I am blessed in my career to have the opportunity to collaborate with wonderful artists in many of the world's great concert halls. But there are many times where the size of the audience or the enthusiasm of the critical reception have nothing to do with the meaning of a performance. Sometimes, the only true measure is how much it means to the community.
Last Saturday night's performance was one such evening. Hosted by my dear friends David and Amy Thomas for an intimate gathering of 40 people at their lovely Rochester home, the concert featured (in addition to yours truly) star tenor Matthew Polenzani, MET Orchestra violinist Catherine Ro, and collaborator extraordinaire Natalia Katyukova in a program of violin duets and rarely-heard arrangements for voice, violin, and piano.
With the evening as a whole modeled after the music and wine events at my Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot festival in France, the concert was followed by a superb meal accompanied by a starry lineup of Burgundies including Morey St. Denis "Monts Luisants" from Domaine Dujac, Corton-Charlemagne from Henri Boillot, Nuits St. Georges "Chaignots" from Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg, and Clos Vougeot from Domaine Grivot.
Most importantly, the evening raised approximately $100,000 for the orthopedics department of the University of Rochester Medical Center. It was a truly special chance to make music with great friends and colleagues, all for a worthy cause. Especially when so much of our work takes place in the vast expanses of the opera house, across pit and stage, these rare opportunities to truly connect with the audience in an intimate setting are all the more treasurable.
All of this was ample reward in itself, but Matthew and I, being the avid golfers that we are, had one more reward awaiting us: two rounds at Rochester's fabled Oak Hill Country Club. How did we play? Let’s just say we won’t be quitting our (night) jobs anytime soon, but the golf was a memorable end to a great weekend.