Notes From a Curious Listener

An Insider's Look at LJMS

Sep 29

My Last Post as the Official Blogger for the La Jolla Music Society

Published in Inside LJMS by KBrailean | Comment (0)

It is with mixed emotions that I write this post, my last as the official blogger of the La Jolla Music Society (LJMS). There is some relief as the grind of a weekly deadline ends. (I have written 45 posts and cajoled five guest posts out of others since July 15, 2010.) But there is also sadness that this is an end to a fulfilling collaboration with the Marketing team. Lead by Kristen Sakamoto, Marketing Director, managed by Travis Maril, Web Master and professional violist, and reviewed by Marcus Overton, Consultant for Special Projects, and Michelle Tondreau, Lead Ticket Services Representative, with help from Anne Heinlein and Matthew Fernie, we have taken this blog through a birthing process that has been fun and full of delightful surprises. I do so thank them!

It began as a whim when Kristen hit me with the unexpected question, "Would you be the blogger for LJMS?" at the Board of Director's retreat in September 2009. As the seasoned volunteer that I am, I immediately responded, "No," but the idea wouldn't leave my head. I was intrigued by the internet's ability to reach many people on a shoestring budget, and I wanted LJMS to take advantage of it.

Also, I wanted to learn more about the internet and the subtleties of expressing my views in an understated but powerful way. LJMS was a safe place to do that. I knew that the team would steer me away from gaffes and controversy and do so with a gentle touch. One example is that they did not use my first few posts, but they never critiqued them either. Instead, they simply encouraged me to keep writing and told me that I was, "Finding my voice." I smile whenever I think of it. I'm fairly certain that those three words resulted from a long discussion between a worried team and Christopher Beach on how to move forward. I am grateful for their tact.

Sep 02

Heard at La Jolla Music Society's SummerFest

Published in Untagged  by KBrailean | Comment (0)

Here are some of the best behind-the-scenes tidbits I heard at SummerFest. Most are paraphrased because I didn't have a pen at the time, but I think I captured the essence of the comments.

"Much better than we expected. We expected it to be great, but it is even better than that. To be included in a festival with all of these great musicians is amazing."
-Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, fellowship artist, violist

"I memorize the music when I can because it gives me more freedom of expression."
-Deborah Hoffman, harpist

"It was SO hard."
-Kyoko Takezawa, violinist (when asked about the difficulty of Enescu's Octet for Strings in C Major, Opus 7)

"I was worried when I saw the program for the finale. That Enescu might be too 'out there' for me; but it was gorgeous."
-Board Member

"Yes, this SummerFest is going very well, but I cannot relax until it is all over."
-Kristen Sakamoto, Marketing Director

"Best SummerFest ever! I don't know how they are going to top it next year. "

"We'll play the same program, just backwards."
-Cho-Liang Lin, Music Director (quip in response to previous comment)

"I loved the SummerFest Wrap-Up Meeting. There is such a feeling of community."
-Angel Kleinbub, New Board Member

"I know the artists and get them to come. "
-Cho-Liang Lin, dramatically downplaying his effort in planning SummerFest.

"Thank you."
-Christopher Beach, President and Artistic Director, words he says to everyone throughout SummerFest, even as he, who also works non-stop on SummerFest, drops into a chair in exhaustion.
Congratulations to you all on a wonderful SummerFest!
Aug 22

The Life of a SummerFest Spouse

Published in SummerFestInside LJMSGuest Blog by KBrailean | Comment (0)

Matthew GeamanMy name is Matthew Geaman, and I am proud to be a SummerFest Spouse. I have been married to a member of the LJMS staff for a little over a year (my wife Leah Rosenthal is the Artistic Administrator). Living with an LJMS staff member during SummerFest can be a little stressful at times, but exciting as well. As the festival approaches, I can see the lines of worry start to cross my wife’s face as she is contemplating all the things that could go possibly wrong, constantly retracing her steps to make sure everything is as organized as possible before the first artist arrives. I have also seen her elated with joy, when she comes home to tell me about the most beautiful performance she has ever heard or shows me a sweet text message she received from Olga Kern sending her appreciation for making her time in La Jolla so memorable.

Witnessing these ups and downs I’ve realized that I have a unique perspective on the festival. As I was wrapping up work last Tuesday and wondering what I should do that evening I remembered that it would be yet another night alone with our dog Sebastian and I thought to myself “…well, there’s a SummerFest concert tonight and if I go I’ll get to see Leah…and hear some great music.” I realized that I had seen her for a total of a few hours since the festival started. It dawned on me that most people probably don’t comprehend the effort that goes into making this festival happen and how the entire organization dedicates their lives to SummerFest.

Us concert-goers get to hear incredible performances, but we rarely think about all the work that goes on behind the scenes. The entire staff is in constant management mode coordinating events ranging from backstage preparation to educational events like coaching workshops and encounters, artist arrivals/departures, artist housing coordination, rehearsal scheduling, development events including intermission receptions and post-concert events, luncheons, etc.

Aug 15

SummerFest from an Insider's Perspective

Published in Untagged  by KBrailean | Comment (0)

Curious Listener Note: this is a guest post from Nancy Reeves Manzur, SummerFest Artist Liaison.

Nancy Reeves Manzur

Waiting for a performance to begin is always exciting. From the audience, after one finds their seat and turns off their cellphone, their eyes focus on the LJMS SummerFest 25th anniversary logo and the beautiful Steinway D as they wait for the first performer to walk out on stage. There is a special kind of beauty in seeing musicians walk out onto the stage, often with a priceless instrument in their hands. The instrument, without musical hands playing it, also waits. It makes no sound until the performer gives it life.

Likewise, performances have no life would it not be for all the people who spend careful hours preparing the structure in which it can come alive. The music directors and creative directors who program the concerts and create the schedule, the musicians who fly into San Diego from around the world to meet with each other and create art, the patrons who sponsor the concerts, the audience members who buy the tickets, the hard workers and stage managers who plan how the lights will look, and where the microphones hang, recording engineers, the staff who manage receptions, CD sales, and the making of program books, the house manager, the ushers, and the woman who sells the beverages outside the performance. Every character, including those I haven't mentioned, has a very important role in giving each performance life.

Aug 03

David Chan, Hai-Ye Ni, DaXun Zhang and Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt Create Romance Together

Published in SummerFestArtist News by KBrailean | Comment (0)

The Serenades and Romance SummerFest concert on Friday, August 12,  is the epitome of why I love La Jolla Music Society's SummerFest - because the musicians are an amazing variety of people, all of whom excel at what they do. The musicians in this concert are a compendium of experienced and new, competition winners, soloists and concertmasters .

Take DaXun Zhang, double bass. I looked at his website and immediately liked him. How could you not when he puts this photo, with tie askew, on his website? And, the rare perDaXun Zhangson who chooses the double bass to play - and becomes a soloist lugging that largest of instruments around - has to be cut from a different cloth than most. DaXun Zhang clearly is not afraid to be himself, and he has had some unique opportunities because of it. Mr. Zhang's association with La Jolla Music Society began with a concert he presented as a competition winner over a decade ago.  Thereafter, he played with Yo Yo Ma in the Silk Road tour, which stopped in La Jolla at SummerFest 2005.  

Hai-Ye Ni is one of the cellists playing in Serenades and Romances. She is also from China but unlike Mr. Zhang, Ms. Ni was shy. She says she was scared when, in the '80s, she was one of the chosen few to be coached by western musicians traveling to China, which had been closed during the Mao regime. Of course, her fear was understandable given that she was only 12 years old and westerners were rare at that time in Shanghai. Hai-Ye NiShe clearly overcame her fear as she is now the principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I wonder if those western musicians realized that Americans would benefit from the classes they provided to the Chinese musicians? This article in the Epoch Times by Pamela Tsai is a very interesting view into Ms. Ni's life.

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