"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose..."
The moments before embarking on travel are always filled with last-minute scatter and hubbub. But the appeal of hitting the proverbial open road is undeniable, even intoxicating.
This summer is looking particularly auspicious. For starters, I spent two weeks in June at the Colorado Suzuki Institute, teaching bass and recording/podcasting classes. Set in the lofty environs of the Rockies in Beaver Creek, CO (appx. 8,000 ft), it's one of the few times of the year that I still teach.
Working with the kids there is 100% more rejuvenating than the ridiculously-priced spa treatments offered at the resort (which run upwards of $500), and it's a great chance to reconvene with old friends, sample local microbrews, and spend late nights jamming with the overwhelmingly fun faculty string band.
July takes me in new directions, to nearly the other side of the world: several weeks spent in Bali. A Hindu enclave in a predominantly Muslim country, Bali's culture is unlike anything else in the world, and its music inspired the likes of Debussy, Ravel, Britten, and a host of other composers. The gamelan orchestras there are clangorous, exotic, and fascinating, a study in interlocking rhythms and cyclic harmonies.
After producing a radio segment a while back on the Javanese gamelan and its introduction at the 1893 World's Fair, I was thrilled to be accepted into the Çudamani Summer Institute, an instructional program run by of the most prestigious gamelan orchestras on Java's eastern neighbor in the Indonesian archipelago.
Returning home in early August, I'm back in teaching mode, but this time under the auspices of Genesis at the Crossroads, a non-profit organization that promotes peace-building through the arts. This was the group that brought me to Israel several years ago, an amazing trip where I stayed with a Bedouin family under the stars in the Negev Desert, recorded Indian ragas in the cisterns of Jerusalem, and conducted a beachside interview on the Mediterranean with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary.
GATC is flying in kids from all over the world (Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Pakistan, and Northern Ireland, to name a few) to promote "global leadership and the power of one person to stand for something and involve others to make a massive impact." I'm just a lowly radio producer, but hopefully I'll be able to assist!
After that, Relevant Tones makes a trip down to South America to interview Colombian composers in Bogotá and Medellín about their art and music. We'll put that together into one of our popular "In the Field" series (much in the same vein as these episodes from Helsinki and these from Mexico City).
And, since when it rains, it pours... Bosnia! GATC is bringing myself, Badi Assad (part of the insanely talented guitar-slinging Assad family), and a group of other people to the Balkans to work with musicians and kids on peace-building through the arts.
A busy summer, to say the least!