Audition and recruitment tour in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
...was the translation that the taxi driver’s iPad showed after the third time around the same block. We were literally going in circles. What we believe it meant to say was “we are lost and your map stinks!” We eventually stopped a bystander who could translate properly and set the taxi in the right direction. And so our trip in Seoul began.
Our group this year consists of Michael Manderen from Oberlin, David Lane from Peabody, Amy Anderson for Manhattan, and Shaun Ramsay from Boston University. We all traveled on the USA Schools of Music Asia Audition Tour last year, so it is great to reconnect with such wonderful friends and colleagues and embark on this crazy journey together.
It feels great to be back in Seoul; it is a beautiful city and the people are wonderful. We always take the first day off to get acclimated to the 12-hour time change, and we took advantage of our free time to do some sightseeing. We started the day off by renting bikes on the Han River. It felt great to get some exercise. After riding up and down the river, we enjoyed a traditional Korean barbecue lunch at a restaurant in Itaewon. They bring a mini grill with red hot coals to your table and cook the food in front of you. There are also about ten different bowls with munchies in them - kimchi, greens, garlic, sauces, mushrooms, etc. It was a fun lunch.
On our walk back to the hotel, we happened to pass a jazz club where a jazz trio was performing for a Sunday brunch. The others kept walking, but I had to stop in to check them out. They were fantastic musicians, and after talking with them on the break, they invited me up to play a song with the band. It was quite an experience and something very unexpected.
After hanging out at the jazz club for a couple hours, I made my way back to the hotel in time to meet the group to see “Nanta.” Nanta is a live show and the top rated activity in Seoul on TripAdvisor.com. I have wanted to go for the past two years and the show lived up to its reputation. It was essentially a “Stomp” show that takes place in a kitchen and features a lot of percussion, humor, and audience participation. At one point, they were looking for two audience members to go up on stage, and guess who they chose...me! I was apprehensive about going up to the stage, but my friends cheered me on and I submitted. My role was to taste the soup that they were preparing for the wedding (and for which we later discovered that I was the groom!). What a hoot. After the show, we checked out a wild parade that was happening right outside the theater, and then headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before an early morning of auditions.
The next day, we got down to business and heard 35 auditions at the Cosmos theater, and the talent level was very high. This was the busiest day the group has ever had in Seoul, and we heard some fantastic musicians whom we hope apply and enroll in our schools. We concluded a very long day of auditions at 6:30 p.m., and then headed back to the hotel for dinner and sleep.
Today, we traveled to Taipei and tomorrow we have three packed days and hear about 70 auditions. Stay tuned for more posts!