Catching Up With Carla Moore - Part One

Carla Moore

Hello dear PBO friends! Carla Moore here, PBO’s concertmaster. I am writing to you as I gaze out my office window, the sun finally making its way through the smoke and haze from the latest disastrous California fires to offer a feeble light. I miss all of you so much – my dear colleagues on the stage and in the office and you, our wonderful audience.

It has been almost half a year since I left Portland to return to my home in Oakland, California after giving what would be, out of necessity, PBO’s first virtual concert! These 5 months have been filled with many of the activities I usually partake in when I have time off—spending time with my family, cooking, gardening, hiking. What is missing for me is my core, what makes me tick: the intellectual and artistic delights of playing music with my colleagues for you, the audience. I realize now how lucky I have been to be able to create a life where I could do those things on a full-time basis, in-person.

I began these past five months slightly lost. I had never been home so much. Usually, I’m on the move whether it be traveling to the airport or driving to Berkeley for a day of rehearsals. Like many other musicians I have been hearing from, I decided to focus on some projects I have always wanted to accomplish. I began learning the six Cello Suites by J. S. Bach on viola. I have always admired these Suites and marveled at their simplicity compared to the Violin Sonatas and Partitas, which can be so gnarly with finger-twisting chords. It turns out that these Suites present a whole different set of problems to grapple with! How delightful! What a wonderful way to while away the afternoon! I also decided to learn both viola parts to Bach’s Brandenburg No. 6. I was fortunate to be able to take out my daughter’s viola, languishing in the closet, and put it to good use. Excited to share what I had learned, I planned a socially distant gathering in my backyard to play through the Brandenburg.

Over the course of the following few weeks, I was pulled into a world of which I know little: microphones, recording software, camera angles, lighting, home audio acoustics, and audio editing. How-to guides had to be perused, colleagues quizzed. While some musicians embrace electronics, some of us are less interested in what these tools have to offer, relying more on delegating those tasks to others when necessary. It’s a new world now in this regard and we all must delve into audio technology. In addition, the upcoming season for arts organizations has to be re-imagined, with musicians having to advocate for our part in the difficult process. Unemployment and arts grants needed to be applied for. When will concerts be allowed? When will venues open? Will the audience want to come once they are open?

My husband and I had plans to travel to England in July, staying for a portion of our trip in Monica’s lovely Lake District home. A wood-burning hot tub of all things! Pandemic plans took over and my husband and I found ourselves joining the Sierra Fiddle Camp as online students. I have always admired Alasdair Fraser’s amazing playing and here was an opportunity to learn from the master himself. We attended classes, listened hard, and practiced our fiddle tunes, me on my modern violin and my husband, Ted, on guitar. Cajun and Hardanger fiddle tunes were a plus! This is one of myAlasdair Fraser favorites.  Here is the cool hardanger tune we learned from Guro Kvifte Nesheim, another teacher at the camp.

A few weeks later, my pandemic musical activities came tumbling down. Stay tuned for the next installment…including gorgeous hikes, winemaking mayhem, and a little pollex problem!


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