If you’re me, here’s the best remedy for a travel-heavy, smog-ridden trip to the Orient: spend a week on the coast of Maine.
The Pierre Monteux School is very much my spiritual home and I couldn’t have asked for a better week as Composer-in-Residence. I narrated “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to a packed house of little kids and later in the weekÂ IÂ conducted the premiere of my newest work, “Acadia Fanfare” (give it a listen above!), and the orchestra sounded marvelous and the weather was beautiful and I got to see all my old friends and make new ones and just live life the way it ought to be lived.
Then there’s the fact that I got to stay at my friendÂ Roberta’s house on Flander’s Bay, but I beg you not toÂ go telling anyone that it’s the greatest place on earth. The outdoor hot tub, the Steinway B, the view from the breakfast nook â€“ are those things great?Â Sure. But the best part isÂ Roberta, who is old school all the way, raised on a hard-scrabble potato farm in central Maine duringÂ the Depression, and who grinds her own whole wheat flour and bakes her own bread andÂ raises her ownÂ berries and makes her own jam and feeds themÂ to me for breakfast every. single. day.
She needlepoints like a champ and raises award-winning gardens. At 4:00, she watches Dr. Phil. At 5:00, she plays bridge (online). At 6:00, it’s the news, and at 7:00, we convene forÂ Wheel of FortuneÂ andÂ Jeopardy!
And this is where things get really special between Robert and me, becauseÂ if you’re a trivia person,Â Jeopardy! is not an entertainment, it’s a performance, a weird kind of suggestive karaoke, and watchingÂ Jeopardy! actuallyÂ requires an additional audienceÂ for the viewing experience to be complete.
And oh my god is Roberta the best audience in the world!Â She’s legitimately impressed byÂ every answer I get correct and she tells me that I need toÂ Go On This Program!Â and every time she says it she makes it sound like sheÂ legitimately just had this notion for the first time and she really means it.
Good food and gorgeous views are one thing, but a 30-minute flow of emotionalÂ validation is another thing altogether. Hope you guys like the new piece.