By Suzanne LeFevre
ROCO Associate Artistic Director & Violist
I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
For three months, I pack my husband, my dog and 50 bags of clothing plus shoes into my Chevy Equinox and hit the road in search for music and food adventures. Because the two — tunes and bites — go hand in hand like my viola and bow.
This summer has been extremely wonderful because it started off with a week in Warwick, Rhode Island, at Music On The Hill. An old friend who’s a fantastic bass player, John Pellegrino, started a chamber music festival that involves food, amazing chamber music, great friends and more food— in that order.
There, I got a chance to play with husband-and-wife Anton Miller and Rita Porfiris, both ROCO musicians. We ate, hiked, practiced, rehearsed, played concerts and laughed a ton. After making music with such talented friends, we ate more.
In June, I had the privilege to spend a week at the Texas String Festival. Another ROCO Player, Pasha Sabouri, started a festival for students ages from eighth grade through college. What a week it was collaborating with talented pupils and some of the most amazing faculty from all over! My days included watching golf with my two roommates, coaching musicians, studio-classing and teaching, alongside consuming lots of barbecue, eating at Whole Foods Austin ( a mecca in itself) and dining at great Austin restaurants, which always included my signature bev — a vodka soda with three limes.
After being home for four days — unpacking, cleaning, playing my viola — I needed to prepare for eight weeks on the road. Confession: I have a problem with packing. It’s always been troublesome for me. Dare I say that I have clothing attention deficit disorder that results in way too many pairs of shoes?
My wonderful husband did me a huge favor and drove all my bags, my dog and my car out to Wyoming so I could fly, allowing me to stay a few extra days in houston to get my head together.
I finally arrived at heaven on earth — also known as Jackson Hole and the Grand Teton Music Festival — to share a condo once again with Anton and Rita. Why are they the best roommates ever? She’s an amazing cook who only expects me to do the dishes. That’s a deal I can live with.
My weeks were full of incredibly moving concerts, flower-filled hikes with the happiest dog in the world and, again, food. I started my day walking through some of the most beautiful forests. Every once in awhile, I would run across a moose or elk. You have to love nature, right? Those four weeks were so rejuvenating.
My last stop was Door County Wisconsin for the Peninsula Music Festival; I have been part of this orchestra since 1997. Victor Yampolsky, who’s the music director, conducted ROCO last September. I have had the fortune to have learned every major piece of repertoire under his leadership. We worked our buns off putting together nine huge classical concerts in three weeks.That’s a new program every other day!
Sometimes I don’t know how we did it. Maybe because we all care so much about each other and the music? Surely not because the volunteers provide Swedish meatballs at the breaks, along with seven layer salad and ham salad sandwiches. No, that’s definitely not the reason.
I swam every day. I lived in a bat infested cottage in one of the most beautiful places on earth. After a day of double rehearsals, you would find me taking naps in my host family’s trampoline. To seriously work on my pool skills, I would head once or twice to the Blue Ox bar to partake in an activity that has Wisconsin written all over it — catching the ring on the bull’s horn. That’s when I feel I am back in the land of my peeps, especially being a Wisconite.
My summer is the time I get to be in nature. I get to walk, ride my bike, look at mountains and swim in beautiful lakes. I get to make music with a whole bunch lovely, talented people. I sleep, binge watch Netflix and take deep, deep breaths.
Did I mention the food?