Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lincoln Center

Greetings from New York City! I'm currently writing from the tour bus as we head back to home base for the evening. Hopefully I can get into a routine of updating my blog as I travel.

My tour with Shen Yun Performing Arts officially began over two weeks ago. Our first venue was in Waterbury, CT where we did 3 shows at the very end of December. Because the city is mainly built upon industrial business the theater was a little smaller than I had hoped, but it was also beatifully kept in it's original 1920s style.

Our second venue was in Philadelphia, PA at Merriam Theater (which is actually part of the Kimmel Center, home to the Philadelphia Orchestra). This theater was also a but smaller than I imagined it would be; it had beautiful velvet chairs and handpainted angels or muses all over the ceiling. The shows went very well overall and the audience seemed to be very enthusiastic.

We started our run at the Koch Theater (home to the New York City Ballet) on Wednesday. We left around 7 in the morning to get to the venue and do our soundcheck. If you have never been then just know that The Koch Theater seats 2,544 people. Our management had risers put in place to elevate the orchestra in the pit so that audience can see us play our instruments. Wednesday afternoon we did a rehearsal and then opened the curtain at 7:30pm. Ok, let's be honest here, I was nervous. Not pee-my-pants nervous, but "hey! You're about to perform at Lincoln Center, don't mess up!" nervous. And you know what? I played pretty well, if I do say so myself. Strangely enough, my nerves all went away after the first two pieces in the program; it felt just like any other hall. If I thought too much about it I would sort of get those butterflies in my stomach, but then I'd start playing again after some rests and feel relaxed again. The fact that I've rehearsed all this music hundreds of times also helps.
Thursday and Friday's show were also both fine, but I was pretty tired since we typically don't get back from the theater until 12:30am and then we get up at 6:30 or 7am and do it all again. Thursday we had a tv news team come and do a segment in the morning.

Today's show was at 2pm. I skipped lunch to get my warm-up in. I'm thinking this is how tour life will be for a while. It's not ideal, but I make do. I learned that hard way that constantly traveling from place to place requires a lot of self-motivation and pre-planning in order to ensure I'm at the top of my game every night. Otherwise I would never practice or warm up or cool down.

Anyway, the show went really well today for me personally. I'm sorry our last show in NYC is tomorrow... I wish I could stick around and explore the city a little bit. Luckily, we have another set of shows in April! So we'll be back.

Hip-hip-hooray for my debute performance at Lincoln Center with the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra! A year ago I wouldn't have dreamed I'd be performing here. I feel very lucky, and very happy, and very grateful.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shen Yun, Continued...

Now let's see, where did I leave off? I think it was my return from Beijing. Yes well, as things did not go according to plan (as often happens in this life) I called up MOm and Dad, told them I was coming home, booked my flight for September 8th, and prepared to restart my professional pursuits in the Cincinnati area. As my parents are probably the most incredible people to walk the earth, they warmly welcomed me back into their new Kentucky home so that I would have a place to stay until I could get back on my feet financially.

First meal back in the US? Red Robin! My god, it's true what they say about not knowing what you have until it's gone! Milkshakes, veggie burgers (those divine vegetarian entities are so rare in China!), and properly oil-laden French fries and onion rings. Homer Simpson was right, if you rub a piece of food on a napkin and the grease mark doesn't let you literally see through the napkin, then clearly the food item was not made with the appropriate, US Government-sanctioned amount of artery-clogging goodness. Truth.

My first week back I think I just slept a lot. I mean, I made a hibernating bear look like it was only taking a 5 minute nap. But it felt good. I spent my afternoons taking walks to the Kentucky government building to become a Kentucky resident (wierd), renew my drivers license (easy test), and help mom and dad turn in paperwork for their house. Luckily the building was only about a mile away. On the weekend, Dad and Mom coaxed me from my room and said, "We're going with you to find a car. You need a job and a car to get there." ah, my parents are wise. So we went to Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, and I think one other place but I can't remember what it was. I was looking for your basic small sedan, really the cheapest thing I could get. Well, the Nissan people said they just got in a used car in great condition: a 2009 Nissan Sentra with only 30,000 miles. It was perfect, and I think Mom and Dad liked it too. We all agreed on it and then I put a downpayment on the sporty, little red car and drove it home at around 9pm that Saturday night. Voila!!!

The next week I was still sleeping in a bit too late. However, I began searching for a part-time job. I think I applied to every single restaurant between Burlington,KY and Kenwood Mall north of Cincinnati. I got interviewed on the spot at B-dubs and Currito, and then went a few days later to Ruby Tuesday where I was also hired quickly. I decided to work at RT's in Kenwood-I figured I get more tip money and be less fat than if I worked at Currito, and less lung-cancery than if I worked at b-dubs (you can still smOke in restaurants in Kentucky).

That same second week a good friend of mine informed me of an opening in a tour group that needed a horn player. He gave me the contact information and within a few days I found out the audition date which ended up being only 4 days away. Well, long story short, I won the job. So now here I am in New York playing principal horn in the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra.