Zak at AirportThe weekend preceding our two week European trip was about as intense as they come. Coming off a week spent in northwestern Pennsylvania in subzero weather, we returned to a week back home in San Francisco packed with preparations and distractions. These included a wonderful expansion campaign launch for one of our favorite San Francisco causes, the venerable 100+ year old Community Music Center and a fine celebratory concert to get the ball rolling at the ever spectacular home of Gordon and Ann Getty. More mundane distractions however included an unscheduled visit to our fine Ellen M. Egger Quartet luthier (our “Maker”), Francis Kuttner to revisit and fine-tune a few modifications, occasioned by exposure to such dry atmospheric and freezing conditions of the week before. Almost all of us had a variety of medical/dental appointments and to boot, the week was crammed with make-up teaching at SFSU and including two chamber music recitals featuring our students in the Morrison Chamber Center’s Instructional Program.

I think we all escaped the classrooms on Friday evening to get an early stab at packing logistics, not missing the always anxious check that we have all technical supplies and the sheet-music. The latter must include pre-discussed un-programmed encore options in our folders for the ensuing two weeks (eleven programs with just a few overlaps and no duplications)! I know my preparations included a stiff martini along with family-night supper and a home movie!

Paul in Frankfurt
Paul being interviewed in Lufthansa’s Senators Lounge in Frankfurt by Hannah Anderson of SFSU’s DocFilm Institute. Traveling with the ASQ on the current itinerary and filming a documentary film for future release.

The kickoff trifecta three concert weekend in our hometown is a phenomenon we have come to take in our stride and while not entirely “routine,” we’ve learnt to carve out and preserve some dedicated downtime at home to pace ourselves. The past weekend’s programs were all-Mozart with our friend and collaborator Robert Greenberg. The first on Saturday morning was with San Francisco Performances at SF Jazz for the 3rd in our “Mozart in Vienna” series including his D and E flat major “Prussian” quartets. The audience is familiar and wonderfully welcoming and appreciative of these informal presentations. We dress informally and chat at the intermission and end of the programs with friends and regular attendees – a tradition now in its 22nd season! We even had opportunity on Saturday to talk directly to the audience as Bob Greenberg interviewed the quartet members about the Egger quartet of instruments that we’re traveling with, yielding as usual, some surprising answers and a good deal of hilarity. Dim sum lunch with friends frequently follows and thereafter in this case, a run around town dealing with last minute haircuts, dry-cleaning, prescriptions and other travel necessities.

Sunday’s trip up to UC Davis’s Mondavi Center was a familiar run too, loading up a rental van for the weekend with five guys and a cello. In this case, in addition to the last Prussian quartet in F major, K. 590, we included an exciting first collaboration with guest violist, Charith Premawardhana playing Mozart’s last chamber music composition, the E flat Viola quintet, K. 614 from 1791. This was a first for us ALL though certainly not the last. We’ll present this program once more at SF Jazz for SF Performances on May 9th. Once again Bob Greenberg presented these works with us incorporating his inimitable insights with a generous dollop of humor and pathos.

Fred and Warren Haack
Fred with Warren Haack, executive sound engineer also from the SFSU DocFIlm Insititute, traveling with the ASQ

The program was repeated in the evening without Greenberg but incorporating a post-concert discussion between the audience and the 5 musicians. These afterglow chats yield ever evolving perspectives and appreciation of the relationship between performer and audience. The insightful comments and probing questions from the audience keep us all on our toes and provoke very thoughtful and illuminating discussions.

It was good to get home and finally to bed having dropped everyone off and returned the rental car. Only last minute packing to accomplish on Monday morning and then a run to the airport for the non-stop to Frankfurt.

The flight was uneventful and on schedule. A relatively light load with quite a few empty seats and and excellent crew. We’re as well rested as possible and now, ready to continue to Krakow in a couple of hours hopefully to sleep well before our first performance tomorrow night.

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