Sandy Wilson | Alexander String QuartetThe ASQ is taking a week off from our summer routine. There’ll be some sacrosanct vacation time with families coming later in July and August but for the meantime, we are taking a little time out for some “rebooting.” Paul has left to spend a week in Florida with his family and to be with his wonderful Dad Orin for Fathers’ Day. Fred and Zak are both staying at home this week spending parental relief time with “Mr. Mom” duties and taking the opportunity to focus on a few time consuming ASQ chores that are frequently deferred when we’re in full-on touring season/active semester pattern.

For my part, I’m heading out of town and hopping on a few planes without my cello. What a luxury, to sit even in the back of the plane but without concern for my almost constant seat mate: CBBG Walsh-Wilson.

I’m going to be sharing some journal notes from the road to keep my ASQ colleagues abreast of my summer “catch-up” trip. The plan is to visit with some of the people who help keep the ASQ’s routine operations running smoothly. These are folks with whom we have daily or at least weekly contact although necessarily from afar. We thought you might be interested to follow along and see some of the back-story of what goes on when we’re not preoccupied in the rehearsal studio, the classroom, on the concert stage or in the recording studio. As you’ll find out, curiously it seemed to me at least, that although it’s long overdue, this will be the first time that some of us have ever met in spite of the fact that we work so closely together!

First however, as I contemplate packing (my first stop will be Dallas where I’m advised it’s going to be in the high 90’s and the likelihood of rain is forecast), I am gathering my thoughts for the finals this afternoon in San Francisco of the Irving M. Klein Competition. In it’s 29th year now, consistently at San Francisco State through nearly 3 decades, my colleagues and I took break this year from screening the more than 120 audition submissions from 17 countries. Instead, I joined the jury proper for the semifinals for a very intense weekend of stunning music making and with the certainty of some very tough decisions. Even though this is my fifth stint over more than 20 years on this jury, I am still completely in awe of the extraordinary level of musicianship, the panache, refinement and the disarmingly mature artistry that these exceptional young musicians display. The notable camaraderie that prevails among the contestants is no accident. Rather it is cultivated proactively and deftly by the excellent Administration and Board of the IMK Competition. The purpose is to ensure that even the five semifinalists who do not advance to today’s final round are assured of a most positive, constructive and beneficial experience. At some level, virtually everyone participating in the weekend’s activities win and not least, the audience. Those in attendance through the entire activities hear eleven stunning performances. As it happens this year, I am joined on the distinguished jury by three former IMK Competition First Prize winners, most recently from 1995. Each of these distinguished artists have each gone on in the ensuing 2+ decades to establish remarkably celebrated careers in music. They include Cathy Basrak, Jennifer Frautschi and Robert deMain. Additional jurors include Melvin Margolis, Donna Mudge, Barbara Day Turner and Mark Volkert. Mark’s beautifully crafted commissioned works (four 3-4 minute compositions for each of violin, viola, cello and bass) were heard in spectacular renditions. They each presented the opportunity to reveal the lyricism, virtuosity, imagination and humor if the individual musicians could find the means to articulate and express what lay in the unfamiliar and challenging music. It was an enormously rewarding day for everyone present and there was certainly one very gratified composer in the house!

The finals will be over before I skip town so I’ll update again from the airport.

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