BEGINNING MY ORCHESTRAL CAREER
WITH THE EDMONTON SYMPHONY
By Bianca Chambul
In an instant, my life had changed.
I had broken through what I believed was the biggest barrier to having a career as an orchestral musician: winning an audition.
Seven summers before, during my time with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, a faculty member shared with us eager young students, “The people you meet today will be your colleagues for the rest of your life.” The following NYOC season, I was assigned to a chamber group with Max Cardilli, a member of the double bass section that year, to perform Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat.
All he sent was a picture of a newly-released audition notice for a bassoon vacancy in the Edmonton Symphony, below which he had typed, “Please consider taking this audition!”
I hadn’t been keeping a close eye on audition announcements in the last year and wasn’t aware of this opening. It piqued my interest since it was a principal position and the orchestra was also in my mom’s hometown, where I have many extended family members.
The audition date was scheduled for June 24, 2019, about six weeks away. That sounded like just barely the right amount of time.
“I know one thing,” I said to her, pacing outside the orchestra’s concert hall on a beautiful day: “I’m getting out of the first round next time. This isn’t happening again.”
SLIVERS OF TIME
The question was, would my absence request be approved for a couple of days, especially right at the beginning of the festival?
Following Mr. Kamins’ advice, I contacted Music Academy’s administration and Dennis Michel, second bassoonist of the Chicago Symphony, who would be teaching at Music Academy along with Mr. Kamins.
Mr. Michel encouraged me to take the audition and within a few days, the administration graciously granted my request.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Outliers, analyzes why certain people stand out and succeed while others don’t. There is often only a sliver of time to take advantage of the right opportunities, and I had the right support system to follow through. The Music Academy gave me their blessing to go ahead with the audition, and then my parents agreed to cover my travel and accommodation expenses. Without these two elements rapidly falling into place, this chance could have slipped through my fingers.
SIX WEEKS TO GO
In 2015, I purchased an audition course created by Rob Knopper, percussionist at the Metropolitan Opera. I didn’t seriously dive into it until two auditions came up in 2017, a year after I had graduated from the University of Toronto. When I began implementing Rob’s principles in auditionhacker, I finally broke my streak of not getting out of the first round to making the finals in one audition and advancing in another.
To summarize, it involved steps that may seem obvious to experienced players, but ones that I didn’t think of: using timelines to realistically schedule in the required work, creating a playlist, thorough excerpt research, making repertoire booklets, a rigorous self-recording and note-learning component, and mock auditions.
Once I returned home from Dallas, I jumped into the process yet again for the Edmonton Symphony. I usually like to focus on one large task at a time, but now I had to juggle learning solo repertoire for Music Academy of the West in addition to preparing audition excerpts.
This resulted in an over-practicing injury. I made the mistake of more or less recording myself for an entire day, bar by bar, starting at ten in the morning and finishing at ten in the evening. While I did take breaks, it was still far too long, and I had to take a few days off afterwards, losing momentum in the process and making it harder to get back on track.
When I travelled to Music Academy of the West in mid-June (ten days to go), I gathered up some friends who were willing give constructive feedback for mock auditions. One time it was totally unexpected: two of the bassoonists came into my practice room spontaneously and asked to hear some excerpts, without warning. Stuffy and sharp, the reed I was using was barely good enough for a practice reed, yet here I was playing on it anyway.
Oops. I went along with it and decided that it would be good adversity training.
After playing a few requested excerpts, I said, feeling humbled, “I know which reed I won’t be using for the audition.”
I’m grateful they showed up that day.
The thought that I might pursue a different path at some point had never even occurred to me. “I’ll decide then,” I replied, not missing a beat.
My confidence was unwavering.
It was the first time I had ever felt like this about the bassoon and a career in music.
It was the summer of 2017.
As usual, she listened empathetically, encouraging me not to give up yet.
Her prediction was that a breakthrough was just around the corner.
The day after that performance, I made it to the finals in a principal audition for the first time and advanced to the semifinals in another audition the following month. In early 2018, I was accepted into the Masters programs and summer festivals of my choice.
THE DAY BEFORE
When I took out my bassoon, I had a heart-stopping moment where the reed was hopelessly flat and free. It felt awful, just like any day before any of the previous auditions I’d taken.
At least it responded though. I made a few tweaks to it and then practiced a bit.
The reed was only two days old at that point – too new for an audition – and it was the best I had in the case.
This was after I had practiced until past nine o’clock in the basement computer lab. I ran my excerpts and recorded them, still not feeling so great about tomorrow.
We were in a comfy lounge. Privately, I would have preferred to keep to myself, but I knew some of the candidates there and ended up having some light, casual conversations with them while we pored over our music and waited for the draw.
The personnel manager came into the room and shared the list with us beforehand. This was where things really took a turn.
The first round was the first movement exposition of the Mozart concerto, either the opening or recap of Figaro, Bolero (no repeated Gs), and something that made my heart stop.
An unusual excerpt from Pulcinella.
It just so happened that that was the one excerpt on the list that I had not studied.
That’s actually an understatement. I hadn’t even listened to a recording of it.
In other words, I had flown all the way from Santa Barbara, spent my parents’ money, and didn’t know how one of the excerpts on the first round went.
I was mortified.
Then came the draw.
Not number one, I thought as we were invited to gather around the table and pick our poison. I already had a strike against me.
I unfolded the piece of paper.
A fateful vertical line broke up the whiteness of the sheet.
I believe the audition was scheduled to begin at ten o’clock, which left me with about half an hour or so to warm up.
I didn’t play much. I felt confident about the first three excerpts, and just practiced starting them several times. The reed I had worked on yesterday was responsive and seemed to be working, which was a miracle. Knowing me, it was probably quite unstable, but I liked how freely it took the air.
Once I felt all right about starting the first three excerpts, I decided it was time to listen to Pulcinella. According to my watch, it was about 9:40 a.m.
The WIFI password was posted on the wall. I opened YouTube on my phone and searched for the excerpt.
Not off to a great start.
The second thing I noticed was that there was an unwritten rit. at the very end of the passage. Based on the time constraints I had, I guessed that this was likely a performance practice. I decided to take the chance and incorporate it, perhaps not as much as on that recording, but enough that the committee would know that I knew there might be an opportunity to take time there. I also made a note not to perform the excerpt as fast as I heard it, just comfortably.
It wasn’t ten o’clock when the knock came. Time to go onstage.
Enter candidate number one.
Even though the orchestra provided a copy of the excerpts, I chose to use my own music. It was unusual to see familiar parts typed using different engraving, so I had chosen to make my own packets using screenshots from IMSLP editions that visually looked familiar to me. I had the list of excerpts written and each excerpt tabbed (again, as per Rob Knopper’s course), so I was as ready as I could be on this front.
“This is candidate number one,” said the proctor as soon as I was seated. From behind the screen, a warm male voice welcomed me and let me know that I could begin whenever I was ready.
I took some time to center. I found a red exit sign as my focal point and focused on removing the tension from certain muscle groups, particularly my arms, by doing a little stretch and rotating my wrists, maybe a little shoulder roll. I heard the opening of the excerpt in my head.
My sound effortlessly filled the hall. It was more reverberant than what I was expecting. It was kind of unusual, and I tried to focus on playing rather than being swept up by this beautiful resonance around me.
The Mozart passed, seemingly without incident. No one spoke.
I centered myself again, not analyzing what had just happened, but noticing that there hadn’t been a train wreck.
Figaro. Whisper lock on. Here we go.
Center again, another stretch, hone in on the focal point, hear the opening measure.
Bolero. An I like this one kind of tune. It was on the list for rhythm, and hopefully I wouldn’t crack those repeated high D flats and not accent the final unaccented D flat.
Now for Pulcinella.
Off I went.
And then it was done, finishing with that tiny slowing up of time, not quite as much as in the recording, leading up to the high A.
“Thank you,” said the nameless voice.
I collected my belongings, stood up, and approached the proctor. Once we were backstage, she gave me a compliment and I thanked her, assuming that she said that to everyone.
I wasn’t sure of anything. All I could think was that if I advanced, I would understand why, but if I didn’t, I could find every reason for the committee to eliminate me from the pool of candidates.
It was kind of a hazy limbo. Things just felt okay but not great.
When the personnel manager entered the room again, my adrenaline shot through the roof. Since I pulled number one, I would know instantly whether I had advanced or not.
“Thank you, everyone,” he said.
Stop my beating heart.
“Candidates one, eight, and nine have advanced,” he said. “The rest of you are free to go.”
I advanced, I thought, stunned. I had survived pop-up Pulcinella?
Someone else from the administration came by with the list of excerpts for the second round. Although I’ve forgotten the exact order, I remember thinking to myself that it was quite a bit of music.
It started with the opening of Tchaikovsky 6 and finished with both solos of The Rite of Spring. In between, there was Shostakovich 9, two excerpts from Beethoven 4, the opening of the Mendelssohn Scherzo, plus the solo and cadenzas from Schéhérazade.
So I had somehow managed to dodge a bullet by the skin of my teeth in the first round. I approached the personnel manager and asked, “Will we be re-drawing numbers?”
“No, you’ll keep your same numbers.”
It felt like another bomb had dropped. Now I had to start the second round too?
I had done it once, but could I do it again?
Once more, the personnel manager came to get me. I don’t remember what time it was.
Once more, the proctor led me, bassoon and booklet in hand, reed on bocal, to the stage door before she opened it and allowed me inside.
Again, I was told to begin when I was ready after the proctor announced my number.
Here comes the solo bassoon recital.
It felt like the best I had ever played The Rite of Spring cold on the first try. Even though I had been physically playing beforehand, I hadn’t done several attempts at that opening C prior to starting the solo.
I had managed to stay calm after each excerpt up until this point, but my elation was causing me to lose focus.
One more to go: the reprise.
That was when everything got crunchy.
I completely butchered the next beat, including the B flat to C flat grace notes. Out of tune because of uncoordinated fingers, plus a cracked sharp G flat slurred to from the B flat.
Needless to say, I was absolutely mortified.
Keep playing, keep playing. I recovered by the time I played the last high B flat in the first measure. I just had to get it out of my system, I figured.
Had I just ruined my best professional audition playing to date with that single excerpt right at the very end?
As soon as I was done, I immediately whipped my head around to the proctor and began frantically mouthing, Can I do that again?
“Would you like to try that again?” a different voice asked mercifully as I was having my silent meltdown.
Now was my chance. I was grateful for the lifeline, but I had to remind myself not to answer the panel in order to preserve my anonymity.
I centered again, one more time than I thought I’d have to.
I restarted the reprise. Maybe the B was too present, but I went with it. I felt it was okay, but not brilliant. At least nothing blew up in my face this time.
“Thank you,” said the same voice.
Then the personnel manager came back in.
There went my adrenaline. Who would they cut this time?
“Thank you, everyone,” he said. “We’d like to hire candidate number one.”
“Whoa …” said one of the other candidates.
Standing next to a table, I reached out and held a chair for balance.
“Do you need a moment?” the personnel manager asked.
“Sorry?” I said.
“Do you need a moment?” he repeated.
I knew he was speaking English but I couldn’t seem to hear or process what he was saying.
“I’m sorry?” I said again.
“Do you need a moment?” he said, slightly louder.
“Yes, yes,” I said, still holding onto the chair and changing positions.
But suddenly that moment was gone, and the personnel manager was asking me if I wanted to go meet the committee. Of course, the answer to that question was yes.
I was so very much not all there that he had to show me the stairs, which were in plain view, since I was essentially going to walk off the stage. “The stairs are there,” he said, pointing.
“Oh, right,” I said.
(Yes, you really did just hire me.)
I ascended the stairs and then turned left to walk down another flight that led to the audience level.
As Rob Knopper says, there should be a Taking Auditions: Do Not Operate Machinery warning label for all candidates.
I shook hands with each member of the committee and thanked them, trying to maintain my composure.
I’m so grateful that he told me about the audition.
I then reached out to Mr. Kamins.
“Hi, Bianca. How are you?” he said, sounding intentionally unhurried.
“Mr. Kamins,” I said seriously, “I won the job.”
He congratulated me and gave me some advice: “Bianca, really make sure that you take the time to just enjoy this moment.” We spoke further, but that was the main thing I remembered, and in hindsight, I wish I had savoured the aftermath a little more.
BACK TO REALITY
I walked back to the Westin. As I entered, I saw the same concierge who had sent up the tea for me the night before.
“How did it go?” he said with a smile.
“I got the job!” I said, unable to contain my excitement.
What might have been a potentially self-sabotaging idea was the realization that I was in some way representing the Edmonton Symphony and that I magically had to be so much better overnight.
Unfortunately, I wound up falling on my face somewhat after a long day of travel when I arrived at the Music Academy bassoon masterclass that afternoon. Mr. Michel was, ironically, directing a class on less commonly-requested excerpts (cough, Pulcinella), and I was scheduled to play the solo from Verdi’s Requiem along with the end of Figaro that isn’t always asked. The Verdi was also on the ESO audition, so at least I had spent some time looking at it.
The reed seemed okay … or rather, I was trying to convince myself it would be.
But when I got out there to play, it was a different story.
My audition-winning reed wasn’t so flashy today. In fact, it had transformed into one of those condemned pieces of cane that feels simultaneously too weak and too strong.
How precisely was this happening? I had just won an audition – wasn’t I supposed to be amazing and faultless?
The reality is that nothing had changed. I still had the same hang-ups that I did before the audition. There was no magical overnight transformation.
I had brought out my pliers and was, as casually as I could appear, adjusting the reed during the class while he was speaking to everyone and to me.
Then came time for Figaro.
Another oh dear moment on this reed.
Please don’t ask me to play this again, I thought, once the ordeal was over. It isn’t going to get any better.
Mr. Michel asked if I could do something slightly different, though I don’t remember what. I braced myself to play the excerpt again on this useless piece of arundo donax, accepting that it would be what it would be.
Sure enough, it wasn’t much better. At least I was surrounded by friendly faces, but that somehow also made it more humiliating.
Once the four of us had each finished playing our assigned excerpts for the class, it was time to thankfully relax and have dinner at the cafeteria. One of our Compeers (festival donors who are partnered with Music Academy fellows) came up to me from the audience and asked sympathetically, “Are you tired?”
It was a rude awakening after the high I had been on the previous day, but my spirits weren’t dampened for too long. (I managed to shake it off once I was playing contrabassoon for Shostakovich 11 that evening.)
This was the biggest aha moment where I truly understood that cane changes with humidity and elevation. I had adjusted that reed to suit 2,200 feet above sea level with the dryness of a desert and had returned to a climate that was perfect weather with higher humidity. No wonder it freaked out.
I have no idea where that reed is, and I’m not even sure if I still have it. I just remember that it was coated in sparkly purple glue.
TYING UP LOOSE ENDS
A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
I thought of taking the audition, but there was one snag: the trip to London overlapped with my Rossini concerto performance at Rice in April 2020.
I spoke with Mr. Kamins about this, and he assured me that we would work something out if my audition was successful.
The first time I signed up for a session, Bill asked how he could help since my process had worked for Edmonton. I asked if he could read through the steps of centering so that I could actually focus on doing them properly under his guidance. I was specifically working on the four or five standard excerpts that were required for the LSO Keston MAX Fellowship.
I had shown up with a reed that wasn’t particularly great. It wasn’t terrible, but I definitely wanted to be playing on something different for the real audition, and I explained that to him. I knew that as a trumpet player he couldn’t assist me in that direction, but I went with what I had that day.
Bill guided me through the steps (“make sure you have your eyes open”) as I was honing in on my selected focal point below eye level. The excerpt I had chosen to play first was the opening phrase of the Mozart concerto exposition.
“How did that feel?”
I was surprised. “I haven’t practiced this excerpt [since preparing for the ESO audition] and the reed I’m using isn’t particularly great. But that felt so easy,” I said.
We talked about the experience and tried a few more things. In another session, we worked on Beethoven 4 and that also was noticeably improved.
Practicing these mental skills is like exercising a muscle, much like how we practice our instruments. It’s something we can get better at, and I had seen enough of what this trumpeter and performance psychologist had shared with me to realize that there was a way to take this set of skills to the next level.
THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
The first round was done in typical blind audition style for a panel of Music Academy faculty. I was one of two who advanced.
The second round, held about a week later in front of two London Symphony musicians, was where I committed to putting my new centering skills to the test.
As I went through Bill’s centering process, I felt much more secure at the beginning of the audition rather than feeling like I was warming up as I was playing. When I got to Beethoven 4, it was the best I had ever played it using that process. What a feeling.
It wasn’t a perfect audition, but it had been an overall pleasant experience because of the mental quiet that the centering techniques provided.
Soon afterward, the results were announced.
I had won the bassoon fellowship.
THE ROSSINI CONCERTO
One of the faculty members at Rice’s Shepherd School of Music was scheduled to perform a piano concerto with the Rice Chamber Orchestra at the end of September. He offered to switch his performance date with mine in April, which was terrific.
But there was no other way around it, and it’s a miracle that it worked out.
THE INTERNATIONAL MOVE
Use your imagination to fill in the blanks of the classic moving debacle, from an electric gate that slammed shut on the moving truck, to having to dig through all my perfectly packed and sealed boxes when I was advised that no liquids would be accepted (what about my shampoo and mouthwash? Help). You get the picture.
Another piece of the puzzle had fallen into place.
With the festival and the move behind me, I began practicing the Rossini concerto in earnest and worked on reeds.
I was finally here, but the big hurdle was now travelling back to Houston for a week of rehearsals leading up to the performance of the Rossini concerto.
The ESO had graciously allowed me to begin in early October even though the season officially started at the end of August with the SUTS programs.
I didn’t feel ready.
I had options for reeds that were responsive and resonant, but they still felt unstable. I knew Mr. Kamins would be able to help me with them.
It was a challenging week for me. I learned some difficult lessons about practicing and my performance was not as strong as the two rounds of the competition back in March.
I talked with Mr. Kamins about it, saying that I wished I could have swapped the dress rehearsal for the performance on September 29, 2019.
“I’ve been where you are,” he said. “But in terms of character, did you accomplish what you wanted to get across?”
“I’d say about eight out of ten.”
So maybe there was some hope there, some small solace.
My parents, friends, and teachers celebrated with me. It was a beautiful way to reconnect and say goodbye for the time being.
I had taken advantage of another sliver of time without realizing it.
THE FIRST DAY
I was on cloud nine again.
What a beautiful space. I could finally enjoy a concert hall like this for more than just ten minutes at an audition. What a treat to open with Symphonie Fantastique.
Everyone was so friendly. I shook many hands that day (back when that was a thing).
At the conclusion of the rehearsal, a woodwind colleague said, “You fit right in.”
My week was made.
ON THE JOB
One of the biggest adjustments when I was at Rice was having to make a minimum of six reeds a week and being expected to play on a new reed for every lesson. I had never made that many reeds at that point, but it paled in comparison to the amount I had to make in Edmonton.
William Short, principal bassoonist of the Metropolitan Opera, talks about how he aims to scrape two-day ones per day, which would amount to fourteen reeds a week. Even then, he says he still feels like he is barely on top of things (and he sounds incredible).
Enter the pandemic.
We had a particularly full week in March 2020 with a programme featuring Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony, the Sibelius violin concerto, and a contemporary opening work. Since beginning with the orchestra in October 2019, it felt like the days stood still while the weeks flew by. Those strenuous several days felt unusually long and also included some important lunch meetings. I remember feeling in over my head and struggling to keep up, thinking, I just need this to stop, even for a moment.
I had a conversation with an Uber driver about this, and he said, “Oh, so the pandemic is all your fault.”
This is a particularly nice group of musicians. Not only am I inspired by my colleagues every week and wanting to grow and be better because of what I’m hearing around me, but I was also supported in a time of need.
At the beginning of my second season, I had a recording scheduled to perform Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words, typically played on cello, at the Winspear Centre with Alexander Prior, the Edmonton Symphony’s Chief Conductor. The date of the recording was September 8, 2020. Leading up to it, I had been nervous and very concerned about the condition of my reeds, especially since I would be collaborating with Alex in a chamber music setting. I worked on a number of them to no avail, and thankfully an old faithful pulled through.
Moments after I closed the door to my apartment, I began experiencing an unexpected dizziness. My vision of the world seemed to be perpetually tilting. As I walked around, it seemed to worsen. I figured I would lie down and sleep it off.
That didn’t work.
This became alarming when it continued to increase past midnight without showing any signs of subsiding. Our first concerts were the next day and the prognosis wasn’t looking too good.
It got to the point where I would be lying still and the world felt like it was turning on its axis. I was horribly nauseous and deeply concerned I would be physically sick. I didn’t dare move.
When I had to slink off the bed to take what would normally be about seven strides to my bathroom, I wobbled uncontrollably and had to slowly crawl on all fours in order to reach it.
To top it off, my phone battery was at one percent and my charger was nowhere to be found within reach. I needed to tell the quintet that in this state I wouldn’t be able to make it for the concerts. (Thankfully my laptop had some life left and I was able to contact the group through email.)
The way the four of them rallied around me was very comforting. A member of the orchestra who lives several blocks away graciously brought food and Gravol right to my apartment. The concierge carried the bag up to me along with some cookies that were available. I had to crawl on the floor to answer the door and accept the package. He asked me quietly, “Do you need me to call the hospital?” I thanked him and told him no, but that I’d keep him posted.
Another member of the quintet called me and offered to take me to the doctor. I initially declined, but within half an hour called her back as this was my only option.
She does not live close to me, but drove to my apartment and came right up to the suite so that I could have a human crutch to lean on as we headed to her car. After we drove to a walk-in clinic, the doctor told me it was vertigo and sent me off with a prescription. My good Samaritan colleague picked up some food and then drove me home, again acting as a crutch until she was sure I was safely in my apartment before leaving.
I’m fortunate to have the support systems, both musically and socially, that Edmonton provides. It’s a double win.
You think you’re invincible until you’re not. Anything can happen to anyone at any time. I don’t know specifically what caused the vertigo, but I think it’s safe to say that both my lack of sleep and the level of stress may have been the thing that pushed me over the edge.
Things don’t fall apart overnight. Despite the treat of regularly performing chamber music with friends in the two months leading up to the incident, I was feeling pretty spent by the time our thirty-plus summer shows were over.
Did I listen? Not until I learned it the hard way.
EDMONTONIANS AND THEIR SYMPHONY
The first major programme I played was Shostakovich 11, which was scheduled in early November 2019. I was still buzzing from the final show and had gone across the street to my local grocery store at 10:30 p.m. As I was shopping, a woman approached me and asked, “Were you playing in the orchestra tonight?”
Bassoon? Celebrity status? Is that a thing?
Pleased, I told her my instrument and confirmed that I had performed that evening. She shared how much she enjoyed the concert. It felt like a real win that night, in addition to the adrenaline rush of performing such a challenging work.
I had a similar experience with a cashier at the drugstore who reacted enthusiastically when she found out I played with the ESO. I thought of Sophie Dervaux with the Vienna Philharmonic: she mentions in a YouTube video how classical musicians in Vienna are treated almost like celebrities.
Even on such a small scale, it is validating.
So here’s the riddle: how am I entering my third season and yet only have five months of experience on the job?
Answer: a pandemic.
There were opportunities to perform chamber music with people I otherwise would not likely have worked with. In addition to a mixed quartet (pictured here) and the wind quintet, a few of those collaborations were trios with either bassoon, violin, and harp, or bassoon, horn, and harp, and we would break the groups up into smaller configurations, like duos. It was encouraging to see how many people from Edmonton showed up to support these outdoor concerts.
As Mr. Kamins noted while I was in Houston, “Bianca … when [you’re asked] to do something, you tend to … do it all the way.” (It was in Houston where I learned what the word “extra” meant.)
In typical fashion, I went a little crazy on my ESO 101 submission, pictured above, which my mom affectionately dubbed my “covideo”. After having to re-film it, it took me eleven days to create the finished product, and at that point I was a little loopy since I had stayed indoors the entire time.
Back to June 24, 2019: audition day.
It was only after I met Edie that I realized she was the person behind the miracle voice who offered me the chance to redo the second iteration of The Rite of Spring.
I don’t remember greeting her when I met the rest of the audition committee behind the screen, but I do remember speaking with her after the audition in Barney’s Lounge, which was where the candidates had been waiting. Edie told me a part of the story that I have no recollection of.
She had offered me a sandwich and I cheerfully took the entire platter.
“I figured you were a poor student who hadn’t eaten in days.”
At least I said thank you, so the story goes.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I wasn’t all there after the news. And it really is no joke that candidates shouldn’t be operating any machinery, much less interacting with their future colleagues beyond pleasantries, on audition day.
This piece of writing has been a year in the making, and I hope that it has been an enjoyable and useful read. I wish you success as you move forward in your own journey.
– Bianca Chambul
Photo credit: Dale MacMillan
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