Rochester

The City and the Sea

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I'm reading Emily Freeman's A Million Little Ways right now - so many good words and such a fresh perspective on life and living and grace and art. Created in the image of God, we are called to serve and give and create in a multitude of ways - ways that reflect His glory. The journey to discovering these callings is a personal one and as I read Emily's account of her story, I see pieces of my own journey.

"My life is the city but my soul is the sea."

These words practically jumped off the page when I read them.

We've all had those moments when life feels adventurous and exciting. We thrive on the hustle and bustle of those around us and we feel as if we're on top of the world. Life is big and grand like the intimidating lines and finely-crafted architectural detail of the early skyscrapers, built a century ago and still standing majestically along Main Street. There in the distance - our name in lights.

And then there are those days when we want to hide. When we drive to a place where no one will find us because stepping into the warm rays of sunlight that hit our front steps and facing the world seems too much to bear. Instead of attention and a desire to be noticed, to be known, we long for security, for peace, for stillness. Our souls long for refreshment and solitude.

Rochester is a mid-size city.

We say it's just the right size for us: lots of arts and culture; small restaurants with a cozy, neighborhood feel; and you can get anywhere in about 20 minutes. I've grown used to the refrigerated delivery trucks parked outside on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, the street sweeper, the beeping of the bus as it pauses mid-route at the stop around the corner. There's something comforting about it all - life being lived around you, people coming and going, a sense of community.

But then there are those moments when city life stops for a moment. There's a lull in the traffic on East Avenue. The only other person out walking is far in the distance. The only sounds are those of the birds happily chirping in the nearby crabapple and the wind gently nudging its branches.

I love these moments.

Instinctively, I take in a deep breath. I notice the pool blue sky, the white petals of the dogwood falling along my path, the fluffy peonies larger than the size of my hand. And then I remember that though my life is the city much of the time, my soul is the sea.

XRIJF 2013

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XRIJF_1 Last week, Rochester welcomed jazz musicians from around the world for the 12th annual Xerox Rochester International Jazz FestivalSD and I always love being a part of the crowd at festivals like this - downtown comes alive with good food, good music, and people of all ages.  The Jazz Fest offers a variety of shows - some free, some $20, and a few headliners at $55-$125 per ticket.  We're usually more than content with the shows on the various free stages set up in the streets and we made a plan to visit Gibbs Street (pictured above) for the opening night festivities.

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Friday afternoon, I received an email saying an anonymous donor had donated XRIJF club passes for a select group of Eastman students!  So began our exciting night as club pass enthusiasts.

We hopped in and out of several of the $20 shows (Prime Time Brass, Bill Dobbins, Phil Robson Trio, and Patricia Barber, to name a few), pausing long enough to hear snippets of the groups on the free stages and sample of few food truck wares.  Halfway through the night, we stopped in the middle of Gibbs Street to review the evening's line-up in the program book.  A young couple approached us and asked if we wanted free VIP tickets to Friday's headline show, Pink Martini.  The show was halfway over at this point but we gratefully accepted and eagerly made our way to the crowded hall.  It was AMAZING.  We heard the last seven or so songs, spanning a variety of genres and styles, pinching ourselves to make sure it was real.  We found the couple after the show and thanked them again for giving us the opportunity to attend such a great show!  We walked around a little while longer, happy and overwhelmed with gratitude before heading home for the night.

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We spent the week in North Carolina (more on our trip soon!) but we made it back to Rochester in time for the last night of the Jazz Fest.  After we finished unpacking, we walked down to one of the free stages to hear Trombone Shorty.  The crowd was ridiculous - around 30,000 people - it was so awesome to see so many come out for an event like this!

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The show was great - mostly pop/funk rather than the jazz side of things I know he's sort of known for but we really enjoyed hearing him live and being part of such an exciting finale to this year's Jazz Fest!  We are already looking forward to next year!

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Image credit: personal

Life Lately

Hi y'all!

It's been a little while since I've shared a newsy update with you and I thought there was no better time than the present!  Here's what I've been up to lately and what I have planned for the summer:

First of all, I finished my first year of doctoral work at Eastman - one year down, two (hopefully, two) years to go!

For the past few weeks (and until my summer class starts in July), I've been focusing on a few professional projects (paper submissions and academic CV, anyone?).  I'm also teaching a few piano students.  Have I mentioned that I love having a little bit of teaching back in my schedule?  I am learning so much being back in school and it's been wonderful to be able to immediately apply new ideas related to teaching and learning.

Over the holiday weekend, we visited SD's hometown of Sandy Hook, CT and enjoyed spending time with his parents, brother (who flew in from Utah), and family friends.  Of course, there was enough good food to feed a small village - everything from a southern-inspired menu of smoked ribs, cornbread casserole, and summer berry pudding to a New England seafood supper.  I even held a lobster!  It was wonderful to be "back home" for a few days.  Read more about our weekend here.

Later this month, we're flying south to NC for Music and Worship Arts Week at Lake Junaluska (read about last year's trip here).  In addition to a week full of inspiring worship, seminars, and events, we are greatly anticipating fried chicken and sweet tea dinners and at least one pulled pork sandwich from Bogart's in Waynesville (SD will tell you it's the best he's had).  Then, in July we're heading to Chicago for the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy - I've been invited to present some of my research on creativity in music learning at two poster sessions and SD is graciously joining me for moral support!  (For those of you that may not know, a poster session is an opportunity for people to display their research and discuss it with others in the field.)  I'm honored to have this opportunity to share my work but I'm also thrilled to finally attend this conference!

Despite the lure of summer travel, Rochester is pretty wonderful this time of year.  The restaurants and coffee shops on Park Avenue become open-air in the summer months, spilling out onto the sidewalks with a very European feel (furry friends welcome).  People sit in the park with their paper bag lunches and books to pass the Noon-time hour.  Personally, we enjoy spending time in the late afternoon/early evening up on the roof of our building, admiring the view and relishing the peacefulness of the summer breeze (we're pretty sure it's a slice of heaven on earth).  There are festivals almost every weekend, celebrating everything from the lilacs in Highland Park to jazz to barbecued ribs and bluegrass to the historic Erie Canal.  We made a summer events calendar just to keep track of it all.  Our summer bucket list includes:

- dinner with friends on the roof - a night out at the Jazz Festival - an evening walk + gelato - homemade carrot cake - exploring a few of the neighboring towns during Canal days - Fried Green Tomato sliders - pleasure reading (just finished reading 7, currently reading EntreLeadership) - take-out taste test between the two leading barbecue places in town

Wishing you all a wonderful summer!

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