For the past decade or so I have spent a few days each August working as the staff accompanist for a marvelous camp, Strings by the Sea, that is hosted on our campus. Along with running the usual gauntlet of Bach, Vivaldi and Seitz concerti in student performances, each summer there are also opportunities to make music with other members of the camp faculty.
This year brought some extra special treats in that I was asked to play with two very gifted faculty cellists. Renata Bratt is based in Santa Cruz and plays incredible jazz and fiddle music. Together we played some old New Orleans style jazz and then samba'd with Jobim. Then, collaborating with Evangeline Benedetti, playing masterworks from the French cello repertoire, was an absolute highlight of my summer. Learning and playing the Fauré Elegie with her was a profoundly moving spiritual experience. "Van" has served as a member of the New York Philharmonic since she was appointed by then-music director, Leonard Bernstein.