I see from my last entry that it’s been almost a month since I last posted about Curtis on Tour (sorry!) but it definitely feels like that time has flown by quickly. Even after returning to Philadelphia following the first stretch of concerts, we didn’t get much breathing time before making stops in Manhattan, Kenneth Square (Longwood Gardens), Maine, and Chicago. It would be absolutely impossible to recapture all the joys, excitement, and memories of the tour so I’ll just jot down my thoughts for the pictures below.
Here we are backstage at the Mondavi Center in Davis, CA. We spent more time in Davis than in any other city on the tour (four days). Don’t get the wrong idea- the Mondavi Center and the affiliated outreach program put us to work immediately. Hyobi, Yekwon, and I performed three formal concerts (a private Mondavi donor event and two public concerts with the full Curtis on Tour group) and visited five orchestra classes at local middle and high schools. One of the great (and often nerve-wracking) aspects of these school visits is that each class reacts just a little bit differently to the music and even our personalities. For instance, we interacted with two orchestra classes back to back at Emerson Jr. High. The first responded with silent amazement while the second, though fidgety at times, wanted to know more about everything in the music. The moment we finished playing each piece in the second class, multiple hands shot up from students eager to express everything from memories the music brought to mind to questions about technical aspects of the instrument. This spontaneity was a refreshing reminder of why we spend thousands of hours in the practice room. We can easily forget the greatness of music when we can barely wrap our heads and fingers around a nasty fingered-octave or up-bow staccato passage.
Yekwon took this picture of the stage and million-dollar view from the Allen Room at Jazz@Lincoln Center. Luckily, this view of Columbus Circle and the southern edge of Central Park was behind us during the performance and not in our line of sight. Even though this performance was technically on the road, there were tons of familiar Curtis faces in the audience. President Diaz, Dean Mangan, most of the Curtis development office, and a handful of alumni gave us a hometown cheer when we walked on stage. As an added bonus, even Yekwon’s page-turner was a recognizable face. We needed a last minute replacement for the page turner and we couldn’t find anyone who was available. My sister, a violist studying at Juilliard, was planning on coming to the concert even before my desperate call on Yekwon’s behalf. Walking on stage alongside Yekwon and Elizabeth, two people with whom I’ve performed many times, totally dissolved any anxiety I may have had.
These two pictures are the Camden Harbor Inn, where we all stayed for the concert in Rockport, as well as the complimentary breakfast served at the Inn’s restaurant. You can’t see it in this photo, but the view from our rooms overlooked the Camden Harbor as well as the edge of the quaint downtown area. The delicious breakfast you see is Maine’s take on eggs Benedict. And yes, that is fresh Maine lobster on top of the eggs.
We performed twice in Maine - once at the University of Maine in Orono and once at the Rockport Opera House. In addition to our luxurious lodgings and delicious meals in Rockport, it was an added bonus for me to perform in the Opera House. When I was 11, I attended my first chamber music festival in Rockport - Bay Chamber Concerts’ Next Generation Program. I had been invited by Kathie Johnson, my chamber coach from Chicago, who with her husband Marc are co-artistic directors of the Next Generation program. It was in Rockport that I got my first taste of what chamber music could be. After the Curtis on Tour concert, I was surprised by two of my host families from past summers. Doris Saltzman reminded me of an adventure I once had that involved their roof and smoke bombs. Marty Rogers similarly recounted how I loved the trapdoors spread around their house (her beautiful mansion was used in a movie adaptation of Stephen King’s thriller “Thinner”). Kathie Johnson and her husband, Marc, also came backstage and congratulated us, bringing back even more wonderful memories. Similar to the Allen Room performance in New York, Rockport felt a lot like home.
Our final stop of the tour was in Chicago, where the whole gang performed at Ravinia and on air for one of WFMT’s (Chicago’s classical radio station) Impromptu programs. Yekwon, Hyobi and I performed two additional outreach programs. After our second outreach, my parents (who live in Chicago) took us to Millennium Park so I could show Hyobi and Yekwon some of Chicago’s sights. This is the “Bean” at Millennium Park in Chicago. Yekwon has a habit of surprising us all with semi-candid pictures from his iPhone. As you can see, Hyobi and I are caught a bit off guard here.
The last concert at Ravinia was a bittersweet ending. Performances of all the pieces were arguably the best of the entire tour and, hands down, the most fun. I must admit though, at the end of the last movement of the Dvorak I got nostalgic about ending such an amazing tour. Ms. Kavafian, Mr. Wiley, Hyobi, and Yekwon have all taught me so many valuable lessons as a player, musician, and person. Thank you for everything and I hope we all get many more chances to play wonderful music together!