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What a perfect day!
Chicago is my home town, and yesterday was one of the three or four days a year with crystal-clear breezy skies and ideal temperature. I treated myself to several hours visiting "old friends" in the Art Institute's impressive Impressionist collection - unrivaled anywhere (well, maybe Paris). I couldn't stay indoors too long. It was just too beautiful outside. I met up with Mitch Newman for a trip to the Hancock Building's 94th floor Observatory. The visibility was 70-80 miles! Before the acoustic rehearsal, I'd had dinner with my dad, who has been the Chicago Symphony's Principal Bassist for 49 years. I come by my profession honestly.
Playing on the stage at Orchestra Hall is a very nostalgic experience for me. In high school, I was the Concertmaster of the Youth Orchestra of Chicago, and all of our performances and many rehearsals were on that stage. I fondly remember Civic rehearsals conducted by some of the Symphony's principal conductors- including Georg Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini (who ultimately hired me to play in the LA Phil in 1981).
Last night's performance was electrifying. People who have been attending concerts for decades (including my mom) said that they've never heard such an exciting performance. My mother commented that the strings have never sounded better. We played 2 encores to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience.
Like I said, it was a perfect day.