Swans, swans, and more swans

(Greg writes in grey)
(Liz writes in white)

Liz and I are presently en route from LA to NYC reflecting on a lavish albeit brief sojourn at the Hotel Bel-Air, where we performed for a special Juilliard function. What a hotel! You know you are residing in the lap of luxury when your wake-up call includes a detailed description of the day’s weather and a bellman bringing you your choice of coffee or tea on an elegant tray.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon in an uncharacteristically cool Los Angeles. Ironically, we left warmer and more gorgeous weather in New York! However, we had no need to complain because the hotel's sprawling grounds were absolutely breathtaking. The hotel is famous for its idyllic gardens, swan-laden ponds, and old-Hollywood décor. We actually got our first taste of the high life at the airport when we were escorted directly from the gate to our car service (with a driver named Duke, no less!).

Upon arriving at the hotel we were warmly greeted at the hotel as "Mr. Anderson and Ms. Roe" and were referred to as such by the staff for the remainder of our stay. As our rooms were being prepared for us, we decided to grab some lunch at the hotel restaurant, dining alfresco beneath a latticed ceiling of sorts adorned with fuschia flowers. After our meal we were led to our handsomely furnished rooms; among the unique features of our rooms was a private patio with a little fountain in mine and a huge plasma-screen TV in Greg's. Since the pianos hadn't been delivered yet, Greg and I had about an hour to kill, and so we decided to take advantage of the pool (not a bad way to pass the time!). We felt terribly lucky and terribly spoiled as we basked in the sunshine sipping our fresh pink lemonades on towel-covered chaises and wading in the heated waters. The rest of the day consisted of a rehearsal and a super-deluxe three-course dinner. We capped the day off with a late-night viewing of Tristan and Isolde (the movie, not the opera), which we watched on Greg's massive TV.

**A funny tangent: we were having problems with the DVD player - for some reason, the DVD was playing, but nothing was showing up onscreen and no sounds were playing either - so we called the front desk for assistance. For some reason it took nearly an hour for someone to show up, but finally a kindly staff worker appeared. I suppose we left the DVD playing during that hour because when the worker eventually got the machine to work, the image of a nearly naked James Franco and Sophia Myles passionately kissing popped onscreen! We all laughed and Greg tried to temper the embarassment of the situation by remarking, "Um, it's actually an action movie..." And he wasn't referring to that type of action!**

On Sunday we had brunch at the hotel restaurant (it was another sumptuous and time-consuming affair). During the afternoon, we were interviewed by a Chinese television crew about our experiences at Juilliard, and we had a little bit of time to warm up in the ballroom. Incidentally, the stage had to be reset after a wedding reception. This hotel is apparently a popular site of high society weddings, and it's amusing that Greg and I consistently yet pointlessly find ourselves in romantic locales such as this! Finally, the official events started: a cocktail reception preceded an elaborate dinner which was punctuated by eloquent speeches by President Joseph W. Polisi, Dean Ara Guzelimian, and Drama Division director James Houghton. At last, it was time for Greg and I to take the stage. We performed an eclectic program of our signature transcriptions: two movements from our Star Wars Fantasy, the Libertango, Erbarme Dich and Danse macabre. It was a success and the audience - filled with donors, alumni, and friends of Juilliard - responded with great zeal.

Afterward, Greg and I celebrated by pigging out on room service fare (which Greg joyfully chronicles here).

My favorite example of the pampering, mollycoddling treatment we received at the hotel (and our reaction to it)…

Sunday following the concert, Liz and I were still hungry.

(It's hard to eat a full meal immediately prior to performing. Have you ever heard of food coma, that sleepy feeling caused by the expenditure of energy toward the digestion of your meal? It doesn't serve a pianist well mid-Anderson & Roe performance.)

Anyway, we ordered room service. Liz and I had had enough five-star food for one weekend, so Liz ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, I ordered mac and cheese (my favorite), and the two of us ordered a serving of French fries. A half-hour later, a server strolled in with a table-on-wheels beautifully laden with our meals, individual jars of condiments (including butter shaped like swans), a bouquet of fresh flowers, a basket of artisan breads, and a pot of hot tea. It was glorious. The French fries were topped with real truffle shavings and Parmesan cheese; my mac and cheese was unlike any I've had before; and Liz's grilled cheese...well, Liz's grilled cheese had somehow morphed into a plate of assorted goat's cheeses.

She didn't care. The two of us, unkempt in our pajamas, gorged ourselves without any consideration for the civilities of upstanding social etiquette. We downed the truffles and smothered our faces with cheese, all the while squealing with laughter at the over-the-top nature of the situation. Who couldn't help but dissolve into hysterics at the sight of Liz filling her mouth with exotic cheese while at the same time restocking her supply of pommes-frites, all the while engaging in truly inane conversation?

We certainly enjoyed our glamorous escape to LA, but we were indeed happy to return to our more humble if responsibility-loaded lifestyles back on the east coast.