The good stuff!
It’s both familiar and exciting to return to travelling and performing, connecting with audiences and colleagues, plus the never-ending surprises of dealing with travel and unexpected circumstances in the post-pandemic return to the concert stage. And the extended debut of Blue Bell, my beautiful new custom-made Bell bassoon.
World Premiere Concert and Recording — paid for by someone who is not me!
Very happy to return to the US with the world premiere and recording of Augusta Read Thomas’ magnificent and challenging concerto CARNIVAL with the Fredonia Wind Ensemble (conductor Dr. Paula Holcomb). This mind-bendingly virtuosic-in-new-ways work was commissioned for me by SUNY Fredonia and funded by SUNY Fredonia with support from a Sorel Medallion in Recording grant and the Carnahan Jackson Fund for the Humanities, both through the Fredonia College Foundation, as well as a Sigma Alpha Iota Project Grant. We also had student bassoonist, Wolfgang Scheitinger, present a segment of the concerto to honour the connection to the University. Wolf stepped up from the contra chair, played the excerpt from the concerto, and then returned to his chair…. amazing. Wonderful composer, dedicated and virtuosic conductor, energized and laser-focused student musicians, supportive community, transformative concert. The day following the world premiere, we went into the recording studio for six hours, led by engineer Bernd Gottinger and recorded the concerto for a collection of new concerti for soloists and wind ensemble commissioned for SUNY Fredonia. And I got covid 😂 (ultimate booster). I’m fine.
Photo from the world premiere of CARNIVAL, Nadina, Augusta Read Thomas (aka Gusty), Dr. Paula Holcomb… I dare say the first time in the history of the classical world that three women (soloist, composer, and director) take the stage for bows after a world premiere of a bassoon concerto with wind ensemble. (screenshot capture by Cassandra Bendickson)
Beloved Lussier Concerto – repeat performances of new concerti are RARE and wonderful
Also gave three performances of ODDBIRD CONCERTO by Mathieu Lussier, twice with the very well-prepared Peterborough Symphony Orchestra (conductor Michael Newnham) and again with my hometown band, the Prince George Symphony Orchestra (conductor Michael Hall). Fabulous review here (actually, it is a letter to the editor from an audience member, even more fabulous).
I left Prince George with souvenir Boulet cowboy boots (I am a diva after all), one of which had to be expertly stretched by Steve and Sons (local boot whisperer) and a walkie-talkie programmed with northern channels for my next trip back to the out-of-cell-range mountain roads of my birthplace. When I tried to drive back to the ranch on Maurice River Forestry Road, my fragile little Honda first got a flat tire, then the next day had a problem with the gas… I will rent a Hummer next time.
And I enjoyed the paycheques, press conferences, interviews and even a TV spot where I played snippets of 8 concerti in 3 minutes in support of the Prince George concerts, all fun.
Hillbilly Golden Boulet boots
Stuff they don’t tell you much about in music school…
Less fun were the epic airport lineups while carrying a loaded bassoon case, and wearing an unnecessary leather jacket (my own fault, I know), delayed flights, delayed luggage, catching covid in NY (we already talked about that), being told that payment would arrive in the indefinite future (I stood in the university office and was paid within the hour, why don’t people read their own university-issued contracts???), rental car mix-ups, a gas station that contaminated its regular gas tanks with diesel and stranded me in a town with no rental cars (I got a nice compensation cheque for that mishap tho it meant I couldn’t visit my home province as planned), and an awkward hosting situation with a newly-acquired boyfriend of a normally wonderful host that was resolved and will never ever happen again to another visiting musician.
I survived all of these little mishaps and it is a reminder of what travelling musicians sometimes endure when going on the road to connect with the world and make a living. My long-ago professional training certainly never addressed the real things that can happen on the road and despite my decades of experience, it still happens. But for real, always demand a hotel when you are the featured artist for an orchestra! Can’t believe I didn’t remember that. And if someone is mean or bizarre, sexist or downright vulgar with you, or doesn’t pay you on time, kick them in the shins and report it immediately to management. Sheesh.
underestimate me. that will be fun.