Thank goodness this photo doesn't come with sound! My conch playing can still use some work ;) (Photo credit: Craig Hauschildt)

Thank goodness this photo doesn't come with sound! My conch playing can still use some work ;) (Photo credit: Craig Hauschildt)

Last weekend I returned to Aspen for the first time since being a student in Summer 2014 to make my percussion debut(!!!) playing John Luther Adams' Inuksuit. Together with Bravo Vail, there were a total of 66 performers from all over the US to give two performances of this 70-minute outdoor work, and thankfully the weather cooperated!

Day 1, Thursday: Though at first I was a bit irked that BB left me to take the CME shuttle from Denver while he took the connecting flight to Aspen, I was so thankful I did, because driver Patrick was AWESOME - an informative tour guide, easy-going and funny conversationalist, and responsible driver. Even though it did take a lot longer, I was pretty happy to be enjoying the breathtaking views going through Glenwood Canyon, and to avoid being on one of those small rickety flights going into the small Aspen airport. Best part was the point-to-point service, so I had them drop me off right at J-Bar to start the trip right -- with a long-missed burger and fries :)

Day 2, Friday: After finishing some leftover Houston work in the a.m., I spent my free morning back as an AMFS student, observing the Stephen Hough masterclass. It felt like it was just a month ago that I was terrified on that same Harris Hall stage performing Berg for Jeremy Denk! In addition to witnessing some amazing piano pedagogy, I saw lots of familiar old friends and teachers. Connie, whom I hadn't seen since a summer at Orford Arts Centre in over 5 years, happened to be playing, so we grabbed lunch at Victoria's where BB used to always grab a genmaicha tea and chocolate croissant for me while I was working at the box office. Afterwards, I sat in on a few lessons with Mr. Martin before heading to the first Inuksuit rehearsal. My worries about being so obviously not a percussionist eventually subsided through the rehearsal, having found my dear friend Tommy, who as a composer/violinist, also barely had any instruction on how to correctly play the triangle or siren or conch shell. Can you spot me in the live video here? :P

With a dinner break, I caught up with Juilliard friend Mike and Houston Da Camera friend Craig, whom happened to cross paths in their undergraduate studies way back when but had never met! We bonded over brews and foods in Snowmass' New Belgium Ranger Station (definitely get the chili).

We also did a nighttime rehearsal and, man, it was creepycool --> see here

Day 3, Saturday: Up and early on a packed van ride to our first performance to help close out BravoVail's summer season (program here) ! See the slideshow for pictures, but basically, the rain subsided just in time for us to do a quick run-through dress rehearsal and it stayed sunny for the entirety of our performance. Also, a whopping 1200 people came! *jawdrop*

Day 4, Sunday: Aspen performance! Due to the once again magically cooperative weather, I was able to wear my thrift-store find dress that seemed to be MADE for the "earth tones" dress code and received so many compliments on it! Though I got it at the sweet Buffalo Exchange for definitely less than $20, a quick search of the dress says you can still get it from this person on poshmark for $59, still a steal from the $188 list price. Win. Who knows when you'll need a knee-length dress for an outdoor "business casual" performance? ;)

After load out, we hung around outside the tent to listen to the orchestra + Stephen Hough play some Chabrier, Rachmaninoff and Lutoslawsk. Though Aspen is still just as expensive as I remember it, sitting outside to picnic and enjoy the concert from outside is a nice little freebie ;) 

Celebratory meal and drinks at Jimmy's - the mezcal mule and ahi tuna salad - delicious. 

Day 5, Monday: I spend my final full day in Aspen sitting in on more lessons with Mr. Martin. It is incredible how much better one learns when you're removed from the situation - not having to worry about playing the right notes and without involving your own ego... oof. Lessons learned.

I met up with Sophia, a girl I occasionally tutor back in Houston, for a quick masterclass of sorts before grabbing lunch with her and her mom at Peach's where we got pretty much everything on the menu. From baked goods to healthy filling entrees - this place is great. Her mom managed to capture some funny photos of us workshopping a few things ;P

Day 6, Tuesday: Back on my beloved CME shuttle to Denver Int'l Airport, and a direct flight on Frontier to Houston! I have to say, my first time riding Frontier Airlines was definitely a good one - no problems whatsoever, especially since this quick long weekend trip meant I just packed a gym bag as my personal item so no extra fees! Their onboard snack and drink selection were also the coolest I've seen. I got myself into their Infinite Monkey Theorem Chardonnay and these original Stroopwafels.

All in all, a great trip of music making and catching up with old friends and mentors!

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