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I hate humidity, but every time I go back to NYC I am reminded of all the things I absolutely love about it. When I moved there when I was 18, I never thought I would leave. So It was great to be back at the New York City Classical Guitar Society, a non-profit organization that hosts concerts, monthly meetings, and now a 30-person guitar orchestra. Its president and fearless leader, John Olson, has done an amazing job growing this group over the years, and it was fun to see many familiar faces and meet new folks that were not part of the society when I used to frequent the meetings as a student.

I was privileged to be the first artist on the Salon Series this season to play in a new venue for the society - the WMP Concert Hall in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. An unsuspecting city block from the outside, it turned out to be a charming little hall with beautiful hardwood floors and gold detailing on the walls, elegant and acoustically vibrant. I was able to play very softly when the music called for it, not worrying that the audience wouldn't be able to hear me, which made me feel like I was creating moments of great intimacy with these 50 or so people that had come to share the evening together. It is a wonderful feeling to realize that your hands, your fingers, your strings and frets can come together just for these short little snippets of time and bring people into the world that a composer created. And for the Emilia Giuliani pieces that I start my program with, it felt absolutely appropriate to be playing in a salon atmosphere where projection was not my enemy. Really, it felt like the space was made for classical guitar!

Some photos from the concert, courtesy of Don Witter, Jr., who you can always count on sitting in the first row at any New York City guitar performance. Will try to upload some video from the concert soon!

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I also gave a talk about Emilia Giuliani, a composer that now feels like a close friend and companion (even though she is dead and that sounds a little creepy!). Delving into the details of her life and sharing my research about her work with people is really exciting! I get a lot of great comments from many guitarists out there who had no idea that Mauro had a daughter, and how they really love her music and want to learn it. Knowing that I may have brought new knowledge and a fresh program to voracious listeners is incredibly satisfying to me. I also sold a good number of CDs, which is always nice!

So what else did I do in NYC last week? Caught up with friends, family, a visit to my alma mater, and - oh yes, the MoMA! I haven't been for years, so I went and brought my 1 year old daughter with me. Here she is snacking with some water lilies. And it always surprises me how small Starry Night actually is in person. Overall, a great trip!

 
 
Ah, New York.  The fast pace, the cabs, the delis, the grit, the grandeur, the cold.  The efficiency of public transportation.  Even for this transplanted Angeleno, its charms still haven't worn off.  I had an amazing time there a few weeks ago and am only getting to putting up photos now after a busy week in the recording studio back here in LA!  I go back to NY often enough that it still feels a lot like home, but this time it was slightly different because I brought a little tourist with me... 
Here's my sweet girl visiting me in the green room at the 92nd St Y.  I kept imagining what it was like for her to be experiencing all the sights, sounds, and smells of New York for the first time, and it made me feel a bit like I was seeing the city for the first time through her eyes even after living there for seven years.

The Y was generous enough to give me a full hour for a sound check since I was there a couple days early.  A sound check is a meditative place for me.  It's a sacred time where you get to just listen like you never do at home in a space that will only sound that way temporarily.  It will not sound the same once it is filled with people, making this place of solitude even more private and awesome.  I hungrily soaked in every minute of the hour and played my loudest, my softest, my favorites, and my hardest parts of the program.  I asked for the house lights to be exactly as they would be for the concert.  And then I just imagined being there with the energy of the crowd - and had fun!
What a lovely hall to play in after seeing many, many concerts there myself when I was a student in NYC.  The Guitar Marathon is a really special presentation at the Y - it's a part of the New York Guitar Festival and features a whole 5 hours of classical guitarists presented back to back all interwoven with a common theme.  Here I am warming up in the ladies' dressing room.  I had a great time chatting with the lovely Zaira Meneses while we both waited for our turn to play.  (photo courtesy of Emon Hassan)
This year's theme "Bell' Italia" was chosen by co-curators David Spelman and Elliot Fisk, two amazing advocates of the guitar.  It was emceed by John Schaefer of WNYC, who briefly interviewed all the artists before we played.  A friend of mine got a shot of me on the monitors in the foyer outside.  I look a little dazed...we weren't prepped too much on the interviews ahead of time so it brought me back to my Junior Miss days of thinking on my feet in the spotlight (ok, that's a story for another time...)
I think I was talking about Emilia Giuliani.  Probably, since I played a 20 minute set of her music!  I also played a duo set with Jason Vieaux, a brilliant, intelligent musician and all around good guy who graciously filled in for my former teacher, Bill Kanengiser.  I didn't get all that many photos during the concert of course, but we did take a "cast" photo afterwards in the green room.
It was a blast to be there, and check out a preview of the documentary that is being made about the event by Emon Hassan of GuitarKadia on the New York Guitar Festival blog here.