by Alexandra Takasugi, viola
If you don’t see me playing viola, you’ll most likely find me in the kitchen. I love to bake as a way to alleviate stress and share delicious goodness with my fellow orchestra members. These madeleines are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, especially during rehearsal breaks.
What has sustained you through the pandemic/furlough?
“As a political junkie I have not wanted for something to keep me occupied. And I've been reading more - also writing more. I'm listening to more music including genres other than symphonic.” - Tom Reel, Double Bass
“Volunteering has helped me through this time. I volunteer at my church with online prelude music before Mass. I have enjoyed delivering meals to the elderly and shut-ins. I also like to volunteer with animal rescue groups, including the Golden Retriever rescue of South Hampton Roads.” - Allegra Tortolano Havens, Violin
February is the long awaited month when we return to work, 11 months after our last Virginia Symphony rehearsal in March of 2020. While the size of the ensemble remains limited, as does the permissible size of our live audience, we are excited finally to be performing again!
Like everyone else, we haven't weathered the storm entirely just yet but we see blue skies on the horizon. While the organization's focus was mostly on the Vision Forward endowment campaign and balancing the operating budgets (with the help of PPP grants), the Musicians took the initiative to organize public chamber music events, finding partners to help partially fill the musical void in the community and our financial holes at home.
On December 7th a meeting of the orchestra began with a 50-minute dialogue with James Webb, a decorated Marine, former Secretary of the Navy & former United States Senator from Virginia, and author of ten books and at least one screenplay. This was not the first time his path intersected with the Virginia Symphony.
My mother’s family immigrated from Sweden and settled in a large Swedish-American community in central Massachusetts. Swedish food has always been a big part of our holiday celebrations. Swedish meatballs, potatoes, red cabbage, cheeses, pickled herring, breads, and wonderful sweets make up a traditional smorgasbord. My mother always made Glögg to add to the holiday festivities. Glögg is a spiced drink similar to mulled wine but with more of a kick. There are many variations on this warm winter beverage. My Mom’s was always quite potent. I fondly remember the shock of inhaling the fumes as a child. Here in Virginia, my husband and I enjoy making Glögg for our VSO friends and family. It is best served on a cold winter day in front of a crackling fire. Skol!
by Tom Reel, VSO Double Bassist
A unique veterans' benefit that came my way 45 years ago changed my life.
In 1975 I played an audition at the University of Kansas for acceptance as a Performance Major in Double Bass, enrolling as a freshman (albeit one with a college degree), having just returned to civilian life weeks before. My work in the air force had not been in music. I worked at ground based radar sites, including 382 days in Saigon, South Vietnam (but who's counting).
As the weather cools down, I enjoy cooking stews and braises. Aside from being warming, these recipes easily make 4-6 servings, saving me time in the kitchen. I particularly enjoy sopping up the savory broth with a piece of good bread as I eat.
My dear mother, who recently passed, was an amazing cook. I found it fitting for my first recipe submission to be a tribute to her. One of my all-time favorite meals, (and one of the first I learned from my mother) was this recipe. It brings me back to my childhood and on a crisp fall or winter day this melange of sausages and sauerkraut was and is supremely comforting.