Unscripted and in the Moment

written by Ann Christen, resident of Philo, CA

My husband and I have always loved music. When we lived in San Francisco, we had season tickets to the symphony and to a baroque orchestra. Those evenings were highlights of our life there. When we moved to the Anderson Valley there were other pleasures, but live music was not one of them! We attempted to compensate by having a wonderful audio system at home...in fact, for his retirement present my husband bought some high end speakers and set up a special listening area in our home.

Last winter we were having dinner with some friends who knew of our love of music. They had attended the first session of Gabriela’s Music Appreciation class that she was volunteer-teaching at the Anderson Valley Adult Education School, and they insisted that we join them the following week. Are we ever glad that we did!

We were absolutely blown away with Gabriela’s class: her amazing talent, her warmth and enthusiasm, her accessibility and openness to all our questions, etc, etc. She brought music alive to us in a way it had never been before. After each class we received an email with a recap of the class along with numerous links to relevant videos and articles. I took several music appreciation classes in college, but never learned as much, and certainly never had as much fun!

Gabriela’s leadership and teaching style appealed to all of us in class, but another highlight, and one that is not likely to be duplicated elsewhere, was the presence of many visiting musicians in class. Young composers joined us and talked about the experience of learning to create music. Talented professional musicians came to class and, in that intimate setting, played music and shared their stories. Our conversations were far ranging....how does a classically trained musician become interested in “new music, ” what is new music anyway, how did they choose their particular instrument and why.  It was truly refreshing and inspirational, their candor was delightful, and we left each class eager for the next.

And now, as Gabriela has begun developing her music academy, all of the residents of the Anderson Valley can enjoy this outstanding caliber of music and musicians.  A couple of weeks ago we attended a concert where five young composers presented original compositions for the first time on the Bueno Yabbelow Music Series with cellist Joshua Roman and violinist Johnny Gandelsman. We were treated to an evening of fascinating new music. We could see and feel the excitement of the composers as they introduced their pieces and then heard them played for the first time. After the concert most of us stayed for a Q&A and we were able to talk to both the musicians and the composers. These unscripted, in-the-moment conversations, bring music alive.

Thanks Gabriela! How lucky we are to have you as a part of our community.

Gabriela Lena Frank