Here is a little glimpse into what our Christmas was like…
Here is a little glimpse into what our Christmas was like…
Today is the last and final day of Famous Musician Week. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my little stories of how I met these various musicians over the years. It is always both motivational and inspirational to meet someone who has acheived great things in their life – particularly when they are in the same line of work as you. I certainly do not compare myself to these superstars in the least, but I know that we all have something to offer the world and I hope that through the small contribution my music has made that I have provided a little inspiration to some aspiring musician out there.
The question remains, who are some famous musicians that I would still love to meet one day? I do have a few that I would love to meet, but would hate to jinx my luck so I’ll keep that answer to myself.
I have two more musicians that I wanted to tell you about today - violinist Hilary Hahn, and composer Michael Hoppe.
To be honest, I don’t have a killer story to share about Hilary Hahn. I did meet her in Seattle at a small record store when she released her Mozart Concertos album. She is probably my favorite violinist. I love her technique, her sound, her style. And I also love that she is a writer. If you go to her website, she has an extensive journal that she’s kept while on the road for the past 15 years or so. She has definitely provided a lot of inspiration to me and I thank her for that.
One of my favorite movie soundtracks is “The Village” (by composer James Newton Howard). Hilary Hahn was the featured violinist on the music. It is hauntingly beautiful. That is the CD that I brought with me to have her autograph. While she was busy autographing everyone else’s Mozart CDs, she was very excited to see me bring The Village CD to sign. She was extremely interested in knowing my opinion of it, and told me that she had the most wonderful time recording that soundtrack and it was one of her favorite experiences.
I’m not certain that everyone knows who Michael Hoppe is, but he is a brilliant composer from England, who now lives in Portland, Oregon. He is a GRAMMY nominated composer who’s music is heard on networks like HBO, Oprah Winfrey, and also Michael Moore’s documentary films. He has recorded several works with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and well, his music is beautiful.
I first heard Michael’s music when I was in college. Someone gave me a CD of his as a gift. The album was called “Afterglow”. The music was a mixture of piano, solo cello, and rain/thunder. The music was so peaceful. I would listen to it often while I studied, and also to remind me of the rain in the northwest as I was often quite homesick. It is the type of music that you would light a thousand candles to and take a bubble bath, to be quite honest.
The CD had remained a favorite of mine for years.
After I released Key of Sea in early 2007, I received an email from music reviewer Kathy Parsons, who had reviewed my CD earlier that year. She told me that she had just had lunch with Michael Hoppe and they ended up talking about me. She asked me if I knew who Michael Hoppe was, and I said ”Yes of course! I love his music!” I don’t remember exactly in detail what she said after that, but the gist of the conversation was that Michael had listened to my music and insisted (in an English accent if you can imagine it) that “She must enter her album into the Grammies this year and I will help with the process, if needed”.
Now at that time, I was completely new to the whole music scene and someone putting my name in the same sentence wtih Grammy Awards of course about made my eyes pop out of their sockets. BUT, before you get excited, you should know that anyone who has a membership in the Recording Academy can enter their album into the Grammy Awards. So really, it’s not that special. It is special, however, if you go on to receive a nomination. But just to enter your album – not a big deal. But at the time, I thought it was a huge huge deal. And it WAS, in particular, to have someone like Michael Hoppe say that about my music.
Over the next week, I spent quite a few phonecalls with Michael talking about my music, the Grammy entrance process, Etc. I remember him asking me how I did my strings/orchestration on my album. I told him that I used a mixture of sampled strings as well as my own violin playing to get an authentic sound. He said he thought it was brilliant. I gleamed.
Michael Hoppe was on the Grammy board that year, and so it was hoped that with his recommendation my CD would make it into the right hands – as the deadline for submissions was literally days away and we weren’t sure if my album would make it in time. After an extraordinary amount of overnight postage paid, my album did in fact make it into the hands of someone at the Recording Academy. However, it was rejected because my Recording Academy membership was brand new (I applied for it at the same time I submitted my album). Apparently, you have to of been a member by or before a deadline that was 3 months prior. There were no exceptions.
A Friendship Had Begun…
Since that whirlwind Grammy submission process that ended in ultimate failure, my friendship with Michael Hoppe ended up quite the opposite. We stayed in contact and developed a friendship of mutual admiration and respect for each others talents, but still had not ever met in person.
A while after that, I got an email from Michael inviting me to a special Seattle PBS taping of his music. My husband was unable to attend with me, and so I invited my good friend Erika Nisbet (as mentioned in my previous entry). I thought she would in particular enjoy the experience since Michael’s guest artist was a soprano and that was Erika’s area of speciality as well.
We arived at the PBS studios the evening of the recording, and attended a special cocktail party beforehand. I was almost 5 months pregnant at the time with my first baby, and I remember being frustrated because I was absolutely starving and all they were serving were fancy soft cheeses – none of which a pregnant woman can eat! So I filled up on fancy carbonated fruit drinks and tried to ignore my growling pregnant tummy.
It was a very small intimate audience of about 30 people – all of whom were specially invited by Michael. The concert was lovely, and I really enjoyed seeing how they filmed everything. If there was a mess-up during the song, they would just record the song over again until it was perfect. I also got many ideas on how to better mic my own violin as there was a solo violinist that performed that evening and her violin sounded amazing with the amount of reverb they put on it. And when the big studio cameras got right up in my face for audience shots, I tried very very hard to not look at them. That is not easy to do by the way.
After the concert was over, everyone went up to talk to Michael. I stood in line and waited my turn as each person went through and told him what an amazing job he did and how talented his soloists were, etc.
While I was waiting in line, I remember standing next to a woman who, I honestly cannot remember her name, but she was some big to-do musician from the Seattle area. I introduced myself to her because she looked very familiar to me, and I thought perhaps she was one of my musical friends on MySpace (this was when MySpace was really huge for musicians). To my shock, she was incredibly rude to me. I suppose she thought that she was too big and famous to be talking to me, or perhaps I insulted her when I asked her if she knew me from online? Who knows. She gave me daggers for a look, and literally physically looked down at me and did a guesture of disgust that I was even trying to talk to her. The funny thing about it all, was I still had no idea who she was and yet she thought she was pretty high and mighty.
Right after our fun little conversation, Grammy award winning musician Nancy Rumbel came out (she had performed with Michael that night). I knew Nancy from when she recorded on my mom’s album earlier that year, and in fact Nancy is responsible for getting me into composing in the first place. We saw each other and she came right over and started talking to me, asking me how my mom was, how my music was going, and other things. The other woman, who had earlier, been so incredibly rude to me just stood there watching us talk and I think she was a bit baffled that Nancy and I knew each other.
And then right after that, Michael Hoppe saw me and said “Jennifer!” and grabbed me for a hug. He put his hand on my small pregnant belly and asked how the baby was and we laughed and talked for several minutes. He was the first person to ever feel my belly and so I have to say it was a little bit weird, but whatever! All the while, this other famous music rude lady was watching me and had this astonished look on her face. My friend Erika got a kick out of it and I think she was trying to not laugh.
I am still friends with Michael these days and what a treasure that friendship is.
As for the “rude famous lady”, whoever she was, I personally do not think there is ever call for someone to treat other people like that. No matter how big and famous you are, or might think you are, it does not make you better than anyone else. And that is also the moral to all of these stories I’ve shared with you this week. It’s so easy to be starstruck by famous people, musicians, or whatnot. But when it comes down to it, they are just normal people like you and I who started somewhere and worked their way up to where they are now. They have lives, families, and problems just like the rest of us. Hopefully what we see though is the incredible inspiration of their hard work.
And with that, thus concludes Famous Musician Week. Ciao!
Read more from Famous Musician Week here.
Okay, I lied. I didn’t really meet Luciano Pavarotti, the greatest tenor of our time, but one of my very best friends did. And so I asked her to write down her story (because it’s a rare one), and share it with all of you.
Those of you who are familiar with my debut album, Key of Sea, know that there is a song on there called O Mio Babbino Caro. I realize that it is a huge contrast in style compared to the rest of the songs on the album, but the reason it found its way onto the CD is because even though I am a pianist, I am a lover of good vocal music. The vocalist who sang on that song from my album, Erika Nisbet, is one of my very closest friends.
(This is Erika and I at the Renee Fleming concert with the Seattle Symphony)
I didn’t ask her to sing on the album because she was my friend though, but because she is one of the most talented opera singers I know. If you could only hear her sing some of Mozart’s Arias, you would think you were floating on some magical cloud in a musical heaven.
This is Erika’s story of how she got to meet Pavarotti (twice) and sit on his knee. I’m not joking.
A Lucky Chance Meeting
By Erika Nisbet
My friend Jennifer decided to share stories of famous people she met and asked if I would share a special story with you. It was a one in a million chance meeting.
I graduated from the University of Washington in 2005 with a degree in Vocal Performance. In the spring I auditioned for a Young Artist program to take place in Oregon, which I attended. It was there where I met a very special, well known and talented lady by the name of Cynthia Lawrence. She used to perform around the country as one of “The Three Sopranos” in the 90’s and around the world with other world famous performers (soon to be revealed), and has a resume that almost all performers would kill to have. But, as you will see, she isn’t even the most famous person I have met.
I worked very hard that summer in the program and each of the performers were given time with different coaches. Fortunately, I was given time to work with Cynthia on a one-on-one basis. I had a breakthrough at that lesson and it became one of the most inspirational experiences I have had in music. We formed a special connection and friendship that day.
Meeting Pavarotti for the First Time…
After the program was over, I kept in contact with Cynthia and she invited me out to Los Angeles for a lesson. Little did I know how that lesson would change my life forever. So I hopped on a plane to So. Cal excited for this great opportunity to work with one of the premier sopranos in opera once more. The day of my lesson, she was rehearsing at the Disney Music Hall, and she informed me that there was someone else rehearsing that day as well – the world renowned Luciano Pavarotti. I was excited, nervous, and could not believe my luck.
After she finished with her rehearsal, she approached me and the rest of her entourage and asked if any of us would like to meet him. OF COURSE!!!!! Nobody had to ask me twice. Everyone else had met him on several occasions and insisted that I go alone. Cynthia gave me special instructions to follow after his rehearsal: “When he is done, he moves quickly off stage so if you want to meet him, I will tell you when to move and you will need to quickly come down to the stage to meet him.” Duh! I would have ran a sprint if she asked.
The time came and I moved very quickly and we ran backstage to catch him. There he was in a scooter from the Scooter Store. Not really, but I thought I would try to be funny. He had a double hip replacement several months back and that was why he was scootin’ around.
As I stood there, Cynthia reminded him of an earlier conversation regarding her voice student and he said, in his very Italian accent (try to imagine it), “Yes. Yes. Where is she?” She then introduced me, “This is my student, Erika.” He then said, again in an Italian accent, “She is very tall and beautiful.“ He shook my hand and I froze…. All I could barely push out of my mouth was a soft “hi”. He then asked me, “Is your voice as big as you are?”
I couldn’t respond… I heard what he said and I understood what he said, but nothing was coming out of my mouth. I was star struck. I could have kicked myself and nothing would have changed. Cynthia then piped in and answered for me, “Oh definitely.”
As he let go of my hand I was still a little frozen and excited and numb… his hand left and impression burned into my mind forever. His hand was so soft yet commanding – not strong and overpowering, but not weak and frail – it seemed just right and fit him well. It was a moment that very few people ever get the chance to experience, to meet someone who is a house-hold name all over the world. And to this day I can still imagine what that man’s hand feels like as he shook my hand.
Hollywood Bowl and Pavarotti, again…
If you think that this is the end of my story, I have a surprise, it’s not. It was an impressive event, but there is more.
After rehearsal, Cynthia and I did our lesson, and it was the worst lesson I had ever had. I think a combination of travel and being star struck by meeting the great Pavarotti ruined my true intention for the trip. But not one regret! Anyway, after the lesson we talked and she asked if I would like to come to the performance the next night at the Hollywood Bowl. OFCOURSE!!!!! Only a fool would have said no.
The next night came and I got dressed up in my best travel apparel. A black rayon skirt from The Dress Barn and a stretchy leotard type shirt (not sure where I got it. Target? I don’t know…) along with my graduation jewelry from my Mother-in-Law. The jewelry was definitely the most expensive thing on my body and my outfit cost less than $50 maybe $40. (Like it really matters) But I didn’t think it was going to be anything more than the typical comp tickets that a performer gives to their family and friends. In my case usually the back row or up in the nose bleeds.
I get there and they hand me my tickets at Will Call and I proceed to walk up the hill to the back of the Bowl getting read y to take my seat in the grass. I showed my tickets to the gentleman at the gate and he pointed down the hill for my tickets. So I walked back down and was escorted to my seat four rows from the front of the stage. WHAT!!!! These weren’t comp tickets. I looked around and saw all of Hollywood sitting around me dressed in their expensive Dolce & Gabanna and there I was wearing The Dress Barn. (Oh well!)
Just to give you a little idea of who was there, behind me was Tracey Ullman with an up and coming Tenor, and next to them was Cynthia Lawrence’s friends. Next to me were the cutest old ladies and I wish I could tell you their names, but I was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. Just kidding! There were a lot of people I recognized, but I couldn’t tell you their names. I almost ran into Cloris Leachman and in front of me off to my right was Garry Marshall. I took pictures with my razor phone. The performance was amazing and to know that I was there on Pavarotti’s Farewell Tour couldn’t have been better. Again, what luck!
After the performance, I started walking with Cynthia’s friends to the back stage area and bypassed all of the “big to dos” in Hollywood who didn’t have passes. (Which was most of them. Who’s got “the in” now, Hollywood?! Woot! Woot! LOL)
We went back stage and stood in line with Cynthia Lawrence to meet Mr. Pavarotti again. In front of us, his nephew and his nephew’s girlfriend got pictures with Pavarotti. We waited for a short period of time, and soon we were escorted into the room where the most famous man sat. There we stood in that room while he sat in a chair wearing his famous black shirt and colorful scarf around his neck.
Cynthia asked if we could have a picture and he agreed as his PR guy said it was the last picture for the night. He looked at Cynthia and asked where her student was and she turned his attention to me. He smiled and said, in his Italian voice, “Why don’t you come sit down here” pointing to his right knee.
I heard he was a little bit of a charmer with women. I thought that he was a little bit of a dirty old man myself, but in a really sweet way. We took the picture and we all stood up. He said a couple of things and I finally got my voice back, so I asked a few questions. I don’t remember what I asked but it seemed like hours later when he finally finished talking. And I don’t remember what he said, but I do remember he started telling us stories of himself and his experiences.
When we walked away, Cynthia turned to me and said, “He has never done that before. In all my years of knowing him, he never just talks to anyone. I wish I had a recorder to record what he said, because he really talked to us like we were friends. I walked away feeling like this experience was almost better than my wedding day. Almost…
It wasn’t long after my chance meeting with Pavarotti that I heard the solemn news that this super star performer had passed on. The fact that I had met this great man really affected me and made me realize it was a really lucky opportunity.
Some would think after an experience like that, I would have been destined to do great things. I was! I am a stay at home mom who does a little data entry in the morning and sings daily to my boys. It’s the most challenging job and the most exciting job. And the memory of meeting one of the most famous people in the world before he died, is just that… a sweet, wonderful memory.
Read more from Famous Musician Week here.
So far, I’ve told you about my meetings with a few well known classical musicians such as Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Josh Groban, and Lang Lang. Well, that is not the case today.
Today I am going to tell you about how I met Pearl Jam. You know, as in the popular 90′s band from Seattle, known for hits like “Better Man”, “Nothing As It Seems”, and “Black”. http://www.pearljam.com/
Again, it was purely accidental…
With most of my experiences meeting musicians, it was in thanks to a job that I had with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. And it is no different with this story.
As I’d said before, I worked in the Education Dpt for the Symphony where I got to teach people about musical instruments, perform on violin and piano all day long, and attend as many free concerts as I wanted to. The section of the Hall where I worked was on the northwest corner of Benaroya Hall. We had our own little recital hall with a grand piano and an exterior entrance to 2nd avenue, just a block away from the Pike Street Market (where I would go on my lunch break and get THE most delicious gyros from the Greek Delicatessen).
The back entrance to our little world, with a series of special numerical codes to unlock doors, went through the basement practice rooms underneath the concert hall, through the chef’s kitchen, up a service elevator, and put you right backstage behind the big concert hall. You had to take this route to get to another elevator adjacent to the concert hall, which then took you up another 2 stories to the administration offices on the top floor – where I went quite often to use the copy machine, check the mail, etc.
It had been the talk of the town that Pearl Jam was going to be performing at Benaroya Hall that week. It was the first time that a “band concert” of that caliber and genre would take place in such a prestigous hall. And being that Pearl Jam is from Seattle, you can imagine all of the local fans that were lined up down the streets for days outside the ticket offices trying to get tickets for this concert. I also had many friends beg me to get them tickets for this concert, which happened to be one concert I was not allowed to get free tickets to.
Well, I was working one day that week, and had completely forgotten about Pearl Jam coming to perform and which day it was going to be. I was just busy working and had some tasks to do that day that required me to go up to the 5th floor administration offices. Several times actually.
When I went through the back entrance through backstage, I noticed that something was up. This was not the normal pre-concert rehearsals that were going on. Usually I would see casually dressed violinists or trombone players walking around. But that day there were sound engineers all over the place, big huge cables along the floor backstage, and not a classical musician in site.
I didn’t think anything of it, because honestly what it looked like to me was another film scoring recording session with all the big cables and engineers. But as I rode the elevators that morning, I found myself talking to grungy tattooed people.
Um, this person is definitely not going to be performing a Mozart Concerto as far as I can tell, I thought to myself.
Our conversations were just that – elevator chatter. ”Hi, how are you?” “Nice day isn’t it?” and yadda yadda yadda.
Later, I was back down in our little recital hall and asked my co-worker, ”Soooo, what’s going on backstage today?”. He looked at me as if I’d just asked the stupidest question of the century. He answered, ”Um, PEARL JAM. Duh.”
Ah-ha! ”Ahhhhh okay, I was wondering about the tattoos.” I replied. And then I went back to work.
I’d listened to many of Pearl Jam’s songs over the years, but honestly I had no clue what they looked like. Well, now I know. First hand. I’d been riding the elevators with them all day while making small talk. Who knew?
You can catch their “Live at Benaroya Hall” CD that was released in 2004 at: http://www.pearljam.com/music/releases/Live%20CD%20Complete/live-benaroya-hall
Read more from Famous Musician Week here.
This story will be short and sweet, because that is literally how our meeting was.
If you aren’t familiar with Lang Lang, he is one of the most talented and popular young concert pianists right now. He is a Golden Globe winner, and a Grammy nominee just to name a small few of his many accomplishments. You can read more at his bio here: http://www.langlang.com/us/biography
How I Met Lang Lang…
If you’ve been reading my stories this past week about my run-ins with celebrity musicians like Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, etc, then you know that I used to work for the Seattle Symphony and that is where the majority of these incidences happened.
I was at work one day at Benaroya Hall. I worked in the Education Department for the Symphony, and we had a special section of the building that had a small recital hall with a Boston grand piano (where I had my concert with Jace Vek – the pictures with the red background). We also had an exploration room where children and adults could come and play instruments or sit and listen to hours of classical music if they wished.
Anyway, through the front door walks in this very trendy dressed Asian man who was very peppy and happy and talkative. He found me and just instantly started jabbering away, asking me all sorts of questions about what I did, what instruments I played, what this place was, what to do in Seattle, etc.
I have to say, I was so surprised at his outward personality that I was a little dumbfounded. Who is this person and how much sugar did he consume this morning?? I thought.
He reached out his hand and said ”I’m Lang Lang, what is your name?”. And I said ”Hi Lang Lang, I’m Jennifer.“
He looked about the recital hall, didn’t play the piano (so I still had no idea at this point he was a painist, as I had never heard of Lang Lang before). And then he left.
I knew he was not just any Joe off the street, so I went online and looked at the Symphony concert calendar to see who was performing this weekend with the Symphony. And of course it said “Guest Pianist Lang Lang with the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwartz conducting.”
About an hour later he was back. He very much reminded me of a little kid who just needed something to keep himself occupied. And of course this time, knowing who he was, I just stared at him and wondered when he was going to sit down and play our piano. He still didn’t – maybe saving his fingers for that night’s concert?
And then he was gone again.
And that, is how I accidentally unknowingly met Lang Lang.
Tomorrow I will tell you how I accidentally unknowingly met Pearl Jam.
Read more from Famous Musician Week here.
In case you missed it, I’m doing “Famous Musician Week”, where I’m sharing my little stories of when I have met some pretty talented (famous) musicians. So far, I’ve told you about my run-ins with singer Josh Groban, and violinist Joshua Bell. Today I have another violinist for you. Itzhak Perlman.
Some of you youngins might not know who he is. He is possibly one of the biggest Classical music world superstars that has ever lived. He performed for Pres. Obama’s inauguration, Pres. Clinton awarded him “National Medal of the Arts”, and he’s performed for kings and queens. He possesses 4 Emmy Awards and 15 Grammies. Yes, 15! He runs the Perlman School each summer and also holds a founding chair at Julliard. Aside from this, he tours the world throughout the year performing beautiful music with various symphony orchestras.
Personally, I grew up knowing his music not only on the various CD’s that my mother owned, but also because he was the violinist who played the soundtrack for the classic movie “Fiddler On the Roof”. And when I was learning the play the violin as a child, my mom (who was my teacher) would always tell me these wonderful things about Itzhak Perlman. She deemed him the “greatest violinist that ever lived”. And so of course that is what I grew up thinking as well.
How I Met Mr. Perlman…
Just a few years ago, while I was working for the Seattle Symphony in the Education Department at Benaroya Hall, I was at work one day browsing through the upcoming symphony concert calendar to see who was coming this season. As I had mentioned before, even though this was just an underpaid office-rat sort of job, the biggest reason why I took the job was for it’s incomparable perks – such as getting to play piano and violin all day long, teach people about my instruments, go to unlimited symphony concerts for free, and meet famous musicians.
As I was looking at the concert calendar, I saw that Itzhak Perlman was coming that week to perform with the Seattle Symphony. My eyes got huge and I knew I had to go to that concert. I went down to the ticket office and put in a ticket request for the concert, and was told that the concert was completely sold out. Of course it was. It’s Itzhak Perlman.
Well, if I wasn’t going to get to go to the concert, then I wanted to at least meet him when he comes to rehearse.
I had to jump through a LOT of hoops to make this happen, let me tell you. After multiple emails back and forth between the conductor’s assistant, myself, and artist relations person, I finally got the green light. And Mr. Perlman was on such a tight schedule, it was going to be quick and efficient. I was told to be backstage after that morning’s rehearsal at 10am.
I was there with bells on.
Backstage had completely cleared out and nobody was there. The AR person found me and said that Itzhak was in his dressing room but would be out in about 10 minutes, and she would bring him over to me. I stood there and waited…and waited…and waited. It was almost 10:30, and I was starting to think that he got busy doing something else. Just as I was about to give up, he came wheeling out of his dressing room, alone, and down the corridors of back stage. He zoomed right past me (in case you didn’t know, he is in a wheelchair).
I thought, uh, wait a minute! And I followed him. I just assumed that the AR person completely forgot about me and this was going to have to be up to me and nobody else.
He stopped, turned and looked at me like I was completely out of line. I gulped, and went forward with my plan though.
“Hi Mr. Perlman, my name is Jennifer and I was supposed to meet you backstage after your rehearsal.”
He just looked at me like he had no clue what I was talking about.
“I also play the violin, and have been a big fan of you since I was a little girl.”
He loosened up a little bit and did a slight nod of his head. He noticed I was holding my composition book and asked me if I wanted him to sign it. “Oh yes, would you please?”
He opened up to the front cover of my composition book (which is the book I wrote all of the songs for Key of Sea in), and signed it ”For Jennifer, Best Wishes, Itzhak Perlman”.
He gave me a half-smile, and then he was off like a madman in a wheelchair. That thing had some speed! My heart was pounding and I was completely excited to have his signature on my book. Forever. He wasn’t as nice and cordial as I had imagined him to be, but I’m sure me jumping up on him backstage wasn’t exactly what he may have been expecting either.
And that’s the scoop. http://www.itzhakperlman.com/
To read more from Famous Musician Week, go here.
If you didn’t catch my note yesterday, I’m doing a “Famous Musician” week where I’m sharing my fun stories about various famous musicians that I’ve met – and I would love to hear yours as well! Share away!
Yesterday I told you about how I met violinist Joshua Bell when I was 15 years old, and again at 25. Today I have another Josh to share with you: Josh Groban. And the timing is perfect because actually tonight my husband and I have tickets to go see Josh Groban live here in Seattle. Pretty exciting!
Now, I have a fun video to share too, check it out at the end.
So here’s how I met Josh Groban…
Back in 2003, a friend asked me to come with her to Los Angeles for the PBS filming of “Josh Groban Live”. At the time, I hadn’t become a huge fan of Groban yet, but had heard his vocals on the soundtrack for “A.I.” (remember that sci-fi flick?). I said “Sure why not!” and thus commenced on a fun journey that made me a life time fan of Josh Groban.
At the time, I really had no idea that Josh Groban had such a loyal following, a.k.a. the “Grobanites”. Let me tell you, these people would do anything for their Joshy. So pretty much everyone who had gotten tickets to be in this audience for the filming were Grobanites. It was a 2 day event, and each taping was about 4 hours. In between takes, producer David Foster would come out and chat with us, tell stories, make jokes, etc. Personally, I was very excited to see composer John Williams hit the stage – as he was going to be directing Josh Groban singing the title track from A.I. (the one he sang with Celine Dion as a duet).
In between all this filming, all of us audience members were all staying at the same hotel together and there were organized luncheons where Josh’s parents came and spoke to us and some other fun events.
That was also the first time I ever had the glorious pleasure of experiencing The Cheesecake Factory – and I have to say it has remained my absolute favorite restaurant since (we have 3 here in Seattle). As you can see from the photo below, I was pretty excited about the experience.
On the last night of filming, after the show Josh came out and met everyone, signed autographs, did photos, etc. Well apparently that just wasn’t good enough for my little group and I. We had to get back stage. And so we did. I don’t remember how it all went down, but someone talked to someone who was able to get someone to get Josh to come back and meet us.
Remember, for me, I wasn’t quite the superfan that everyone else was and so I wasn’t really star-struck at all by the whole thing. But my girlfriends (you’ll see in the video) were practically swooning – haha. And the funny thing about the video is it ended up going on his PBS “Live” DVD in the special features. Yes – that’s right! I, Jennifer Thomas, am on Josh Groban’s LIVE special features DVD. My 10 second claim to fame – ha!
I know the quality on this photo was terrible – it was 2003 and I think digital cameras were, what, 3 megapixels?
Josh is a really nice person, totally a goof and kid at heart (at least he was then), and also MIGHTY talented. That man can sing!!
P.S. My 10 seconds of famous video coverage
Read more Famous Musician Week here.
As I was driving through busy downtown Seattle traffic yesterday afternoon while listening to Classical King FM, I heard an announcement on the station that Joshua Bell was coming to the Pantages Theater in Tacoma soon. For those who aren’t familiar with Joshua Bell, he’s one of the most reknowned concert violinists in the world and one of the lucky few to own a gorgeous Stradivarious.
This triggered a sequence of thoughts in my mind that went kind of like this:
“Ah, Joshua Bell. That’s right, he was recently named maestro of St. Martin in the Fields. He’s come such a long ways from when he came to visit me in High School.”
And then I thought about some of the other talented (famous) musicians I’ve had the opportunity to meet over the years. I thought it would be fun to have story-telling week here on my facebook page. I’ll tell you all my stories about my meet-ups with music celebs, and you do the same! I love to hear stories.
So here’s the real scoop on Joshua Bell.
When I was in 10th grade, I played the violin in our high school orchestra. We were so fortunate to have guest conductors/artists come visit us every now and then. One time we had Joshua Bell. He was super young then, and not as widely known, and I was slightly less attractive with frizzy hair and zits. But it was a big enough deal that he came for a visit that the city newspaper came and did a story on it. I so wish that I could find the newspaper clipping because yours truly was in the photo with him!
Anyway, he did a masterclass with us, conducted us, did Q&A, all of us 15 year old girls swooned over him, and then he showed us his awesome violin and how much it was worth. At the time he only had a $1 Million dollar Stradivarious, now he has a $4 mill one.
Then he got super famous after that.
Then when I was 25 years old, I worked at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle for the Seattle Symphony. I was in the education department. It was an underpaid office-rat type of job, but it had its benefits because I got to go to as many free symphony concerts as I wanted, meet famous musicians, and I got to play piano and violin all day long.
I met Joshua Bell once again. Once in the artist lounge at Benaroya (I was on break and he was getting a concert hall tour), and then again after his concert that evening. I stood in a long line of people with my date, waiting to get his autograph and shake his hand after the concert. I kept rehearsing in my head what I was going to say to him when I finally got up to him. ”Hi, you probably don’t remember me, but you came to my high school orchestra when I was 15.” Wait, is that going to make him feel super old? Or maybe he won’t remember and he’ll just look at me confused? And then all of a sudden it was my turn and all I could muster out was “Hiiiii, you did a really great job and it’s so nice to meet you.” with a huge star-struck grin.
He had a wet noodly weak handshake. I will say that. And I wasn’t super impressed with his black untucked collared shirt and black pants. It made him look slightly like Luke Skywalker. But other than that, he’s great and I would say we’re pretty much BFF’s. Although, I don’t know if he knows my name, and I think he lost my number, and we don’t really have any immediate plans to say hi again in the near future.
There is my famous musician story of the day – Joshua Bell.
Read more of Famous Musician Week here.
Where’s my private studio with a lock on the door? Just teasing. This is what it’s like for me to compose and practice most of the time. Half of the time my 2 year old is hogging the keys and so I can’t even play the notes that I need to. But I encourage it because I’m teaching him to love music and I hope I never have to tell him to “stop practicing”. But I know what you’re thinking – no wonder it takes her forever to put new albums out, right? lol Thanks for still loving me
P.S. Yessss my piano needs to be tuned desperately!
Yesterday I got a very special package in the mail.
And not just any chocolate, but a huge box of lovely Swiss chocolate. Of all sorts of varieties – some I have never even heard of before.
So now I have enough chocolate to last me at least a year, and my new friend Maron in Switzerland is playing my sheet music.
Sometimes there are trades that are worth your time. Chocolate is always worth my time. And making new friends is as well.
Thank you Marion for the sweet package.