Arizona, TX, CA, MN, KY (Feb. 2008)
Dear Readers,

Welcome back and thank you for visiting my journal. This past month has been a most exciting and unusual one. I was to perform five different programs in very different veneus around the country.

It started with a concert in Tucson, Arizona where I was to give the world premiere of a new work for saxophone with string quartet. It was composed by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Ellen Zwilich and turned out to be a really terrific work. The head of the concert series commissioned this for me several years ago, so there was a great sense of anticipation from everyone involved. Also, it was my first time working with a string quartet, which turned out to be an absolute blast! With the concert morning free, I spent most of it sight-seeing the famous (and enormous) Arizona Saguaro Cactus (each 15-50 feet tall!). The concert that night went very well and was extremely well received by the audience. It turned out it was recorded for radio and TV broadcast (in HD, no less) - which should be interesting to see.

The following week took me to San Jose, California, where I performed two concertos with chamber orchestra (by Villa-Lobos and Glazunov). It's always a terrific feeling to be invited back to a series - I had performed here about 2 years ago - so it felt very much like returning home to a place I already knew. It's hard to describe, but the moment you walk on stage, you feel like you already know the audience and they know you - like you can just continue where you left off. The hall here is one of the most intimate I've performed in awhile, with the audience literally 2 feet from you, which makes this feeling all the more obvious.

The next concert with the Wichita Falls Symphony couldn't have been any more different - it was in a huge, cavernous 3,000 seat theatre. I performed the Ibert and John Williams sax concertos (based on the movie "Catch Me if You Can"), which uses an enormous symphony orchestra. In a hall of this grandeur and with the energy of an orchestra this size behind you, whatever intimacy may be diminished from a smaller hall is easily made up for in pure adrenaline energy and just plain excitement from the audience.

Finally, this brings me to where I am now -- San Antonio, Texas. I came here last night with my piano partner to perform a recital downtown. The program included works by Rachmaninoff, Piazzolla, Morricone, and more. There's truly something uniquely satisfying about putting on a full 1 1/2 hour show, from start to finish. Having arrived the night before, I had the entire morning free before the late afternoon concert, so I explored the famous San Antonio Riverwalk (which is startlingly tranquil on a Sunday morning). The concert went extremely well and the audience truly couldn't have been more receptive. Afterwards, we went out for dinner with the series host, before heading back for a very early morning flight.

Soon I will be off to Minnesota, where I am to perform another program, followed by two recitals in Kentucky. I will be sure to add those photos, too.

I'm sitting here at at the airport on my way back to Chicago. It's about 5:30am(!) and it seems they're about to start boarding so I should head over. I sincerely hope you enjoy the photos and thank you for visiting my website. Until next time...

Yours truly,
Ashu
Tucson, Arizona
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50 ft. Saguaro cacti
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Arizona mountains
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Cactus covered mountain
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Green field of Cacti
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Very prickly gazebo
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Walking through the cactus Fried bread Quaint church
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View of the stage Empty hall before the concert Rehearsing with string quartet
Wichita Falls, Texas
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Looking out from the stage Before the concert Outside the hall
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Flowerbed of Texas The hotel room
San Antonio, Texas
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San Antonio River Walk more River walk and another view
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Outside the hall Spacious hotel room
San Jose, California
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Lit up theatre, showtime Empty stage My hotel room
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Looking down from the plane ...and higher up On the plane with my laptop
Minnesota
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In Concert Warming up beforehand Rochester river
Kentucky
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Another hotel room Outside the concert hall Driving to the next concert
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