Toronto, Canada


Dear Readers,

Greetings from Toronto!

It’s always nice to return to this city. This was a working week, but I still found time to visit some of my favorite haunts from my last visits. Queen Street was high on the list – it’s a parallel to South Street in Philadelphia, a hip, slightly crazy drag lined with DJ vinyl shops, punk locales, thrift stores, gourmet tea houses, art supply joints, sidewalk booths, and the occasional second-tier chain designer shop. This time around, the weather was beautiful but cold, so when I had a chance, I bundled up and ventured outside. After a brisk jaunt, I picked up an odd assortment of products: a couple of paintbrush-cleaning soap bars, some pretty moonstones from a tiny Wiccan place, and a heap of vintage fabric (including old saris) from an ethnic thrift shop. Those textiles will make great curtains and, if I ever get a sewing machine, maybe even some unusual skirts.

But that’s neither here nor there. I hope you aren’t reading this entry to track my shopping habits! What’s more interesting, musically speaking, is the “work” I did this week. (I put that in quotes, because it never really feels like work, in the day-job sense of the word.) My first professional activity was an interview at CBC – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – Radio, to help promote the concert and to rekindle my connection with a certain portion of the Canadian classical audience. Downstairs after the interview, I toured a permanent exhibit on the legendary pianist Glenn Gould. Gould had a very close connection to the CBC, so their building is an appropriate locale for that mini-museum. While there, I bumped into the Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda, my colleague for this engagement. He’s a self-proclaimed admirer of Gould: he and his wife had been touring the displays when I arrived. On my way out, I paused at the pianist’s contemplative statue out front for a photo, which you can see in this entry.

Perhaps Gianandrea’s visit to the museum was also a birthday present: several days later, he celebrated a definitive anniversary (it’s not my place to say which, is it?) After the last of two decisive and very enjoyable performances, which – among other works – included Spohr’s Concerto #8 and Chausson’s Poeme, he was treated to a special dinner. He certainly deserved special treatment, and not only because it was his birthday: Gianandrea is one of the few conductors I’ve ever encountered who manages to do all of the following at the same time: he guides the orchestra positively in rehearsal, he pours energy into his leadership, he listens to what everyone is trying to do and somehow improves on all of it, and he’s a flexible colleague and a born performer who is in his element onstage and looks like he’s having a wonderful time there. All of that must have made him quite hungry.

But enough about the past few days. Now it’s time for me to head home for a week of preparation for my next tour, which will last for a grand total of nine weeks, a career record for me. In the course of that next trip, I’ll make my way through Hong Kong, New Zealand, Los Angeles (where I’ll record the soundtrack for M. Night Shyamalan’s new film The Village; the U.S. premier is on July 30), Florida, Baltimore, Russia, Philadelphia (to move apartments), and Baltimore again, making a final round trip to Germany and back for a burst of advance press appearances for my upcoming Elgar/Vaughan-Williams album. In addition, somewhere along the way, a German crew will be filming me as part of a documentary to be aired on European television later this fall. It’s going to be busy; can you see why I need a week to get ready?

Time to get going; I’ll catch you next in Hong Kong.

Yours from the road,

Hilary