Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Out of the Oven

We have a peach tree in our front yard. While we can't take credit for planting it, it has grown beautifully this year, many thanks to my husband's hidden talent as a gardener and "lawn care specialist."

While I was gone, he sent me pictures of the peach tree. They were fully ripe while I was gone, and some had to be eaten while I was away.

However, we now have a drawer-full of them, and they make terrific pies. As I found out.

I also found out my husband had never had a peach pie in his life!

I'm certainly no Martha Stewart, but I will quote her here:

"Doing projects really gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking a pie out of the oven. What it does for your personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something you can't buy."

Doing projects really gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking the pie out of the oven. What it does for you personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something you can't buy.
Read more at:
Doing projects really gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking the pie out of the oven. What it does for you personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something you can't buy.
Read more at:
Doing projects really gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking the pie out of the oven. What it does for you personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something you can't buy.
Read more at:

Friday, August 11, 2017

An Emerald Layover

Booking round-trip European flights from Albuquerque can be quite expensive. So when I had the option of flying through Dublin on both the inbound and the return flight, I jumped at the opportunity (and the price!).

The trade-off on the return ticket was an overnight stay in Dublin (16 hour layover). 

My new friend and colleague, who I had just met at Franz-Schubert-Institut, happens to be a Dublin resident, so the layover worked out perfectly. (Thank you, NK, for the amazing hospitality!). 

I was properly greeted at the airport. 

And then after some lovely aperitifs and music-listening, we hit the town for some proper fish-n-chips and, after, the quintessential Dubliner magic potion. 

As James Joyce says in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, "My heart is quite calm now. I will go back." 

And my heart is quite calm now. 

The time away, immersed in texts and music, helped me become more of myself. As Dr. DL says, "Schubert's song can rid us of our bad habits." I have played that line over and over in my head, wondering what he meant, and also finding its truth. 

I do know that I haven't written, and that usually my time away is a time to write more. This summer ended up being an exception, and my challenge is to write as I continue to unravel the many gifts that studying this summer afforded. 

I am thrilled to be going to home and to be reunited with Z, and I am also happy to be bringing home a better version of myself. 

(... though I know the old version was also just fine, as well ...)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The "point" of vacation

I guess I do realize that I write more when I’m “away” then when I’m in the day-to-day rhythm then when I’m traveling. 

Zheng and I are enjoying some much-needed “down-time” before I head to Europe for a pilgrimage (more about that in another post). On today’s adventure was the Art Institute of Chicago. Neither of us had been, and we were very much looking forward to it! Along with some famous works of art (I had to explain some of them, including Dorian Gray as Faust, etc.), it was fun to take in the museum and see the exhibits. 

I had also forgotten that “La Grande Jatte” (inspiration for Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George) was at this place, and we turned the corner and got a surprise! The up-close encounter to the “pointillism” was fantastic … 

Getting close to the artwork was informative because you could see an added border, used by Serrat to contrast the frame to the painting itself. He also used, points, dots and jabs to get the affects that we can see from afar.

[ and yes, the pun from the title ] 

Monday, April 17, 2017

The connecting c(h)ord

An on-again, off-again project has been seeping, brewing, marinating.

And by on-again, off-again, I really mean: 

ON (offer! concert offered! Learn more of these!) … practice, practice, practice - oh wait, these are HARD - maybe wait until my technique is better / the planets align / my cat can clean its own litterbox - or until I can play them perfectly. Practice, oh wait, here’s my opera season for the year, so better get on THAT because that is sure money, and that is how the world {somehow} sees me these days ::: keep going, keep going, keep GOING (thank you, Berio and Samuel Beckett!).

Literally, this project, now calling my name very strongly, is starting to boil over. Like a pot, or sauce, on very slow boil.

Try … seven or eight YEARS. All of my cells are different from the time I started. 

Today I experimented with the recorded sound - visual of pairing my new Zoom h5 with my Nikon DSLR 5100. I have never paired an audio mic of this quality to the DSLR, but I was in the middle of blissfully practicing solo music, and then thought - 

“I’m going to check out what I look - and sound - like, in this moment!”

So I figured out how to pair the two, and set up the machine. Lo and behold, I came up with something fun! I also played around with filters and captions. The video is about a minute long.

The connecting c(h)ord. The one I used today to connect the two machines. The one that Shostakovich uses to get from one harmony, to the next. He links back the opening a minor with the bell-tone “E” - the dominant, the overtone. Each chord struck is a riff on the one before, a connection to what is to come.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

The day before ...

Greetings from a *cold* Harleysville, PA!

(I think all this time in NM, California, etc., has made my blood too thin for this).

I'm back at the "Ditlow Homestead" and have loved catching up with grandparents, brothers, sisters, parents, and my musical community to which I had such strong ties for the early part of my career. What is so exciting is that these ties have continued, and somehow even deepened, as we've all developed our lives and careers. A recent personnel change (due to weather) caused me to have to contact some people who I haven't seen or written to for a while, and I was moved by their immediate, warm responses and their willingness to help. (Problem solved, by the way!).

I've solved the epidemic problem of "Harleysville being on the edge of civilization" (meaning no Starbucks!) by taking matters into my own hands and bringing a milk frother, stovetop espresso maker, and Lavazza espresso with me. 

Tomorrow is "Bach by Candlelight" - and I couldn't resist making this "meme" ...

On this concert, I am the only person on it who gets the distinction of playing every piece - and really to play all "three" keyboard instruments. Within these works, I am charged with playing: 

1). 'orchestral' parts - multiple lines, covering for instruments we don't have ...
2). virtuoso solo music in the triple concerto (we're doing it on piano) - and the prelude and fugue isn't easy, either ... 
3). improvised and realized keyboard figured bass (but more than half of the music isn't figured) ... so essentially I'm making up the keyboard part in the right hand ... 

I found this quote from Bach which perfectly describes the magic of playing continuo:

"Like all music, the figured bass should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and recreation fo the soul; where this is not kept in mind there is no true music, but only an infernal clamor and ranting." 

I listened to rehearsal footage last night so that I can practice better today ... 

But there is also every genre possible in Bach's music - both looking back to Renaissance polyphony, and even the "rules" from plainchant or melodic construction - and - jazz, bebop, and ... heavy metal ... (there is a passage in the Bach d minor double violin concerto which makes me smile every time - it's Guns N' Roses, 260 years too early) .... 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Today was a great day - more harpsichord playing, more working on the instrument in preparation for Saturday's concert. I helped my sound technician vacuum out the harpsichord, in case dust was disturbing the action inside.

I also discovered another amazing thing about my iPad Pro, and its indispensable app for a musician, ForScore. There are a whole bank of common musical symbols, and some less common ones.

I was in search of something that I would never need for another thing, and I found it ... 

It is ... wait for it ...

My mark to turn my page (wirelessly) through Bluetooth pedal.

Ah, the bliss of being a 21-st century musician. My forefathers would have surely approved of, and used this, had it been around in Vienna, Leipzig, or Bayreuth ...
And we are counting down until Saturday's event! Non vedo l'ora!

This sign is outside St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Elkins Park, PA. Please join us!