Once again, six energetic musicians traveled to rural and scenic Trinity County in Northern California for our annual winter retreat in the Trinity Alps. This is always a bit of an adventure, but this year topped all the rest.
Our weeklong retreat at the beautiful farm of Justin Brown and Ellen McGehee in Hyampom, California was just what we needed - a week of great home-grown food, unlimited time for rehearsing Beethoven, and a break from traffic, cell service, and emails. El Nino also made an appearance - dropping rain and snow on the area consistently that limited our activities to indoor music-making relieved by trips to the wood-fired hot tub looking over Hyampom valley.
After a week of this pleasantly serious rehearsals and preparations, we were ready to share our music with the communities. We played for a packed house in tiny Hyampom's Community Hall, a program featuring two major works from Beethoven's late period - the Violin Sonata, Op. 96, and the String Quartet, Op. 127.
The drive to our next program in Weaverville was beautiful and a bit dangerous - with the rain starting to turn to snow the musicians crept along mountain roads and passes trying to keep from sliding off the cliffs into the wilderness. After safely arriving in the Weaverville area, we warmed ourselves with a big fire and a pot of chicken soup at the Arttus Ranch, a 3 bedroom vacation rental generously donated by our sponsors Dennis Arttus and Lorrie Gallagher.
Our second concert in Weaverville was another great success, with the seats full of locals and visitors from "over the hill" in Redding, all who braved wet and stormy weather to enjoy an evening of stormy Beethoven.
The next day, Saturday, we set out westward, toward to Pacific and the coast town of Eureka to present our final concert of the tour. Today the weather and the land would give us our biggest challenge yet - and yet it would become one of the most gratifying and memorable days this festival has seen in its 5 year history.
Between Weaverville and Eureka, state highway 299 winds its way alongside the wild and scenic Trinity River. It is always a nice drive, but this time we came to a full stop and made way for Caltrans plow trucks and bulldozers to clear a landslide that had blocked the road.
After waiting for four hours, Caltrans announced the highway was closed "indefinitely" and advised all travelers to use an alternate route. The only problem was, the best alternate route was a 4+ hours drive through Hayfork and Fortuna, taking highways 3 and 36 back to the coast. We called our hosts in Eureka and decided to postpone Saturday night's concert until Sunday at 12:00 noon.
Back in Weaverville after the sun had gone down, we sought refuge with our longtime friends at Indian Creek Lodge. Not only did they offer our weary travelers free beds for the night, but they invited us to their new restaurant, the Cafe at Indian Creek with Trinity County's hottest new chef Scott Boone. Scott and his staff fed us a delicious dinner, and then we once again brought out our instruments and offered "musical desserts" to the other diners and the staff at Indian Creek.
The next morning, we arose at 6am, an hour few touring musicians ever see, and set out through pouring rain on the long detour to Eureka, making it our venue at the Morris Graves Museum of Art with an hour to spare. Janine Murphy, the programs manager at the museum had met with our audience the night before and told them all about our delay and the postponement. Thankfully, nearly everyone came back the following day at noon, as well as a handful of folks who heard about our landslide adventure! Our musicians were weary and felt as though they had surmounted great challenges to get here, yet those feelings transmitted surprisingly well to performing late works of Beethoven such as these.
After the concert, we enjoyed a final meal together, then set out on the long drive back to San Francisco, needing to get violinist James Keene back to SFO airport for his redeye flight back to his home in New Jersey.
It was a trip none of us will ever forget!
We would like to thank our 2016 season sponsors, with special mention to the folks who helped us this past week! Please consider making a contribution to help future programs such as this one at www.TrinityAlpsCMF.org/donate
Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival
Trinity County, CA