Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bolt for the BSO Challenge

Dear blog readers,

Now that the BSO's season (and other ensemble's seasons that I am involved in) is in full swing, and my kids are all settled in their schools, and, after I spent many hours on the phone with a not-to-be-named company whose name starts with the letter V and finally got my phone and Internet service troubles squared away, I promise to write more often, like I did last season. To help me with that, I propose to you a unique challenge: if you donate $25 or more (and do feel free to be more generous:) to Bolt for the BSO (see more on that in a recent entry below) in my name, you will buy yourself a right to ask me to write a blog (not just 2-3 sentences, I promise) on any topic that you choose, music-related or not. I know, I'm really putting myself on a limb, but wonderful people that organized this effort are working so hard on this, and I feel like this is a great opportunity to help from my end in this unusual way. As soon as I see your donation (I get a notice of it right away), I will write to you and ask you to post your topic of interest on the blog (as an answer to this post), or send me an e-mail with a topic, and I'll write a response within a few days.

And speaking of the season being in full swing, don't miss this weekend's performances with Yan Pascal Tortelier, one of our favorite guest conductors, as he leads us in Sibelius' atmospheric Fifth Symphony (with a most dramatic ending) and Elgar's powerful Concert-Overture named In the South (as in Italy, which is the South to Britons). Cuban pianist Horacio Gutiérrez, who is an old friend of the BSO (we have produced several recordings with him under the baton of David Zinman), will play Mozart's opera-induced Piano Concerto No. 19 (make sure to listen for quotes from his operatic opus in the last movement!).

Check out this YouTube video of Tortelier, whose father was the eminent cellist Paul Tortelier, as a young and virtuosic violinist in a performance of the difficult La Tzigane by Maurice Ravel:

-Ivan Stefanovic

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bolting In Montenegro

Hi, Ivan here.

I just wanted to clarify why I started this blog with "Dear fellow Bolters". Bolters, as I named ourselves, are members of the orchestra, administration and friends of the BSO who are running in the 2011 Baltimore Running Festival in October. We are members of Bolt for the BSO (hence "Bolters"), an organization that was started last year by a BSO Governing Board member in order to raise money for the organization.

We were very successful last year, and plan to be even more so this year. The fun aspect of this (other than running) is that you can sponsor me by going to this page:, or any of us on the home page:

Thank you all for being our supporters in so many ways!


Dear fellow Bolters, I have spent the last couple of weeks in beautiful Montenegro (part of former Yugoslavia), where my sisters and I used to spend our summers in our parents' house, built some 50 years ago. I'm here now with my family of five (my wife Jennifer and our three boys), and also my older sister and her two children.

After recuperating from an overnight train trip from Belgrade to the Adriatic Coast which took much longer than anticipated due to some technical problems, and taking a few days off from training, I started running again.

My parents' place is located on the beach of a beautiful town called Sveti (Saint) Stefan, whose crown jewel is a unique city-hotel situated on a rocky island (now connected by a small bridge to land) that originally housed fishermen, starting around the 15th century, and now houses the rich and famous that can afford it. To get to that spectacular view and the beginning of my running path, there's a good warm-up in the form of a few stairs between the beach buildings. Then I am greeted by this view:

Next comes a downhill, with views of spectacular mountains just being touched by the sun, through these tall pines:

Further down, ok the side of the road, I take note of the newly ripe wild blackberries, which I consume on the way back:

The same fate awaits these figs:

In the middle of my path, I come upon two gates like the one below, which used to be stationed by guards watching over the royal grounds.

Montenegro used to be a kingdom, and the king's palace is still standing on a beautiful stretch of beach, now also turned into a luxury hotel:

Next is the tiny and precious Queen's beach, where one can imagine she could escape from her husband's ramblings about his prowess:

At the end of a longish uphill, the rays of Adriatic sun haven't yet reached the cozy fisherman's village of Pržno, where the catch of the day means literally just that in the beach-side restaurants, as the seafood is brought right to them and then presented to patrons on big circular platters for their perusal, in place of a menu:

Upon my return, I usually get right into my inflatable kayak that I travel with, and meander over to some isolated beach in the stillness of the early morning for a refreshing swim, as I await the sun to reach over the mountains into the blue-green water:

Then it's time for a jog up many stairs to the village for some fresh bread, eggs and oatmeal, and a hearty breakfast. A great way to start a day, get exercise, and then continue the "cross-training" with spear fishing, and more swimming, kayaking, climbing over rocky islands, and general beach fun with my wife and our three boys.

My batteries will, I trust, be fully charged and ready to go for both the Bolt for the BSO Half-Marathon in October, as well as the next great season of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

-Ivan Stefanovic