Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Trip to Texas

Warm weather. Great food. Invitation to play music. Who could turn down an opportunity to go to Texas? Certainly not Dylan and me.

Earlier this year, Dylan, mom, and I flew to Laredo, Texas for a gig. We played at the Rising Stars program at a school for children who had never heard Irish music before.

Every year, a woman named Toni, puts together a program with a few young musicians. Some come from Texas but others travel from different states. This year Dylan and I were chosen to perform. Usually the musicians chosen are ones who play classical music. However, we were asked to change up the program a bit by playing Irish music--something new to the audience.

When we arrived in Laredo, Toni greeted us at the airport and took us to our hotel. She is the type of person you only know for a few minutes, but feel like you've known your whole life. She gave us the warmest possible welcome to Laredo.

After settling into our hotel room, she drove us to a cute store in the area where she thoughtfully purchased each of us a gift of our choice. I chose a package of beaded friendship bracelets and a Southwestern design bag. We drove to rehearsal and met the Irish dancers, Sarah and Jocelyn, with whom we would be performing. They were a few years younger than me, but we became fast friends.

When we finished with rehearsal, Sarah, her mom, Eimer and Katrina (the dance teacher and her daughter), my mom, Dylan, and I went out for some great Mexican food. We ended the night watching movies back at the hotel.

The next day was show day! We were led backstage where we met another one of the Rising Stars. Her name was Skye and she was to play a few classical pieces on the violin.

The middle school orchestra from Laredo began the concert. Afterwards, Skye's performance of a piece by Paganini was breathtaking in her technical execution of the difficult notes Paganini incorporates into each piece. When she finished, we were welcomed onto the stage by a very enthusiastic audience of children from the school, and asked a few questions by the conductor of the orchestra. We told the kids a bit about Irish music, then began with a set of jigs. Dylan and I have never really played for an audience not familiar with Irish music. That was the best part about performing at this venue. We got to introduce something completely new and exciting to hundreds of people.

After the concert, we went in the auditorium for a Meet and Greet with most of the kids in the audience. We signed autographs for everyone, and took some pictures.

This performance was such an amazing experience that I hope to take part in again.

On Saturday, Toni drove us to San Antonio for a visit. When we arrived at our hotel, we said our goodbyes to her, then toured around for a bit. First we went to see the Alamo then took a long, rainy walk to a Mexican restaurant that was farther away than we thought. After eating, we went to the Riverwalk, which was so beautiful. Dylan has recently been getting into photography, so he took a few pictures.

The next day, we found a few activities to do in an amusement area. We went on some haunted rides, then saw the Guinness Book of World Records Museum. We toured more for the rest of the day at the Buckhorn Museum and Saloon where we saw the Bonnie and Clyde car and a really creepy taxidermist exhibit and sideshow. 

Texas was such a fun place to be and I hope to visit The Rising Stars concert and the state itself again sometime.

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