I left Austin on a Delta flight into L.A. I was really excited to arrive. Austin was a beautiful city, but there is an amazing energy is big cities that I love, and the bustle of LAX help set that mood.
After checking into my airbnb and getting some dinner, I was going to head to meet some pals from Australia for a drink, when I popped back to my Airbnb. It was a little chilly compared to the humid heat of Texas and I needed some jeans. My airbnb host had a friend over for drinks, offered me one and an invitation to see a friend of his workplace - a private museum of antiquities for the mega rich to look at and buy.
what an incredible experience; Egyptian artificers, including a $2.5 million bust of Akhenaten!, Chinese terracotta soldiers, indigenous American statues, Aztec skulls, Roman pots and African carvings. An incredible experience.
I also had the opportunity to catch up with my dear friend Janet, an amazing soprano living in L.A. and hopefully we can work on a project in the future.
I also went on a tour of the historic Paramount Studios, which any fan of the film Subset Blvd., as I am, would froth over.
However, my time in L.A. was mostly taken up spending some great times with good friends, eating well, drinking coffee and with one special American friend lots of deep discussions around Australian politics, culture, issues in the American society and the future of both countries.
Los Angeles was quite whirlwind, and I left after 3 nights to a much colder San Francisco.
I was staying in a lovely apartment in the Mission area, which was the former Hispanic neighbourhood.
I drank great coffee, ate some really good food and experienced two very moving artistic moments.
The first was planned; attending rehearsal of Gustav Mahlers amazing 9th Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Beautiful playing, amazing sound quality and MTT was a real inspiring artist, who had insightful things to say about the work and produced a great sound from the orchestra.
The second was a total fluke. I had a spare hour, so wandered the Museum of Modern art where there was a small exhibition on post WWII California artists who had studied at the local art school. The one work that really stuck out to me was Narkissos by Jess, a phenomenal work of pencil and collage that he created across his life time. I didn’t mind his paintings as transformative, but the pencil work, especially this huge seminal piece was really incredible and inspiring.
A hilarious moment happened while leaving SF. I found out that the amazing Ashley Dougan, choreographer for the origonal Orpheus season was flying in the morning I was flying out. So, I thought I could wait for a bit, say hi then check in with an hour to spare. I forgot about how busy American airports are, and couldn’t get my case on board in time! So, the very helpful Alaskan Airline rep got me on a later flight and an upgrade!
My imediate reaction to Washington D.C. was informed by friends who mentioned how relaxed, interesting and livable the city is. and I totally agree. A relaxed, warm, welcoming city full of so many opportunities to nerd out, which is such an important thing for me! I spent most of my time riding around on bikes, which was an excellent way to see the city. Did a lot of sightseeing and museum hopping.
My favourite musuem would have to be the Museum of the American Indian, which still shocks me to say. I would assume it would be Native American, but no. And a lot of the videos of the native Americans consulted on exhibitions referred to themselves as Indians, rather then native Americans. I found this very interested and didn’t realised that it might not be as taboo as I thought to refer to someone as an American Indian. The musuem was a tasteful and insightful way to explore the various first nationals cultures of all the americas. Knowing and seeing more about the March of tears, the Indian war and the civil rights movement was harrowing.
While in D.C. I was an excellent performance of some Mozart music with the National Symphony with Nathalie Sturtzmann, who I adore. While at the performance I chatted to a lovely lady, Nancy, next to me. A big music fan and supporter in the city, we exchanged emails and she said she would have a listen to my music.
The other concert I went to was Hello, Dolly! It was a total joy. Betty Buckley was so amazing to see live and delivered so well in the role. The rest of the cast was amazing, the production was really excellent, fun and colourful and the band played excellently.
Going to the Kennedy Centre was a little bucket list moment that I loved.
An amazing moment for me in D.C. was joining up to the Library of Congress and exploring the archieve. I handled the origonal scores of Candide by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland’s Third Symphony and late works of Stravinsky. All amazing, but the Stravinsky was life changing. Most were final drafts for the publisher, so not hand written but still very insightful, especially to the detail of the eye and the handwriting of the master.
As with the Ravel and Debussy works in Austin, incredibly humbling to see and feel the works of the great masters, providing a bridge to the past that is so inspiring to me.
Current ideas for works:
- a symphony based on the key moments from Orpheus. Versions for both orchestra and concert band.
- a large scale work for violin and ensemble, comprising some staging and movement ideas I want to develop. Variation around a melody from a song called Salvation. Maybe even violin concerto, eventually.
Special thanks to the Ian Potter Cultural Trust for contributing funds to making this trip and performance possible.
*sorry for any typos, I’ve written this on my phone.