What a summer!

Turns out when you book a flight from St. Louis to Portland on Southwest, you can’t get a direct flight. You have to stop somewhere and change planes, and today I’m changing planed in Phoenix. So that’s a three hour flight to Phoenix, and a three and a half hour flight to Portland. (Nope, I didn’t check this before I booked the flight. I never do. I simply close my eyes and click the “purchase” button. It’s much easier to deal with myself traveling when I take myself by surprise, sit back, and enjoy the ride. Makes me less grumpy for my husband, too.) I decided six and a half hours worth of flight time deserved the $8.00 splurge for wireless access, so I’m taking the opportunity to FINALLY get caught up here.

The end of June saw my yearly pilgrimage to Salem to teach at the Young Musician’s and Artist’s camp for two weeks. As always, it was an exhausting, inspired, joyful, and, in all honesty, magical time. The first week saw a visit by a wonderful homegrown band, Three Leg Torso. Béla Balogh leads this group on fiddle, and I insisted on a picture in a continuing effort to make myself feel like a superstar. It led to this very George Sr. and Kitty moment:

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(Note: for my students who don’t get the George Sr. and Kitty reference, I officially owe you a binge-watching session of Arrested Development when you reach an appropriate age.)

Next up was the Oregon Coast Music Festival, and I’m always so glad to be a part of this. The week started with an amazing chamber music experience of an under-rehearsed (and consequently surprisingly successful) performance of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden. It culminated with a fabulous performance of Symphonie Fantastique, which happened to be my first time playing this piece. It’s a piece that I’ve studied since my very first music lit class my freshman year of college. It’s on everybody’s must-do list. And it was incredibly fun.

This guy is our backstage mascot of the festival:

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Nope, I’m not talking about the conductor in the red shirt.

After being home for a whopping 20 hours, I turned around and headed to the Regional Orchestra Player’s Association (ROPA) conference in Spokane. I’ve always known that musician’s unions (like all labor unions) are important, but I hadn’t learned the history and facts behind that fact until I went to this conference. I came away fired up, confident, and proud that I call art my job.

When I returned home from Spokane, I had this brand new toy waiting for me:

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That, my friends, is a violin made out of carbon fiber, which I ordered from Mezzo Forte Instruments in Germany. I’ve needed a backup violin for outdoor gigs, summer gigs in hot and changing climates, and gigs for when my regular fiddle is in the shop. This really fits the bill – it sounds pretty great (I just played it for my grandfather’s birthday to rave reviews), and the carbon fiber won’t be affected by temperature and humidity like wood will. If I get a droplet or two of water on in, it’s no big deal – heck, I can clean this sucker with windex. And it’s sitting above me in the overhead compartment as I write this. My stress level of traveling by air with a violin is WAY lower with this instrument than my super good one. It’s a keeper!

So, what’s next? At this moment, I’m about to go and update my gigs that you see on the right side of this page, make sure my students are ready to go for the next month or so, and shop for some music for my Concordia string ensemble. Things are about to get crazy again in my career, and I think, after all the travel, vacation, and lots of rest, I’m finally ready for it.

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