Indianapolis, IN


Dear Readers,

Greetings from Indianapolis! I’m writing from the ground this time – I arrived extra early at the airport in order to confirm my seat assignments for my flight to Switzerland, which connects through Atlanta. Hurricane Isabel has forced thousands of flights to be cancelled in the past few days, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be bumped off of my original ticket by agents eager to re-book stranded passengers. Despite my concerns, all seems to be well. Now I’m sitting in an airport Starbucks, at a little round table, sipping a frozen fruit drink. Classic blues recordings leak from the ceiling speaker above my head.

This was an interesting week. The news in Indianapolis was filled with reports of the very recent death of Indiana’s governor; the new Democratic presidential hopefuls – I think the tally is up to 10 at this point; and Hurricane Isabel’s progress. Though the hurricane’s effects are nothing to laugh at, it was entertaining to watch newscasters in battered, soaked parkas, tilting into the wind in otherwise vacated areas of the East Coast. Indianapolis wasn’t touched by the storm, but it experienced its own excitement this week: at one point, traffic came to a standstill downtown, as Barnum and Bailey’s circus elephants paraded around a public square. Unfortunately, the animals were gone by the time I reached the area.

Unlike certain parts of the country these past few days, Indianapolis (“Indy”) experienced absolutely beautiful weather. It was sunny, warm, pleasant, and calm. The city was bustling when I arrived: a football game had just let out. Even on non-game days, however, the city remained active. Numerous restaurants and bars are located downtown, and a large mall consuming 3 city blocks stays open well into the evening. A movie theater on the top floor of the mall plays movies till past midnight – I went to one on a free evening.

Beautiful as it was outside, I always managed to forget to bring my camera when I went for walks; after rehearsals, I was too exhausted to head out again. I’m exceedingly sorry to report that I have very few pictures from this city! I’ll try to do better when I’m in Europe these next few weeks. As I mentioned, rehearsals left me tired, and for good reason: I had four rehearsals within 40 hours, one with just the conductor and three with the orchestra. The conductor was David Lockington, who I’ve known since his years at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (I grew up in Baltimore). It had been a while since we collaborated, so it was good to renew that working relationship. David’s a very conscientious conductor, and I liked having the liberty of the third orchestral rehearsal; most of the time, I only get two rehearsals. I always prefer more rehearsals rather than less, and the Elgar Violin Concerto is such a substantial piece that it requires several large chunks of solid work before it falls into place.

The concert schedule these past few days was unusual for me but typical for the orchestra: the performances took place at 11am on Thursday, 8pm on Friday, and 5:30pm on Saturday. After last night’s concert (Saturday), I was drained; the shifting schedule had left my system confused, though it had been interesting to observe the audiences’ behavior at different times of the day. As far as I could tell, the biggest crowd came on Saturday, but all three audiences were attentive and very receptive. The orchestra was spirited and hard-working. In short, I had a wonderful debut experience in Indianapolis.

My other activities this week were: a Q&A session with local high school music students, after the open dress rehearsal; a distance interview (linked up from the local station) for NPR’s “Weekend Edition”; an interview on Indianapolis’ WFYI; some mall shopping for my upcoming trips to Europe; and catching up with relatives and friends after the final concert. The biggest news this week is that my new brand-new Bach album wound up at #2 on the Billboard Classical charts. Yay!!! Thanks to everyone who helped make that possible; I hope you enjoy the album.

Yours from the Indy airport,

Hilary