This time next month

Dateline: Aug 9 2019. Bishop, CA

Next month I’ll be in Edmonton performing with my new colleagues in the ESO, helping my kids adjust to their new schools, and helping my wife find her way in a new town.

But today we drove from Danville CA to Bishop through Yosemite. We had spent several days in the Bay Area visiting friends we hadn't seen since we moved away four years ago, using my childhood home as basecamp. In Yosemite we headed straight for the Falls and spent an hour or so playing in the bouldery river before piling back into the car for the afternoon drive to Bishop where I’d found us a motel for the night before our long next leg to the Grand Canyon and Springdale Utah (at the south entrance to Zion Canyon), where we’ll be sleeping tomorrow night.

I even had a nifty practice space.

I even had a nifty practice space.

Before Danville, we were in Beulah Wyoming visiting my side of the family for nearly a week. The family has a cabin - a modest house, really - in idyllic Black Hills paradise, Sand Creek Country Club. My grandparents used to live there and we’d drive out almost every summer growing up to stay for weeks playing, fishing, hiking, visiting… Now my mom is the owner and my brothers and I have made it our common summer rendezvous point a few times in the last several years. The brothers hang out, their partners catch up, the cousins play, the innertubes get inflated, the grasshoppers get trapped, the fish get caught, the touristing happens (Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, etc.), and we all go our separate ways again until the next time. Maybe New Year’s in a different city, maybe next summer back in Wyoming. We’ll see!

Before Beulah, my daughter performed in a pair of shows at the conclusion of her musical theatre camp in Kitchener, my father-in-law and his lovely wife visited from Ottawa to witness said shows, we had one last inter-family meal with my sister-in-law’s bunch in Waterloo, and one last sit-down with my mother-in-law in Kitchener, and one last fire pit party at which to burn a chunk of old-enough financial records — and one final oven spray-cleaning treatment to try to make that damn thing really shine — before handing over our rental-house keys and hightailing it out of Ontario to get this big trip finally started in earnest.

So much stress, so many feels. So much help from family and friends, so much uncertainty about what exactly comes next. I mean, we have our calendar already pretty fleshed out for 2019-20, but you know what I mean. New home, new job, new schools, new friends for all of us. Whee!

watch this space!

Wait, wait, it's August?

Dateline: Aug.6, 2019. Danville California

Since last I wrote, it's been about a month. I can't believe that's accurate, even as I count the weeks and begin to think back through everything we've done along the way.

There was the second week of GTMF in which I hiked even more, and then grabbed a photo with Yefim Bronfman who was the guest artist playing Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto at the end of the week.

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Turns out I was in the Aspen Festival Orchestra 22 years ago when Bronfman played the same piece there - my introduction to it - and midperformance he broke one of the lowest piano strings which necessitated a piano technician coming to the stage to replace it and retune the instrument… A memorable happening that I had only remembered when in Jackson Hole this time Bronfman needed to interrupt the dress rehearsal to request a swap of the concert grand with another option backstage. So I approached him after rehearsal and told him of my Aspen memory, and he acknowledged with a chuckle that he did indeed also vividly remember that experience. So that was fun.

And then the festival was over and I was headed back to Ontario to load up the U-Haul and drive our stuff across Canada with my son, to deposit in our new apartment in Edmonton.

Before I got to the airport my roomies with a car drove me into Jackson for a little touristing. We saw police on horses. I asked why he got to wear a cowboy hat while she got to wear a helmet. She said, “Cause I'm the smart one.”

Before I got to the airport my roomies with a car drove me into Jackson for a little touristing. We saw police on horses. I asked why he got to wear a cowboy hat while she got to wear a helmet. She said, “Cause I'm the smart one.”

We also grabbed lunch at The Bunnery (this is the delicious, if messy, veggie burger with cheese)

We also grabbed lunch at The Bunnery (this is the delicious, if messy, veggie burger with cheese)

When we were (mostly) done loading the U-Haul truck back in Kitchener, we did what everybody should do when they're moving out of a house - host a chamber music reading party! What a great way to say goodbye.

When we were (mostly) done loading the U-Haul truck back in Kitchener, we did what everybody should do when they're moving out of a house - host a chamber music reading party! What a great way to say goodbye.

On July 16 at noon my son and I pulled out of the driveway and headed East, to head North, to head West. We drove along the Trans-Canada Highway, through Sudbury, Soult Saint Marie, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and finally into Edmonton, arriving just about 52 hours later on the 18th.

On July 16 at noon my son and I pulled out of the driveway and headed East, to head North, to head West. We drove along the Trans-Canada Highway, through Sudbury, Soult Saint Marie, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and finally into Edmonton, arriving just about 52 hours later on the 18th.

We brought our cats along for the ride. They survived!

We brought our cats along for the ride. They survived!

And at some point along the way I took a very brief nap on the U-Haul ramp. It was surprisingly comfortable! I'd do it again.

And at some point along the way I took a very brief nap on the U-Haul ramp. It was surprisingly comfortable! I'd do it again.

I took a break from writing this post and lost my train of thought, not that it should be very complicated simply recounting the steps along a summer’s worth of travel.

more next time.

watch this space!

Grand Tetons Calling

Grand Tetons Calling

Dateline: July 7 2019. Teton Village/Jackson Hole WY

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One week down, one week to go. This place is great!

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We played a July 4 “Patriotic Pops” concert and then two concerts of Carmina Burana (which I was in) and excerpts of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” (which I wasn’t). My delightful seat for the week was at the back of the viola section, which also meant I was directly in front of, and between, the bass drum and snare on my left and the timpani on my right. I’ll just leave that there. ;) But it also meant that directly to my right and just in front was the soprano’s seat for Carmina Burana, which made everything better.

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So there has been music, and fireworks

And beautiful views of the valley from my shared housing overlooking it

And old friends

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And lots of hiking!

that is all. Looking forward to this week’s program of Sibelius “En Saga,” Brahms “Haydn Variations,” and Rachmaninov 3rd Piano Concerto with Yefim Bronfman. And more hiking.

watch this space!

Birthday weekend on cape cod

Birthday weekend on cape cod

Dateline: July 1, 2019 Dallas Fort Worth Airport, Gate C27

My connecting flight to Jackson Hole is delayed by an hour or so. I’ll get there eventually. First rehearsal isn’t until tomorrow afternoon, so it’s all good.

We spent the weekend at our friends Elena and Seward’s home in Wellfleet, on the simplest couple of vacation days we have had as a family in a very long time. It was lucky timing for me: I turned 43 on Saturday and was happy to be with family, far from work, and somewhere beautiful and new-to-us for the occasion. New to my family, anyway - I’ve visited before but it’s been a while, and always as part of Quartet touring. This was nice.

Seward taught me how to open clams and shuck oysters, and he took me out for my first-ever real 9-hole game of golf. Distant thunderstorms were threatening enough that the course was almost entirely empty except for us, which made it super-low pressure and we were able to take our sweet time — the rain finally, barely, came but only as we were walking up the hill for our final putts on the 9th hole.

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My son got some music composition mentor ship time from Elena and my daughter got to help rake their beach and plant some flowers and go to the market with Elena. Elisabeth got to test out a new synthetic top joint for her oboe (it’s not a keeper) and generally relax.

And there was a canoe and a kayak available for the four of us (plus Barkley) to take out on the pond for a bit each day.

And lots of Yahtzee! was played. Not many Yahtzees were rolled.

And we all drove over to the bayside for the sunset on Saturday, capping off a fantastic birthday of chill.

And then we drove back to Boston Sunday night in order to visit this French horn shop in Jamaica Plain first thing Monday morning, so my son could get a new mouthpiece and a new case and a new mute for the used horn we recently acquired from his teacher’s colleague at Wilfred Laurier. It was fun being a parent in an alien (not a violin maker's shop) music shop where I really know nothing about the stuff on sale - just that much further-removed from my normal work environment… again, it was nice. Niiiice.

And now I’m here in Dallas, halfway (more) to Wyoming for two weeks as an orchestra festival musician. Looking forward to seeing a couple of old friends and meeting new ones. The schedule is relatively light, so I expect there’ll be some hiking happening. What else?

watch this space!

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Frazzled

Dateline: June 26 2019, Brookline MA

surprise surprise, I’m pooped

i know 9 hours to some is a long drive, to others it’s not so bad. But preface that with 3 long days of early starts and late-late nights checking off to-do list items barely faster than more are added, while already running on fumes, and before that throw in 3 weeks of roaming to get to know a new city, some late night post-concert collegial hangs with new friends

and keep the stress level generally high as rental leases are signed and schools are visited and professional concerts come and go at a pretty quick pace… yeah..

of course, it’s me who’s keeping me up right now writing this silly blog entry!

and it was totally worth it to be back in kw to take care of my kids again for a few days on my own with them, as their last days of school in this community come and go, launching them on into their next everything.

Tomorrow, the family reunited and we explore beantown. This weekend, we relax on cape cod with friends. Monday, I fly to Jackson Hole Wyoming and they head north to my in-laws in Gatineau QC. Mid-July, we reunite again for a day of Uhaul packing and chamber music empty-house-partying before my son and I drag what remains of our stuff across Canada.

watch this space!