Milwaukee, WI

Dear Readers,

Greetings from the Milwaukee airport at 7 am! I’m sitting in a generic grey seat at the gate area, my legs stretched out lightly on my case, listening to Massive Attack’s Mezzanine through oversized headphones (my constant companion for the past eight years; it’s nice to shut the entire world out from time to time).

My last concert of three with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra took place last night at Uihlein Hall; afterwards, there was a reception at a spectacular house – with good food and good company – and I got back to the hotel after midnight. Between packing, tidying, quiet work, and the movie Airplane (playing in the background), I wound up getting about three hours of sleep. I’m flying to Philadelphia this morning, so that I can play with the Curtis Orchestra at the Kimmel Center this evening. We did most of our rehearsing at Curtis at the beginning of this week; before the concert tonight, we’ll have another hour together – our only time in the hall itself – before showtime. Tomorrow, I’ll be giving a small performance at a record distribution company’s headquarters out in Jersey, before doing a couple of interviews and then hopping a plane to Berlin (overnight) for a week of album promotion in Europe. A press tour such as the one I’ll be embarking on involves tight travel, hours of interviews every day in every language I can muster, special media projects, and TV tapings (both performance and talking). So any amount of sleep I can get this afternoon and tonight will be crucial.

I had a great time working with the MSO and conductor Vasily Petrenko this week. We played Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto, which is rarely performed in the States, for some reason unfathomable by anyone I’ve asked. It’s an unusual piece, if you isolate the violin part from the orchestra – but all combined, it is remarkably effective, even for the first-time listener. As in Cincinnati last week, this was the orchestra’s first experience with the piece. I enjoyed seeing this group learn it and watching our joint interpretation take shape. It helped that Vasily came to the podium well prepared and with clear structural and musical ideas; he led us all in a collaboratively satisfying direction. The concerts were fun but also emotionally challenging in the best sort of way.

Boarding is being called; time for me to pack it up. Onwards and, literally, upwards!

Yours from Wisconsin,