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  • Writer's pictureClaudia

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a few days ago and haven’t stopped since I got here. Rehearsals are going full steam ahead for solo and chamber recitals, followed by a concert with the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Guayaquil—the city’s youth orchestra apprenticed to the professional state-run orchestra—under the baton of Manuel Campos.

With the orchestra we’re preparing for tomorrow night’s concert, a program with the world premiere of my husband’s arrangements of Astor Piazzolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (the four seasons in Buenos Aires) and Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in F Minor.

The students here are fantastic. Their willingness, exuberance and joy at making music is infectious. And even more charming and endearing is how they call me “Maestra” at every turn. Now I've never been one to insist on formalities—I think only my university students call me “Doctor Knafo.” But these students are so earnest that it's hard not to find this heart-warming. Especially when during rehearsal breaks, some of them beg for a coaching session.

Abigail is one such student. She's a cellist in the orchestra and also plays piano. She's been made to feel that she doesn't emote enough in the romantic repertoire. She asked for some help from me, and we had two lovely working sessions. She emotes just fine, by the way, and she shows such a willingness to take input. Her story is that she’s getting ready to move to the Ukraine to study for the next six years. This kind of courage is amazing; she is ready to pack up her life and move half a world away! If only we could bottle this lack of fear…

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