I know that I haven't written with the fun and amazing adventures of my vacation in Thailand (which was fantastic by the way - very, very tourist friendly, which after Madagascar isn't a stretch, but it still definitely had us basking in the glory of the ease of it all), and I will, but I just had to post this first. I am in HEAVEN!!! I discovered that which I was convinced was not possible in my chosen life as an exile expatriate - I have found others who love to spend their spare time studying the arts of some of our most acclaimed composers - from IN FRONT of the podium. Yes - Hanoi has started, just in time for me to move to Vietnam, an "International Symphony Orchestra" for any and all with some musical experience to come and honk, tweet and scratch along with. It's a community orchestra made up of a motley collection of amateur musicians from all walks of local and expatriate life conducted by the gracious and (I'm not sure just how he's getting paid off for doing this) sacrificial conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra. It's a service for which many of us (and I am not just speaking for myself here - my fellow musician professionals were equally vocal about) are desperately grateful for. Maybe I'm overreaching a little bit - tonight was only my first opportunity to participate in the rehearsal, and the small collection of people there is admittedly short of an "orchestra" (even adding the word "chamber" in front is still just technically correct...more like a very oddly orchestrated string ensemble - or a symphonetta? I'll leave it to you to decide on the semantics). But the enthusiasm from those attending is evident - and it may not sound like much, especially with my limited contributions based mainly on my inability to count born from multiple months of playing to my own drummer - but it sounds like more than one musician at a time and that, for many of us in this sea of unfamiliarity, is a small piece of welcome home. And speaking of home - who would think that an hodgepodge community orchestra on the other side of the world would be the setting of a reunion? Well, small world stories being what they are - two alumni of the my alma mater's Music Faculty were united under a single conductor once again as I was (re)introduced to a viola player, Lindsey, who was two years behind me at Luther and is now doing a CDC fellowship here in Hanoi. Well, that's the joy of working in this business - and it is a sure sign of how this type of organization is going to be about so much more than music! Yes, I think a photo for the Alumni Magazine is called for...once I can actually get back to Hanoi on a Thursday night when rehearsals are scheduled...patience my dear Erica - we can't have too much of a good thing all at once, now can we?