It is high season in Naples. There are lots of cars on the roads, the restaurants are packed, the weather is beautiful.
We are kicking it into high gear at Artis–Naples. There are events nightly (and several during the day) and the audiences are engaged and the houses are packed. This week is a particular treat, with two performances by the Vienna Philharmonic (during their residency, they also coached members of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Orchestra) and two by the Naples Philharmonic. Next week I'm giving a talk on the Lifelong Learning series about concert programming. I am also conducting one of my favorite programs of the year, "Overtures." Then there is another week of covering before I get to go home see my wife and child again.
I've heard three orchestras in the span of a week: The Detroit Symphony (last week I covered for Leonard Slatkin for two programs during their Brahms Festival), The Vienna Philharmonic (with Gergiev), and The Naples Philharmonic (where I am assisting Andrey Boreyko). Each orchestra has a unique sound and defining characteristics. The Naples Philharmonic sounds phenomenal right now, and deserves to be in the upper echelon together with other major orchestras even though this is a much smaller community. Bravo to the musicians, administration, and artistic staff who put it all together! Hopefully this orchestra won't be such a well-kept secret for much longer. All who hear it, experience the amazing hall and atmosphere, are transformed.
While it is in the seventies and sunny, I also need to get outside a little bit, and tomorrow I plan to hit some tennis balls in between services. For me, sports and physical activity are a form of meditation. When I'm playing tennis, basketball, or snowboarding or going to the gym, my mind clears out as I focus my energy on the physical exertions at hand. In this way exercise for me is not only physically important, but also necessary for my mental state.