May 2012. It was a momentous season. There were many moving parts but it all came together and the celebration at Soif following the Saturday concert was full of joy and a deep sense of achievement. I don’t know where to begin. I think I will start with the moment that personally was the most profound. It happened off stage right after we took our final bows. David Arben had joined all the artists on stage and there were lots of smiles and hugs as we accepted our beautiful yellow bouquets put together by Lilly Kim. Arben made a point to hug and shake hands with each of us who had just premiered the chamber piece “Haim”, written by Polina, inspired by his miraculous life. As we all walked off the stage and gathered together, still relishing in the afterglow, Mr. Arben, began to tear up, telling us he had not been so touched in a very long time. The tears and strong emotions flowed for all of us in this unforgettable backstage moment. Continue reading
Last month I had the pleasure of playing on two veteran bay area chamber music series, the Gold Coast Chamber Players (http://www.gcplayers.org/) and EOS Ensemble (http://www.eosensemble.com/). I cannot imagine a better way to start off 2012.
GCCP playing for the kids of Stanley Middle School
Pam Freund-Striplen, violist and director of Gold Coast (GCCP), has done an amazing job cultivating a community in support of chamber music. We performed an all Mozart concert (I performed the Mozart Clarinet Quintet along with Corina Storian, Eric Gaenslen, & Tony Striplen). My only experience with the work was reading through it for fun with David Kaun (Mim co-founder, donor, friend, clarinetist) and friends. [Side note: Chamber music "reading parties" are one of the greatest rewards of being a musician. Musicians gather at a home with instruments and a stack of music; in between food, drink and chatter, we play through several chamber works.] Continue reading
Seeing Camille after 12 years!
After 5 days in Haiti, my sister Elizabeth and I traveled by bus to explore the Dominican Republic. When Elizabeth had the idea to extend our trip to explore this neighboring country, it took me more than a second to realize a very dear friend, Camille Berroa, was there. In 1997, when I was 16, I met Camille at the two month music camp, Meadowmount. In addition to the required 5 hour individual practice sessions, we had coachings, lessons, and recitals.
Camille with her students
It was during this intense summer that we became very close. We met for more music-making on the island of Puerto Rico (Festival de la Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de las Americas), which coincidentally is also the place where I first met David Arben! He coached the violin sections. Continue reading
January 2nd through 7th I traveled with my sister Elizabeth and friend and colleague John Wineglass to help Haiti. We joined a team of doctors from NYC on a trip to combine medicine with music!
Friday January 6th, John and I returned with the medical team to the tent city – a man carrying a Casio keyboard on Wednesday had returned as he’d promised to let John play on his instrument. We set up just outside the tent, serenading patients and the long line of people patiently waiting their turn for treatment. We were set up right outside the tent beside Dr. Stanton’s work station. Dr. was seated in a plastic lawn chair, hunched over his patients who lay on a long rickety bench. People helped bringing a chord over the main dirt road to feed electricity to the keyboard through their generator. Continue reading
Western Wall, Jerusalem
I just returned from one of the most special trips around the world. I was traveling through Egypt, Jordan and Israel with my parents and sister. All the stories would fill a novel. I write to you about a very moving part of my trip. Even before crossing the Atlantic, I knew I wanted to leave a note with the names of David Arben’s family at the Western Wall. I wrote them on a small sheet of paper, folded it up and carried it in my jacket pocket, safely next to my passport. When we arrived at the wall in the Old City of Jerusalem I felt nervous, mainly because I wasn’t sure what the traditions were and hoped I wouldn’t do anything “incorrectly”.
I have spent a very fruitful 2 weeks on the road.
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival 2011
It began with a trip to Santa Fe where I reunited with L.P. How (Mim 2009 & 2010). Having played beside L.P. for many years now (during Mim, for Santa Fe kids, and at the Sarasota Opera where he is concertmaster), there is a unique sense of familiarity. L.P.’s gorgeous sound and dedication to keep each performance fresh creates inspires me.
As part of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, we spent the week performing for area school kids, including the children on the Santa Clara Indian Reservation. In 5 short days, we performed 20 shows, reaching hundreds of children! Continue reading
I spent an entire afternoon and evening with Mr. David Arben – always an enriching time of listening, learning and laughing… just moments after I had entered his Spruce Street apartment, Mr. Michael Tree phoned him asking him to dinner the next day – what a coincidence he should call while I was there!
David: “I have someone here who would like to say hello.”
Rebecca: “Hello Mr. Tree. It’s Rebecca from Santa Cruz.”
Michael: “Well hello! What a nice surprise! I was just calling David to invite him to dinner tomorrow after I finish teaching at Curtis. Would you be able to join us?”
The next evening I met David at the stoop of his apartment at 6:30pm. We walked, or strolled rather, stopping every few yards so he could punctuate a part of his story. With only a few blocks to walk, we arrived at Michaels’ hotel rather early so we took the extra time to walk to Curtis Institute of Music. As we passed this historic, ornate structure, he read my mind remarking, “This building has amazingly changed very little since I first came so many years ago.” Continue reading
After Music in May ends I like to find a seat at a local café (preferably in the sun!) and put pen to paper, reminiscing the weeks’ activities. This year I thought I’d share some of my reflections, our highlights, in order to give you a behind the scenes snapshot.
Something I mentioned as we raised a glass at our final reception was how close I felt to the musicians, even those I had met just days before- this closeness we feel to one another impacts how we play with one another. The musicians who perform at Mim are tremendous talents but in addition I am so proud to be associated with such warm spirits. Unlike the large personalities of performing artists often talked about, the kindness of our featured musicians not only made my week doubly enjoyable but I believe it also emanates from their playing. Continue reading
Such amazing players, amazing personalities, and all around great FUN. It was as exciting to see the joy on people’s faces as they swayed to the music as it was to see the goggle-eyed pumpkins marvel at the act of music-making [during the outreach programs]. Amazing how art is needed in these days and Mim helps that cause immensely!
— Amy Yang, pianist, a Mim favorite
I was enchanted with the sound of the violin . . . The violin saved my life.
— David Arben