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2017-05-24 10.34.42

A big thank you to all my blog readers around the world!

Thanks to everyone who reads my blog, all 22,347 of you, from every continent on Planet Earth!

Let me start my post with gratitude to my Top Ten Countries, grouping them in a geographical if not statistical order. Those readers start, naturally close to home since I live in California, with the United States and Canada. Southeast Asian friends and travelers to Việt Nam, Singapore and Malaysia are big readers and then, perhaps, journey to the inspiring Old World of England, Germany and France (which is becoming new again in the 21st century), looking for tips and ideas from my posts. People interested in the vibrant life colors of Latin America join in from Brazil and México. All in all, our readership is in over 150 countries from every continent around the globe.

After almost four years and 115 posts, it’s time for a little upkeep. Let’s welcome my new blog name of Sound Travels!

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Relaxing in the Old Quarter of Hà Nội.

Since I am now dividing my time between my role as Artistic Advisor to the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble in Việt Nam with recharging in California, specifically at home in Pasadena, close to NASA/JPL and the legendary Asian and Latin American influences of the San Gabriel Valley, I thought it was a good idea to respond to my international readership with a new and more accurate title for my posts.

After over thirty years of concert production in the United States, my wife Jan Karlin and I are on an extended sabbatical from our professional activities in Los Angeles, but the door is wide open for our return in the near future. So there is an easy path for another LA International New Music Festival when the timing is right. Creating a new music wave out of Việt Nam in Southeast Asia, however, truly deserves our commitment. Snapping your fingers really doesn’t work out very well, so we need focused time to build a lasting new music bridge between the United States, France and Việt Nam.

And by reading my blog Sound Travels, you’ll be up date on all the next steps! And by scrolling down the page, you can now choose from 104 languages for a translation, if English is not your first language or you want to share posts with your family and friends!


A busy period of time coming up this autumn for me and the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble.

Should you be interested, let me direct you to click on the About Jeff von der Schmidt, the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble and LA International New Music Festival on my blog’s homepage, found at the very top.  I recently updated this introduction and you can read a lot more about my background, which is a blend of my growing up in a restaurant family with my love of classical and new music. Especially if you are new to my blog, you might take a look at my artist biography to learn more about my activities and education.

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Folding egg whites for a chocolate mousse in my mom’s Bain-Marie.

My story telling naturally blends travel, food (keeping in mind our family restaurant), places and ideas into the permanent background of my love of music. Because of what I’ve done with Southwest Chamber Music and the LA International New Music Festival, am doing in Việt Nam, and what I will continue to do with my friends in the Tambuco Ensemble of México, I’ve had the opportunity to travel for work, concerts, meetings, planning sessions, and idea sharing.

And all of those activities take place around a good meal. I’ve never had an idea come from a piece of graph paper hammered out in isolation in a cubicle office (which is good for production needs, not so great for next steps and big dreams).


My wife Jan with Ricardo Gallardo of Tambuco at Tomasso’s in San Francisco this July.

I must admit to being a positive skeptic about the sheer volume of coverage and publicity  that food receives in our media landscape. My attitude is one of irony, as my memory of watching Julia Child with my mom is one of huge laughter. My mom was kind heartedly appalled at Child’s lack of professional knowledge demonstrated in her early French Chef shows. Mom would always tell me that if I acted like that in our kitchen there would be hell to pay, the fussiness, throwing the dishes aside or under the sink, perhaps getting close to setting the place on fire if you don’t know what you’re doing with flaming brandy.

And my mother was appalled at the low standard of fast food when it began appearing. Our hamburgers were made from top sirloin trimmings, so when we went to MacDonald’s to see what all the fuss was about, we just about laughed our way home. God bless my parents, but they couldn’t believe Americans would fall for such a drop in quality. How times have changed.


My parents at a keepsake booth of the legendary Chasen’s Restaurant at Beverly and Doheny, which you can find at the Bristol Farms Market today.

What makes me positive amidst my skepticism of our food media saturation is there is a very beneficial broadening of our palate awareness, which I’ve found leans toward the narrow and familiar for just about everyone, all over the world. Travel shows abound, as one example Anthony Bourdain often does more interesting human stories, stories connected to cuisine but not driven by food (and there is a difference between the words) than other more renowned journalists at CNN. The generational taste limitations of my parents or Julia Child, who bless their sincere hearts would have been at best confused by Thai peppers or Mexican mole or Japanese kaiseki, are yielding to a more interesting and curious world of food.

And since music is the food of love, let’s play on!

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Move over, Paris: a kaiseki course in Kyoto.

People seem universally suspicious of the culturally unfamiliar. But once you accustom yourself to looking into the unknown on a regular basis, day in and day out, a vocabulary develops allowing you to express cultural amazement rather than ignorant confusion. Similar to learning an instrument, learning to reduce a sauce to the just right consistency to please your dinner guests (thanks, mom), or taking on a foreign language to better communicate with new friends, I start from the point that the experience presented to me already comes easily to somebody else. I just have to practice, oh, that familiar daily commandment for the musician!

President Bill Clinton recently commented in a Washington Post article on the political atmosphere that is currently on stage, every annoying day as far as I’m concerned. Clinton surmised that we’re in a 2017 version of the oldest story on earth.

“This is another chapter of Us vs. Them politics.”

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Doing my best to end Us vs. Them in Ha Noi, Việt Nam.

I’m not sure our current political outlook is in alignment with the world and potential of the internet, with Facebook and Face Time, with the sheer volume of air traffic daily, Skype calls and Waze directions, with a world where Google Translate creates the opportunity to make yourself understood more effectively than ever before in a foreign language almost instantaneously. People know more about each other now than at any other time in human history. Sustained ignorance, which is contradicted by the click of a mouse or a possible screen sweep of your finger at any given time, now strikes me as willful. What answer isn’t at your immediate fingertips, if all you need to do is ask Siri?

Let’s bring Us vs. Them to a conclusion, once and for all, the sooner the better.

I’m motivated by asking questions, finding experiences that answer my questions, and then having those experiences ask new questions. As far as my blog posts go, I’ll continue to blend music, travel, ideas and food into a mixture of posts I hope you’ll continue to enjoy. All 22,347 of you, and counting!

See you soon for more posts and welcome to Sound Travels!

Best, best, best,