10 Travel Tips for the Internationally Touring Musician

Manaus1)  First, purchase luggage that has a lifetime warranty.  It might be pricey initially, but being able to fix luggage pieces that get badly beaten during travel will prove highly effective in the long run.  Another sound investment would be purchasing locks for every luggage you travel with.

 

2)  Adopt a “zen” attitude during travel.  You have to go with the flow no matter what happens, because everything WILL happen.

 

3)  Bring projects to complete during plane rides.  For example, this article is being written while flying from San Francisco to St. Louis.  Makes the time go faster and yes, it’s a form of multi-tasking.  Be sure to have an extra phone battery charged and ready to go.  National USA airlines don’t usually have ports to be able to charge up equipment like the (awesome) Asian airlines do.

 

4)  Invest in noise cancellation earphones.  Yes, they’re not cheap, but they are totally worth it.  the last thing you want is to be in a crowded plane with babies screaming all around you or being forced to listen to an annoying loud conversation next to you.

 

5)  Try to pack as light as possible.  You can always wash clothes in the sink overnight.  I have lost my patience traveling with too much gear.  It’s very liberating to travel slim.  Keep in mind that you can always purchase whatever you might find missing.

 

6)  When changing time zones, like going from USA to Asia, use caffeine and Advil-pm’s to help adjust to the time zone quicker.  There’s nothing more frustrating than jet-lag.  It’s ok to use caffeine to stay awake when your body time clock is still at home where everyone is sleeping.  And vice versa, when you need to get some sleep and it’s the middle of the day back at home, take an Advil-pm to ensure a restful sleep.

 

7)  Booking multi-destination flights is usually cheaper than booking a simple round trip.  Add a city and perform an extra concert AND the flight will be cheaper.  It’s a win win situation no matter how you look at it.

 

8)  Pack everything in ziplock bags.  This is the best way to keep like-items together and organized in your suitcase.  Only pack clothes that are wrinkle and iron free.  Develop a system for where each item has a special place in my suitcase this way you can ensure “easy” access.  This makes packing and unpacking easier, too.  Always pack 2 to 3 days prior to leaving just to make sure you haven’t left anything behind.  Keep a general list of Things To Take On Tour in you computer and read every time while packing to make sure you don’t leave anything behind.

 

9)  Airplane food and airport food are the worst as there are no healthy vegan restaurants and rarely anything vegetarian, so pack plenty of healthy bars.  After going through TSA, stock up on plenty of water in order to stay well hydrated.  Get to the airport with plenty of time, two hours minimum.  Research ahead of time if any countries you will be touring in require a VISA.

 

10)  Always have the name of the hotel you are staying or take a hotel business card from the front desk.  If you are jet lagged in a foreign city, you want to be able to have something to show the taxi driver in his language.  Most taxi drivers in foreign countries do not speak English.

 

 

TRAVEL WARNINGS

Beware of packing heavy hand luggage.  Some airlines will demand to weigh your carry-on bag and if it exceeds the allotted weight amount, they will force you to check your luggage (Lufthansa, LAN Chile, Air Tahiti Nui, Air Malaysia).  I often carry my most fragile equipment with me and these airlines have given me a lot of grief over my “over weight” carry-on luggage.  It makes no sense to me as the luggage fits under the seat and I don’t understand what difference the piece makes whether it’s loaded with baggage or in the cabin, the weight is the same.  But alas.

Children’s scissors are considered a deadly weapon in the airport in Thailand.  They’ve taken these from me on two separate occasions.  The airport in Sydney confiscated my precious gold hairpin given to me by my best friend on my birthday.

 

TRAVEL BONUS

I love to add a mission to every trip.  This how I started my flute collection.  Everywhere I would find myself, I made a point of finding The Flute of The Area I was in.  I have over 100 flutes now in my collection.  Going on these personal treasure hunts were fun and made each trip that much more special.  Currently, my mission is providing a Community Service element to my foreign tours.  I have been offering performances at orphanages which most recently included Bali and Philippines.  I get great satisfaction out of seeing the beautiful smiles on these children.

 

Viviana in Santiago de Compostela, Spain:

 

 

Viviana in Egypt:

 

 

Viviana in Antarctica:

 

 

Viviana at the Acropolis:

 


Feel free to add more travel tips of yours in the comments below!

(Re-published with permission from  The Flute View Magazine, 2/2014)

Calaveras County, Mexico & TEDxTalk

10252006_10152388416749578_2358884766754473129_nTours to the Gold Country and Mexico

 

It is always with great pleasure that I accept performance opportunities in California’s Gold Country.  For me, it is like stepping back in time.  I enjoy staying at the Historic Hotels like the National Hotel in Jackson, CA and the Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill, CA.  This area is peaceful and makes for a wonderful get-a-way.  I feel at home when I pass through Chili Gulch which is the plaque that honors all the Chileans that came to this country during the Gold Rush.  I love the fact that Mark Twain wrote about the Frog Race that still takes place in Murphys, CA.  There are antique stores everywhere that reminisce about days gone by.

 

I started off the intensive weekend by giving a talk at the TEDxConstitution Drive (Menlo Park) posted below “From Body Casts to the Stages of the World”, after which I performed for the German American School Fundraiser in Los Altos Hills.  Then I was off to the Gold Country where I performed at the Petroglyphe Art Gallery in Mokelumne Hill, CA.  My hosts, Denise Ebbett and her grandchildren Daniel 6, McKenna 12 and Dylan 9, made me feel right at home.  The audience was super warm and appreciative.  After the concert I had a fantastic meal at the Hotel Leger and slept beautifully in my candlelit room with balcony and fireplace.  The following day I taught a Masterclass at the Bret Hart High School which was sponsored by Altus Flutes.  I get a kick out of teaching and the kids always love experiencing my “Intro to Beatboxing” instruction.  We all had a great time.  I drove home only to re-pack my bags the following morning at 4am…. for Mexico!

 

I flew to Puerto Vallarta and immediately, THE SAME DAY, I had to perform.  That was really “cutting it close”.  But it’s all worth it when I get a standing ovation from 2,000 cheering people.  I collapsed to sleep that night from exhaustion.  I had a great day in Cabo San Lucas where it was a cloudless, spectacularly brilliant day.  I chose to go snorkeling.  What a treat!  Although, it was not Tahiti where I was Scuba Certified, it was refreshingly amazing.  The tip of Cabo San Lucas is always a breathtaking sight.  From the teal colored waters, to the natural arch and caves, Cabo is always an enchanting panorama.  I had a lot fun creating the James Bond Spoof that you can view on my Facebook page.

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Flutes by the Sea Masterclass & Concerts

FBTS VFBFlutes by the Sea Masterclass & Concerts 

 

I was born on the ocean.  I live on the ocean.  I work on the ocean.  It’s no surprise that The Flutes by the Sea Masterclass would take place near the ocean as well.  The ocean provides an inspiring backdrop for music making.  Creative people need the soothing, refreshing and rejuvenating aspects of the sea.

 

Flutes by the Sea Masterclass is designed to energize and inspire the young adult, high school student, college student, semi-professional, professional, recreational and retired flutist.  Last year we had Juilliard professor, International Soloist, Carol Wincenc.   This year we have Barbara Siesel and Fluterscooter also teaching the Masterclass.

 

Attending the event who will be showcasing their merchandise as well as performing and leading workshops.  They include the following (in alpha order):

 

Janelle Barrera, President of the LA Flute Guild, will be conducting the Flutes by the Sea Flute Choir which will rehearse everyday at noon.  Janelle will also be performing on the Thursday night concert, June 12

 

Fluterscooter, Co-Founder/Editor of The Flute View Magazine, will be showcasing her elegant Fluterscooter Flute Bags.  She will be performing on Wednesday and Thursday nights during The Flute View Trio Debut Concert.  Fluterscooter will also be teaching and giving the lecture she presented at The Juilliard School, Building Your Brand Business of Music Lecture.

 

Viviana Guzman, Founder of the San Francisco Flute Society, Co-Founder/Editor of The Flute View Magazine, will perform as a soloist with the Magic Flutes Orchestra at the opening concert on Sunday night at 7pm as well as for The Flute View Trio Debut Concert on Wednesday and Thursday nights June 11 and 12 at 7pm.

 

Tracy Harris, Founder of the Wynfall Flute Choir and Wynfall Music Studios will perform on our final Gala Concert on Thursday, June 12

 

Jane Lenoir, Berkeley Choro Enemble, will conduct an Intro to Improvisation for Classical Musicians.

 

Teresa Orozco & Orlando Castro will present their Latin Music on Wednesday night.

 

Barbara Siesel & Keith Torgan, The Green Golly Project, will be teaching an Acting for Musicians Workshop and Barbara Siesel, Co-Founder/Editor of The Flute View Magazine, will be teaching and she will be performing Wednesday and Thursday nights during The Flute View Trio Debut Concert.

 

Joanna Tse, of Just Another Flutist, a popular YouTube Channel, will  be giving a lecture/demonstration on How To Start Your YouTube Channel.

 

Other guest performers include Audrey Boyle, Anita Chandavarkar, Ai Goldsmith, and Abigail Sten who will perform on Wednesday June 11 at 7pm.

 

Among our Distinguished Flute Choir Directors, we will be hearing each of the following SF Bay Area Flute Choirs at the commencement of every 7pm concert:

 

Flutes by the Sea Flute Choir, Janelle Barrera, Director (with the Auditor Participants)

Magic Flutes Flute Orchestra, Pamela Ravenelle, Director

Xtreme Flute Choir, Pamela Ravenelle, Director

Bel Canto Flutes, Gail Edwards, Director

Oriole Flute Choir, Gala Yaroshevsky, Director

Avant Flute Choir, Gala Yaroshevsky, Director

The Class Pianists are Dmitriy Cogan and Svetlana Harris.

 

Every morning I will conduct a Meditation for Performers Workshop where I will cover basic techniques for overcoming performance anxiety.  After this, we will begin with the Flutes by the Sea Flute Choir rehearsal with Janelle Barrera followed by the Masterclass from 2pm to 3pm where I will listen to classical flute repertoire and also conduct the following Workshops: “Just Intonation”, Intro to Improvisation for Performers, Intro to Beatbox Flute.  From 3pm to 4pm Barbara Siesel and Fluterscooter will guide the students with their unique teaching and guidance.  The 4pm to 5pm hour each day will feature a different workshop / lecture with various topics from Acting for Musicians with Keith Torgan, Improvising for Classical Musicians with Jane Lenoir, How to Start Your YouTube Channel with Joanne Tse.

 

We will have the following Flute Exhibits:  Altus Flutes, Brannen Handmade Flutes, Green Golly Flutes, The Flute View Magazine, Fluterscooter Flute Bags, Gary Lewis Flutes, Straubinger Flutes, and West Valley Music.

 

Every night there will be a Concert 7pm which is offered for FREE to San Francisco Flute Society Members.

 

We look forward to seeing you at this years Flutes by the Sea Masterclass.

 

Flutes by the Sea by Lars Howlett

 

Flute Moments in Taiwan and Philippines

Teaching BeatboxBullet train from Taichung to Taipei
I played my concert last night at the Tunghai University in Taichung. I had a marvelous time listening to all the students, sharing with them and exchanging smiles, bows and salutations. The Taiwanese people have been so generous, warm and kind with me. They are such hard working and talented people. Above all Evelyn Chien blew me away with her numerous creative talents.  She accompanied me on piano.  In addition, she is a flutist, composer, and artist extraodinaire.  Her latest album Andante Orange is beautiful! And Amber touched me with her sweet warmth and beautiful soul. I feel so thankful that so many wonderful students showed up for the Masterclass in Taipei hosted by the KHS ProShop and Altus Flutes and expertly translated by the wonderful Taiwanese flutist Yi Hui Lin. Many thanks to Mark Dannenbring who hosted my stay at the Tunghai University.  Thanks to Nancy Huang who made it to both of my events:  the Masterclass in Taiepei and the Recital in Taichung.  And thank you to Auriana Shih playing so beautifully during the masterclass at the Tunghai University as well as for driving me to the station on my last day in Taiwan.   It’s been such a terrific week of learning, sharing and music making…. I am so grateful to be sharing my music with the world.

Taipei

After Flutopia Flute Festival in Manila
I’m writing now from the plane from Manila to San Francisco. What an amazing tour this has been. First, I was blown over by Taiwan, it’s people, it’s great talents. Now I’m left speechless over by Manila! First and foremost, I have to thank Marie Poblete for her tireless dedication to producing and promoting the Flutopia Festival. She has worked countless hours planning every detail making sure that the event went smoothly. I enjoyed seeing old friends like Lyndie & David Leviston from Australia of (Flutes and Flutists and the Australian Flute Festival) and Kalaya Phongsathorn from Thailand (Baanflute and Thailand Flute Masterclasses) and meeting new ones like Nikki Dionisio and Leonila Bondoy. I arrived in Manila and was introduced to my magnificent hotel, the Diamond Hotel which over looked the ocean. I felt like I was on Miami Beach as the color of the water is the same! The morning breakfast buffets were spectacular.   Since breakfast time in Manila was dinner San Francisco time, my stomach really appreciated being able to choose from tasty Indian, Chinese, Filipino and American menus in the morning.

FlutopiaOn my first day, I had an all day rehearsal first with Marie Poblete (Founder and Director of Flutopia and Principal 2nd Flute in the Philippines Symphony Orchestra)  & pianist, Ruth Livioco, as we were playing Gary Schocker”s Three Dances for 2 flutes and piano. Then I had a rehearsal with the fantastic pianist Dr. Raul Sunico and the wonderful guitarist, Ruben Reyes followed by a rehearsal with the Flutopia Orchestra. I love days when I can spend the day rehearsing. I was in heaven.

The next day was the first of 3 days of the FLUTOPIA Flute Festival. I kicked off the event with a morning Meditation for Performers where I offer tips and tools for overcoming stage fright. This was the same morning that I heard John Brian Feliciano during the Rising Stars Morning Concert. He is a phenomenal talent and he’s only 11 years old! If you haven’t already heard him through my Facebook page, I encourage you to do so. He is quite remarkable!! There were several very talented young Filipino flutists including the Gary & April Silangcruz Family and their musical children: Jean Galway, James Pierre, Josh Rampal, Juliana Paula, all named after the famous flutists, Jean-Pierre Rampal, James Galway and Paula Robison! I was also impressed by Franz Feliciano who performed his Bach A minor Partita…. memorized.

BrianOn Day 2 & 3 of FLUTOPIA “Flute Revelries” Festival 2014 I heard some of the wonderful young adults during my masterclass. In particular, John Tanjusay Armenta blew me away with his Chant de Linos by Jolivet, with his complete technical mastery, beautiful sound and musicality. The Gala concert is where I performed with Dr. Raul Sunico, Ruben Reyes, Hercules Santiago, and the Flutopia Flute Orchestra. It was a tremendous success. Thank you Manila for giving me some Rock Star moments as the Recital Hall lobby was filled with fans seeking autographs and photos of me. Thank you everyone from the CCP who helped bring me as your Guest Artist.  Thank you for Ching Danseco for taking such good care of me backstage and with running the stage crew during the events, rehearsals and the concerts.   I partied with some of the girls after the concert at my hotel. We barely slept, but we had a great time. Thank you to all who contributed to the magic that is FLUTOPIA Flute Revelries 2014.

 

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Jet Lag Tips

TaipeiWe are creatures of habit.  We are used to sleeping at certain times and eating at  other  times.  When we change time zones, our bodies resist our “normal” routines.  In order to successfully overcome jetlag, we must consciously resist our body’s regular schedule.

It is important to start thinking in the new time zone prior to take off.  Sometimes, I even start my re-programming a few days before leaving by going to bed earlier and earlier  (or later and later depending on which way I’m traveling) prior to the date of travel.  Since often I have huge amounts of items to complete before leaving, I have been known to pull an all night-er before the day of travel.  My goal is to be completely exhausted before boarding the plane.  I wear loose fitting clothes, eat a nice meal before leaving, drink loads of water and I set all watches to the new time zone.  The important thing is to start thinking in the new time zone even before arriving to it.  While I’m waiting to get on the plane, I take an Advil PM (or Melatonin or Ambien) and I request a window seat knowing in advance that I’m planning to sleep the entire trip.  Once I board, I put on my noise cancelation headphones, and tell the stewardess that I will not be eating any meals (they are tasteless anyway and full of fattening pasta and bread).  I put my carry on bag under my feet to use as a foot rest which keeps my feet elevated.  By now, I am completely exhausted and ready to sleep.

When I land, the most important thing is not to give in to the desire to sleep.  I use caffeine to assist with this as well as exercise and other outdoor activities.  Another important item is to continue to drink liquids as flying completely dehydrates the body.

The first day in the new time zone is always the challenge.  I suggest doing something fun.  Explore a place you’ve never been to before.  And try to go to bed as late as possible without taking a nap (this is very important!).  Before going to sleep at night, take two Advil PM’s to ensure you sleep well and through the night.

Without taking these steps, it used to take me 5 to 7 days to adjust to a new time zone.  I remember once while touring Norway, I never even switched time zones as it just felt like my body refused to co-operate.  Ultimately, it’s a decision that you make.  If you decide you want to adjust quickly, you will.  On this last trip to Asia, I landed and immediately had rehearsals, Masterclasses and concerts.  I HAD to adjust.  And guess what…. I did!

8 Travel Tips for Machu Picchu

Semanas V & MahaniI was excited to perform again at El Teatro Del Lago for Semanas Musicales in Frutillar, Chile.  It was Semanas Musicales 46th season.  The festival spans 16 days and my recital was set for the last day.  This is probably the most beautiful theater in the world as it sits at the foot of a lake that overlooks a snow capped volcano.  It is simply breathtaking.  Now combine this with Bach, Piazzolla and Faure, and yes, I was in heaven.  My performance was filmed to be broadcast on Chilean TV in April.  So all in all, the packed theater, warm reception, standing ovation, sold out CD sales, it was a huge success and I was thrilled with the outcome.

Because my husband had never been to Machu Picchu, I decided to escort him on an unforgettable excursion to the ancient mythical city of the Inca.  We spent the night in a gorgeous 1800 style hotel in Lima, the Hotel Antigua Miraflores.  We visited the Cathedral with it’s captivating cavernous archways and musty, sinister crypt, complete with uncovered bones.

PeruAfter Lima, we took the one hour flight to Cuzco, the ancient capitol of the Incas, which is located at 11,000 feet above sea level in the heart of the Andes.  The whole area which spans 200km  is enchanting.  We stayed at the Hotel Arqueologo which was conveniently located close to the Plaza de Armas on the main square next to the Cathedral.  We visited the Cuzco area highlights including, Pisa , Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, Chinchero, Urubamba, Aguas Calientes, and the various Cuzco artisan markets.

Machu Picchu is not easy to get to.  There is no road to get there.  Everyone is forced to take the train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes on PeruRail and from there take the bus up to Machu Picchu.  My dream was to film a music video in Machu Picchu.  But the “authorities” would not allow it!  I was taken in like a criminal, finger printed and forced to turn over any footage.  They even erased photos of me and my flute!  Schmucks!  I’m sure they were after money, but I refused to pay them anything for taking video of myself playing my flute.  The nerve!

Peru5Following are some Travel Tips for Machu Picchu for anyone who might be visiting the area in the future.

8 Travel Tips for Machu Picchu

1. Best time to visit Machu Picchu is from June to September.  Rainy season is December thru April and the road often washes out.  My tour guide said that in 2010, tourists were unable to visit Machu Picchu at all for 4 months due to the over flowing river wash out.  Be sure to pack an umbrella if visiting November thru March.

2. The two major airlines that fly to Cuzco are Lan.com and Taca.com.  At the airport in Callao (next to Lima), you can also book flights via StarPeru.com and Peruvian.pe

3. To avoid the crowds, April, May (avoiding Peruvian rainy season) and September, October, November at the best times to visit (avoiding North American summertime).  Hotel prices are much lower.

4. If price is of no concern, I suggest staying at the Tambo del Inka Resort & Spa.  It offers a train ticket directly from the hotel to Machu Picchu.

5. You can book various tours from any of the tour centers that circle the Plaza de Armas.
To book day trips, out of Cuzco I recommend Peru Treks.

6. Stay away from food that is not cooked and drink only bottled water.

7. Ask before taking a picture of the locals.  If they are dressed in their traditional dress, they will most likely ask (and expect) a tip for it.

8. Travel with clean, crisp bills as they reject foreign money with the slightest rips and tears.  Good news is that there are ATM machines everywhere.

Lastly, learn from me, don’t try to make a music video in Machu Picchu!

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Concert in Easter Island, Chile

1497653_10152132448209578_129065440_nThis year started off with a bang.  On January 2, 2014 I boarded a plane to Easter Island, Chile.  The plane stopped in Santiago where I had a very long layover, so I visited a local music store and purchased some flutes (why not?!) and then went to visit my aunt for an hour.  I made my way back to the airport where I was the happy recipient of a First-Class seat on LAN Chile to Easter Island.  What a treat!  When I landed in Rapa Nui, as I disembarked the plane and walked to the airport terminal, there was a rainbow in the distance.  This MUST be a good sign, I thought to myself.

 

The air was balmy, but not too hot and humid, it was perfect.  I was greeted by a very friendly islander, Salvador who told me he was a direct descendent of the last King of the Island.  He took me to my hotel where I dropped everything off in my room and looked for something to eat.  It was in the complete darkness, outside on the way to the dinning room that I found myself with my pianist/collaborator and Easter Island native, Mahani Teave.

 

1525756_10152147293614578_943287094_nWe had a lot to catch up on as we hadn’t seen each other since she had performed for Flutes by the Sea with me back in July 2013 in California.  We discussed the several upcoming tours that we have in Chile and Asia, while we ate some fantastic empanadas and watched the local children’s dance and music groups perform until after midnight.  We then headed to the church to practice until 3:30am.  We walked back to my hotel in the pitch darkness, along the coast, listening to the waves crashing in the dark night.

 

1011780_10152147293444578_734233696_nThe next morning around noon I made my way to where Mahani was staying which was right next to a row of colossal MOAI.  It was a breathtaking vista, to approach first a horse with the epic statues in the distance and then stand right next to them.  It was a dream come true for me as I had been wanting to visit Easter Island and it’s magnificent statues since I first read Thor Heyerdahl’s book when I was 10 years old.  We started filming right away as it was a spectacular day, with the formidable ocean crashing ardently in the distance.

 

1522340_10152147294234578_862150405_n-1Mahani’s friend Tiare came and picked us up to take us to the most awe-inspiring Moai of the island.  We passed wild horses, she explained how all the statues face inland and pointed out the ones that had been knocked over by rivaling tribes.  We spent the day filming and then rehearsing.  That night I ordered room service, took a bath and slept very soundly.

 

1604578_742931885718432_95971791_nI woke up early to make it to the church on time for that 9am service.  The native choir is a splendid group who sing with the passion and zeal of the oceanfront Moai.  Mahani and I rehearsed a bit.  And then with Tekena and Kimai, the students of the Music School of Rapa Nui, who both play violin.

 

The concert was very well attended and we all got a resounding standing ovation at the end.  It was such an honor for me to be performing on Easter Island.  I was struck by the incredible beauty and grace of the people of this island.  Visiting this remote place was one of the most impressive destinations for so many reasons, the vistas, the people, the statues.  I was in heaven!

 

After the concert, Tiare took us to visit one of the three volcanoes.  I was speechless after experiencing the fierce power behind this site.  But it wasn’t just the volcano that was intoxicating, the magic was everywhere, the ocean, the statues, the mystery, the history, the people…. everything.

 

It was a very quick trip for me as I was boarding and working on the Oceania Cruise Line as a Guest Entertainer and my ship was leaving.  I was leaving this precious island, with a burning feeling that I am going to return…. very soon.

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Return to Philippines

IMG_1468After flying 3 hours from Bangkok, I arrived at 4am in Manila where Marie and her friends picked me up in her minivan.  Off we went on our Grand Adventure.  I had no idea what was in store for me.  We drove 3 hours to a port, where we boarded a ferry for an additional 2.5 hour ride.  Once we landed in Marinduque, we drove another hour or so to the Malindig Institute where I was greeted by the students from the music department.  I played a little and and the school band conducted by Joewel Catahan, performed for me.  But most importantly, I met the Directress, Mrs. Divina Reynoso Preclaro or “Mamalove” as she is affectionately known, the beneficiary and curator of the Malindig Institute, a private school in Marinduque, Philippines.

 

Flutes at Sand BarThen I was whisked onto a tiny motor boat with our gang, PPO members Marie Poblete, Ernani Pascual, Jerry Samonte, Ariel Sta Ana, Ding Dong and the Directress’ family, Ramfel & Dianna Preclaro and her beautiful teen daughters Ylyzza & Jieanne.  We spent two stunningly gorgeous days on a very remote island off the coast of Marinduque which is home to 130 households.  Early in the morning at 6am, Ramfel took us to the “sand bar” which is only high enough to receive visitors in the early morning during low tide.  This exquisite white sand beach with crystal virgin warm waters was the highlight of my year.  It was paradise found.  I wanted to stay forever on that sand bar.   We took pictures and swam in the invitingly warm, clear waters, but the tide was rising.

 

PPO at the BeachOur hosts made sure we were well fed at all moments of the day and all the delicious meals were fantastic.  Marie and I rehearsed for our upcoming presentations.  It was a gorgeous time of complete “relax” before heading back to the busy life in Manila.  Sadly, we had to leave our paradise isolated island.  On the Tuesday morning we left, Ramfel saw on his phone that a typhoon was scheduled to hit on Friday.  Little did it sink into any of us what an understatement his prediction actually was.

 

537304_645970422090738_451833989_n After the 45 minute boat ride back to the island of Marinduque, we went back to the school.  Upon arriving, I noticed that the students had all gathered…. to greet me!  OMG!  It was quite the amazing reception.  They made me feel like a Queen!  The band was playing and all the 300+ students were waving Chilean and Filipino flags…. that they had made themselves!  This was so special for me.  I was tearing with joy.  They made me feel so special and so welcome.  Ramfel had even scheduled a massage for me as he knew how much my body craves a healing touch.  But how could I get a massage when I could be teaching music to the children?!  I held a short convocation for the student body that poured out of their main double classroom.  Marie and I performed and I played and showed my Flutes of the World.  After this presentation, I decided to hold a Flute Sectional.  The kids lined up for miles just to get my autograph.  It was so sweet.  Thank you Malindiq Institute for making my visit to the Philippines so special.

 

1393691_687832207907744_1563759258_nWe spent the entire Tuesday traveling back to Manila.  Wednesday, the Ambassador of Chile, Mr. Roberto Mayorga took me to the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage for Girls, where I presented a short music program with Marie.  Here, again, the students made me feel so special as they sang and danced for us.  Again, the reception was so warm and generous. Then, a few of the English students, read out loud their impressions after having attended my concert 6 weeks prior when I played as a soloist with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in Manila.  I felt ever so touched by their kind words, that I decided to donate a NUOVO flute that I had purchased in Bangkok to them.

 

It was the resounding beauty and generous spirit that the PPO musicians, Marie, Ariel, Hernani, Ding Dong, Bilog and then the Malindig Institute founder Mamalove and her children Ramfel and Dianna to my Manila friends, the Ambassador of Chile in the Philippines who is so committed to the people of Philippines and the Sisters at the Orphanage and all the wonderful, beautiful and smiling faces of the Filipinos, that I will be performing two fund raisers for the Victims of the Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).  I will be performing in the San Francisco Bay Area in Milpitas on November 29th and then in Los Angeles area on December 6th.  It is with a very heavy heart that I witnessed the horrors of the aftermath of the Super Typhoon.  The Filipino people have won my heart and I have no other option but to try to offer what I can in return.  Thank you Philippines, from the bottom of my heart. Benefit Concert Milpitas

Back in Bangkok

MilkWhat a simply amazing experience it was!  I visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand just 2.5 hours north of Bangkok.  This is a Buddhist Monastery where one of the monks rescued a tiger and this is how the story begins.  More and more tigers came and now there are over 100 tigers in the temple.  My first adventure was being able to feed 3 month old tigers.  These babies were so cute and acted just like our domestic house cats.  They played, they jumped, they drank milk, they slept and they liked to be petted.  Then I went down the canyon where there were about 20 tigers.  They had just been fed so they were ready for their afternoon nap.  This is where we were allowed to have our picture taken with the resting majestic felines.  What a treat it was to be so close to these magnificent creatures.  cubThen there was exercise time where most of the tourists were asked to leave and those of us who had paid for the experience, watched as the tigers were taken for a swim and played with using very large, improvised with plastic bags and sticks,  of the cat toys we purrrrrchase at the pet store.  It was indeed one of the most thrilling adventures of my life.  If you ever find yourself in Thailand, visiting the Tiger Temple is a must.

 

walkI was graciously brought into Siriporn’s house in the suburbs of Bangkok where she lives with her Aunt Pia.  Siriporn is a flute repair woman as well as a flute teacher and I was fortunate enough to hear one of her 7 year old flutists.  As I have a huge penchant for flutists under the age of 10 (made possible only recently with the onset of J-style flutes), it was a really joyful moment for me.  Siriporn took me out to a restaurant overlooking the river which was unique, and had a rustic feel to it and the food was delightful.  After spending the weekend with her, I was taken to Hua Hin where I was to perform with the wonderful, Malaysian pianist, Shuenda Wong.  Bangkok Recital PosterWe stayed at the Hyatt Regency in it’s plush, oceanfront, resort rooms.  Turns out that Hua Hin is a popular Swiss and Swedish retirement area so the hotel offers dinner and a concert once a month.  Shuenda and I were the guest artists this month.  After we performed, we stayed an extra 2 days to enjoy the resort services.  I treated myself to an incredibly plush massage within the resplendent walls of the spa area made to represent ancient Arabic Temples.  Since I’m a huge fan of massages, the Hyatt’s spa area architecture alone on the property was worth the trip to Hua Hin.

Upon my return to Bangkok, Kalaya Phongsathorn’s Baanflute hosted me in a Flute Masterclass where I got to see many of Bangkok’s rising flute talents including the Vanilla Quartet.  Next we had two days off to practice and rehearse for our concert which took place at the Siam Ratchada Auditorium.  The following day, I had another lovely massage at Burberry’s near the Holiday Inn with Pat (highly recommended).  After which, Siriporn came to pick me up to take me by boat to the Wat Po Reclining Buddha Temple.  After sightseeing, we had dinner with Kalaya, Siriporn and their friend.  I was sadly taken to the airport by Mr. Mongkol after having met his lovely wife Dong and beautiful daughters the night before.  Every time I leave this wonderful area and it’s smiling peoples, I anxiously await my return to Magical Thailand.

 

Bangkok Flute Charge

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Soloist with the Philippines Philharmonic

soloist2What an amazing week this has been!  I landed last Saturday morning and was picked up by a chauffeur, Oscar in a BMW as I was being hosted by the Ambassador of Chile, Roberto Mayorga and his family.  The Ambassador graciously greeted me when I arrived at 6am at his house.  We chatted a bit and he mentioned that he was going to visit an orphanage at 10am.  Even though I had just landed and I was on a different time zone altogether, I never pass an opportunity to bring music to an orphanage.  So later that morning he and his lovely wife, Paulina, whisked me off to the site and I played for them.  What a moving experience!  The girls were such an appreciative audience!!!  They even sang for me!!!  Their bright smiles and generous enthusiasm simply made my day.

 

Ambassador of Chile, Roberto & Paulina Mayorga

Ambassador of Chile, Roberto & Paulina Mayorga

The Ambassador of Chile in Philippines lives in a spectacular mansion.  I felt most honored to be staying as their guest.  The house staff and the Ambassador’s family made me feel more than welcome.  Mangos for breakfast lunch and dinner were a particular treat for me.  The entire household made sure the kitchen was fully stocked with these delicious fruits at all times!  The breakfast nook came complete with waterfall and koi pond.  I was in HEAVEN.  My practice room was

12 Tamarind by Paulina Silva Mayorga

12 Tamarind by Paulina Silva Mayorga

the Ambassador’s elegant dinning room usually occupied by Heads of State and other Diplomatic Officials.  What a treat and what terrific acoustics.  Last but not least, were the nightly massages that were provided.  The Filipino culture has a huge massage component and the massages are super affordable for the foreigners.  Since I grew up in body casts and I continue to have physical challenges, I really need a massage every night.  And finally I have found a haven where I can have two hour massages every night and not feel like I’ve spent my entire earnings to do so.

 

Jon-Jon 10 year old Filippino Flutist

Jon-Jon 10 year old Filippino Flutist

I spent my week rehearsing with the orchestra and teaching Masterclasses.  The first class was for the Filipino Youth Orchestra flute students which included the 10 year old sensation Jon Jon.  The Filipino Youth Orchestra is gracefully managed by the wonderful pianist Jovianney Emmanuel Cruz.  The second Masterclass was organized by Marie Poblete, flutist of the Philippines Philharmonic, and took place in the Green Room of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.  All the students were wonderful at showcasing their talents and love towards the flute.

 

Backstage with Edgar and Nilia

Backstage with Edgar and Nila

Working with Maestro Olivier Ochanine was definitely the highlight of this trip.  His energetic, magnanimous, and kind spirit make for a supremely engaging and inspiring musical director.  His leadership makes Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra sound like a dream.   Maestro Ochanine really knows how to bring to the stage the passionate Filipino nature.  And this essence is not only beautiful and enchanting but also wonderfully contagious.

 

Olivier Ochanine & Viviana Guzman in front of Concert Poster

Olivier Ochanine & Viviana Guzman in front of Concert Poster

 

I felt overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the Filipino public.  Thank you for the standing ovations and for wanting to hear not just one but TWO encores!  I thoroughly enjoyed bringing the Percusssion Section (thank you Leo, Gomer, Ding Dong, Amy) to the front of the stage during my Flutes of the World presentation.  And a special shout out goes to the Flute Section (thank you Hercules, Gary, Marie). Maestro Ochanine and the orchestra’s Tchaikovsky and Liszt were fantastic as well as the Dukas Fanfare that opened the concert.

 

All in all, I sadly now leave this beautiful country and it’s gorgeous people.  I have been deeply touched by so many individuals during my stay here.  Thank you to everyone.  Salamat Po!!!!!

Viviana Guzman with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

Viviana Guzman with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

After concert with Olivier Ochanine and girls from the Orphanage, and the Ambassador of Chile, Roberto & Paulina Mayorga

After concert with Olivier Ochanine and girls from the Orphanage, and the Ambassador of Chile, Roberto & Paulina Mayorga