From Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4, Mammoth Lakes was my home office with incredible views.
My travel companion was fellow pianist, piano teacher and CSUN Alum, Gayla Giddings. I couldn’t have asked for a better mate.
We set out originally to attend and cover just the Unbound Chamber Music Festival. However, as luck would have it, Mammoth Lake’s Open Air Arts & Crafts Festival was happening the same weekend. Other fun events found themselves on our to-do list, so I decided to turn this blog into a mini travelog for my readers and hope it either brings back fond memories or entices you to visit Mammoth Lakes and make new ones.
DAY 1: Friday, August 2, 2019
With temperatures climbing above 100 degrees in the Valley, Gayla and I hit the road for cooler temps, stopping for a break in Lone Pine, and arriving in Mammoth Lakes around 2:45 PM.
A stroll through and a quick bite at the Village at Mammoth was enjoyed before getting ready for the evening chamber music concert.
The Unbound Chamber Music Festival had already begun the prior week. However, my schedule and budget allowed me to only attend the last two concerts of the 2019 season. This was our first time at the festival and we were eager to hear the performances.
Cerro Coso Community College, Mammoth Lakes hosted the concert in their beautiful auditorium. We purchased tickets online and were pleased to find them waiting for us at the door along with the program and a detailed print out on the composers and pieces being performed, written by Rebecca Hang. Seating was first come first served, but premium seats not taken were graciously offered. Gayla and I grabbed two in the front row for the Friday evening performance.
If the performances had been recorded, I would be inserting YouTube links here. Since they were not filmed, I’m pleased to list the pieces in detail in hopes my students and readers will copy and paste the titles on YouTube to familiarize themselves with these remarkable pieces accordingly.
I was slow on the draw when it came to taking photos, missing shots of the first performance but was able to capture the Mendelssohn and Dohnányi performances. I’m pleased to share them with you.
The virtuoso performances were invigorating and inspiring, especially after a long day on the road, getting acclimated to the elevation, climate, and lodging. Beautiful music danced in my head as I nodded off for a restful slumber.
DAY 2: Saturday, August 3, 2019
A few days before the trip, I searched for yoga studios in Mammoth, just for fun. Yoga Lab Mammoth popped up offering a free yoga class Saturday at 9 AM at the Village at Mammoth’s town square! What luck! it was BYOM (Bring your own mat). I brought two – one for me, one for Gayla. The soft-spoken instructor guided us through doable stretches and asanas (I didn’t feel like I was being turned into a pretzel…). A perfect way to start the day.
After breakfast burritos at Toomey’s and a quick wardrobe change, Gayla and I were ready to explore the Mammoth Lakes Open Air Arts & Crafts Festival at Kittredge Sports. The Festival was hosted by Pacific Fine Arts Festivals, founded in 1973. You’re welcome to click the link to learn more about this great organization.
Back for a nap and change of clothes, we were ready to enjoy the afternoon mini-concert.
“The Food of Love” Mini-Concert
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in E Minor K. 304
Violinist Ambroise Aubrun and Pianist Steven Vanhauwaert
Eugéne-August Ysaÿe’s Sonata for Violin Solo, No. 3 “Ballade”
Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre for Violin and Piano
Violinist Ambroise Aubrun and Pianist Steven Vanhauwaert
Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne in C-Sharp Major and Polonaise in A-Flat Major, Opus 53
Cellist Emilio Colón and Pianist Steven Vanhauwaert
After the Mini Concert, Gayla and I had a couple of hours before returning for the concert finale at 7:30 PM. We relaxed in our room, catching up on email and social media.
Since the evening’s concert finale called for more formal attire, Gayla and I were inspired to celebrate accordingly with fine dining at the elegant Greek restaurant,Jimmy’s Taverna. This lovely restaurant occupies the upstairs of a building on Old mammoth Road, along with a Chinese restaurant, Red Lantern, downstairs. Do not judge a restaurant by its building. Jimmy’s Taverna exceeded our expectations. Excellent cuisine and service. If only they had a location in the San Fernando Valley…If you venture to Mammoth Lakes, be sure to plan a meal there.
After that divine dinner, we arrived back at Cerro Coso College for the Finale performance of the Festival. As luck would have it, a seat near the front of the preferred seating area was unclaimed. I grabbed it in order to be able to take somewhat decent photos. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a second seat for Gayla who graciously sat wherever she could find a seat.
“Perfect Chemistry” Finale
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sonata for Piano 4-Hands in F Major, K. 497
Pianists James Winn and Steven Vanhauwaert
Works for Cello Ensemble arranged by cellist Emilio Colón:
Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto from his Symphony No. 5
Johann & Joseph Strauss’ Pizzicato-Polka
Leroy Anderson’s The Typewriter
Cellists Emilio Colón, Thomas Loewenheim, Brian Schuldt, Cara Colón and SAM Students
Typist Steven Vanhauwaert 🙂
Alexander Borodin’s Sinfonia for Strings in D Major
Violinists Jun-Ching Lin, Rebecca Hang, David Porter, Li-Yuan Ho
Violists Theodore Kuchar and Ambroise Aubrun
Cellists Thomas Loewenheim, Cara Colón, and Brian Schuldt
A lovely reception with wine, fruit, and desserts was held after the concert. After having run around earlier that day, Gayla and I (not party animals, sadly) headed back for another restful night’s sleep.
Brilliant performances by master musicians in a stunning alpine setting. The Unbound Chamber Music Festival and Emilio Colón’s fantastic shirts were a memorable experience that just might become an annual habit.
DAY 3: Sunday, August 4, 2019
As Gayla and I packed for the drive home, we were determined to take our time and play tourist.
Before leaving town, Gayla introduced me to the Mammoth Brewing Company and their delicious freshly brewed root beer. That meant taking home a jug dated stamped that day. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!
We tried to visit Rainbow Falls but at the trailhead, rangers advised that entry was only by bus. Not wanting to wait for the next bus, we ventured to June Lake and its Silver Lake Campground instead. Gayla and her family had camped there, so she knew her way around. The refreshing views were worth the drive.
No Mammoth trip is complete without a stop into Erick Schat’s Bakkery, Bishop, California. Super crowded, but the freshly made coconut macaroons were worth the wait.
I am grateful to Gayla for her excellent driving, navigation and willingness to share a room in a cheap motel, without which this sojourn would not have happened. My deepest admiration for the marvelous musicians and their artistry, dedication and passion. Our culture is richer because of you.
I hope my readers and students will consider attending the Unbound Chamber Music Festival next year. Perhaps plan a caravan and take over a condominium. Stay tuned!
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Pastimes For a Lifetime Art and Piano School is located in Valley Glen, California. 818-766-0614. School is open Tuesday – Saturday year round, except for major holidays.
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