Lisa in Arcata and More Sewanee
On the “left coast” in the shade of giant redwoods and the cool temperatures of Northern California, Lisa spent a couple of weeks working on the faculty for the Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop. After more than 20 years of coaching chamber music, she describes the area as a place with scenic beauty and dear friends. Violinist Cynthia Moyer from Arcata opens her home to Lisa and the two have a common love of the outdoors. Bird feeders and a beautiful view make for an entertaining time. The binoculars are usually close by.
Humboldt State University houses one of the great chamber music libraries in the United States and, along with close friend Armand Ambrosini and several other talented musicians, Lisa helps bring small musical ensembles to life. This summer Lisa had the chance to coach both junior high and high school students for a week and seasoned adults for a week. The experiences were quite contrasting. After a week with the adults there was reason to ask “Now, which week had the kids?” Sometimes a prima donna can stamp her foot loudly enough that the needs of the many do NOT outweigh the needs of the few, but now Lisa can put “referee” on her resume.
Lisa spent some wonderful time with an old friend and oboist, Ruth Stuart Burroughs. Their pictures along the coast of Mendocino were particularly beautiful and running into a 4th of July parade was an unexpected bonus. Time with family in Murphys, California was especially enjoyable.
Back in Sewanee, Tennessee, it rained for eight days in a row. The music festival here is charging ahead into Week #3. We had our own 4th of July parade where the storms cleared and the town doubled in size. Students from the festival marched, played their instruments and waved flags. There’s plenty of red, white and blue and the police and fire department come out in force. Their sirens don’t come with a mute button! Several of my students joined me on stage for a band concert. It featured plenty of Sousa marches. The cafeteria serves a lot of red, white and blue. The cherry cobbler was especially good.
Performances are nearly every day. Cellist Joshua Roman came to give a recital, but my colleagues stole the show! Percussionist, John Kilkenny, violinist Jonathan Magness and cellist Anthony Kitai had starring roles that made me proud to be a part of the faculty.
The two student orchestras did amazingly well on just five rehearsals each. The college musicians played Stravinsky’s “Firebird”. Larry Livingston came in from his duties at USC and really inspired the musicians. His tall and lean frame accompanied by a dramatic head of white hair certainly caught my attention and despite falling off the podium, he seemed in excellent control. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the music continued on despite the incident.
My 12 students continue to have inspiring moments. If they make it to the finish line, I think they’ll have some memories to last a lifetime. We took some time out to celebrate the 19th birthday of my student, Gabriella Alberico. I composed a serenade for 12 oboes that we played in unison for her. Hearing 12 oboes gives understanding why our ancient oboe ancestors were used to rally the troops during times of war. It was slightly frightening!
During the week I’ll be performing Telemann and Hindemith in recitals here and in Chattanooga. Playing with people like Tony Kitai, flutist Pat George, bassoonist Hunter Thomas, clarinetist Chad Burrow, french hornist Alex Shuhan and pianist Amy Dorfman is a real pleasure. We’re all aware that there are at least 12 sets of ears in the audience hanging on every note! It’s a festival where you also have to prove yourself. But being a professional musician is that way. Fortunately, I still enjoy practicing.
– Robert Stephenson and Lisa Byrnes