Thursday, October 16, 2014

Classical Music in North America ~ how should it be experienced?

This article  called, 10 Things That We Should Change In Classical Concerts, particularly hits home with me because at the very last concert I performed, I was reprimanded by another musician while on stage. What was I doing? Well, the concert was uncovered, outdoors and rainy so many string players brought their cases out on stage. I brought my Mary Poppins umbrella. A couple other members saw it and jokingly suggested I should start dancing and "singing in the rain". In response I took my folded umbrella and started pumping it up and down and doing the leg kick from my chair, which was on the very outside, so I was visible to absolutely everyone in attendance. The reprimand was that I should behave because I'm on stage now. I answered back, and firmly believe, that audiences should see happiness and joy on stage and not always a somber stare from its musicians. There was no discussion because soon the concert began and I respect the protocols to be quiet and attentive for the conductor and concertmaster. But to show an audience that classical music is fun; it's fun to play, it's fun to listen to; it's fun to watch; its fun to absorb, is something I try to do every time I have a chance to interact with my audience. 

What do you think? 

What parts of this article do you agree or disagree with?


This is the outdoor venue at the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock.

This is my usual self, fun, happy and full of life! The photographer took this picture as I was walking on stage.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bruckner Symphony No.7 & a trip to Little Rock

It is funny. I went to type, or swype as it were, the word Arkansas into my phone and it didn't know the word. I wonder what people from Arkansas think...having to add their state's name into the phone dictionary.

I digress. I'm heading to Little Rock this week to play in the Arkansas Symphony! It seems like it's been forever and what a better way to return than with a concert including Bruckner Symphony No.7. I've wanted to play one for a long time so I'm finally getting to fulfill my dream. :)  Last year I checked a Mahler Symphony off my list for the first time and this year it is a Bruckner Symphony. Let's keep the awesome pieces coming!

So for any friends that are in the Little Rock area, send me a note since I'll be there for a week and will have time to visit. And for any of my friends in Chicago. I'm getting to and from Little Rock via the Windy City, so when I return I can spend a few extra days if I'm so inclined :)

Don't forget that you can keep up with me on a more daily basis (it's not quite daily, but more frequent than the blog) via Twitter. There is a feed in the right column of my blog, but you can also follow me here if you have a Twitter account.

It will be nice to escape the growing cold of the northern Indiana countryside, spend time performing and practicing instead of faucet repairing/replacing and gutter removal. And hopefully when I return, there will be an India visa waiting for me!!! Dare I hope? It's been such a long road, but I still hold onto the hope that until they reject my visa, the possibility still exists for my future tour through India and Asia performing awesome Bollywood tunes.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

India seems so far away

It has been a long haul already and unfortunately, I'm writing this update from my childhood twin bed in my childhood bedroom with the same carpet, same wallpaper, same curtains, and even the same sheets on my bed. There's just a few extra boxes and an elliptical machine to remind me I no longer live here permanently....yet.

It was in August that I agreed to a job in India and said yes, I can leave in three weeks when the company in India hiring me asked if I was available right away.

Back then I had 7 months before my passport expired.

I did Skype interviews, sent resumes, videos and pictures and was emailed a nice contract and everything seemed on track...until I tried to get my visa.

I went to the Atlanta passport agency the middle of August to renew my passport just in case and was told that I couldn't do so quickly without an exact travel date like an airline ticket.

Since my passport was not going to expire right away and I didn't want to send it off in the mail for a month and a half to renew it without an exact travel date, I decided to just wait and renew my visa overseas.

After receiving all my documents to apply online I did so on Labor Day and emailed to confirm the next day that the consulate had indeed received my application. They emailed me back the following day affirming that they had received it. Online it listed a set of steps to follow and I had completed step one and was now waiting for an email to complete steps two and three. After 5 days (the website stipulates a 3-5 day processing period) I tried emailing. All my emails were returned undeliverable. The next day I tried calling. There were three numbers on the website. Only one actually rang and I would sit and wait for a half hour plus numerous times throughout the day and on different days and no one would ever answer. This went on for a couple of weeks and finally my agent went to the embassy in the town near his location and was told I should just keep pestering them. Wish I could right?!

So I tried calling again and magically, I got through. About time it was. I was asked if I had received emails and I was like, nope. I can't even email you or call you. I was told to schedule an appointment to complete my paperwork so I scheduled one for the very next morning.

After waking at an ungodly hour to drive to Chicago to get there for my mid morning appointment, waiting in line, being told I had the wrong application, redoing my application, being told I needed additional paperwork, getting that paperwork, and then attempting to submit everything for processing, I was informed that since my passport no longer had more than six months before expiring that I could not submit my visa application. I explained that to get my passport renewed I needed an airline ticket and to get that I needed my visa, but to get my visa, I needed a renewed passport. Oh the joy of red tape circles.

Since I was nearby, I walked to the Chicago passport agency and when the lady called me up and asked if I had my travel dates I started explaining my situation. She kindly interrupted my story and said I couldn't get my passport back today but they would mail it to me in a few days. Whoopee!

I came back to Chicago in a few days instead of having them mail it, picked it up and returned to the visa application office. After another round of more paperwork and yadda yadda I finally got it submitted. The head lady there said she'd never seen a submission like mine. Guess I'm the exception. I shouldn't have been so surprised.

Anyway, I happily left the office thinking that in a week (according to their website and the email I had specifically written to confirm this, the processing time is 3-5 days) I'd have my visa in hand and be getting a ticket to India post haste!

Wrong again...

Turns out the consulate can't decide what they want to do with my visa application so they requested a detailed schedule of my upcoming performances, venues, etc. I'm not going to go into details about how that's impossible to procure, but the Indian company trying to hire me kindly supplied me with more documents to try and appease the consulate here and get my visa processed.

Then I got a phone call yesterday.

It's always scary getting a phone call from a government agency.

They told me they'd received the documents I had emailed earlier that day and still couldn't decide what to do and now the whole department is taking a five business day holiday so they won't consider it again until next week sometime. In the meantime, they asked if I'd like my passport back. The unfiltered response would have been, yes, with my Indian visa inside please.  But the filtered response was, no thanks, I'm not planning on any international travel in the next couple of weeks. I'm really hoping to travel to India the next time I use my passport!

Sooooo, I'm still waiting still waiting still waiting stilllll waitinggggg.............................

Maybe someday I'll get my Indian visa. This has certainly not been easy and not been fun and not been ideal in any way. There is still a good chance I won't even get to India after spending hundreds of dollars, completely reorganizing my schedule for the last few months, and turning down work because of the posted processing times. I still want this gig and hope I get it, but if I do, I think it will be the last time I apply for an Indian visa.

If any of my readers have any tips or hints for Indian policies or visas or for traveling in and around India, especially Mumbai, please let me know.