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Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA.

Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA.

Sooner or later this was bound to happen….

We have an important meeting in Big Sur about our next LA International New Music Festival. Our friend Virgil Blackwell has relocated from New York City to Highway One on the Pacific Coast after taking care of Elliott Carter during his final years. 

Since my blog is now read in 74 countries and has 3,100 followers, I’m looking forward to sharing tips about the Golden State in numerous blog posts as we go “on the road” to Big Sur. Wineries. Landscapes. Seacapes. Rock formations. Farmer’s markets, more wineries, restaurants and a few days in San Francisco.

Wish you were here…..

The view outside Jan's family home in New Jersey two weeks ago.

The view outside Jan’s family home in New Jersey two weeks ago.

My wife is from New Jersey, as in the house in the photo above. Her father is 89 and she’s been back a few times this winter to visit. So she is no stranger to the cold winter, and we’ve watched in burring amazement at the frigid winter this year. These were about the same temperatures in the 1930s that prompted my mom to abandon Minnesota for Hollywood. If you were going to wait tables at the end of the Depression, why not wait on Marion Davies and Douglas Fairbanks, Gregory Peck or Carole Lombard?

The start of the Santa Ynez Valley outside of Santa Barbara.

The start of the Santa Ynez Valley outside of Santa Barbara.

So I’ll warm you up with some new posts taking you through the Provence of the United States as we travel to Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley on our way to Cambria, Paso Robles Wine Country and the legendary Pacific Coast Highway 1 from Ragged Point to Big Sur.

Time for some California eye candy!

Vineyards on Foxen Road.

Vineyards on Foxen Road.

California wines gain each year in quality and distinctiion. For all of my international readers, stay in touch as I’ll be pointing out favorites of mine after years of visits. One recurring theme of my blog is that musicians’ know the best places to eat. And so being at home gives us the opportunity to move beyond trial and error. If you follow my advice (as some of you have in Hanoi) you won’t go wrong!

Here’s a glimpse for you…

Foxen Winery, a glimpse into the old Prohibition days.

Foxen Winery, a glimpse into the sneaky old Prohibition days on a back road.

Benjamin Foxen is a character worth knowing about. You’ve got to admire a 19th century British expat who escapes to the Santa Ynez Valley, no kidding. The winery is a must stop for the atmosphere alone!

You will then get to Cambria. Stay on Moonstone Beach as you prepare to travel the Most Beautiful Road in the World to Big Sur the next day.

Moonstone Beach.

Moonstone Beach.

As you travel north, you’ll want to observe California sea lions at Piedras Blancas.

Piedras Blancas.

Piedras Blancas. Enlarge to get a good look at the seals on the beach.

And yes, we have sunsets in California….and our dreamer reputation is easier to comprehend once you’ve been here…..

Dreaming of California?

Do I have you dreaming of California?

I’m saving photos of The Coast Route for later (guilty of click baiting you!) but you will eventually arrive at Big Sur. You won’t forget it and will be speechless (Lou Harrison is the best soundtrack music for the car ride). Here’s a starter image, but only a starter.

A glimpse of Big Sur. Stay tuned....

A glimpse of Big Sur. Stay tuned….

And now back to work. We are going to Big Sur to welcome Virgil Blackwell to California. He’s relocated here after years in New York City. A wonderful, incredible clarinetist (and responsible for Carter’s fondness for the contra-bass clarinet) here’s a photo of me and the amazing baritone Evan Hughes with Virgil in Carter’s New York City apartment in Greenwich Village. Little did we know that Evan was from Santa Barbara! We had a great session preparing Carter’s On Conversing With Paradise for its Asian and American premiere during the Ascending Dragon Festival in Hanoi and LA. Carter was very supportive of his music being played by the Vietnamese. I was planting a seed that is now blossoming, as you know from numerous blog posts this fall.

Evan Highes, Virigl Blackwell and me discussing Carter's On Conversing With Paradise.

Evan Hughes, Virgil Blackwell and me discussing Carter’s On Conversing With Paradise.

And we have Virgil to thank for this wonderful photo of Jan with Elliott.

Elliott Carter and Jan Karlin.

Elliott Carter and Jan Karlin in January 2010.

Jan and I are excited to see Virgil in Big Sur. And what an inspired idea to relocate to this most beautiful spot on Planet Earth.  From Hollywood’s Silent Era and Golden Era, from Apple and Steve Jobs, John Cage and Lou Harrison, Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg, Terry Riley and John Adams, you are all living in California. Whether you know it or not.

And one other Fun Fact. Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead funded Oliver Knussen’s landmark Grammy Award winning performance of Carter’s Concerto for Orchestra, hailed by Mark Swed of the LA Times as the defining piece of the 1960s.

So there’s no surprise Virgil would wind up in Big Sur. And yes, there is something exciting in the works for the LA International New Music Festival motivating this trip. That’s all I should say for now!

Best, best, best,