A Week in Chicagoland
Sitting in the airport – O’Hare is a place I’ve come to know quite well, but this time I arrive almost two hours early for my flight! It’s a bit too crowded to practice at the gate, so I’m glad I have my laptop as a carry-on. I had a lot of fun this week in Chicago. It was surprisingly cold for October, but most of the activities I engage in are inside anyway, and the hotel room temperature knob and I have become fast friends. The level of intensity around the engagement was enough to keep the blood flowing at a good rate, too! There were television interviews on ABC 7 Chicago and Chicago Tonight (WTTW/PBS - where I performed Julie-O by Mark Summer as well as the Prelude from the 1st Suite by J.S. Bach) , along with the Sun-Times interview I had done before arriving in Chicago. Following the TV airing of Julie-O there was enough positive feedback that I ended up playing it as an encore after both nights’ performances, with the addition of J.S. Bach’s Sarabande from the 1st Suite on the second concert. Fun stuff!
The TV spots were done on the first day, and Kirk Muspratt (the conductor) and I had most of our discussion about the piece at the tv station in the lobby and dressing room, and then in the car on the way to the rehearsal in Glen Ellyn, where we basically went straight to the stage and started with the orchestra cold. This full-court press seemed not too out of character for the Maestro Dude, who is intensely passionate and known to stay up all hours of the night studying the historical context and intricacies of every part in the score. This fantastic drive was a good match for the "fork in brain" quality in the demented Shostakovich Concerto no. 1, and especially the second night the orchestra responded and brought across the irony and biting sarcasm in the piece. This drive also carried past the musical ideas into his approach with the audience. In fact, the whole orchestra is organized in a way designed to make the audience feel welcome. Not only does the Maestro speak from stage, but during intermission he joins players from the orchestra in mingling with the audience in the lobby. And after the show, there’s "Cookies with Kirk", all in all a very hands on experience.
It was very balanced week, media appearances, audience outreach and energetic musical endeavors. Thank you, New Philharmonic! Now, after an evening off in the Chicago area (including a visit to the Belgian Beer place Hopleaf), here I sit with Midge (my cello) in a familiar terminal, watching the airplane pull up to our gate. Next stop: Lexington!