the Metropolitan Opera House and a performance of “Carmen” for Jazz at Lincoln Center. “And then, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was all wiped out. My world vanished.”
What a world it used to be. A quick Google search reveals an impressive resume that includes Iverson’s stints as principal bassoonist of the New Haven symphony, the Stamford Symphony, and Rhode Island Philharmonic; member of the American Ballet Theater Orchestra; and soloist with New York’s prestigious Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. As soloist and member of the Episteme jazz ensemble, she has played in storied music venues all across the United States, Asia and Europe. And, somewhere along the way, she also started a fashion company, based in Hanoi, so women there could make a living wage for their sewing skills – but that’s a story for another time.