Grand Tetons Calling

Grand Tetons Calling

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


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


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.


So there has been music, and fireworks

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

And old friends


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.


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!



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!

Russians in Edmonton… and the lighter side of Schubert

Dateline June 22, 2019 Edmonton AB

where was I?

We did a fun side-by-side concert with the YONA Sistema kids to help raise money for the program on Tuesday June 11. Then we dived into the week’s last Masterworks program of the season: Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” Suite, Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini featuring Sara Davis Buechner (with whom I and a couple other friends grabbed a drink, some nom nom, and some hilarious stories post-concert Friday night at nearby Joey Bell Tower), and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” to finish the epic program.


So that was fun. And a great way to finish the season, at least for me. There was still a weekend of Harry Potter music to play, but I was off the hook because I’d booked out of the services in order to participate in the 2019 Summer Solstice Chamber Music Festival, featuring a week of amateur chamber musician coachings followed by a series of faculty and special guest artist concerts.

It was fun to catch up with Ensemble Made in Canada, who were in town for maybe 36 hours. I caught part of their noontime Mosaique show at the Art Gallery of Alberta, and part of their evening performance of Faure’s Piano Quartet at First Baptist Church on 109th St. I joined them for drinks at LeRonde (rotating restaurant overlooking the Saskatchewan River, or downtown Edmonton, or all of the above), and Robert joined us all as well. Good times!


And then rehearsals started for the concert I was to play Friday night at the festival’s conclusion. That program? Mozart Kegelstadt Trio for viola clarinet and piano; Weber Clarinet Quintet; and Schubert Trout Quintet. Fellow performers were violinist Mark Fewer, clarinetist Jim Campbell, ESO violinist Laura Veeze and principal cellist Rafael Goekman, and bassist Alex Castili, all along with Festival director Patricia Tao at the piano. Made for a great few days!

Jim Campbell taught at Indiana University for a long time, until retiring just a couple of months ago, so I’ve known of him as an amazing teacher and musician ever since I was a student there 25 years ago. It was awesome to reconnect.


The concert came and went, and more good times were had.

The other great thing to happen this week was my wife and daughter flew out from Kitchener (all right, Hamilton) to visit for a few days and attend that chamber music concert. I was so glad they had a chance to meet my wonderful hosts, and to visit the pair of schools we’re considering for my daughter for her transfer into the EPSB as a 7th grader this fall. Today, Saturday the 22nd I flew back East with my little girl both to prep for our upcoming road trip to Boston and to leave my wife with some much deserved peace and quiet to concentrate and relax in the last few days leading up to the ESO’s principal oboe audition he’s doing on the 26th.

My host-mom drove us to YEG this morning and her daughter gave my daughter a new-friend goodbye squeeze, and we all had a nice moment of goodbyes before parting ways…

Next up: end of school for the kids and a road trip to Boston to visit old friends and MIT - one of a handful of universities worth checking out for my math&science-y son.

watch this space!

Edmonton in June

Edmonton in June

Dateline: Edmonton AB, June 11 2019

10 days to go, then back to Kitchener. It’s been a whirlwind trip. Tasked with finding a place for our family to live, and a school with a compatible IB program for my son, and a school with the right sort of support system for my daughter, I took advantage of last week’s lighter schedule to roam the city searching and researching and meeting and viewing and interviewing and checking off the crucial to-do list items one by one.

I roamed mostly by foot and I must admit I’m liking this city. It doesn’t hurt to have had several sunny warm days in a row while I was out and about. But even when it rained, it was nice to be out. I think I’ll dump a bunch of photos here to show off just how nice it’s been.

Oh, hold on - it was only nice for a couple of days and then Edmonton got really smokey because of the several big fires burning about 400km north.

On the worst day of smokiness I stayed indoors as much as possible, but I still had some wandering to do, and eventually the smoke cleared, and I got back to it…

See? Lots of beautiful views. But I wasn’t just sightseeing. I found a couple of school options for my daughter and a great place for my son. And the staff/principals are (so far) all so nice and helpful! Little by little the stress has been falling away, and things are lining up nicely.

Oh - and we’ve been playing concerts and I’ve been hanging out with my new colleagues, having fun making new friends (yay me! :)

That’s enough for now. Sunday we played with Thorgy Thor. Today we played with YONA Sistema. Tomorrow we begin rehearsals for the last Masterworks program of the season - Scheherazade, Swan Lake, and Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini.

watch this space!