Childhood included much music for me, from piano lessons very early in life, to solo and orchestral violin a a bit later. From about nine years of age, Interlochen's music camp spelled many happy summers, first as camper and then as a counselor. After a hiatus, the violin found its way back into hands and heart again at college and then, sporadically, with various students over the past two decades, often through duets or trios... or even via the absolutely ridiculous playing of Pop Goes the Weasel with students singing the quadratic formula.
Music, almost any kind of music, seemed on a too distant horizon when we arrived at KAUST now nine months ago. Illusive is perhaps a word that might best describe music's role here. And, besides, we had a school to start, two sons to look after, and various other commitments.
Yet music, or at least the desire to make music, is a very natural and wholly human faculty, and before too long I was asking around to see who played what and if there might be a possibility of creating an informal chamber group. Fortunately, we have a person on campus with a wonderful musical background in viola, and an evangelical bent to further music's cause, played or heard.
About three months ago this woman drove over to our house, pulled out two music stands, a number of duets for violin and viola, and before I could get nervous was having me play all sorts of pieces with her. That impromptu tryout led to a later formation of a chamber group consisting of a string bass, a cello, two violas, and four violins. We practice just once a week, and often sound like we do, but it has been an increasing pleasure to be able to play in a group once again. The added bonus is that I've found our stone-floored house and its attached huge garage to be great practice places (though not necessarily able to increase practice frequency), making me sound much more rich and melodic in tone than I deserve.
A week or so back our informal group even gave a small concert, in our music director's house, which happens to have a huge gallery-like grand entrance, perfect for a small chamber music gathering. So, just like in the old days, we each invited a few friends to attend, and shared a relaxing evening of music, with cookies and juice for both big and little kids afterwards!
The plan is to work up a more extensive set of pieces and play in a public venue before the end of the school year. In the meantime, I'm beginning to think that the battered violin case I've had since childhood may soon need replacing. Old violins may be worth something; the same can't be said for sad-looking cases!
Thanks for reading,