Monday, January 31, 2011


Well, I've been sick with the flu for the past 9 days so I may as well take this time to write more about my upcoming adventure in China.  Since my recorded materials were accepted I have been in and out of contact with Mr. Gibson, Ms. Chen Lin (an assistant conductor to Mr. Yu Feng, prinicpal conductor of the Central Opera Orchestra and my future boss), and Mr. Yu Feng's assistant, Ms. Wang Xin Yi. Everyone keeps telling me to be patient and that everything will be sorted out in due time... am I the only person who has ever asked for a contract?  I'm am still very excited, however, and I can't wait to mull over the details of my employment.  I think what frustrates me the most is the fact that they haven't told me where I'll be living or what the repertoire will be.  I looked over the website for the performing arts center (  and found out that if I get their by March, I will play Carmen and Tosca (my favourite opera!!!), but I have no idea about the orchestral rep. 

Hopefully my good friend and colleague, Pam Kiesling, will sign a contract as co-principal with the orchestra and we will move to Beijing and rent an apartment together; she is also waiting to hear details about the job.  What I do know for sure is that I will not work over 30 hours a week, and I am guarenteed 8 days off per month.  I was told that the orchestra will pay for my flight and also give me accomodations until a suitable apartment is found in the area.  I am very happy about this.

About a week ago (perhaps 3 or 4 days into my disease-filled, bed-ridden, sloth-like state) I ordered a massive amount of carry-out from China Food on West McMillan Street in Cincinnati.  The owner of the restaurant was very kind when I told her I was moving to Bejing and she gave me the phone number and e-mail address of friends who could help me start out once I was in China.  The kind woman also gave me a free 2-liter of Pepsi.  I plan on returning to China Food many times, and buying this woman a gift.  The amount of kindness in this world never ceases to amaze me, nor do I ever take it for granted. 

So, back to where I began: waiting. I hope I don't seem pushy to my future employers, but I think I'm not crazy when I say that moving 11,000 miles to another country isn't a small deal... in fact, I'd say it's rather huge. Like that whale Pinocchio got swallowed by.  HUGE. I bought another giant suitcase so that I will have two pieces of checked luggage when I go... I should be able to get my performance clothes, workout gear, bedsheets, towels and everyday stuff into China that way.  They better have an awesome gym with a not-ridiculously-expensive membership.  Since I'm 6'1'', do you think I'll fit on their ellipticals???  haha. Just kidding. Hopefully. 

Also, if any of my fans reading this blog know of any Chinese men over the height of 5'11, would you let me know?  I'm not shallow, but I do have standards for (as my brother so often says) "logistical reasons." 

Okey dokey... I'll write more later.  If you'll simply excuse me, I have a hot date with Yogi echinacea tea, and then a midnight rendezvous with Nyquil (only the Kroger brand "Nite Time" because it was $3.99 instead of $12...thank god).


Sunday, January 23, 2011

How it all started...

Back in November of 2010 I was traveling with the Cincinnati Brass Quintet: we had just finished a week long tour of performing and teaching down in Houston and Dallas, Texas.  In the late afternoon as I sat in the passenger seat of our mini-van, I recieved a call from my teacher at the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music, Professor Randy Gardner.  He simply asked me if I would interested in a horn position with a Chinese orchestra.  I think my first response was, "Um...what?"  I had to appologize a few times because honestly I wasn't really prepared for that kind of question. "Hello Cecilia. How would you like to work in China?"  Well, I said yes, of course.  Mr. Gardner's initial question for me was further explained--I would be one of 3 or 4 names to be recommended for this position, there was not a guarentee that I would actually get the job.

The liason between Mr. Gardner and Yu Feng (the music director of the Central Opera Orchestra of Beijing) was Professor Mark Gibson (Professor of Music; Director, Orchestral Studies) who primarily conducts CCM's Philharmonia Orchestra. He also travels abroad, and in November was actually in China as a guest conductor there.  I immediatly sent him an e-mail expressing my enthusiasm for the horn position in Beijing. He replied a couple weeks later (Facebook is banned in China and Mr. Gibson is so popular that his G-mail account was full!  That's a lot of mail!) and gave me general information about the orchestra, the conductor, my salary, and the position I would be playing (co-principal).  When asked if Yu Feng would like me to send a CD of  excerpts, I was told, "No, that's not necessary. Yu Feng trusts my judgement." Well, I was thinking that this was shaping up to be a pretty easy way to get a first job. Oh how wrong I was.

At the beginning of the second week in December, Mr. Gibson e-mailed me instructing me to make and send a tape to Yu Feng. Well ok. That's great... I would have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks making a beautifully polished CD, but instead I'm told to mail the CD as quickly as possible. Oh goody. Let's just say that the second week in December was not exactly filled with all sorts of free-time: I had a dress rehearsal and performance of Schumann's Konzerstuck on Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday through Sunday I was playing a Christmas gig at Kenwood Baptist Church called "The Living Christmas Tree"--a two hour musical extravaganza.  During the days of this week, I was completing my final project for my Managing a Professional Career Class, and working on a recording project with my woodwind quintet for the Fischoff competition.  BUT!  If Mr. Gardner has prepared his students for anything, it's making a great audition CD in a very short time.  And as luck would have it, it took a couple more days to get the mailing address to Beijing. So in all my "free time," I recorded and recorded and recorded some more.  I must have had over 25 hours of material to weed through... I would record for 3 or 4 hours and then I had to listen back (this was really good for me though... every day I became more efficient at both recording and keeping track of the takes I wanted). In the end I submitted the following:

The opening to Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel
An excerpt from Brahms' Concerto for Piano No. 2
The low-tutti section from Shostakovich Symphony No. 5
The opening to Ein Heldenleben
An excerpt from Brahms' Symphony No. 3
An excerpt from Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3

A few days after I shipped this CD, I was also asked to submit a DVD of a recent performance, so I sent them my Masters Recital performance of the Brahms Trio for Piano, Violin, and Horn (thanks again to Therese Akkerman and Josh Ulrich).

Well, fast forward to the second week of January in 2011. I finally hear that my materials were accepted and that Yu Feng was very impressed with my playing... hooray!  Mr. Gibson sends me an e-mail notifying me that I will be the newest principal of the Central Opera Orchestra of Beijing. Awesome... all that work paid off!!! To date, they have not told me when they'll be flying me out... not that it's a big deal... I mean, moving 11,000 miles away is as easy as cake. haha... oh well, life is an adventure, isn't it?  So I'm still in school and basically living life normally... I figure I won't start moving things to storage until I get a definite fly-out date.  And learning Mandarin is certainly going to be very interesting. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

First Post

Hello everyone!  First, I'd like to say thank you to Emily Toth for giving me the idea of starting a blog on Google, and to Rachel Hockeberry who was part of the inspiration.  I'm leaving for China in the next four weeks or so to start a job as principal horn of the Central Opera Orchestra of Beijing.  I'll post more on this later today or tomorrow--my main goal for today was to get this blog up and running.  I hope everyone has a happy Friday!  :-)