National Touring Blog

From Ice to Fire

On Friday, Nadja and the Orchestra traveled through an ice storm across North Carolina to Durham, the home of Duke University.  Schools throughout the area closed early, as everyone headed home to wait out the storm.

It was a little scary looking through the bus windows and seeing dozens of cars that had spun out on the black ice.  Gerry, our bus driver, did a great job, and got us to the hotel safe and sound.

Within just an hour or two of our arrival, word came from Duke Performances that our concert had been cancelled due to the weather and dangerous road conditions.  So everyone gathered at an Irish pub for drinks and wonderful food (house special: shrimp etouffee).  Nadja organized games of poker and gin rummy, and everyone had a lot of fun. Interestingly, a performance by Whoopi Goldberg just a block or two from our hotel was not cancelled, so several members of the orchestra went to hear Whoopi before joining the card games.

Saturday was a day off in Durham, which goes by the name “Bull City” and “the Medical City,” depending on which sign you read. While some explored the town, violist Emily Onderdonk gathered together a few fellow musicians to read some jazz arrangements that she’s been spending her bus-time on.  She quickly printed out the music at the hotel’s business center and placed hangers on a long coat rack to hang up the music, in lieu of music stands. The impromptu session, held in a corner off the hotel lobby, was a fun way to “jazz” up the weekend after the disappointment of the concert cancellation the evening prior!

JazzSession_Durham_NC (2) JazzSession_Durham_NC (3) JazzSession_Durham_NC (4) JazzSession_Durham_NC (1) JazzSession_Durham_NC (1)

Sunday came, and we were back on the bus, headed to Winchester, Virginia, in the northern part of the state.

Our concert Sunday night was at Shenandoah University.  The Dean, D. Michael Stepaniak, explained that Shenandoah was started as a Presbyterian college for future music teachers over 100 years ago, and always had music and the arts at its center, even as it grew and thrived.

Everyone seemed to agree that the performance was our best yet, perhaps because the small hall (501 seats) had a live, very clear acoustic.  The audience was certainly our loudest and most enthusiastic, screaming, whooping and yelling “encore, encore!” again and again until the orchestra was out of encores.  Then Nadja took Associate Concertmaster Dawn Harms with one hand, waved goodbye with the other, and led the Orchestra off the stage.  Undeterred, many in the audience simply followed Nadja backstage to thank her and the Orchestra for the on-fire concert.  We had not experienced such passion from an audience outside of San Francisco before on this tour, and Nadja joked later that they would have loved it if the Orchestra had repeated the complete Metamorphosen!

An audience member wrote to us after the concert:

Thanks to you, I think it’s going to take me a week to recover emotionally. The entire evening was an extended prayer.

Nary a couple of notes into the first measure of the Mendelssohn piece had played when my daughter tugged at my shirt and–in her infinite eight-year-old wisdom–gave me a thumbs up as she lipsynced, “These guys are good!” (A moment to savor for ten lifetimes!)

As for devotion to your art, you exuded in equal measure an extraordinary seriousness of purpose and commitment, mixed with the sheer joy of performing. This makes you in my personal experience the most human group of musicians I have ever seen perform.

This morning, Nadja returned to the university to hold a masterclass and lecture on performance to a group of undergraduates, her second such lecture on the tour.

The ensemble has now arrived in Washington, D.C., looking forward to the performance at The Music Center at Strathmore on Wednesday!

This entry was published on January 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm and is filed under 2013 National Tour. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “From Ice to Fire

  1. Wish I had been brave enough to come back stage after the concert with some others … it was just AWESOME! Please return on your next tour … May be Nadja can be the celebrity guest for next Spring’s Apple Blossom Festival!

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