Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Our Most Favorite Place

We spent Sunday (the day I left Buffalo to return to California) at Chautauqua Institution, a wonderful cultural experience on the shores of Chautauqua Lake, on New York’s Southern Tier.

The weather was great and it seemed good to get back to one of my favorite places. I had a couple of hours to wander around and go to a concert, while Coral and family went swimming.

I decided to partake of the strawberry festival when I heard a trio playing under the tent. The trio consisted of flute, clarinet, and bassoon, and the selections were very fitting for a recreated summer Sunday afternoon from the past. I found a place at the end of a table beside the trio, and shortly thereafter a very pleasant and interesting man joined me at the seat across the table.

Not long into the conversation, he revealed that he is a violinist with the Toronto Symphony and was at Chautauqua to play with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for a couple of weeks. We discussed the music world at length, including my time as an employee of the Buffalo Philharmonic.

In the past, Jim has played violin for shows, including Phantom of the Opera, Showboat, and Ragtime. It was comical, listening to him explain that the regulars in the pit orchestra for Phantom sometimes needed a break and he would play. He stated, with accompanying motions, “ I would wake up in the night with the music going round and round in my head. When I would get up in the morning, the music was still going round and round in my head. It was driving me crazy.”

Various orchestras around the country were included in our discussion, and my time with him brought back memories of hanging out with members of the Buffalo Philharmonic during a very wonderful period in my life.

We managed to discuss other topics also, including the residential facilities available on the grounds for times when he has to play. The Toronto Symphony no longer has a summer season, therefore Jim is available for other engagements. I suggested that he check out Alumni Hall.

I rented a room at Alumni Hall two years ago, and enjoyed my stay thoroughly. Getting up in the morning, having breakfast in my room, then heading out for morning lectures, afternoon, and evening concerts, interspersed with meandering along brick paths in this fabulous lakeside Victorian village, is my idea of a delightful way to spend summer days.

At some point we touched on the subject of injuries to musician’s hands, and Jim described several accidents he has had involving his fingers and wrist, causing extended “vacations” from playing violin.

By the time I left the table to attend a concert, I felt as though I had known Jim for a while. Perhaps I’ll see him again someday, at Chautauqua.

After our visit, I went to the Amphitheater to see the Washington High School Steel Band, from Pennsylvania. These kids are great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the music. Eventually my family joined me, and Coral’s kids had a chance to see older kids make music on “garbage cans”.


  • At 3:38 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Linda Rogers said…

    Visited your blog and thought I'd say "hello". I also love Chautauqua and I worked for the Buffalo Philharmonic for a few years.

  • At 4:40 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Rita Xavier said…

    I just wish I had been "smart enough" to partake of Chautauqua's pleasures when I was still living in Buffalo.

  • At 8:41 AM, August 14, 2006, Anonymous Dana said…

    Hi, I was a member of the Washington High School Steel Band and I would just like to say thanks for noticing.. we love what we do :)


Post a Comment

<< Home