Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer's End

The future started yesterday.
~ John Legend
Grand Canyon, Arizona.
All good things must come to an end, and so did this wondrous summer.

But I sent it out with a bang. Last Wednesday morning, I boarded a Southwest jet, flew to Phoenix, rode the shuttle to my rental car, hopped in "my" Toyota Corolla, and drove to Sedona.

Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona
As first sight of those famous red rock formations, I fell in love. I have always been drawn to the ocean and dreamed of living close to the water. But Sedona has its own special appeal. More than one person I met started out as a visitor there and ended up a permanent resident. I can see why.

A few miles down the road, I found the lovely Arabella Hotel, checked into my room, had a delicious meal at the nearby Elote Cafe, and got a good night's sleep. The next morning, I was greeted by this smiling face. 
 Tim is one of the dynamic tour guides who works for Grand Venture Tours. He took six other travelers and me on an fast-paced trip to the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas, sharing lots of history and local wisdom as we went. I actually took notes, as there are many things I want to learn more about, and it was way too much to remember.

Sunset Crater National Monument

Wapataki National Monument

Lunch and shopping at the Cameron Trading Post

The Grand Canyon. Pictures don't do it justice.
 All too soon, Tim dropped us off at our hotels. I spent one more night at the Arabella and had another delicious dinner, this one at The Hudson. Then it was time to check out and make way to my final destination, Piano Haven,

Piano Haven, Sedona, Arizona
where I spent the next two days recording and editing all the songs that will go on my soon-to-be-released solo piano album, Seashells in My Pocket

Shigeru Kawai, the king of pianos
It was a delightful experience. The piano was amazing, hands-down my all-time favorite, and Joe was kind, patient and encouraging. I can hardly wait to get that finished CD in my hands.

* * *

I arrived back home late Sunday evening, just in time for back-to-school here in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and back to full-time piano teaching for me. But I couldn't have asked more from the summer of 2017. I forged new friendships, checked a few things off my bucket list, and turned some dreams into plans. 

The way I see it now, every day is a new adventure.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Adventures

Italy was everything I hoped it would be.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the privilege of attending the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Acqui Terme.
My travel companions Yoonsook, Soojung, Qin, Dr. Thomas, and I. 
The path to our hotel. Acqui Terme, Italy.
Leftover from Roman times. Acqui Terme, Italy.
Thermal Baths. Acqui Terme, Italy.
I walked six to eight miles every single day
These feet were made for walking.
and I ate and drank whatever I wanted.
Cappuccino every morning for breakfast.
A typical meal at our hotel. Served buffet style. 
My new favorite drink, Aperol Spritz.
Gelato was a refreshing reprieve from the relentless heat.
There was no air conditioning anywhere in Acqui Terme.
Inspired by both caring faculty and fellow students, I made music every single day.
My practice room.
Dana, Sandra and me performing our chamber piece, Ibert's "Deux Interludes." So much fun!
During the course of the festival, we enjoyed two days of sightseeing in Milan and Turin;
Duomo di Milano.
La Scala Opera House, Milano.
Egyptian Museum, Torino.
View from atop the National Museum of Cinema in Turin.
then, at the conclusion of the festival, we spent two days sightseeing in Rome, 
making wishes and tossing coins into Trevi Fountain,
Trevi Fountain, Rome
touring famous places I had always dreamed of seeing,
Coliseum, Rome.
Borghese Gallery, Rome.
Vatican Museum, Rome.
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome (we saw the Sistine Chapel, too, but no photos are allowed in there!)
and eating and drinking some more.
Best pizza ever at Da Baffetto. Yes, that's an egg in the middle!
Red wine goes with everything.
I learned a lot and made many wonderful memories. 

Now I'm making music back home. I've played in two formal concerts
I played "Forest Solitude" by Zdenek Fibich. Steinway Galleries, Alpharetta, GA, July 23, 2017.
I played two of my original compositions. University of North Georgia, Gainesville, July 30, 2017.
and enjoyed an evening with friends playing the fifteen solo piano pieces I composed this spring and sharing the stories behind them.
Dave & Julia, dear friends and gracious hosts.
Tomorrow I'm headed to Sedona, Arizona where I will spend two days with Joe Bongiorno at Piano Haven recording my music. And that's just the beginning. But if all goes well, my first solo piano CD will be ready to release on October 13th. I have already booked the recital hall for the next day for a celebration concert.
I will return home late Sunday evening; on Monday, school starts and I will resume full-time teaching.

But for once, I'm not asking myself, "Where did the summer go?"

I know EXACTLY where it went.