Alban's Blog

Elgar and Sports in San Diego

The last few days have been a reminder to me why I love so much what I am doing: to play a beautiful piece with an enthusiast orchestra and a very fine conductor while having time to do some outdoor activity and making new friends – what else could one want from life?Playing the Elgar Concerto is always a great joy, since it is gorgeous music but not as difficult and complicated as most other concertos. And how glad I was to find out that the San Diego Symphony is not only one of the better orchestras in the country, but also incredibly friendly, almost has a youth-orchestra-vibe to it. The conductor Jiajia Ling was an absolute delight to work with and I must admit I had five very memorable days here.

But it wasn’t only about music – after the first rehearsal I asked the concertmaster Jeff Thayer if he knew where I could play some tennis, and he recommended his fiancee as a sparring partner. It felt amazing to play in the middle of winter on an outside court under the Californian sun two hours of intense tennis, somehow very inspiring to play Elgar a couple of hours later ๐Ÿ™‚

And yesterday, on Sunday with a matinee at 2 pm, Jeff took me along to a soccer match, which couldn’t have been more fun. Oops, I think I’ll continue this tomorrow, now I have to catch the car which is supposed to bring me to the airport – back to Europe for a recital with Steven Osborne in Jersey (Channel Islands…)


  • Alban

    Oh, don’t be jealous, therefore my return flight was snowed out, so I had to wait 7 hours for an alternative routing via San Francisco to London Heathrow, then the bus to Gatwick, and now I am sitting here waiting for the flight to Jersey, where I will arrive at 5:10 pm, 5 hours later than planned – that means after travelling for well over 24 hours, I will have to rehearse with my beloved pianist for three hours that same evening. Yeah!
    But the older I get the more I seem to be able to cope with these long flights, I even start liking them very much: finally time to read the paper, watch some movies, and above all, SLEEP! I was never capable of sleeping in planes, but this changed brutally – I put my earplugs in, cover the eyes with these lovely masks, and off I go into dreamland. And since I am rather short, I fit easily into these economy seats. Business class is actually a waste on me, since I sleep less there (more alcohol, more food, more movies, less reasons to sleep…).
    But I think the trick in general with travelling is not to let it get to you. I missed my last connecting flight on my way to San Diego, but I chose not to care, to just take the extra 2 hours to enjoy sitting there, watching the hectic people, drinking some nice coffee and reading a book ๐Ÿ™‚

  • George

    Glad to hear you had a great time in San Diego…A friend of mine was supposed to have attended one of the performances….I can’t wait to hear his comments…You’ve got it right about not letting the hazards and delays of travel get to you…it makes all the difference in the world…and these days where delays and other interruptions are becoming more common…not stressing unless you have an emergency situation…is the way to not let the miles travelled age you….best regards… George – California-

  • Mohan

    I attended this concert, and it was wonderful! I love Elgar’s cell concerto, and you played it wonderfully, Alban. I’m glad you liked San Diego.

    -Mohan (San Diego)

  • Christina Kim

    It is amazing to discover a wonderful cellist like you!!! I found your website while I am searching informations about Prof. Markus Nyikos. I am enjoying your music.
    I like this way to read enjoying your writings and to communicate with you.
    – Seoul, Korea –

  • Alban

    Sorry for not having replied in such a long time, but I was busy being home ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for all the nice words, Mohan and Christina, I am glad you like whatever I am trying to do, and it is inspiration to continue writing stuff into the blog! Any idea what else you would like to know from me? Suggestions are welcome, I just don’t want to bore anybody!
    Best wishes from Cologne,


  • Bob

    Kyungji isn’t the only one who is jealous! I will be practicing tennis until you come back to DC.

    Meanwhile, I have a serious question about memorizing Reger Suites. In the preludes of Suites 2 and 3, the opening theme is very slightly different in the recapitulation. These are miniscule differences that seem meaningless. So not only do I have to remember the theme, but also these nit-picking changes. Or do I? How much attention to such details does the performer owe to the composer?

  • Alban

    Oh Bobby, don’t be jealous, we’ll play tennis again – but you’ll have to work hard, because I am taking lessons! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, we have to take these differences rather serious from Reger, since he is the master of variation, and all these little changes are meant to be there and make it more interesting. Obviously, if you don’t do it, nobody will realize, but yes, I think we owe it to the composer.
    Best wishes from Denver, where another flight has been cancelled on me…


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