Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

Everyone has heard the old joke about the tourist in New York City who asks the native, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The response is "Practice, practice, practice." Well, I'll be getting there Saturday night by walking just a block, from the Park Savoy Hotel on West 58th Street, after flying in to LaGuardia on Delta on Friday.

Why, you might ask, am I going to Carnegie Hall this weekend, the weekend of the 9th annual Roger Ebert Overlooked Film Festival, to which regular readers know I am so devoted that I usually take off work from Thursday through Sunday to attend? There is only one reason that could pry me away from the historic Virginia Theater on the last weekend in April and that is a pressing family matter.

As regular readers know, I have a son, Christopher, who is an outstanding young violinist. He plays in a string quartet called JACK, which has gotten its big break. It is one of four quartets who won a chance to work with the biggest name in modern string quartets in the world, Kronos Quartet. They are in workshops, open to the public, this week in which they receive coaching from Kronos. This culminates with the concert at Carnegie Saturday night.
Chris has been a fan of Kronos since he was a kid, just learning to play violin (which hasn't been that long ago, he's only 23 now) and we went backstage to meet them after a local concert. His violin teacher, Ken Wollberg, knew one of the violinists, although I have forgotten which one. The appeal of Kronos is best described in this quote from their first violinist, David Harrington, from their website:
"I've always wanted the string quartet to be vital, and energetic, and alive, and cool, and not afraid to kick ass and be absolutely beautiful and ugly if it has to be. But it has to be expressive of life. To tell the story with grace and humor and depth. And to tell the whole story if possible. . ."

Wouldn't you be excited if your kid was getting coaching from someone with a philosophy like that?

But wait, there's more. JACK is on a tour, which actually started at a small performance space called "The Tank" in New York on April 20. We asked Chris last night how it went and he said, "pretty good," which is about as superlative as he gets about his own performances. Usually he says, "It could have been better." The Tank doesn't hold many people, but they had a standing-room only crowd, he said.

Next week, JACK will be at Northwestern University on May 2nd, where they are being promoted as "one of the country’s top young string quartets specializing in contemporary music," (which I already knew to be true but it still gives me thrills to read someone else saying it.)

From there, they will come to Champaign and play on May 4 at the Music Building Auditorium. After eating some of my famous french toast on Saturday morning, they head back to Chicago to play at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago on May 5th. Then, they're off for several months until they head to Switzerland to play the Davos Festival from August 7-11, and the Lucerne Festival on August 16th. Their tour winds up playing the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy on October 8th.

If I have internet access in NYC, and I surely will, I will blog about our experience there. Also, check back late tonight and tomorrow for the first several days of Ebertfest before I leave for New York


tarakuanyin said...

Congratulations! I look forward to hearing about it.

jessie said...

Hah, I just knew it, by line 3 of your post, that your son is the one you're going to see at Carnegie! How exciting!

Amishlaw said...

Thanks tarakuanyin and jessie. If it weren't for my Amish genes, it would be hard to stay humble.

Uncle Menno said...

I guess you'll have to unbutton your Amish vest a little so that your chest can swell out. And I say "Good for you!" and "Good for Chris!"

I do hope that you can take Aunt Tillie along, as I think she might enjoy a night-time visit to the Empire State Building, or maybe 30 Rockefeller Center, where the lines aren't quite as long. I know that a long time ago, my Edna got a little giggly taking in the view from up there, and when Edna got a little giggly, that was usually a night to remember.

So here's to you and your wife, and to your son. And if there is room for Aunt Tillie, I look forward to hearing from her about the trip.

Amishlaw said...

Well, Menno, if we were taking a van, we would just squeeze together a little more and take Aunt Tillie along. But since we're flying, and Amish don't fly, I don't see her going. I do think I remember her talking about visiting New York City once to visit my late Aunt Emma who had left the Amish and was working as a nurse there, so I may ask her to tell us about her experiences in NYC after I get back.