Summer in Newport Through the Eyes and Ears of a Musician

My name is Robin-Louise.  Not only am I a musician/music teacher, but I am also a native Aquidneck Islander among all else.  My native roots date back long before I was born and even long before my grandparents were born.  Let me just say that my family has been on Aquidneck Island (which is technically THE State of Rhode Island and once you leave Aquidneck Island via the bridge/ferry that is Providence Plantations)....sorry for the digress....my family has been living on this island since John Albro settled in Portsmouth, RI in 1638.  They've been in New England since the Mayflower docked at Plymouth Rock in 1620.  But, I'm going to leave my genealogy for another blog another day. 

Summer in Newport is nothing but a lot of festivals, clambakes, beach time, shopping, and touring the great mansions that once belonged to the rich and famous of the prestigious 400 club, such as the Vanderbilts, Dukes, and Stanford White (you know, the man involved with the girl on the velvet swing).  White's house was considered the White House of Newport that faces the ocean just as you turn to go en route to the Ocean Drive.  The Breakers, one of the mansions owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt (his I don't know how many great granddaughter, Gloria Vanderbilt is a famous fashion designer and is the mother to Anderson Cooper, TV news reporter), is one of the most famous houses in Newport.  The architect of the building is so elaborate with marble and velvet, of Roman and Greek design.  In the many bathrooms, there are two faucets, one for fresh water and one for salt water that runs from the ocean onto which the back of the house faces.  Some interesting trivia, some of the Vanderbilt family still live in the house up in the servants' quarters.  But besides that the summers in Newport, RI are crowded and noisy.  Even the once relaxing Ocean Drive is bombarded by trailers/campers, tourists of all kinds, and vendors.  One summer of recent my family was told to move (even though we were there early enough) but drivers of these vehicles didn't seem to use the brains God gave geese and park appropriately allowing enough room for more cars to park.  Nope, we had to move to allow a big trailer in.  Oh did you know that Newport roads are too narrow?  One man from Ohio complained to the Newport Daily News one year saying that Newport roads are too narrow for his Midwestern car!  But enough complaining.  I'll leave that for another blog.  But besides going to festivals, clambakes, touring, beaching, there's always parties and pub crawls. 

I might be a city girl, but I am not part of the hustle and bustle of city life, which people probably think is strange because I am a music person and there is a lot of music this city has to offer!  I might be a music person, but I always think that music starts in silence even in my teaching.  So, spending ten months out of the year with music teaching and loud, boisterous kids, I must find places of placid serenity full of tranquil modulations of God's music.  The breeze rustling through the trees, the birds calling, the waves crashing against the walls of the rocks and cliffs.  Places I go to achieve this peace are Paradise Park (which I've renamed as Fluffy Paradise mainly because my dog loves this par), Norman Bird Sanctuary, Second Beach, Purgatory Chasm, and St. Mary's Episcopal Church Cemetery.  I love going to "Fluffy Paradise" and just sit in the middle of a forest of trees and shrubbery growing wild and feel the warmth of the sun against my face as the cool breeze brushing up against my cheek.  I love the sounds of Red Wing Black Birds calling in the distance as it calms my soul.  Second Beach is a beautiful place as long as you get there before the beach-goers rain on your parade.  I like to get there by 8 in the morning to achieve that calming affect.  I jump in the luke warm water that wakes me up and then bask in the sun afterwards.  When too many people come I leave.  I love going to St. Mary's Cemetery in Portsmouth because so many generations of Albros are buried there and my best friend (my grandmother - 10 years this Christmas Day) is there.  Fluffy loves running in between the stones and sitting in the shade.  It's so quiet there.  It's like you don't have to talk to let people know what you're feeling because these people who "live" there know right away what you are feeling.  You might want to say it's a sixth sense without Bruce Willis....hahaha....a little funny movie reference....

Yes, I am not a partier who goes out almost every night and stays out until 12, 1, 2, 3....o'clock in the morning. I am a sensitive person who enjoys and relies on the simplicity of solitude to sooth the savage nerves of my soul.  I do enjoy music.  But I need a "Lake Placid" in order to enjoy it.  That's why I'll take God's music first and the organized sound of man's music second.

I do partake in my community band, which just recently played at the 4th of July concert in Washington Square, Newport, RI.  I have been doing that since I was 16.  I've also been working for the Newport Music Festival, which is an all classical music festival, since I was 13.  I was THE youngest volunteer there.  I think I still am....

More to come on The World According to Robin-Louise: Is classical music fast becoming extinct?  Are the only people who go to classical concerts and listen to this style of music just from the early baby boomer generation and before?  Feel free to post your comments on these questions.  Until next time, this is your hostess, Robin-Louise.

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