Being a classical musician means that you’re part of a world-wide fraternity, kinda like being a motorcyclist!
Both are also highly mobile, party by choice and partly out of necessity. I have friends and colleagues scattered across the country (and the world) most of whom I’ve shared rehearsals, performances, and social interaction with. I have a particularly strong connection to Buena Vista.
In Texas I met a very talented family of musicians that I became close with, and Harvey and Jo retired a few years ago and chose to escape the scorching suburbia of Texas mega-cities in favor of small mountain town life in Colorado. On only a moments notice Jo happily agreed to house me and my friend in “the house that music built,” her dream home outside of town overlooking the Arkansas River with a view of the Collegiate Peaks. Not bad.
The house is pretty ridiculous. Jo is an accomplished concert pianist and owns THREE Steinways, the primary one being her nine-foot concert grand piano. They designed the house themselves around
that piano, with the “living room” being a performance space that can seat 60-odd concert listeners. The stage where the piano sits can also fit a small instrumental ensemble such as a string quartet and has track lighting above it. The blinds behind the piano can be raised for a view (and windows opened for the sound!) of the Arkansas River splashing away only a few feet away. Un-be-live-able.
I guess it just shows that with hard work and perseverance even starving artists can enjoy a piece of the good life!
Jo and Harvey are true inspirations. In their seventies they are both extremely active in the things that interest them, Harvey (a flutist) being well studied in eastern meditation, Alexander Technique, Ti-Chi and other “internal” practices, Jo being a AVID adventurer. Her hobby is climbing mountains of the world. Seriously, this pocket-sized pianist climbs several 14,000’ peaks PER WEEK. Most people my age can’t do that, let alone folks in their 70’s. All this in addition to being musical artists of the highest caliber. I feel lucky to be friends with such great people AND to get to perform with them on a regular basis, as I’m sort of their “un-official” violist. Sweet!
Jo, Tarren and I go for a little local hike to stretch out:
Tarren contemplating the forces of erosion whilst scratching his arse
Harvey and Jo are also into eating healthy, natural and tasty foods, so we eat GOOD! Buena Vista has only a few restaurants worth eating at, so I guess you get good at cooking out of necessity! I have a feeling these two were already good...
Yup, we’re really roughing it now!
Tarren and I both psyched up for some big hikes, so we start making a plan of attack with Jo’s extensive knowledge of the area. Before any climbing happens Jo has another interesting activity for us: attending a town meeting hosted by Senator Ken Salazar focusing on designating a new wilderness area which is sure to be a lively debate between the “hikers” and the “ATV-ers.” Let’s go!
The turnout is incredible, apparently one of the largest attendance records for a town meeting in recent memory.
It’s beyond standing room only, there are people straining their necks out in the hall!
I’ve performed for events with high-level politicians a number of times (including some presidents!) but this is the closest I’ve been to a senator who wasn’t reading a prepared script/speech. It was pretty cool to see Senator Salazar work the room and make everyone and their views welcome, even if they differed from what he’s trying to accomplish.
The senator taking notes on Tarren’s comments:
There are strong opinions on both sides of the proposal to designate the area in question as wilderness, but everyone is respectful and polite, and at several times the tension is broken with a humorous comment that lets everyone laugh at themselves a little bit.
Like most issues I find myself somewhere in the middle. I love the outdoors, and hiking is sacred, there are places that no vehicle should go, it just wouldn’t be right. A big part of the joy of hiking and back-country camping is the “getting away from it all,” which most certainly includes cars. There’s also the environmental side of the argument, but I’m not gonna open that door... However, there are mountain roads and trails that have been around for generations that aren’t bothering anybody, so what harm is there in letting them continue to be accessible to the 4WD crowd? Once they’re gone, they’re gone. I now own a rough-n-tumble motorcycle that’s capable of terrain like that in question and I’m excited about the possibilities of using it. But, as always, it’s a few rotten apples that spoil the whole bunch. Even one ATV rider ripping up a stream bed leaves an impression not only on the land but more importantly as a lasting reputation of recreational off-roaders in the minds of others. What to do? (That’s a rhetorical question!)
I talked with these nice folks representing the Blue Ribbon Coalition (I'm pretty sure they took my picture too!):
That was interesting for sure, but enough of all this seriousness, I want to get back to adventuring! I didn’t bring any music with me for viola and piano, but Jo is a real pro and fan of the viola, so she has a few standards in her library. I make a mental note to carry at least something with me on future trips. She’s pretty impressed with the carbon fiber instrument, and after a few bars slide by we both forget about it and just play. That’s what I’m talking about...
We’re just having fun, so Tarren and Harvey get to hear a performance with plenty of mistakes. Jo’s missing many of the viola parts so I’m reading off the piano score over her shoulder. Teeeeeny little notes!
Whatever we’re about to play here I guess she had the part for... This is the "standard" spot for me to stand.
Another still life!
All this from traveling on a motorcycle! This is too cool...