Essence in Print

strubgs-logo.gifThe Criers returned from our Vermont retreat yesterday, energized and excited by our meeting discussions, well-cared for thanks to May Bigelow's incredible hospitality, and nourished thanks to fantastic meals prepared by Far Cry Chefs Fisher, Irons, Shaw and Stohs - all true artists! We arrived in the Boston area, eager to find the March 2009 edition of Strings Magazine and read our first Strings feature article. After a few thwarted attempts at finding a copy of the magazine, we finally got ahold of the magazine this morning and devoured David Templeton's article with delight. It beautifully captures the spirit of A Far Cry, from our commitment to each other and the music to our love of laughter. My favorite quote from the article is the description of our sound: "...a lush, sweet sound that is achingly alive and emotional." Thanks to David Templeton and Strings Magazine for this article

Vacation Off-season for the Criers

When we're not playing together in A Far Cry, the members are doing a lot of different things around the world. Especially right now during the holidays, we're mostly in different states spending time with family. Sharon is at home in Israel, and if you've been watching the news, you know some of the crazy things that are happening there right now. Sharon just sent an e-mail to let us know what's going on, and while it feels dangerous, she's glad she can be with her family. Pretty soon she'll be starting to rehearse for a winter tour with Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. This is a group (the "other" orchestra in her life she tells us) of young Arab and Israeli musicians who have formed a really strong bond playing and living together. Barenboim says about it, "The Divan is not a love story, and it is not a peace story. It has very flatteringly been described as a project for peace. It isn't. It's not going to bring peace, whether you play well or not so well. The Divan was conceived as a project against ignorance. A project against the fact that it is absolutely essential for people to get to know the other, to understand what the other thinks and feels, without necessarily agreeing with it. I'm not trying to convert the Arab members of the Divan to the Israeli point of view, and [I'm] not trying to convince the Israelis to the Arab point of view. But I want to - and unfortunately I am alone in this now that Edward died a few years ago - and...I'm trying to create a platform where the two sides can disagree and not resort to knives."

So pretty soon Sharon will be off to join her colleagues in this group, and it's uncertain what the climate will be like there with the threat of danger so close and real right now to all the musicians in the orchestra. Please keep her in your thoughts!

Full time criers, and our Duluth tour

Our trip to Duluth was probably one of our most successful trips to a new town we've ever had! We flew over for two nights only- played in a performance class at University of Minnesota Duluth Music Department, then got to listen to their awesome unconducted string orchestra, and ended the day with a concert in Weber Music Hall- a very delightful hall with warm, flattering acoustics. We stayed the nights with some generous friends, and about half of us stayed with the Dotys (Karl's parents) who hosted us with the best of bedding, dining, and....... their Sauna! ____

Ever since I got back from Europe on September 21st we've been working 'round the clock non-stop. There were a few moments there where I almost forgot A Far Cry was not a full time orchestra! To be exact, just so you understand what I'm talking about, we've been working 9 out of these past 10 weeks strait. Yeah, ok, with one week off in the middle (in which all of us tried to do EVERYTHING else we'd been procrastinating...)

Hard work (and complaining) aside, it took me talking to a friend who lives on the other side of the Atlantic to realize that during this time we have played two Boston cycles of concerts, went on two tours, and recorded two CDs! Wow, that is really a lot. I can't believe we made it, but we did. I must say I am very proud of us to have done all this, and in such little time...

It's been a pleasure sharing our work with all of you: our Boston friends, our Montpelier VT dedicated audiences, friends in Milton and in Quincy, our new friends in Duluth MN; our soloists Karen, Hyunah, Humanwine and David, and our wind players who've joined us for the recording with David; our recording honorary crier Jesse and our producers Don, Terry and Roger; organizations we've worked with such as Bikes not Bombs, the MSPCC, Axiom Gallery, NEC, ENC, Longy, the English High School... So many generous creative and warm people who've shared their time and talents with us! Thank you!

Now we finally have some time to wind down, do some other things, see some other people (like our families and our other friends), maybe play in other groups or focus on our own playing for a while, as well as get things ready behind the scenes for our next cycles in the spring, and our 3rd season of '09-10'. Please keep in touch with us over the winter, and stay warm, wherever you are. Best wishes!

please stand up!

Just imagine:
A classical music concert, where the musicians play in their everyday clothes.
Where the audience STANDS UP.
Where people clap when they feel like it.
Where people talk if they want to.
Where everyone feels free to be themselves...

I have dreamt of this imaginary concert for years. And I was thinking- we stand up when we perform because we feel that the energy we have is so much more powerful when we stand. You know what I mean? Just try to imagine a rock band sitting down... haha... hm... But when the audience stands up, the potential energy is so much more powerful, and everyone feels it immediately.

This being said, I never quite understood how I will make this concert happen-
What if people standing up will block the view of the ones who'd want to sit down?
What if people who wanted to listen would be bothered by those chatting?
What if the musicians seemed as if they were disrespecting the event?
And tonight I finally realized- wait a minute, these things happen in almost every concert that is not classical, and the world keeps on turning...

Well, tonight my dream came true.

humanwine/afcHolly and M@ and their band Humanwine hosted us in concert in Allston. They are both very inspiring people, who have been friends with A Far Cry for quite a long time, since they met our very own Ashley and Courtenay, who ended up playing with their band. And not only are they loving and giving people, their music is extremely meaningful, personal and creative. Tonight they shared a warehouse with the band What time is it Mr. Fox? and with us in a very special event.

By the end of the show we joined Humanwine and played along with them, but beforehand we played a full 'set' of our own. And you know what? we played Mozart, Muffat, Britten and Bartok, and people listened standing up, everyone could see us and hear us, and it felt so right. And the playing, we felt so comfortable that we allowed ourselves to enter a new phase with our playing, a feeling I hope we will carry with us in the future to many more concerts and places. Afterwards playing with Humanwine felt so good, getting a bit out of our comfort zone, making new music on the spot, listening, rocking...

So I am writing this in thanks to Holly and M@ who invited us to play in their show, in thanks to Ashley and Court who made this collaboration happen and taught us all the songs, and in thanks to the beautiful crowd who came out today in the rain and listened to us standing up. Thank you for making my dream come true.

Pike Place Market

A Far Cry performed today at Seattle's world famous Pike Place Market to try to drum up interest in the big concert tomorrow night. In some ways, this was A Far Cry at its best - we showed up with instruments, stands, and T-shirts in tow, found a good high-foot-traffic spot, and took the music to the people! It was exhilarating and let's hope the huge audience we drew comes out to the concert tomorrow.

Driving Music / Diving Music

So yesterday was the big driving day - we loaded up our rental minivans (Bigfoot, Bounty Hunter, El Toro Loco, and Carolina Crusher) and headed up Route 101 from Santa Rosa. 101 is an amazing drive. First it leads through Sonoma County - beautiful Tuscan rolling countryside covered with vineyards and wineries. Then the road grows steeper and twistier as it becomes the Redwood Highway. Driving through dramatic cliffs lined with evergreens, the first redwood still comes as a shock - just a massive column of TREE right there by the highway. I began to feel smaller and smaller as the average size of the trees got bigger and bigger. We drove past the tree you can drive through, and the tree you can live inside.

Trees then gave way to the Northern California coast, with its cliffs and crashing waves and imposing rock islands. If you are driving along the West Coast, I really do have to recommend route 101. But I also recommend bringing Jae Lee along. Jae DJ'd for most of the 10-hour trip, shuffling a driving mix between 2 ipods. From Indie Rock to Irish fiddle, the Driving Music helped the time pass. Exhausted by the travel, we met our Roseburg host families and went to bed.

Today is our day of rest, but some of us are going white-water rafting. We'll see if there are stories of Diving Music to tell tomorrow!

Thanks JetBlue!

We had a nice, smooth flight over to San Francisco yesterday. I can only speak for myself, but having leather seats and the ability to watch Top Chef continuously on a personal TV really speed up a coast-to-coast flight. Plus, the flight attendants were great. I knew Loewi was up to something when he went up to speak with them midway through our flight. It was still a surprise, though, when at the end of the standard "prepare to land" speach the head stewardess added, "and flying with us today is A Far Cry, Boston's proudly unconducted string orchestra..." She went on to mention our Globe quote and plug our two concerts in California! So, thank you Unidentified JetBlue Flight Attendant, for making our day!

Bon Voyage

I'm standing at the center of Logan Airport Terminal C, waiting for the rest of the Criers to arrive. Jason and I considered the T, but broke down and called a taxi - 4 heavy suitcases filled with posters, music, postcards, and (oh yeah) clothes, plus two instruments and a backpack, were just a bit too much for us. So a relatively serene can ride to the airport (empty bottle of beer rolling around the floor notwithstanding) led to my current post at the serene center of Logan. It is almost eerily calm as we wait for the others - I have a feeling this may be one of the last moments of calm I'll have for a while. Nothing about the assemblage known as "A Far Cry" is serene! Soon we will be taking Logan Airport, our flight, and the West Coast by storm!