Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ryan Does It Again

For some reason, Ryan, driver extraordinaire, always manages to find the yummiest drinks on the road! Here he is with an avocado freeze with tapioca at a Vietnamese/Thai restaurant in Springfield, IL.

A Snow Day

As Julie had mentioned, we were caught in middle of a snowstorm last weekend and found ourselves with a snow day. Although our concert in Sturgeon Bay had been postponed, we decided to get on the road to make it as far as possible to our next concert (from Merrill, WI to Watertown, WI). However, we didn't get very far. Thanks to my GPS, we found some accommodations in Stevens Point, WI at a Country Inn and Suites. To my surprise, my room was much larger than I had anticipated, with a few extras!

It is very rare that I find myself in a hotel room with a TV in the bathroom in addition to the one in my room! It felt almost luxurious on our day off. Here are a few more views of the snowy weather from inside the comfort of my very warm room:

Friday, February 22, 2008

snowy Wisconsin...

As we made our way around Wisconsin, we found ourselves in the middle of a full on blizzard last Sunday. Although one of our concerts (Sturgeon Bay, WI) was postponed due to weather, we were still able to reschedule it during a free day this week, though it meant driving from Wisconsin to Missouri, back to Wisconsin, and then today on to western Iowa, all in the space of four days ;-0 Thank goodness we have Ryan with us to make this possible!

Here are a few pictures from the road. First is a view as we drove from Minnesota down into Duluth with a view of Lake Superior:

You'll notice in a few of these pictures the GPS system on the dashboard of our minivan. Donna brought that along on this trip and it's come in handy numerous times as we search for the best routes as well as hotels and restaurants.

Here we are driving behind the plow during some of the worst snow.

But despite all this snow, I still had a great time in Wisconsin because we had the chance to see and visit with many of Aaron's relatives! His parents and brother came to our concert in Watertown and we were able to stop over with his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma in Howards Grove on our way up to Door County. We even played a mini-performance at their high school which was really fun. It wasn't quite the same as spending time with Aaron (who I miss a lot!!!) but it was really fun. ;-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Audience Reactions

Last night in Watertown, WI:

"My only complaint is I wish your concerts were twice as long!"

Friday night in Virginia, MN:

"You all are so good it's scary"

Saturday night in Merrill, WI:

For our second half we performed Arensky's Trio in D minor. Before we started I talked a bit about the piece and described the third movement where the achingly mournful opening of the elegy gives way to a serene almost heavenly middle section. I explained how moving I find this moment when a sense of peace transcends all of the pain. Later while we were playing that middle section I saw out of the corner of my eye a man in the front row reach over and take his wife's hand in his own. Seeing that small gesture, I was overwhelmed for a moment, realizing how we had touched someone.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Temporarily Transported

When we arrived in Merrill, WI, we found a local sports bar and grille for a lunch stop. Little did we know that it would offer much, much more.

In keeping with thoughts of warm, tropical places, Ryan ordered a very yummy-looking banana drink!

To celebrate our arrival into Wisconsin, we ordered cheese curds.

his was my first experience with them and I am happy to report that I will eat them again in the future!

Scenes from the Road

Above, top: view from the front passenger seat.
Above, bottom: view approaching a bridge over Lake Superior.

We encountered numerous snowmobile trails along the highways. We spotted a group of snowmobilers having a great time in the snow!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Essentials for a Road Tour

As some of you may remember, we went on an extended road tour a couple of years ago for an organization called Allied Concert Services. We have embarked on another tour for this wonderful organization, and here are some of my recommended essentials for a successful road tour.

You will need a driver, like Ryan Julien (pictured above). In addition, coffee, snacks (like nuts and chocolate-covered espresso beans) and water are all necessary!

Also, this time around, we requested a mini-van with bucket seats and headrests. We highly recommend them.
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Friday, February 15, 2008

Residency at Belmont Day School

Last month, we spent two weeks being schoolteachers. We were the artists-in-residence at Belmont Day School, where Emily and Julie went to school when they were kids. Their parents were kind enough to let us live with them during that period in Cambridge, MA. This was fantastic because between Debby Bruskin’s fantastic cooking and Sam Bruskin’s extensive CD and wine collection, we were fairly happy coming home after a long day of work!

We spent our days at the school, working with each class (pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8) on music. We incorporated many ideas and themes, including how to listen to music, the history of the piano trio, as well as improvisation and composition! It was really rewarding to be able to work with the students as we saw all of them more than once during our two-week stay. We even played with some of the students in their school assembly, which was really fun.

The students and staff at Belmont Day School welcomed us with open arms and open minds. They made me feel like a part of their family, even though I had never attended as a student. Students came to us with gifts and food, and here is an example of a wonderfully sweet card made by a little girl.

Note how the instruments all have happy, smiley faces!

We even had a snow day! Having grown up in Vancouver, we did not get too many snow days, so this was really exciting for me. Everything was so beautifully covered in a blanket of white snow. This was a view out of the bedroom where I stayed (thanks, Amanda!).

While we were in the Boston area, we also visited our friends at WGBH. We recorded a live performance and in-studio interview with Cathy Fuller, which will be aired next month. WGBH had moved into a new location recently and the studio was beautiful and airy, with a beautiful new piano.

On the right, Emily and Julie are pictured with the members of the beginner string ensemble at Belmont Day School, along with the wonderful String Instrumental Music Director, Debra Thoresen. It was such a treat and so much fun to work with the young students!

Having spent two weeks living the life of a schoolteacher, I gained a new appreciation for teachers. It is a wonderfully rewarding job, but it takes absolute devotion, time, patience and energy to inspire young people.


It's -4 degrees here in Wilmar, MN, and when I was changing into my strapless concert gown before our show this evening I just couldn't bring myself to take off my long underwear. So I wore it. Just the leggings... under my dress... through the whole concert. We figured that was funny enough to announce to our audience. Best laugh I've gotten from a crowd in years.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

United's New Policy

While I like to travel as light as possible on the road, sometimes one checked bag doesn't do the trick for me. I discovered tonight that United Airlines is changing their policy on checked baggage. Apparently, travellers with domestic economy tickets who do not have status in their frequent flier program can only check one bag for free. The second checked bag will incur a fee of $25!!!! More details at:

United Airlines domestic baggage questions

What do you all think of this?