Thursday, October 7, 2010

Music in Maine

This past weekend we finally made it to Maine. The original plan, two years ago, was for three of us (the three women who are in our neighborhood folk-ish band) to travel there to play with an accordion player the recorder player has known for 30+ years. He used to live in this area and retired about five years ago to Maine. But then the violinist had a family emergency and couldn't go, and we canceled it.

In the middle of last week, the violinist came down with something, and she still didn't feel good by Friday, so she again ended up not going. But because our spouses were coming along and we were all looking at it as more of a general vacation than an all-music kind of thing, we forged ahead this time.

Part of the deal was that I had to pick up a rental cello on the way from the airport, so each couple rented a car and drove separately. One of my imaginary friends from the Internet lives sort of on the way, so we decided to stop in and see her and her husband. I was totally zonked from getting up at 5:00 that morning, but we had a nice visit, and I played a little on her Seiler grand.

(That's my husband sitting on the couch in the background.)

She also has a fractional-sized cello (maybe a three-quarter-sized one?) that she wanted me to check out -- her husband picked it up for her on a whim from a pawn shop years ago. It is not bad sounding but needs new strings and some tweaking. (It was tuned a half step flat, and I was afraid to tune it up because the strings looked like they were about to pop.)

Back on the road, we headed for Glen Cove and Woodsound Studio, a nice little shop that services and sells mostly stringed instruments, with a few folk-oriented ones as well. They gave me a very good-sounding Romanian-made student cello, and judging from the way the cello was set up, they know what they're doing.

We then continued on to Southwest Harbor. Our B&B faced a picturesque tree-lined street, and from the back of the house, you can see the water. After a quick dinner at one of the restaurants up the street, we went down to the basement of the B&B for the first of what turned out to be only two sessions with the accordion player. He was really busy and couldn't give us much time. We played through some of our repertoire for about an hour, and then he had to leave. So that was Saturday.

We met again on Sunday morning for about two hours. We decided to liberate ourselves from the dark basement room and started out playing outside on one of the porches:

However, it was really too cold to play outside, so we moved indoors and played while the cleaning person and other guests picked their way around us.

It was bothering me that I'd rented this cello to play it for only three hours, so on Monday evening, I suggested to the recorder player that we play as a duo. She asked our hosts at the B&B if it would be okay, and they got excited and asked if we'd like to entertain the other guests at an impromptu cocktail party. So while they shook up some Cosmopolitans and set out dishes of tapenade, we set up in the dining room and played for a while -- quite a bit different without a rhythm instrument, but it wasn't too bad. We wound up our session and then drove down the road to visit the accordionist's wife (he had had to go out of town that morning, but she invited us over for a short visit). It turns out that she was a music major at Wellesley back in the day, though she doesn't play much now. She has a baby grand piano -- a Hardman -- and she asked me to play a bit. So I played my Bach prelude and Brahms Op. 118 No. 2 (the latter with a big brainfart hole at the end, unfortunately; I wonder why that happens?).

The rest of the time, we did vacationer-type things like going on hikes and eating seafood. The weather was beautiful, aside from a little rain on Monday morning.

It was a pleasant trip, and I liked getting in some playing (I always feel better when I can play music), though renting the cello was a bit of a pain. I suppose I could have bought a seat for my own cello on the plane, but that is always an iffy proposition (sometimes the airport people won't let you bring it on board if the flight is crowded), and then I'd have had to worry about it the entire time. I've done my share of traveling with a cello, and it's a hassle however you arrange it.

If money were no object, I'd get one of these: That Carbon Fiber Cello

But with my traveling-with-cello career as limited as it is at the moment, I can't justify it.

1 comment:

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

So nice to meet music friends in real life! Glad you had the chance to do so.

At least you can think about traveling with a cello. Not possible with a piano!