Souvenir de Florence, and more

a reading of tchaikovsky's souvenir de florence [photos @ flickr]
It has become tradition to have some sort of music party before my actual birth date, not because we don't want to celebrate on the day itself, but because our schedules never quite work out. Livia has always tried to bake cakes for me, but after a few horribly botched attempts Geoff gently suggested that she should perhaps stick with cooking (at which she *excels*). So this year, they bought me the densest chocolate cake in the history of my known universe. The thing was dense beyond comprehension!

i'm struggling to hold the cake's mighty weight aloft

Birthday aside, the real reason for the gathering was to read Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence. Livia is performing it in Mexico soon, and it will be her first time at 1st violin (it's like a concerto). Souvenir is a special piece for me because it marked the day I met the St. Lawrence String Quartet. On March 2, 1999, I showed up at Stanford to read it with them and was yelled at by Marina for not having practiced it before the reading. But I had a good excuse: Ed Wu had checked out the only copy!

So Livia Sohn, Geoff Nuttall, Sharon Wei, Eric Sung, Warren Wu, Ilya Levtov, and I read Souvenir, 8 1/2 years later (there were too many cellists, so we had to rotate in and out). Later on in the evening, Masha arrived and joined us in reading Schubert's Cello Quintet and a Haydn Quartet (Op. 64 No. 2 in b minor). After each movement, Lara St. John (Scott's sister) whooped and hollered as she packed up for a trip in the the next room.

the 1st violin part, tchaik souvenir de florence

It was nice to re-meet Eric Sung, who along with his brother, Brian, were musician acquaintances from childhood. Eric currently plays in the SF Ballet and Opera. Think of him every time you hear the Nutcracker. He has to play it 30 times this holiday season.

Reading music with professional musicians always leaves me humbled, inspired... and frankly, amazed and grateful that they would include me as a participant. Geoff, Livia, and Barry are always scheming to include me in various musical events. I am extremely grateful because without them, I would have no musical inspiration to speak of.

[see all photos at Flickr]