Scott St. John, violin

1988-89 was the first of 18 tours

I feel very fortunate to have been involved in over twenty Marlboro tours over the past 25 years. They were all unique, inspiring experiences! My first Marlboro trip was an unofficial tour, right after my first summer at Marlboro in 1987. We traveled to play in the south of France near Alexander Schneider’s house, and I still remember sitting at a cafe with Felix Galimir, impressed with his very precise French speaking skills. He also sounded terrific in Schoenberg String Trio, of course!

My first real Marlboro Tour was with Pamela Frank, Wu Han and Colin Carr. We had a wonderful time together, and I recall at the end of dress rehearsals we started trying to switch instruments, which provoked even more laughter. At one dress rehearsal, the presenter came in to listen and we sounded truly awful in our “wrong” formation. We imagined that he would be calling Frank Salomon immediately to demand a refund!

Philipp Naegele was a major influence in some of my early tours. I loved the lunches that we would have together during rehearsal week in New York City– usually the cheap & cheerful “Rey de la Caridad” Cuban Chinese place on the Upper West Side. Conversation topics would range from serious music discussion to light gossip, and yet Philipp was a model of Marlboro diplomacy.

The Mendelssohn Octet group for the 40th anniversary concerts became a tour group that came back for numerous tours. East Coast, West Coast, and even Europe! We started calling ourselves the “Crazy Eights”, as on the original tour we had several long Amtrak trips where we played cards in the lounge car. The rules for the game became more and more outlandish as the tour went on, perhaps emulating the musical struggle to bring out the inner voices in the Mendelssohn Octet…

Another terrific Mendelssohn Octet group was formed for the 50th anniversary concert at Carnegie. If I add the 2008 and 2011 Mendelssohn Octet tours to my tally, I estimate that I have now played over forty Mendelssohn Octets with Marlboro groups! Perhaps there will be a special napkin ball awarded if I get to fifty?