The Knights in Europe, GRAMMY® Time & Hello Spring!

Coming to you post-concert at Bucknell University, a short-and-sweet entry here to share some of the beautiful moments I’ve had the chance to be a part of over the last two months…

February started with a Knights camp bang, with an intensive rehearsal week in Brooklyn, a kick-off concert at Pioneer Works, and then off we went to take on Europe.  Our first stop in Szczecin, Poland was one of my personal highlights (and surprisingly so) from the entire monthlong project.  The concert hall there, Karlowicz Philharmonic Szczecin is one of the most enjoyable spaces – both in terms of physical beauty and acoustics – to play in.  There was a magic that the group was able to find on stage that somehow got sent in a collective, artistic wave, out into the audience.  I had a few deeply spiritual moments thinking of dear Stan “Bear” Skrowaczewski, who passed two years ago, wondering if he ever graced the podium on that stage…

From there it was a crazy 20-hour journey from a Polish Flixbus to the Berlin and Paris airports for a 36-hours-on-the-ground moment in Los Angeles to catch the GRAMMY® Awards.  What an experience it was – something I never imagined being a part of my life, but alas, there we were.  From the excitement at the Premiere Ceremony (that’s the one where the really cool musicians are – it’s in fact too cool for telecast), being surrounded by such incredible artists to walking the red carpet and taking in the juggernaut that is the GRAMMY® Telecast, it was indeed unforgettable.  Perhaps the two best moments of that whirlwind trip however, were 1) family time with my fabulous LA aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents, and 2) hitting the red carpet with my fabulous parents as my “date” to the event…

After hitting up my favorite soondooboo restaurant on my way back to LAX, it was back to Europe for concerts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  Having the chance to play in arguably the two best halls in the world – the Elbphilarmonie in Hamburg and the Musikverein in Vienna was entirely inspiring.  Avi Avital, our brilliant guest mandolinist on tour, brought the house down night after night, and we delighted in programs from Vivaldi, Bach and Beethoven to new works by Thomas Adés, Arvo Pärt, and our very own Colin Jacobsen and Christina Courtin.  After multiple long-haul flights and countless hours on the tour bus, a huge debt of gratitude to Francisco Dasta who came up from Italy to be our on-location masseur!

A long journey back from Munich to Ithaca, I was elated to say hello to my house once again and to be back in my Cornell office with my students (many thanks to my incredible adjuncts who so expertly looked after my studio while I was away!).  Another blizzard or two later, it was down to NYC and out to DC for some Aizuri Quartet concerts (here’s to the incredible vision of the Boulanger Initiative!), and now off to the Intricate Machines tour, organized by the two ultra creative composers Daniel Temkin and Phil Taylor.

And most importantly, my favorite moment of the season – the lake by my house, thawing for the first time in the spring sunlight, the ripples on the surface of the water glistening like aspen leaves in the wind…

Welcome back, springtime =)

And as always, a photo diary:

Avi Avital bringing down the house in Szczecin, Poland

At the Grammy Nominee reception at the Ebell of LA with cousin Yoonie and friend (fellow nominee-engineer) Jesse!

Getting ready at my auntie’s house – how gorgeous are my parents!?

Premiere Ceremony time!

Red Carpet time!  (Karen couldn’t make the trip to LA, so she’s the cute stuffed giraffe in Ayane’s hand =P)
Forces of Nature – 5 incredible ladies taking the stage at the Telecast (Gaga, Jada Pinkett, J Lo, Alicia Keys, and yes, Michelle Obama…)

After Party time! My cousins Eugene and Liberty were my dates, and post-pics with Ayane and Miho and A Far Cry friend Jay Lee =)

Post-Grammy hang with my fam at my favorite soondooboo joint…
Rehearsing in Switzerland…

The insanely beautiful and humbling Elbphilharmonie (and my bro Nathan came over from Sweden to hear our concert!)
Pre-concert at the Musikverien…

A lovely moment at the water front pre-concert with dear friend Alex in Friedrichshafen
Hanging post-concert with Avi

And Knights friend time pre- and post-last concert in Neumarkt…

Things got a little crazy when we arrived at our hotel at 2am before a 5am departure back to the States…yes, this was all made available to us in the hotel lobby =)
A lovely moment at Simone Dinnerstein’s Neighborhood Classics concert series in Brooklyn, a selfie with “mama” Jane =)
The Aizuris playing the inaugural WoCo launch event for the Boulanger Initiative – huge shout out to Laura Colgate, the initiative’s fearless founder!

Post-AQ concert at Cornell, hosted by Scott MacDonald and the Telluride House (post-show with dear friends Betsy and Jesse Goldberg and Scott, the boss himself!)

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