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Samuel Thompson


August 11, 2008 at 10:51 PM

Well...after a very LONG travel day (that took place yesterday) I am at home again.

This was a fantastic summer, and there are so many things of which to speak about which I am truly grateful, as well as the many memorable things, including both seeing and hearing my dear friends Vanessa Schukis and Danielle Hermon perform as Mazeppa and Electra (respectively) in Gypsy, and again in Into The Woods. One of the most interesting things about participating in a summer festival for many years is that one does develop relationships with other artists, and those relationships can of course make performances even more meaningful on a personal level. I met both of these women in 2001 and of course, being the sap that I am, both laughter and tears flowed.

This summer also included the opportunity to reconnect with baritone Christopher Holloway, whom I first met when we both studied at the Shepherd School of Music. Chris was also quite impressive onstage, most specifically in the "premiere" of Talk To Me Like The Rain, a one-act opera written by Larry Delinger...and of course the list could go on...

Personally...well, what can I say? What SHOULD I say? For some reason it seems more appropriate to remember as it does to put all of the feelings and experiences into words, but once again - much like the summer of 2006 during the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas - it seems that many life experiences came together in "the moment". In 2006 there were the memories of different teachers and places. This summer consisted of remembering the years of watching and learning from various concertmasters while preparing for taking on that role and feeling a great sense of life having made sense during the two orchestral concerts for which another old friend, Yi Ching Fedkenheuer, served as the leader.

Yi Ching and I both studied with Kenneth Goldsmith at Rice University, both graduating in 1998, and while we have kept in touch this was indeed one of the first times that we have spoken to each other in depth - and in person - since leaving Houston. It was always a joy to listen to Yi Ching in studio class, class recitals, and her degree recitals, but sitting in her section was very special in that it was a reminder of those three years during which we at the Shepherd School of Music really learned how to play in an orchestra and how to play like a section.

I do of course take some pause as I share these thoughts: they are by no means sharing the opinion that the Shepherd School orchestras are the best in the country (I have not heard many other conservatory orchestras). However, while we do all learn and grow flexible as we grow in this business, playing under the direction of different conductors and in different ensembles, there's something so freeing about being able to sit in a section and watch - and know both instinctively and deeply how to fit in.

There was an article in The Strad a few years ago in which the violinist interviewed spoke about the excitement in actually seeing "the system", knowing "the school" from which someone came just from watching and listening. I have to say that I agree.

Now, though, as we change gears from summer to autumn, there is lots to prepare for - but there will be a little vacation, that vacation including going to shows this Wednesday and Friday during Baltimore Fashion Week to support my friend Dermain Johnson (Madison Walker) - and a trip to Cortlandt, New York where I myself will be the subject of a little photo shoot...

More from the road,

From Corwin Slack
Posted on August 12, 2008 at 2:14 AM
I am a relatively frequent attender of Shepherd School concerts and even remember you from concerts in years past. It is a fine orchestra and plays in a wonderful hall.

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