As we prepare to start the new season, I thought I would update you on my activities over the summer. It was one of my busiest summers in years!
Just after the Redlands Symphony Gala (best party in town!), I traveled directly to the UK to record the biggest flute CD of my career: Four French Flute Concertos with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
The recording actually took place not in Central London, but 17 miles away in the town of Watford, where the BBC Concert Orchestra performs and records. Watford is now best known as the jumping off place for Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter tour (several iconic sets and locations are available to visit). I arrived a week early to get used to the time zone and do nothing but practice, uninterrupted. That turned out to be a great strategy, and I enjoyed strolls along the Watford High Street, where I fell in love with the latest UK food craze: Peri-Peri Chicken!
I had invited the brilliant young Chinese-American conductor (and friend) Perry So to conduct the disc. I was so delighted with his and the orchestra’s work! He was so dedicated to detail, and the orchestra were so focused and excellent in these works that I think this will really stand out among flute concerto CDs.
I then had just one day at home in Connecticut before heading down to Texas for the Round Top Festival Institute. This wonderful event takes place in the rural town of Round Top, TX (pop. 92!). The town, established by German immigrants in the 19th Century, still has artisans and craftsmen who inherited Old World skills. It also has still a strong German appreciation of classical music. Internationally renowned pianist James Dick fell in love with Round Top over 40 years ago and decided it would be a great spot for a music festival. His first concert was played on a wooden platform just large enough to hold a Steinway, set in the middle of a cow pasture! So successful was the idea that major support started pouring in from Houston and Austin, both under two hours away. James had an incredible vision and worked with only local artisans to build an entire village, with gardens, fountains, stone bridges, Roman-style chapels, and piazzas, along with housing for students and faculty. But the jewel in the crown had to be the concert hall! Working slowly and methodically—while presenting concerts in a tent—James and his local craftsmen constructed a truly splendid concert hall, intricately carved on every surface and lavishly decorated.
It is here that some of the best young musicians in the world flock for six weeks of rehearsals and concerts in a magnificent orchestra, along with private lessons and chamber music. I have attended as a faculty member for several years, and this summer I was privileged to conduct an all-Ravel concert. As an added bonus, my soloist (in both Ravel concertos) was French pianist François Dumont, who, incidentally, will be joining the Redlands Symphony for the opening concert of the season on October 14.
To be continued...