Here’s the part where I tell everyone how quickly the time has flown during my first year in Paris – an overused cliché, but true nonetheless. After a whirlwind year, things are finally slowing down enough for me to breathe and get caught up on some much-needed blog posts and updates. Instead of a long-winded account of my year, I thought it would be better to choose 10 meaningful photos from this past year and say a little about each one. (Disclaimer: Some photos are from my travels and aren’t technically in Paris.)
I would be remiss to not include a photo of Philippe Cuper, who is the main reason I moved to Paris in the first place. I consider Philippe Cuper one of the best clarinetists in the world, and I am thankful every day to have the opportunity to study with him at the Versailles Conservatoire. His high expectations and attention to detail have pushed me to new musical heights this past year, and I can’t wait to continue my studies with him next year.
56 Rue Lepic, aka Vandoren, aka clarinet nirvana. This photo was from my first visit (of many) to Vandoren. Not only is Vandoren representative of quality musical equipment, accessories, and sheet music, but also the people at Vandoren who I have gotten to know throughout the year who have helped with my every musical inquiry (not to mention general suggestions for places to go, things to do, and people to meet in Paris). It was here that I got the opportunity to meet several clarinet superstars, including Martin Fröst. If you are a clarinetist or saxophonist, 56 Rue Lepic is a must-see on your next trip to Paris.
Although I don’t play the chalumeau (at least not very well), this picture reminds me of the significant musical history in Versailles. Every day at the conservatory, I glance out the windows overlooking views of the Palace of Versailles, and I am awed at the history surrounding me.
One of my most memorable musical experiences in Paris thus far has been performing Armando Ghidoni’s “Jazzy-Celtic Suite” for clarinet and piano (or harp). I have gotten to know Mr. Ghidoni throughout this past year as I have researched his clarinet compositions, and this photo was taken after my solo recital at the Fondation des Etats-Unis. His music is unique, quirky, and imaginative, and I look forward to continuing my research and performances of his music next year.
My close friend/clarinet partner-in-crime Kristi Hanno came to Paris for a week in March for our Mélomane Duo Recital. Out of all my time in Paris, I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard or had as much fun as when she was in town. When we weren’t preparing for our recital, our adventures included eating copious amounts of chocolate, a visit to the Chat Mallows Cat Café, a day trip to Fontainbleau, and other miscellaneous adventures around Paris. I’m so lucky to have met this talented and amazing friend by chance in West Virginia, and I hope our musical adventures continue far into the future.
Speaking of cat cafés, this was my first visit to a cat café (Le Café des Chats in the Marais). I’m an unapologetic cat-lover, and although Paris has an abundance of dogs, cats are harder to find in Paris. Hence my semi-regular pilgramages to cat cafés for much-needed feline therapy. The cat in this particular photo took a strong liking to my sweater and spent most of the night burrowed in it, only leaving when it was time for his dinner.
Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to visit Scotland – specifically Loch Ness. I am fascinated by cryptozoology, and the legend of the Loch Ness Monster lured me to a vacation in Inverness. I visited Loch Ness on an uncharacteristically sunny (albeit chilly) day without a cloud in sight, and there was a silence so deep it could only be found in unadulterated nature. This photo represents the realization of an item checked off the top of my travel bucket list, and I hope to check many more places off in the future.
During my vacation in Inverness, I visited the Highland Archive Centre. Part of my Scottish fascination stems from my family lineage in Scotland, and I was so happy to have had the chance to research my genealogy. The scarf I’m wearing is supposedly linked to the Maclay clan (or perhaps just a clever tourist gimmick), but nevertheless, it protected me from the brutal Scottish temperatures in February.
Another cryptozoological fascination of mine? Stonehenge! The second half of my UK vacation consisted of a visit to London and a day trip to Salisbury, where I also saw one of the original Magna Cartas at the Salisbury Cathedral.
This photo was taken on a separate trip to the UK, this time for a competition. This is in Mayfield Village in East Sussex – smack dab in the middle of the English countryside. At the competition, I was the highest-ranking clarinetist and got to meet Andrew Marriner, principal clarinetist of the LSO. Besides the competition component of this trip, I still dream of the full English breakfasts at my quaint bed and breakfast and the amazing afternoon tea and crumpets at the local cafés. Paris may have the monopoly on chocolate, cheese, and wine, but England is unparalleled when it comes to tea and English breakfasts.
I really enjoyed sharing my favorite memories from this past year with you! I am so thankful every day for the opportunity to study clarinet in France. If you had told me when I first started playing clarinet in 5th grade that it would one day take me to Paris, I would have laughed in your face. There are some days where it still seems surreal that I am living in my favorite city in the world, and I am eternally grateful for this incredible opportunity.