So, here I am, camped out on the floor at SFO, next to an outlet, with a big cup of breakfast tea. It’s not hard to reflect back on the awesome, exhausting, inspiring, rejuvenating, soul feeding 12 days that just took place; a week on the Oregon Coast, opera in San Francisco, and a shiny new flute.
Let’s back up to last week at what I believe is the best music festival ever, the Oregon Coast Music Festival. I love this festival more than words can say, and for more reasons than I can list here, but I’ll start with the people, the place, the food, the beer, the music making, and the gorgeous Oregon Coast. Fabulous. All of it.
Our Festival Orchestra performs three concerts during the one week residency in Coos Bay, and that week flies by faster than any other week during the year. Each year I try to savor as much as I can, taking it all in and hoping to make it last as long as possible. This year was no exception. First of all, I’m pretty sure I slept about a total of 20 hours during my 8 days there. It’s sort of hard to sleep when there are a ton of great things happening. You don’t want to miss out on any opportunity to enjoy quality time with some of your favorite people that you only see for one week a year.
Even though 5 days have passed since our final concert, Bloch’s Schelomo is still on a continuous loop in my head. How can that be? I mean, up until this past Saturday morning’s dress rehearsal, I not only was not a huge Bloch fan, I had arbitrarily put Schelomo on my unofficial “do not play” list. In retrospect, that was a pretty lame move on my part. Never having been a fan of his “Suite Modale” for flute and piano I just sort of lumped Schelomo into that same category of pieces not to like. Boy was I wrong. As it turns out, Schelomo is a very cool piece.
In addition to Schelomo, we performed several other works, but the highlights for me were: Beethoven Symphony No. 7 (Never gets old. Love it!), the fastest Polovetsian Dances known to man, Sibelius’ Valse Triste (One of my all-time personal favorites.), and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story” (Love this one, too!). All of that plus a Pops concert = a very full week.
is clearly a testament to our outstanding time management skills. Right?
Sure, we could just go home after evening rehearsals and concerts, get our 8 hours, wake up refreshed and get to rehearsal early the next morning, with plenty of time to warm up. But why? Playing darts at The Liberty Pub until close is way more fun.
It was during our dress rehearsal of Schelomo that I decided to buy a flute that I was seriously considering. Muramatsu America generously allowed me the opportunity to take a flute on trial to Oregon and then to San Francisco, so that I could see how it worked not only in the practice room, but in the orchestra. And, not only in the orchestra, but in the role of principal flute in Oregon as well as second in San Francisco. The roles are very different, and I’ve been patiently searching for the flute that will allow me to have all the expressive freedom I want and need when playing solo repertoire, chamber music, as well as in each of my roles in the orchestra. Saturday morning, I noticed several similarities between moments in Schelomo and in Richard Strauss’ Salome (one of my other all-time favorite pieces). And then, in that moment it all clicked for me. I started to take more risks musically, and was able to create more nuance and color on a piece that I never thought I liked, than I’ve ever been able to do with either of my other flutes, on pieces I’ve really liked. This flute is seriously awesome. I couldn’t be happier. Thank you, Muramatsu.
This week, I’ve been playing second flute and piccolo on Don Pasquale in San Francisco. One of my other orchestral positions is as second flute/piccolo with the San Francisco Opera Center Orchestra, another job I love. Let’s see: I love opera, I love Donizetti, and I love Don Pasquale, so, I guess one could say I’m having a pretty enjoyable week here, too. No darts, Euchre, or beach frisbee, unfortunately. But, between the bits of Schelomo still going through my head, I now have bits of Don Pasquale, too. Not bad.
None of us get rich doing summer festivals. It’s all about the people.
Going to Coos Bay each July feeds my soul in a way that nothing else seems to. When I leave there, all of that goodness comes back home with me, and I do my best to hang onto it for as long as possible. This year, I get the added bonus of reinforcing all of that goodness with a big dose of opera, in a great city, with great people.
Right now, it seems like a long time until Coast.
But like every year, you get busy doing what you do, and all of the sudden 51 weeks have passed, we’re all back in our cars headed to Coos Bay, singing loudly in our cars to keep ourselves awake, headed to paradise where we’ll play really great music together, stay up way too late, play cards, hang out at the beach, and drink awesome craft beer. Only 359 days to go!