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Jun 23 09

Summertime

by laura

We are currently split between San Francisco, Rome and somewhere on the East coast.  I can never keep track of Becca!  Usually during the summer we do our seperate festivals and concerts but this year we’ve got a summer concert coming up and I’m busy preparing.   Luckily we’ve already perfomed half our program several times (Mozart Divertimento) so I only have one other trio to learn (Beethoven Op9 No2).  I searched for videos on Youtube but found nothing so I did it the old-fashioned way and bought a recording!  Since I was little, I’ve been listening to recordings of whatever I’m learning.  I am very much an auditory learner and find that even if the music is just on in the background, the next time I pick up my violin, the notes feel very familiar.   Enough about that…

Our concert will be in Estes Park, CO.  We all have special memories of Estes and the YMCA of the Rockies.  We spent a good portion of our summers there, sometimes visiting relatives and sometimes participating in the YMCA day camps- horseback riding, hiking, whitewater rafting, etc.  Such fun times!  We will return late next month to give a concert, rehearse for our next season (we must fit in rehearsal time when we can!) and enjoy the mountains.

If you’re looking for a great place for a family vacation, come join us in Estes Park!  Please check our calendar page for more information.

May 11 09

Two Thirds of Us

by laura

Julie and I spent the past week in Colorado together. Without Becca. We have spent so much time together as a trio this spring that we missed her and felt strange without her!

The reason for our “two thirds” Albers Trio appearance was the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello. Julie and I had the opportunity to perform with the Grand Junction Symphony Saturday night. We hadn’t played it together for many years and were thrilled to do so again. I was also quite excited to have a “working vacation” in one of my favorite places.

As with any chamber music, there is rehearsal required before the concert. In the case of the Brahms Double, not only did we have two rehearsals with the orchestra, but we met three days before our first orchestra rehearsal to share ideas and practice without the orchestra. We stayed in Breckenridge, my favorite mountain town, where there is still snow all over the mountain! My condo backs up to the ski slopes so we took a snow/mud hike up a fire road one afternoon. (Check out pictures of this, our evening visitor & CO National Monument below!) We worked out a schedule which allowed us plenty of time for practice, individual and together, and plenty of free time to eat, hot tub and enjoy the town.

We arrived in Grand Junction Friday afternoon, in time to give masterclasses at Mesa College. We enjoyed working with violin and cello students, from grade school through college. I find that every time I teach, I come out with new ideas to try in my own practice. There is, ironically, always that “ah-ha” moment when I remember that if I practice what I preach it will be helpful to me also!

We rehearsed with the orchestra twice- on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Finding the balance between leading, following the conductor and playing chamber music with Julie was my biggest challenge. We also chose to perform without music, which was something I could have easily let turn into a disastrous mind game, but luckily kept it in check. I found myself, midway through first rehearsal, calming my nerves by remembering that this was only two days of my life and I was really excited to be playing Brahms- so I might as well enjoy and make the most of it!

We spent the rest of our free time Saturday touring Colorado National Monument and enjoying the Arts and Jazz Festival downtown. We like to make the most of our time, wherever we end up. There are always interesting people to meet and places to see. The performance Saturday night went well and we had a good crowd (including my boyfriend, who flew out just to hear us!). Julie and I had a great time playing together and only wish that we’d be able to do it again soon!

Apr 20 09

Fiesta y más

by laura

I don’t speak much Spanish anymore but sure wished I did this past weekend in San Antonio! Thanks to the San Antonio Chamber Music Society’s schedule, our concert was during Fiesta week. We made it to the Marketplace, full of vendors, live music and drunk people Saturday night. We went easy on the margaritas in preparation for our long day Sunday.

Sunday morning was gorgeous so a run along the river followed by a rooftop hottub soak was a perfect start.
Then we met William McEwan and his wife for pictures. He set up on the sidewalk near the hotel and his very large old style camera and under-the-blanket picture taking (those are not the technical terms!) attracted quite a few curious bystanders. The wind was blowing our hair in all the wrong directions but we’re excited to see the finished product in a couple of months. William will turn one of their bathrooms into a darkroom and produce 8×10 negatives of each!

Our afternoon performance was well attended, especially considering we were competing with Fiesta. We felt at times like a comedy show on stage- particularly when entering and exiting. Our dresses were getting tangled under foot, stuck to heels and on steps. Julie nearly plowed me over when I had to stop suddenly and she was looking down. We took a very awkward bow, shoulder to shoulder and stumbled off stage again.

We spent the rest of the evening eating and drinking, first at a Chinese restaurant with patrons of the series, then on the Riverwalk. The Mariachi Mexicanos showed up at our table, asking for requests. I put in mine, which resulted in laughter then a very lively rendition of Yo No Fuí. We took a picture with them, then were enthusiastically serenaded again.

Monday dawned too early but we were excited about another outreach performance. The girls at Providence were an excellent audience, even though the temperature was rising. I took a survey at the end as to which piece they preferred. Between Mozart, Villa-Lobos (more modern but still pretty tonal, 1945) and Magnussen (a 12 tone composition, 1978), the response was pretty equal. I love that we can play such a varied program and know that there’s music in it for everyone! Afterward, we took a tour of the historic home next to the school where the nuns used to reside. In it’s original form, it was a private home where the first San Antonio symphony auditions were held! The school is now fixing it up and we posed for pictures in our construction zone hard hats. These and other pictures will soon be posted!

We ate delicious Mexican food for lunch and I hear the mole recipe changes frequently so I hope to try it again next time. We walked off lunch in the King William district, originally a German settlement, full of beautiful historic homes and confederate jasmine in full bloom. We were lucky to have tour guides, knowledgable of both the history and the current residents.

That concludes Fiesta y más and also our spring concerts. Stay tuned for Albers Trio updates!

Apr 18 09

San Antonio

by laura

I seem to always feel inspired to write on airplanes. We just left San Francisco, taking off through thick fog, which has been unusually absent until today. I love the moment when we pop through the fog and the plane is filled with sunlight. Leaving San Francisco today, we enjoyed the sun moment, along with gorgeous rolling hills just past the blanket of clouds. Amazing! It almost made me forget about the egg & cheese croissant I paid for and left on the deli counter. Such a bummer. Fortunately I packed plenty of food. I was just really looking forward to the greasy, salty, flakey goodness. On second thought, airport croissants are never flakey and I’m probably better off without it.

I’m meeting the girls in San Antonio, TX this afternoon. I’ve never been to Texas before and am quite enthusiastic about my first visit. We are staying at a very nice hotel on the Riverwalk and the forcast promises temperatures in the 80s! Julie, always on water alert, e-mailed yesterday to remind us to bring our swimsuits for the rooftop hot tub.

Julie found and booked this particular hotel. Often times the presenter does this or recommends where the series gets a good rate. Generally each of us has her own room, which is best since we spend so much time together in the car and rehearsing. This time the hotel was completely up to us so we decided to splurge on a nice, centrally located place and share a suite. This is our last concert as a trio until July and, sadly, the last time I will see Becca until summer. I am anticipating feeling major sister-withdrawl next week!

We have a full schedule the next few days. We arrive (hopefully) within an hour of each other, in time for a short rehearsal. We anticipate exploring the Riverwalk and eating a good meal tonight. Tomorrow morning I hope to get up early and fit in a run before it gets too hot. One or more sister will join me, depending on who brought workout clothes. Mid-morning we’ll have a photo shoot with photographer, William McEwan. He is creating a portrait series of classical musicians and asked us to participate! After photos, we will head over to the performance space for a rehearsal and sound-check. Our concert is at 3:15. Strange. Dinner will be with board members and hopefully our wonderful manager. She attends one performance a year of each artist she represents and will be joining us in San Antonio this year. On Monday morning we’ll do an outreach performance at an all-girls Catholic prep school. I heard that the school opened it up to anyone interested and received an overwhelming response, so there will be a big group!

After that, it’s back to the airport and home to our seperate cities. We will reconvene again in July for vacation and a concert at the YMCA of the Rockies!

Apr 11 09

Planes, cars and pools

by laura

Springfield, OH is about a three hour drive from Cleveland. I can quote you from all other surrounding major airports too. I know this because my flight from SFO to Cleveland was delayed, which meant I missed my connection to Dayton (the closest airport to Springfield). I spent half hour with an agent at the Continental counter looking at other options but the entire area had been mysteriously shut down so I had to take the Cleveland flight & rent a car in the middle of the night.
Our original plan had been for Becca to drive down from Ann Arbor and pick both me & Julie up in Dayton. Plan foiled by the airlines, yet again. Julie was an entire day late, but that’s a story in itself.

The next several destinations were reached by car. For some ridiculous reason, we decided to sign all three of us onto the rental car so we could split up the driving. Very diplomatic of us but a waste of money since Becca volunteered to do most of the driving.

Our driving adventures this year DID NOT include missing an exit off the turnpike and driving an additional 60 miles out of our way like they did late one night when I was driving last year. Why not? Because this year we had three mobile GPS devices among us and they worked splendidly. These are our “car rules”: Driver chooses music. Shotgun navigates & operates iPod. Backseat passenger sleeps and distributes food. Snacks and music selection are of utmost importance. My favorite memories from the backseat are Julie and Becca singing to each other with the Ramones cranked up and waking up to a downpour after a really great nap.

Our one detour this year was spur of the moment but intentional. We realized that Niagara Falls was nearby so we stopped. Violin, viola and umbrella in hand, we braved the wind and drizzle for the view. The falls in the winter are not swarming with tourists and the spray forms a most spectacular glacier. Our visit was short-lived but well worth it.

For the most part, the driving was way easier than the flying this season. The trickiest part, which Becca mastered, was fitting three big suitcases, a cello and everything else into our economy car. When it came time to fly to Colorado, United Airlines anticipated bad weather and cancelled my flight a day in advance. They did me the courtesy of calling, which was appreciated since I had already checked in and there was no mention. When I called to re-book the girl gave me the last seat on a much earlier flight, which messed up arrival arrangements since the three of us had carefully coordinated times, once again. Hours later, after not receiving confirmation on my change, I called back and United found no record of me on the new flight. I’m guessing I was a little too unpleasant and Agent #1 decided to forget about me. Note to self: BE NICE on the phone- it’s not the agent’s fault my flight is cancelled. After two conferences with her supervisor and a reminder that my previous conversation had been recorded, Agent #2 found me a seat and e-mailed my confirmation while I waited. Whew! I have to note that Becca, who now mostly flies Northwest, was upgraded to first class on both legs of her flight. Julie, on the other hand, arrived on another much-delayed flight and was left behind by her pre-paid last Supershuttle if the night. She arrived after 1am and took an $85 cab ride from Denver to Boulder. She watched three accidents occur on the icy highway and was informed by her unhappy cab driver that she was risking their lives.

Swimming pools were not our third mode of transportation, contrary to what the title may have you believe. I added them because they played an important role in keeping me moving throughout the tour. My YMCA membership allows me to visit all other Ys for free. Fortunately, ever town had a Y and every Y had a pool. One reminded me of the local pool where I grew up. Another was located in a less desirable area and I wished I’d driven instead of run there. In a locker room I met a woman who told me about her 25th anniversary cruise and the great local swim team. I also spoke with a lifeguard who drives three hours each way to hear the Metropolitan Opera every week. Once, I shared a lane with a man wearing a full bodysuit & flippers and a woman backstroking with her face underwater. Huh?? I am so lucky to be part of such a diverse and interesting community!

Our travel adventures have almost concluded this year and I, for one, am ready to stay put!

Apr 8 09

Tour end/ music programming

by laura

I’m in the Denver airport, heading to the east coast for a few days before finally heading home to San Francisco. We had a whirlwind tour of four states and seven concerts. This was the trio’s first tour and it lasted just two weeks. What I mean specifically by “tour” is being on the road together for an extended period of time instead of, like last year, flying home and having days or weeks off between sets of concerts. The week before this tour, we played two concerts in San Francisco, and we will reconvene in San Antonio for our final concert of the season next weekend.

Playing multiple concerts in a row can be taxing, both mentally & physically.
We kept our playing fresh by performing slightly different programs each night. Every program was derived from a combination of this year’s five chosen trios. We put certian works together with others based on length, style, and preference of the concert presentor. Each year our manager requests three sample programs, which she will then pass along to the next season’s presentors. Some of them will choose one of our sample programs and others will leave it up to us. We already submitted our sample programs for 2010. Next year’s music was chosen based on the plan to record our first CD at the end of the season. It will be most beneficial for us to “live with” and perform the music for several months before recording it.
I plan to go into more detail about our concerts and locations but now my plane is about to take off (on time!). Check back soon to hear about our time in Ohio, Pennsylvania & New York!

Apr 5 09

Colorado

by laura

It’s after midnight. My body is telling me it’s way past time to be asleep, but I’m excited to have the blog up and running. So I’m typing away on my iPhone instead of sleeping. We played our first Colorado concert today and are looking forward to two more. I am thrilled to be in Boulder, surrounded by friends and family, familiar restaurants and, of course, the foothills. This is the first hotel I’ve stayed in on this tour that has a sliding glass door instead of sealed windows. Not only is fresh air at my fingertips, but I have a gorgeous view of the Flatirons, dusted in snow. Yes, dusted in snow. Unfortunately it’s much too cold to open my sliding glass door and get some fresh air because we’re in Colorado, where ski season is still in full swing. I packed quite inappropriately for this tour. I probably could have predicted that hat and gloves would be more practical than summer shoes and my cute heels but it’s April, so I took a gamble and lost. Oh well. I’m sticking with “fashion before comfort”!
Back to the trio… We’re finishing up this leg of the tour, which has been packed full of fabulous sister-time, performances, travel, school outreach, and so much more. There’s plenty to talk about, so when my brain is in a sharper state, I look forward to sharing some adventures!
L