Saturday, January 31, 2009

Luggage allowance

An exclusive photo of the luggage that Claremont brings for a 3 1/2 week tour.

Well, actually not anymore since the airlines have started charging $15 to check your first bag and even more for subsequent bags. We've had to cut back. But it felt like that much luggage as we carted it around various airports and airplanes yesterday. It's back on the road again for us and before we see the beautiful streets of NYC again, we'll travel through California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, New Mexico, North Carolina and Georgia.

On a trip last month I came across a new airport innovation of which I became an instant fan:

I don't know if this word would be accepted by Merriam-Webster's yet but after you've removed your shoes, belt, coat, scarf, laptop, liquids, gels and water bottle to go through the security check-point, it is a relief to find such an area!

Airport trivia: Can anyone name the airports where these two photos were taken?

90 is Great

As Emily mentioned in her last post, we celebrated Leon Kirchner's 90th birthday. We performed both of his piano trios in Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum the week before his actual birthday. The terrific composer himself made the trip up to Boston from New York City for the concert, and even Yo-Yo Ma was even in attendance! We snuck in a photo after the concert:

He looks tickled to be surrounded by three young women, doesn't he?

After the Boston concert, the Bruskin parents, some of our most loyal fans, threw us a wonderful party at their house. Great food and drink were enjoyed by all! Here's Leon and his girlfriend, Sally Wardwell during a toast at the party.

Jeremy Denk, a wonderful pianist, also joined in the festivities. Seems like he enjoys a good turkey leg once a in a while! He looks almost possessed by the delicious cooking of Debby Bruskin! (He also has a blog which is fantastic.)

Back in New York, on his actual birthday, we celebrated the composer with a concert at Columbia University's Miller Theatre.

Isn't turning 90 grand? I hope I can make it that far!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Recognition For What We Do

There has been much discussion recently about whether or not it's possible to play stringed instruments outside in 20 degree weather. I, who have chronic problems getting my fingers warm in your average heated concert hall, believe strongly that nobody should ever have to try. But some people do try.

Like this guy I saw a week ago playing violin on the steps of the church two blocks from my apartment. He caught my eye because he was playing backwards - violin on his right shoulder, bow in his left hand. He was very friendly, and when he saw the violin case on my shoulder, he asked where I play. I gave him the quick answer and then asked how he could stand to play outside in New York in January?? He said he can go about an hour before he needs to go inside and get hot chocolate. He then explained that he was self-taught, and by the time he realized that he was playing the "wrong" way, he was too far along to start over.

Cut to this morning, when the New York Times reviewed Leon Kirchner's 90th birthday concert, which we played in this past weekend. I am a fanatic reader of the Times online, but I almost never actually shell out money for a hard copy (though I shamelessly scavenge them at the airport - it is fun to read the real thing). I have a confession to make: I AM apparently willing to shell out money to look at my own picture in the Times. I was doing just that at the newstand on my corner, when somebody behind me asked if I play the violin (on my shoulder, as usual). I said yes, and he said he does too, except he does it backwards because he was self-taught. I turned around, recognized the man from the church steps and said "Didn't we meet last week?" He said "Yes, of course!," and I couldn't help opening up my Times and showing him my trio's picture. He was really excited for me, and said "It's so great that you're getting recognition for what you do."

I really wish I had been more on the ball with my cell phone camera last week, so that I could have given him illustrated recognition for what he does - outside when it's 20 degrees and windy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What We Do All Day

Sometimes people ask us what we do when we have no concerts for a few weeks. Watch tv? Go shopping?

Nope. We practice and rehearse and write each other an obscene amount of e-mail. On all conceivable topics, but lately mostly about travel.

We plan all of our own flights, rental cars, hotels, etc. because we have made an art out of finding the most economical options possible, and it is this art that allows us to make a modest living as touring chamber musicians.

For those of you wanting to volunteer to be our personal travel agent, please consider our schedule for the month of February, review the following example of Claremont Trio E-mail, and then let us know how you feel about pro bono work.

Claremont Trio E-mail - 1/7 #43

"no, sorry. I was proposing we pick up a car in Long Beach on the 7th... then we could actually return it to Long Beach on the 12th cause it's kind of on the way to Auburn from El Cajon. then rent one other car from long beach (12) to smf (14). But it turns out that 12 - 14 rental is very expensive relative to the weekly rentals, so this plan doesn't help us.

"what is worth factoring in is that if we fly, we then have to rent a new car at smf for 12 - 14, which is definitely adds expense to this plan over just keeping one care for 7 - 14 weekly rate. i'm seeing smf 12 -14 for just under $150. (car for 7 - 12 long beach to san is actually the same price - $362 - as car for 7 - 14 long beach to smf)

"extra drivers usually cost like $3 per day, right? so for 7 - 14 it'd be like $63 for all of us? We could double check that. Gas for 8 hours... at least $80? $100?

"flight is $80 so, for 4 it's $320. add $45 for 3 bags at $15 each - $365 add $150 for smf rental. - $515

"SOOO... $160ish to drive... $515 to fly. (either way, we'll pay $362 for the car we rent in long beach, so i left that out)"