One of the great things about being a classical musician is the opportunity to perform in a variety of venues all over the country, or even the world. Most symphonies seasons coincide with the school year so many have a summer sabbatical. During this “time off” most musicians perform in various summer music festivals that are most often in beautiful, cool mountain locales. Lucky us! Some of the most famous summer festivals are Tanglewood, Aspen, and Santa Fe Opera just to name a few. Chances are if it’s a pretty place to visit in the summer there’s probably a live classical music festival happening somewhere near by. This sounds like it could work with motorcycle trips nicely, eh?
The downside is the compensation. Many musicians feel that they are getting a subsidized vacation by “getting” to play with a summer festival, which I agree with to an extent, but having to show up to work isn’t a vacation to me (as much as I like my job). I decided a while ago that if I only stand to break even (or lose) on a summer festival I might as well be on moto-vacation for real, unless it’s a rare opportunity to work with some amazing musicians (“Networking” I think people call it in the real world).
Such is the case for the Utah Festival Opera: I played as principal viola there for four summers but it started to not make sense to work my ass off for nine weeks when I could make the same amount of money in three weeks in Texas and still get to ride to Utah and enjoy all the fun things at my leisure. No brainer!
Logan Utah is the home of Utah State University, so the Opera Company kinda takes over the town during the summer while all the students are back on the farm. Most of the orchestra stays in a block of student apartments which is outrageous fun. I don’t think many of us would want to live like that long term, but for a couple months in the summer it’s a freakin’ blast! Like being in college again, but everyone is more respectful of each other (we are adults... sorta!). Get-togethers every night after the shows, drinks, meals, conversation, and general hanging out with like-minded colleagues in a relaxed, scenic environment. Excellent.
So I get to have some fun while all the other poor sods are slaving away in the pit! First thing is to sleep, a lot. I’m exhausted after playing my own music festival (Cactus Pear), and then the stress and excitement of first breaking down on the BMW and then getting the KTM and riding it here over a couple of crazy days. I sleep in for several days.
The day after I arrive the many of the musicians are playing a chamber music concert benefiting a local animal shelter. I volunteer to be the court photographer.
I like the violist's bow in this photo:
The “official” dog of the Utah Festival Opera is Birch, who was adopted by a musician during a summer here. He’s the inspiration for the benefit concert, and he’s one of my best hiking buddies while I’m here! It works out great ‘cause he and I can take off while everyone else is in rehearsal or performances.
I like Birch. I like big dogs in general! He seems pretty happy, and so do I!
I spend two afternoons working on a paint-protector project for my orange beast. It's probably the nicest vehicle I'll own for a long time, so I figure I'll at least make an effort to keep it looking nice. This orange/green-fleck paint job looks cool in the sun! Here are my patterns I made for the paint-saver film (flipped 'em over for the other side):
This stuff is really cool, you really can't see it unless you're looking for it. I think I mentioned it before, but I despise cleaning/detailing, so I'd rather spend some time putting this stuff on so I don't have to worry about the paint for years.
There's more fun to be had here in (and near) Logan, including cutting my teeth on some off-pavement riding with my new beast and other exciting adventures, all in the next couple posts...