I am in Illinois this week for the Peoria Bach Festival, with concerts tonight and tomorrow night. As always, I love this festival. Love the challenges of jumping between three instruments, love playing my oboe d’amore anytime. I love playing for the music director, John Jost, who has this music in his heart and communicates it so effectively and effortlessly to us that I feel it in mine as well.
Out of town gigs used to be the norm for me – when we first lived in Chicago I played principal with the Illinois Symphony, which necessitated regular five-day stays in Springfield with a host family. My husband and I frequently took jobs several hours from home, staying with local people and getting to know them. This was fun in its way, of course.
These gigs always necessitated long days of time-killing – we’d practice and work out, and then we’d read, or shop, or drink coffee. In my home I can do busy work every minute and still end the day feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything. But in someone else’s space, where my only real responsibility is showing up for an evening rehearsal equipped to play, the hours can hang pretty heavy. I would get my car maintenance done. Do my Christmas shopping. Take daily naps. Get LOADS of busy work done and start the next week all caught up.
Far more of our work now is close to home, which is something we’ve worked consciously to achieve. Even if I’m driving an hour or two after a concert, I nearly always sleep in my own bed and have breakfast with Zoe before school. It’s unquestionably an improvement to be able to reliably eat through the produce I’ve bought before leaving home and letting it spoil in the crisper. I feel more grown up living in my own house.
But every now and then traveling for work is great.
I brought a substantial bag of projects down to Peoria with me this time – hundreds of pieces of cane to process for Oboe Reed Boot Camp which starts next weekend; the Christopher Rouse Oboe Concerto to learn; emails to send, blogs to write, books to read. A small fraction of my stack of backed-up New Yorkers. And I MIGHT have been overambitious. It MIGHT not be possible to accomplish AS MANY things as I had imagined in two days and two half days. But getting away and letting my pace slow down just a bit – focusing on the things that are important to me, like writing and practicing – that’s as good as a vacation. And with a paycheck at the end to boot!
I’ll emerge ready for action on the far side of this. And by Sunday afternoon I’ll get back to my own life and my family and my house, and I won’t have this kind of delicious leisure time, but I’ll emerge with a song in my heart, as I always do from here.