Next week I’ll have the honor of performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas, at the San Francisco Symphony—and we’re recording it. (Last time we recorded, we won three Grammys.) If you appreciate classical music (well, actually it’s Romantic), I highly recommend you come. It’s nearly sold out, so buy tickets tout de suite. Meanwhile, if you’re curious to know what goes into creating a Grammy-winning recording, here’s a glimpse into the making of our last, Mahler 8. Erin Wall, soprano on that recording, will also be singing the Beethoven program.
The second of five short films on Australia that I co-produced and hosted for Lonely Planet and BBC: Kangaroo Island. How surreal to see these wild animals up close—like a safari park, but without fences, people or cars. Incredible.
Kangaroos and wallabies are nocturnal. So many roam this island, and hop across the road at nighttime, that occasionally one gets hit by a car. But here’s the thing that distinguishes locals as good stewards of nature: custom dictates that the driver get out of the car to check the animal; if it’s a female with a baby ‘roo in the pouch—a joey, they’re called—it’s the drivers responsibility to take the joey home, raise it until it’s too big to live any longer as a pet, then turn it back to the wild.
I had the pleasure of holding one such joey in my arms. It kicked and squirmed and tried to get away, until I began humming “Brahm’s Lullaby” and rocking it like a baby. The ‘roo quieted right down, and even laid its head against my chest, a moment I’ll never forget.
BBC America has been running a series of brilliant short films on Australia, which I co-produced and hosted on behalf of Lonely Planet. Wow, Australia—what a country.
No matter how many times I visit Sydney, I always get a thrill when I spot that spectacular harbor, and feel like I’m seeing it again for the first time. I can’t pick a favorite perspective—but how thrilling the view from the Olympic salt-water swimming pool beneath Sydney Harobur Bridge.
Hard to believe the Blue Mountains are so close to Australia’s biggest city. Dense eucalyptus forest, dotted with craggy rock formations, sprawl two million acres, exuding a mist of oil that refracts sunlight a smoky blue—hence the range’s name.
The birds are incredible. As we descended cliffs into a tiny pocket of rainforest, a pair of rare black cockatoos flew past at eye level. Tracing their route, I spotted other giant birds, the sort you only see in pet stores in America, perched wild in treetops, cawing and screeching an echoing chorus.
Dig the ride out of the canyon: you ascend via the world’s steepest railway. The film barely conveys the vertical drop, nor the sensation of feeling suspended, face first, inside a cage. My stomach was in my mouth. I can’t wait to do it again.