Salt Lake City, UT

Dear Readers,

On my flight to Salt Lake City a few days ago, I was seated next to a sweet old woman. She would turn to me every so often with a beatific smile to ask a question in Spanish or to offer a cookie or a cracker or her spare snack napkin. Towards the end, she pulled the biggest pout I have ever seen when her daughter wouldn’t let her undo her seatbelt as we landed. Now, on my flight out of Salt Lake, I am surrounded by people sleeping or reading. I am – unusually – the only one with an electronic device. This is Sunday. Maybe everyone is in relaxation mode.

I was in Salt Lake for concerts with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. I had initially thought of visiting state parks in the days before rehearsals, but the release date for my new album was set for Tuesday the 21st so I put my attention to pre-release activities. (I took a long hike with the grasshoppers yesterday to get my dose of nature.) Composer Jennifer Higdon and I held a release party on Monday at Housing Works Bookstore Café in New York City, and we did interviews around town before I left for Utah. Something new seemed to be happening every day. On Wednesday after this week’s first orchestra rehearsal, I listened to my first segment on NPR’s “All Things Considered” over the hotel clock-radio. The album hit the ground running. Now I’m back to the ’10-’11 season.

This is the start of the concert season, so I get to play in gala kickoff concerts for a few weeks. I love these events. The public is enthusiastic and the musicians are fresh off their summers. This week, Thierry Fischer began his run as music director and conductor of the Utah Symphony, so that brought an added wave of invigoration. He and the orchestra put a lot of effort into the preparation and performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto, and we all had a great time.