Richard is a conductor and artistic director at Burlington Choral Society in Vermont, USA.

I cried several times yesterday as I watched the 2015 movie about the lives of Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener called “The Danish Girl.”

I recommend it highly, though I have no way of knowing whether you will respond the way I did.

As it happens, 2015 was an important year for me, as that was the year I contracted encephalitis, and since 2015 I have come to cry many times a month.

Previous to contracting encephalitis I cried perhaps a handful of times in the previous 45 years of my adult life.

Of all the changes that encephalitis has brought into my life, crying frequently is not one that I am sorry about.

In many ways, it has revealed and “rated” what’s important to me.

If I cry, it’s important.

Luckily, I’m even allowed to cry in public, as tears indicate my emotional response to the music that I conduct.

Indeed, I am a conductor.

Conducting singers and instrumentalists has been my principal way of performing music for many years now and my tears have now come to be associated with what I consider beautiful in the world of music.

It sounds like I am grateful for having had encephalitis.

Believe me, that’s not true.

But if the list of bad things is longer than the list of good things, then I’ll do my best to acknowledge my appreciation for being in a profession where one’s emotions can be worn on the sleeve - or in one’s hands.

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