On this bizarrely warm day here at Cornell (the temperature on campus hit 90 degrees this afternoon!) I take a moment to reflect back on the last two months of music and life. At a time when our dear Mother Earth is bursting at the seams bringing so much devastation to our hemisphere, I find myself counting every blessing everyday. At a time when we are faced with such a barrage of hideous vitriol coming from our White House – albeit rarely shocking anymore – I find myself burrowing even more deeply into my craft. In this last several weeks, my emotional life has been sustained by family, friends and a lot of Brahms.
Below, a sea of faculty and students who gathered on Cornell’s Arts Quad for a rally in support of inclusive diversity earlier today:
When I last left off, I was about to welcome my parents to New York for a glorious 4 days of staycation. To celebrate the completion of my tenure file, we took long walks in Central Park, took a mini road trip to visit family Princeton, then to Greenwich Point Park in Connecticut, and then up to Tanglewood to see my kid bro and the BSO in action. I can’t think of a better way to spend a rare 4 days off =). I then headed back out to the Bay for my 17th year teaching at PACO – a magical place set in the forests of Santa Cruz where we immerse ourselves in the land of teaching and playing chamber music from dusk til dawn.
I touched down at JFK at nearly 1am only to be reminded that the following morning’s alarm would ring at 7am to call me down to 60 Centre Street…yes indeed, jury duty. By some stroke of luck, I only had to serve 1.5 days and was not called onto a case, and alas I am now in the clear until 2023 (phew!). After a quick trip up north to prune the garden, sweep the back patio and get a few estimates on driveway paving (it’s always something, right?), I hopped on a flight to Minnesota where I joined the NLCMI team for the 13th year. Another magical chamber music camp set up in the Boundary Waters, we begin and end the day with condcutorless chamber orchestra rehearsals with hours of Mendelssohn, Bartok, Schoenberg, Haydn, Grazyna Bacewicz, canoeing and s’mores in between.
To the Duluth airport I went to hop a flight or two to join The Knights for our annual performance at the Ravinia Festival. Joined by the incomparable Susan Graham, we presented a program of Adams, Mozart, and Canteloube. It was then O’Hare to Rome where I jumped on a few trains to begin a recital tour in Tuscany. The combination of being back amid the rolling hills of Val d’Orcia making music, drinking divine wines and eating mind-blowingly delicious food was totally sublime. Through programs of Janacek, Brahms, Ravel, Paganini and Elliott Carter, my pianists (Todd Crow and Pietro Bonfilio) and I danced our way into the halls of Paesaggi Musicali Toscani and Morellino Classica.
From Siena to Ithaca I went to start up the school year at Cornell. I welcomed my studio of fabulous students back to campus as we hit the ground running with studio meetings, lessons and coachings. Guest lectures in Elements of Music 1101 and Design & Environmental Analysis 1200 allowed me to meet an entirely new cross-section of students, something by which I am always so inspired. A return to my favorite thing about Cornell, Wednesday nights at Hans Bethe House, brought hugs, smiles, and so many wonderful friends and colleagues with whom to catch up.
After a quick 36-hour trip to LA for my beautiful cousin Yoonie’s wedding, I headed to Philly for a week to premiere Lembit Beecher’s haunting and brilliant chamber opera (written for the Aizuri Quartet and a small cast of singers), Sophia’s Forest. Set in the 1990s, the work tells the story of half-forgotten memories and tragedy in the wake of fleeing war-torn Serbo-Croatia; mechanized sound sculptures created by Lembit and a team of engineers from Drexel and Princeton created the soundscape of the haunting forest. It was an honor to bring this work to life.
Returning to Ithaca to catch one of my favorite satirist-comedians Trevor Noah – and accidentally meeting him in person (hashtag fangirl) – in a live standup show at Cornell was a total dream come true. And that brings us to the present…I head down to the City tomorrow to start the lead-up for the quartet’s upcoming residency at the MET Museum – Music and Mayhem on October 21st is up first, featuring quartets by Gubaidulina, Reich, and Beethoven!
And as always, I leave you with a photo diary below.