Musicians on Vacation

It’s an ongoing issue.  

“Technically” I’m on vacation.  Technically I’m sitting in a pub in England writing this blog.  But it’s not really a vacation.  The only difference is I don’t have students for two weeks.  And I’m in England.  

Is it really a vacation?  

In two weeks time, I have co-written 4 4-hand piano duets and one 4-part choral piece. Unto myself, I’ve also written another 4-hand piano duet, 2 blogs, and the beginning of 3 poems. I’ve learned 2 pre-existing duets (well, one and a half. The Dvorak is really difficult and I’d rather study it and do it justice than try and pound it out really quickly.) Reading-wise I’m on my third book since I left.  And there’s more.

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Notre Dame Et Moi

Mike texted me this morning and told me that Notre Dame was on fire.

I’ve been working the last week on a hard deadline (you’ll see the big announcement on Wednesday) so I took one moment from what I was doing to pull up a fresh browser window.

I don’t know what I expected.  But not that.

My throat did that thing when I’m going to cry.  I instantly shut it down.

“No time to feel this”, I said to myself.  “Have to finish work.  Have to teach.  We will feel this tonight.”


Now it’s tonight.  I’m safely home. All duties completed.  I can sit here with a dark glass of red wine and feel every last bit of this.

Here is my story about Notre Dame.

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Mission Bells

Van Life

There are only 9 days left on the tour.  As much fun as I have had, I am ready to go home – we all are.  It’s been one hell of a journey to say the least.  It’s been tough.  A lot of nights of sleeping in the van, very few vegetables, not getting to bed until 7am, and the unforeseen van and equipment trouble.

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Across the Universe

I’m back from a whirlwind trip across the Mediterranean.  It was wonderful and elating and overwhelming and exhausting.  In a mere 15 days my travel companion, TM, and I visited Barcelona, Cannes, Nice, Eze, Monaco, St. Paul, Florence, Rome, Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Pompeii, Dubrovnik, Venice, and Kotor.


After spending a few days in Barcelona attempting to stay dry  (as the old adage goes: the rains in Spain stay mainly in Barcelona) we boarded the beautiful Celebrity Solstice for a 12 day port intensive cruise of the Mediterranean.

I don’t know about you – but when I think “Mediterranean Cruise” I picture myself in a lounge chair with a cocktail well rested and sunned upon.  Perhaps there are cruises like this.  Maybe in the Caribbean?

Now let me explain what “port intensive” means.   It means this:

Go to sleep. Wake up.  Speak French. Visit the ENTIRE French Riviera in 8 hours. Go to sleep, wake up.  Figure out how to speak Italian, get on train, do Florence in 1 day. Go to sleep. Wake up. Get on another train, see all of Rome including the Vatican Museum in 9 hours. Go to sleep.  Wake up. Visit the ENTIRE Amalfi Coast in 8 hours…   and don’t forget to dress for dinner, and eat eat eat every spare moment you have.  And if that’s not enough there is a full calendar of events on the ship from sunrise until well after midnight every night.   Are you bored yet?

I admit, I had to change my thinking.  I had gone into vacation-relaxed-mode by the time I got on the plane to fly to Barcelona where  I should have been resting up and exercising like I was about to climb a mountain.   It was a lot of information in a short amount of time and I definitely got overwhelmed!

And inspired.  🙂  I mean, LOOK at this:

It was such a whirlwind – so much beauty in such a short amount of time.  At the time I really wanted to just stand still and let it soak in.  But there weren’t enough hours to just sit at BE.

The one place where time actually stopped for me was Pompeii.  After hearing the stories for so many years – to see it with my own eyes – to kick off my shoes and walk on the cool marble floors myself… that was incredible.

And then returning to Venice – the only place on this entire journey that I had been to before… that was a great sensation.  Foreign, but familiar.  And Venice seems so completely beautiful just for the sake of being beautiful.  How can you not love it?

This is the first real vacation where I am just combing over the photos I took – finally the world will sit still.  Finally I can put myself back in those places and figure out how I feel, what my mind is doing, and really experience it.  One of my favorite pictures is behind my eyelids – the Sistine chapel – where the nice security guard constantly reminds: “NO PHOTO” – which kept f’ing up my che.  I wanted to say “stop yelling, man.  I’m trying to revel here.”

So many songs were born on this journey – I’m depending on the quiet of my mind and the pics on my iPhone to help me finish them.

Glad to be back – wish me luck!