I am having an incredible experience this week with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra.
I have returned to my musical hometown of Prince George, the place where I started the bassoon (at Lakewood Junior Secondary) and became inspired to keep playing with all my heart and soul (Prince George Senior Secondary under the band teacher and trumpeter, Gary Hartley). Met at the airport by long-time family friend Sandra Kapral and her husband, Jim Caldwell, it really feels like coming home for a restorative visit.
I was truly welcomed with open arms by the new conductor, Kevin Zakresky. And quickly got to know the production manager Shelley Sivell and the chair of the board, Teresa Saunders and the wonderful people in the orchestra. There are many young players and a few who were there many years ago when I had my first orchestral experience. Carolyn McGee says that she remembers what a quiet little thing I was. I remember being scared and thrilled as I struggled with the first bassoon part for Mozart 40. It is kind of great to remember as I see the large-scale signs outside of the symphony office!
We had our first rehearsal last night, reading through the Hummel and Vivaldi, correcting notes and setting tempi. Then I went out with several string players who had the grace to not laugh at me for having a banana smoothie instead of a beer. So incredible to meet musicians who are creating rich musical lives in the north. Roxy Dykstra, the principal viola, also leads a chorus in Smithers and does so much to bring the orchestra and choir to life in that region… this was a place where I went as a very young child with my family to get our tractors repaired and to attend rodeos! And to reconnect with Sebastian Ostertag, the principal cello and director of the conservatory orchestra, who I last saw playing with one of my students the Gubaidulina Concerto in Toronto! And to talk more with the concertmaster, Jose Delgado-Guevara, a very multifaceted person
I was interviewed for newspaper, CBC radio interview, and CKPG 5:00 news (Nov 2). We spent over an hour at the spectacular University of Northern British Columbia, playing together (Kevin on a mini-Cassio with an extension chord) and meeting the students. There has been no hiding in my room and making reeds on this trip! I made my reed for tonight’s rehearsal before the first interview and will do the same tomorrow before the dress rehearsal (I like new reeds!). Good thing I brought my sharpening stone because the knife needs to be sharp to trip quickly.
Tomorrow night will see the release of my latest CD, the Vivaldi Concerti Volume I, and the launch of my new website. It will mark my return to the stage and orchestra where I began my career, 30 years ago! And I suspect it will mark the premiers of the Hummel Concerto and the Vivaldi C Minor. Thank you, dear new friends and old friends, for supporting me this opportunity. It somehow represents a long, event-filled journey that I did not know was possible and that is not over yet.