It is week 4 of our 5-week tour and we are in Richmond for our last visit of this semester. We’ve been to LA, Spokane, Moscow, Ashland, and Eugene in the past two weeks. We head to SUNY Purchase this weekend for a quick concert and end the tour with our last week in Philadelphia with Curtis.
LA was fantastic. It’s my hometown, and the weather was just as I remembered it: beautiful. I had a little time to wander around my old stomping grounds and even managed to photo-bomb the house I grew up in. We had oodles of fun collaborating with yMusic on the after-show, playing arrangements of Sufjan Stevens songs and Workers Union in the culmination of the TuneIn Festival. The roster of performers also included Imani Winds and ETHEL, as well as UCLA student groups who played in the outdoor plaza before concerts and during intermissions.
Then it was up to the Pacific Northwest, where I’ve never been. We played in Spokane’s spectacular art deco Fox Theater and enjoyed soft peanut brittle from the Davenport Hotel (which was delightful yet oddly safari-themed). We drove to Moscow, Idaho, where we were greeted by a mob of friendly percussion students ready to help us with gear and, in my case, track down just the right paperclip and plier set to replace my corrugated paper clip lost in the Fox Theater. Ashland was a lush and surprisingly posh little town, home of the famed Shakespeare Festival. Almost everything alludes to Shakespeare: The Bard’s Inn, The Shrew’s House, Puck’s Donuts, The Enchanted Florist and so forth.
Next was Eugene, adopted home of eighth blackbird’s founding flutist Molly Barth. While she has seen various members of eighth blackbird over the eight years since she left the group, she hadn’t attended a performance until now. She admitted, as we all had dinner afterwards, that it was slightly weird to see the group performing. She brought her adorable son Antonio, who has to be the most precocious and socially mature four-year-old I’ve ever met. He worked the table like a pro, not only managing to switch seats to talk with everyone, but also getting at least three of us to take him to the bathroom on separate occasions. Little Antonio even thoroughly charmed self-professed kid-phobe Michael, who didn’t bat an eyelash at his constant beard-grabbing.
A triple-leg red-eye flight after that dinner brought us bleary-eyed to Richmond, where we all went straight into rehearsal for a student recital the same night. I don’t think any amount of sleep makes up for 36 hours without sleep, but we’ve all done our darndest in the past couple days. Today we visited the Richmond City Jail, where we performed a bunch of pieces for the male and female inmates (a special occasion since they are usually kept separated). They were an enthusiastic (standing ovations for every piece) and attentive audience, asked very insightful questions and made candid comments: “If we were to do that in here [the Counting Duets], we’d be in the psych ward.” It was a wonderful experience, and next time we might even remember to bring music stands.
Tonight Michael plays Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the UR Symphony. Tim and I caught the rehearsal last night and he sounds glorious – it’s so unusual for us to hear each other play solos of that kind. It’s a wonderful way to end our season here; rest assured we will celebrate accordingly.