On Wednesday, the Orchestra said a fond farewell to South Carolina (read a rave review of the South Carolina concert here), and hopped on the bus for the long drive north east to Greenville, North Carolina. Greenville is the home of East Carolina University (a big school, with some 26,000 students), the state’s third largest university after UNC Chapel Hill and Duke.
Though the trip was long, the mood was light. Our bus driver, Gerry Soucy, is a Bostonian with an accent you could cut with a piece of scrod. He’s the sweetest guy in the world, a real professional, and with a great sense of humor that kept everyone within earshot in stitches. Nadja bought three Tarzan movies somewhere along the way, so we all relaxed with a black and white “Tarzan and the Trappers,” as he freed the animals from the wicked smugglers. On an eight-hour bus ride, it’s always good to have Tarzan!
And this year, the New Century Chamber Orchestra has a new tour mascot: Clementine, aged 18 months. She is incredibly cute, and everyone adores her, especially, of course, her mom, violinist Liza Zurlinden. And for her part, Clementine has unmistakably bonded with Acting Principal Bassist Karl Doty, and coos happily as he holds her in his arms.
Evan Price did not join us for the bus ride, but we all listened to a radio interview and concert he gave while we rolled along. He performed as part of a gypsy swing quintet (3 guitars, violin and bass) on WNCW in Spindale, NC celebrating Django Reinhardt’s birthday at the Grey Eagle Tavern. What an incredible artist Evan is!
After we had checked into the hotel, everyone gathered in the restaurant for dinner, then drinks and dancing. It probably won’t surprise you to read this, but: Nadja is a great dancer!
The concert at the East Carolina University came Thursday, and there was a big crowd in Wright Auditorium waiting for the orchestra’s performance (soundcheck pictured above and below). New Century did not disappoint, playing with great commitment, passion and intensity. It was an especially good night for the cello section, with Principal Cellist Susan Babini earning extra cheers for her exquisite solos both in the Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brazilieras and in the Strauss, her sound refined, perfect and just meltingly beautiful throughout. She is becoming a great favorite with our audiences.
The audience yelled “encore, encore!” and Nadja complied. The cheers continued, on and on, until she led the orchestra off the stage.