By Danielle Kuhlmann
Every year I expect a bit of a break in the summer.
Maybe it’s a holdover from my school years. In any case, I think it’s time to face the music (pun intended) because there’s no such thing as a summer vacation for a musician!
I ended my first season as second horn with the San Diego Symphony this May. The orchestra goes dark for the month of June, so I “theoretically” could have had a bit of vacation. However, when I see free time, I tend to fill it up before I can even *think* about heading to the beach!
This summer’s adventures started in Mexico. It was actually my first time there, and I can’t wait to go back. I traveled down the coast of Baja to a small city called Ensenada, where I taught masterclasses and lessons to high school and college students. They spoke some English. Because I don’t speak Spanish, we did a lot of pantomiming. It was great!
Next I traveled across the country to New York, where I spent time rehearsing with Genghis Barbie, my horn quartet, and with ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble). I also had some down time, so I visited New York City’s new “cat cafe,” the Meow Parlour. You can buy baked goods and coffee and hang out with a bunch of adorable cats up for adoption. It was hilarious. And this cat tried to eat my apple tart!
I jetted back to California, where I reconvened with ICE at the Ojai Festival in Ojai, California. It’s an incredible festival of new music that’s been going on for 70 years. I took part in the West Coast premiere of two new John Luther Adams’ pieces and played some exciting music by Edgar Varese.
Next, I flew to Seattle, my hometown, to play sixth horn (there are nine all together) on Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Seattle Symphony. There’s nothing like sitting in the middle of a gaggle of amazing musicians! Oh, and as you can see, I take my pink bell everywhere I go.
My next jaunt was down to San Francisco. I had a few days off in between, so I caught up with some friends and ate a lot of delicious food. Then I took off to play the inaugural year of the Green Music Center’s ChamberFest in Sonoma with conductor Jeff Kahane from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
There, I joined my cohort and principal horn from San Diego (and ROCO alum) Ben Jaber to play Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1. Also in the orchestra? ROCO’s very own violinist Aloysia Friedmann.
ROCO is everywhere!
After that, I finally made my way home to San Diego, where I’ve just started my Summer Pops season with the symphony. We play 10 weeks of pops at an outdoor venue right on the water. One weekend we were swamped, playing three separate programs for the fans of the world’s biggest Comicon, which is held in the convention center next door. Among others, we also played with pop star Ben Folds and the amazing jazz bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding.
A few weeks after, I was in Eastern Oregon teaching at Woodwinds at Wallowa Lake, a camp for middle and high school students. This month, I played a concert at the International Horn Society’s yearly symposium with Genghis Barbie in Los Angeles. Then, I take off to Philadelphia for the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), where I will represent the San Diego Symphony in a conference of delegates discussing the current and future issues facing professional orchestras.
Phew! Have you ever wondered what being a musician is like?! It’s amazing how diverse my job can get.
But I’m loving every minute of it.