Friday, January 29, 2010


One of my favorite things ever.  I have a bias.  It was the very first symphony I ever played.

The time was June, 2008.  The place was Hot Springs, Arkansas.  I was alone.  It was one of the best trips of my life.

I auditioned for a music festival, The Hot Springs Music Festival.  The audition process is simple.  Record yourself playing excerpts and Mozart, send the tape in.  DONE.  Well, I was put on a waiting list.  Crap.

The best part about this specific music festival was that the tuition AND room & board were all free.  Rare find.

After hearing nothing for another few months, I figured that my chances weren't good.  So I got a summer job and was preparing for the long summer of practicing for my recital, which was scheduled for the fall. 

Well, the day before my job was to start, and the week before the festival started, I got a call.  They wanted me to come--a horn player canceled.  Normally, someone would might feel a little like second best.  But not me.  I checked my bank account, called my mom for some financial support (and she gave in) and booked a flight for five days out.

I had never flown alone before and had no idea what to do.  Luckily, my good friend, Lizz, drove me to Pittsburgh to catch my flight at 5am.  I was on two teeny tiny flights to get to Little Rock, Arkansas.  A scary man driving a van took me to Hot Springs--about an hour away. 

So, the water there really does come out of fountains in the streets and stuff.  And it really is naturally hot.  And you can drink it.  But who would want to drink hot water out of a fountain in the ground when it is already 110 degrees in the summer?  Not me. 

On top of that, we stayed in an old dormitory.  Gross.  Bugs.  Alone in my own room (thought I was getting a roomate).  Dirty shower and bathroom.  Hot.  Nothing to eat. Drink. Or do.

I had to walk over a mile to each rehearsal.  At first, alone.  After I met friends, with them.  With my horn on my back.  And my music.  And my stand.  In the heat.  In Arkansas.  In June.  Over a mile to the rehearsal, almost a mile to the nearest deli for lunch and back, more rehearsal, then over a mile back home that night.  To play a concert in the heat.  Every day.  I lost some weight while I was there. 

I was practically the only person there under 21, so I was left out of some festivities and was forced to instead... read.

Sounds terrible, huh?

Well, let me list the AMAZING things that happened to me.

1. I met, played with, and played for the horn teacher there, Lowell Greer.
2. I lost some weight and started the process of getting in shape (which I ultimately ruined that winter HAHA)
3. I met SO  many friends there---most of which I am still in some contact with!
4. I played with some really awesome musicians... some teachers and professionals, and some great students.
5. My horn section of seven was really cool--and I was the youngest :o)
6. I got to play the following pieces of music for the first time (in the TWO weeks I was there):
  • Tchaikovsky, Cappriccio Italien
  • Strauss, Also Sprach... representing Horn 6!
  • A Haydn mass--which I got suckered into and ultimately loved.
  • Mahler, Symphony #4--my first symphony ever.
  • Many, many others.
7. I learned how to travel by myself--even though I had an ugly experience on the way home.
8. I really fell in love with playing the horn on that trip.

Tonight, Josh and I are going to Pittsburgh to see the PSO perform Mahler 4.  This will be my first time hearing it live.  SO EXCITED.  There is something about that symphony that makes me feel so good.

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