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Xalapa …

Is a city in Mexico, in the state of Veracruz. An orchestra of almost 100 people, all professors at the university. Their musical schedule is similar to any major American orchestra — one big classical program every week. Last week was Sibelius 6, this week Sibelius 1, next week Sibelius 3 (yes, they’re doing the whole cycle). They have a brand new hall on the way. The city is beautiful, nestled up in what seem to be sub-tropical mountains. The amount and variety of trees, plants, and flowers are stunning. I spent a wonderful afternoon two days ago at the house of an old friend, Carlos Villarreal, who plays in the orchestra. He has a great audio set-up and we spent hours listening to great music. I just discovered the Mosaiques Quartet (they know the weight and value of every harmonic move in Haydn) and the symphonies of Rosetti. And since his stereo was serious there was of course some Mahler and Wagner.

I’ll be conducting the orchestra in concert in a few hours, and will be able to tell you more about the audiences, etc. I also have some pictures but I forgot to bring the connecting wire — so that’ll have to wait for a few days.

My airplane reading was The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which is as good as everyone says it is …