Sydney and I are both from Kansas (although I haven't lived there in 14 years) and we were both at the same Joshua Bell concert in Kansas City last September, though we didn't know each other at the time. Ten months later, we've become friends through email and AIM, and it just happens that her grandparents live just five minutes away from where I live now, in the East (San Francisco) Bay. So while she and her family are here on their way back from Germany to Kansas to pick up their dog, there's no way we WEREN'T going to meet in person.
The Internet can be an interesting way to meet people. I've had some unpleasant experiences (most notably, an ex-boyfriend) meeting people who are much different in person than online, but I've also gotten to know some very wonderful people online who proved to be just as great when I finally met them in person. As of yesterday, Sydney Menees is the latest addition to that list. Not that I ever had any doubt, but she is just as beautiful, intelligent, talented, and mature as she seems here. Colleen, Caeli, and any other V.com members who haven't had the chance to meet her yet, you won't be disappointed! (Sorry, Syd, am I embarrassing you yet?)
So yesterday, Sydney came over with her mom, grandmother, and little sister Ella. We hung out for a while chatting, then played through the Bach Double a few times. Kiera entertained Ella for a while in her room upstairs, then came back down and showed us her 1/32 size violin, and we improvised a violin trio together! Sydney also tried playing a few measures of the Bruch on Kiera's tiny instrument, and did quite a good job!
You can listen to our rendition of the Bach Double here:
Sydney and Karin playing the first movement of the Bach Double, with cameo and commentary by 3-year-old Kiera
(If you turn up the volume at the very end, you can hear her asking, "Are you done?")
But that's not all! Sydney and her family stayed for a couple of hours but we still hadn't had enough time together, so she came back today for another two hours. We called Colleen Russo on Skype so she could hear us too, but since she doesn't have a mic or webcam, the only way she could talk to us was to call my land line so we could put her on speakerphone:
Sydney played some of the Bruch using my violin, Colleen played something on viola for us, and I scratched through the beginning of the Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I think we were all sad when Sydney had to go. But there will be more opportunities to meet in the future...January 2008 if not sooner, right? ;)
Thank you again, Laurie and Robert, for providing us violinists with such a wonderful site!
Every summer, the San Francisco Symphony plays a free concert at Stern Grove. My husband and I went only occasionally when we first moved here, but now that we have the girls, it's becoming a family tradition. We arrive in the morning, find a choice spot, spread out blankets, and spend the day eating, chatting, and playing until the afternoon concert.
I find these performances especially enjoyable because they tend to feature crowd-pleasing works and, in the past few years, have been conducted by the extremely talented and handsome Resident Conductor, Edwin Outwater. I've been introduced to some great soloists at these summer concerts, including pianists Jon Nakamatsu (who has since fallen off my list of favorites, but that's a different story) and Adam Neiman.
I admit I wasn't quite as excited about this year's program, particularly since they were featuring a group I'd never heard of, the string trio Time For Three. Classically trained musicians vary widely in their enthusiasm for crossover music, and I admit to having fairly narrow tastes. When an ensemble is described as "unique" or "unconventional", my first instinct is to turn away.
I should have had more faith, because I ended up eating my words big time. These guys are PHENOMENAL. They came out a couple of hours before the concert for a sound check and warmup, and within seconds I was transfixed, watching and listening with eyes wide and mouth open. Their stage presence is mesmerizing, the music intriguing, and their technique is unbelievable. I immediately began gushing to my husband about how I thought violinist Nick Kendall was incredibly hot even though his physical looks didn't attract me, and he---having endured my Joshua Bell infatuation for years---sighed and said, "Maybe I should just learn to play the violin really well." (Easier said than done, dear...)
During the actual concert, my three-year-old daughter had to go to the bathroom, so I didn't get to see them play their final work in its entirety. But Kiera and I stayed just outside the meadow and just danced to the music, which we could still hear quite well. And we found ourselves right outside the area where the guys would be signing CDs at intermission, so we ended up being first in line. Kiera asked them to autograph the album I'd just bought, and they were incredibly sweet to her, asking her how to spell her name and listening patiently as she babbled on about how her little sister was going to learn to play the cello when she got older so our family could be a quartet. I don't always expect twenty-something guys to be so wonderful with little kids, so after watching them with her, in combination with the immense talent I'd just observed, I was completely blown away.
Check these guys out; you won't be disappointed!
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.