October 4, 2012
The mandolin conference begins and I am surrounded by people who love my instrument as much as I do. My workshop goes well, it’s fun to eat, chat with old friends, see colleagues also performing here. But my favorite aspect of this event, always, is the lunchtime open-mic. Players from across the country– good, not-so-good, long-rehearsed, thrown together in the past day– get up and serenade us for 10 minutes each. It doesn’t really matter who they are or how well they perform, but I love what they represent– a cross-section of mandolin activity at all levels. An old friend and student from California plays a simple waltz with great joy and delight, a teen-age budding virtuoso over-spurts a Bach solo but manages to improvise his way back to an ending with many folks none the wiser. In an era of celebrities, and with the high level of professional playing here at this event, it’s wonderful to see the amateurs take the stage, showing the true love of music that their name implies, and the enthusiasm that has brought them here.