I just enjoyed a stroll through the beautiful campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s my first time here, and I’m thrilled to spend this weekend in residency with the Blair School of music, coaching collaborative teams of singers and pianists. Opera and art song under the magnolias – a pleasure indeed!
This trip is also a welcome reset of my usual routine after the intense week leading up to UM’s workshop performance of The Dream of the Red Chamber, a new opera by Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang. In advance of its San Francisco Opera premiere this fall, our students gave the first full musical performance of the piece. The whole creative team was in attendance: composer, librettist, stage director Stan Lai, and conductor George Manahan. In addition, the senior management team of the San Francisco Opera was there to hear and evaluate the piece. Our guests were generous with their time, and we hosted auxiliary activities in the School of Music, Theater, and Dance, as well as in the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies on Central Campus. Because of this, attendance at the performance of the piece was huge. It was a thrilling event, and a major professional experience for our students. Their participation has helped shape this piece.
As I finish my coffee and get ready for a day of working with small teams, I’m relishing the constant change and challenge of this musician’s life. No matter the effort we put forth, it seems to pay us back tenfold.