I can’t believe it’s already May 23rd!  Where has the year gone?  This past weekend, as I was finishing up a very musically fulfilling week of work up in Santa Barbara and Monterey, I sat by the campfire, roasting marshmallows with Steve and Auggie and was hit by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude – much like a giant wave that takes out a novice surfer (not that I know anything about surfing …).

A year ago, almost to the date, I began this adventure visiting various doctors, physical therapists, Alexander teachers, etc., trying to get to the bottom of the debilitating neck/arm pain that would eventually sideline me for a couple of months.  There were times when I couldn’t play more than a couple of minutes without a pain in my neck that felt like someone was sticking a knife directly into my neck (C6/C7), which would then radiate up the back side of my skull and down my right arm. You can imagine how much fun flute playing was during all of that!  But this blog entry isn’t about that, you heard plenty about that in an earlier blog.  Well, OK, it’s a little bit about the progress I’ve made with the help of an AMAZING team of people. I just played a month of crazy hard, stressful concerts, all of which required many hours of practice time and I’m actually feeling pretty darn good.  Whoo hoo!

Actually, today’s blog is to reflect not only on that but also on the super cool performances of the 2012-2013 season that I was proud to be a part of, which is nearly at a close.  Just a couple more weeks of performances and then summer is officially here. That means, a fabulous two week flute masterclass in Monterey Bay, my flute camp here in beautiful Long Beach, some awesome chamber music, a body mapping retreat in Iowa, a handful of fun and exciting orchestral concerts and a production of Marriage of Figaro up in San Francisco.  Not bad.

The highlight’s of the year include playing chamber music with my friends for my nieces wedding back home in Michigan. Playing for family weddings has to be one of my favorite things to do, and playing for Andrea and Rich’s big day was no exception.  It was a beautiful wedding and a really fun time with the family. Charlotte, Scotty and Robert were amazing – I only wish we could’ve played a few more hours together just for the fun of it!

First performance back after hiatus; September 2012, Rochester Hills, MI.  My dear friends from the D: Char, Scotty and Robert.

First performance back after hiatus; September 2012, Rochester Hills, MI. My dear friends from the D: Char, Scotty and Robert.

And speaking of chamber music, organizing this year’s BCCM Faculty Chamber Music Concert was great fun.

Post BCCM Faculty Chamber Concert bliss with Josephine, Dave, Carolyn and David.

Post BCCM Faculty Chamber Concert bliss with Josephine, Dave, Carolyn and David.

Josephine, David, Dave and I played Carolyn Bremer’s beautiful “Channel Islands.”  Here is a recording of our live performance: http://www.csulb.edu/depts/music/archive/media/spring_2013/02_11/11%20Channel%20Islands.mp3

Sometimes unusual and unique performance opportunities present themselves and this season that came in the form of playing with the Phiharmonia Baroque Orchestra, backing up the renown Chinese folk singer extraordinaire, Song Zuying, for performances here in LA at the Shrine and up in SF and Davies Symphony Hall. Wow! Song Zuying is a national treasure in China for a reason.  She’s incredible, I mean what she does vocally is truly phenomenal. Google her, you’ll see what I mean.  Unreal! The final concert happened to take place on my birthday, coincidentally.  That morning, I caught the first flight up to SF, took BART over to the Civic Center and parked it in one of my favorite little spots: La Boulange in Hayes Valley. I spent the day with friends, played some unique and fun music at Davies and pretty much ate and drank my way through Hayes Valley.  Another highlight of the day was beers at the outdoor Biergarten with the low brass.

Birthday beers with the low brass: Scott Choate, Tom Hornig, Doug Thorley and Craig McAmis

Birthday beers with the low brass: Scott Choate, Tom Hornig, Doug Thorley and Craig McAmis

These concerts were once in a lifetime kinds of gigs and ones that I’ll never forget.

Mindy Rosenfeld, Teresa Orozco and I at the Shrine.

Mindy Rosenfeld, Teresa Orozco and I at the Shrine.

Our season in OEBS has been really good and really challenging. We premiered a work on our April concert that earned it’s way onto my list of “Top Two Hardest Pieces EVER” (the other being anything by John Adams).  The work “Ya Way Li” by John Bisharat stretched us to our absolute limits and was a huge success.

Alice Lenaghan, Pedro Eustache and I, armed and ready for "Ya Way Li"

Alice Lenaghan, Pedro Eustache and I, armed and ready for “Ya Way Li”

I played flute, picc and alto flute.  Alice played flute, penny whistle and sopranino recorder and Pedro Eustache played about 4 or 5 various other ethnic flutes. Wild!

We followed that with another big premier on our May concert by our Principal Cellist, Dan Rieter, “Mysterium” … also crazy hard, but very very cool and very well received.  The big highlight for me though, was Bach’s “Magnificat” … what a treat to get to play this.  It had been many years.  We were given nod from Josh Kosman in the SF Gate: http://www.sfgate.com/music/article/Oakland-symphony-packs-it-in-for-season-4492875.php (Thank you, Josh.  Your kind words are much appreciated!) Needless to say, I’m so glad to have been a part of these concerts with my orchestra.

It wasn’t all insane amounts of notes and long hours of practice for OEBS. Aside from our usual routine trips to Farley’s for sea salt chocolate chip cookies and good caffeine…

Our usual hang at Farley's; me, Steve, Bruce Chrisp, Scott Chote and of course, Auggie.

Our usual hang at Farley’s; me, Steve, Bruce Chrisp, Scott Chote and of course, Auggie.

…or to Beer Revolution for, well, beer…IMG_2731 we had plenty of other good times.

Diane Maltester, Jarrat Rossini and I enjoying break time during Nutcracker

Diane Maltester, Jarrat Rossini and I enjoying break time during Nutcracker

Lunch time at Ike's with Amy Likar, Scott Choate, Joan Burg and Laura Reynolds

Lunch time at Ike’s with Amy Likar, Scott Choate, Joan Burg and Laura Reynolds

In March, the orchestra was invited to be a part of the World Baseball Classic at AT & T Park. We did a pre-record of several of the participating country’s national anthems as well as a short fanfare for the parade of the nations flags. Then, we sidelined to ourselves on the field. Since we didn’t have to actually play at the game, a group of us thought it would probably be OK to enjoy a pre-game beverage and watch batting practice between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. We snuck in to watch the game when we finished pre-game festivities but were quickly rained out by the 3rd inning.

Word Baseball Classic at AT & T Park with OEBS, March 2013

Word Baseball Classic at AT & T Park with OEBS, March 2013

Getting the opportunity to sub with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra and work with Heiichiro Ohyama is perhaps one of the best luxuries I get to enjoy. No matter what we’re playing or what chair I’m sitting, it is ALWAYS inspiring, educational, exciting, exhausting, and musically rewarding beyond words. This time, I got to play SBCO’s season finale: Schubert Symphony No. 5 (one of my all time favorites which rarely gets performed), Italian in Algiers, and Mozart C Minor Piano Concerto with Alessio Bax.

Auggie doesn't seem particularly interested in posing for our family photo. There must be a squirrel nearby.

Auggie doesn’t seem particularly interested in posing for our family photo. There must be a squirrel nearby.

Add to all of that the fact that Steve and I got to work together … AWE-SOME concert.  What a shot in the arm!

Channel Islands, from El Capitan State Beach

Channel Islands, from El Capitan State Beach

After Santa Barbara Chamber, we continued up Hwy 1 to Monterey where I got to play the final concert of their season. We decided rather than stay in whatever Bb motel where we’d pay a lot and get very little, we’d camp.  So, we drove our VW Van, camped in Santa Barbara at one of our favorite spots, El Capitan and then at another long time favorite, Veterans Park in Monterey.

El Capitan State Beach

El Capitan State Beach

I really enjoy playing in Monterey Symphony; great people, great flute section, great hang, beautiful place, not to mention the awesome campground, good bike riding and Red’s Donuts within a 5 minute drive … seriously, what more could you ask for?  The ladies in the flute section always make me feel right at home, too.  Love them!

Dawn Walker, Teresa Orozco and I post Monterey Symphony concert at the Sunset Center in Carmel

Dawn Walker, Teresa Orozco and I post Monterey Symphony concert at the Sunset Center in Carmel

Now, I look forward to our big end of the season Gala Fundraiser  in OEBS next week, celebrating the life and music of Dave Brubeck, followed by the Rite of Spring with Pacific Symphony.  What a way to end a season!

Next stop, summer …

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