Having grown up in Central Florida, I suppose I'll always feel like a Floridian at heart. When I was a teenager, my family relocated from Ocala, FL to Richmond, VA, where I spent the remainder of my pre-college days, before moving on to Cleveland (OH), Rochester (NY) and eventually winding up abroad in Germany. However, I've been fortunate to frequently find ways to return south, usually through some musical event, and every time I do it somehow feels like a bit of a homecoming. These trips often involve reconnecting with family, life-long friends, and colleagues, while at the same time allowing for opportunities to meet new friends and build relationships with new audiences. The tour we had in January was absolutely no exception.
In fact, it was probably our most ambitious tour to date, with the concert schedule being one of the most compact and busy that we have yet completed. In total, it comprised of six performances over eight days, with over 2,000 miles being driven as we crisscrossed the state. The program was built around two ideas, the first half devoted to music that was inspired by musical traditions, the second half devoted to music that was composed with the intent of crossing boundaries of musical styles. The selections represented a broad spectrum of genres, from Baroque to the Romantic, Appalachian folk music to pieces influence by Funk and Jazz. Outside of Bach's Chaconne, it's unlikely anyone in the audience would have been familiar with the music, an artistic risk, but one we saw worth seizing upon.
Our first venue was in St. Augustine, at St. Anastasia Catholic Church. We were treated to a wonderful acoustic and an embracing audience. It was, by far our largest venue of this tour, and while we often prefer the ability to connect to audiences in small spaces, the exposed wood in the Sanctuary allowed for a warm and intimate sound.
No trip to St. Augustine would be complete without a detour to the beach. St. Anastasia was so close to the beach, we had several opportunities to make our way down there. Despite it being unseasonably chilly (we weren't prepared for 60 degree weather in FL!), it was beautiful and quiet.
All Saints Episcopal Church in Jacksonville was our second stop. A short drive from St. Augustine, we were greeted with a very different space, which was much more intimate, but equally as warm acoustic. We're very grateful to Michael Mastronicola for taking such beautiful photos during the performance.
After the concert in Jacksonville, we enjoyed one of our only true breaks on the tour. With only two days off, Hirono and I decided to make the long drive down I-95 to visit our old neighborhood, North Shore in Miami Beach. A few years ago we had the "luxury" of living two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Miami Beach while we performed with the Florida Grand Opera and Palm Beach Symphony. And while we don't miss the South FL traffic, it is impossible to not fall in love with the turquoise water and soft sand. As you can see from the photos, the boys definitely feel at home.
Following these short couple days in Miami, we drove to the opposite side of the state for performances in Naples at Ave Maria University, St. John the Evangelist Church and followed that with an appearance at the Fine Arts Series in Sarasota before making our way back over the West Palm Beach for a final concert.
Concert tours make you very aware of how funny time can be. As an artist you spend months planning the concerts and shaping the program. Rehearsing becomes an almost daily event, with the anticipation of the concerts seeming to slow time down to a halt. However, once you begin to travel, it launches you forward so that even finding time to step outside for a short walk seems impossible. Traveling with our boys has changed that a bit, as now we never quite abandon our routines and we continually look forward to finding those moments where we can play outside. Now that we live in Iowa, we are happy to be continuing this habit of "migrating" down to Florida every winter and look forward sharing more of these memories with our children as they grow.
As we drove back from Florida, reality slowly began to sink in that February was just around the corner and that meant only one thing: more winter. As we pulled into our house, it was like we had just woken up from a beautiful dream, one that ended a bit too soon... We couldn't help but end this post with two photos that encapsulate this juxtaposition of Florida in January to Iowa in February. Florida, we will see you next year!