Friday, December 26, 2008
So this post is definitely way overdue, but I wanted to contribute something regarding my experience in St. Petersburg. I was certainly excited about the idea of going to Russia the moment I found out I would be able to participate in the Kulmusik ensemble, but I would have never guessed that I would come away from the experience so enriched.
One can really feel the history of such a place just upon entering the city with the way the old buildings and monuments were set up, and the canals added a sense of flare atypical of American cities. The difference in the culture was also very apparent just by taking a walk down a few city blocks. For our part, we had a rather busy week with many rehearsals in preparation for the concerts, trying to find some time to see the city a bit more, discovering and eating Russian food among other things. I think my favorite part of the week was seeing the Russian Ballet. In particular, the ballets by Russian composers were truly incredible, and to see them performed in that hall by some of the premiere Russian dancers was an unforgettable experience.
On the musical side of things, I felt very honored to have the opportunity to play for an international music festival abroad. We had a great program which seemed to be received very well by our audience, and having our ensemble come together to pull off this tour was very rewarding. Just having the opportunity to work with some of our esteemed faculty was a reward in itself, and all of us in the group became very tight throughout the week. Playing with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic was also an unbelievable experience for which I'm very grateful to have had. It was an entirely new level of musical maturity which I had never had the opportunity to perform with until this trip.
To sum things up, my trip to St. Petersburg was one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life. I was able to grow so much as a person and musician even though it seems like such a short amount of time that we had over there. Working with the members of our ensemble was amazing and I would just like to thank each and every one of them for adding so much to this already great experience.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
So this post is certainly long overdue. The truth is that I haven't been able to decide where to begin. It was a very busy week, what with the stresses of travel, at least three hours of a rehearsal a day, two concerts, tasting Russian cuisine, sight seeing, and maybe sleeping and practicing just a little (maybe). Regardless, it was a truly unforgettable experience. I forgot how young America is; visiting St. Petersburg was like taking a giant step into the past. Ancient churches, palaces; there was history around every corner. The most interesting thing for me in this regard was visiting the Hermitage, the art museum there which used to be a palace for the former monarchy. It was overwhelming to stand in the same room where the last meeting of the counterrevolutionary government was held just before the revolution.
The musical side of things was just as rewarding, if not more. It's a fascinating experience to work so hard for something for so long and then to have it finally come to life, which it did in ways I couldn't have predicted. I don't think it truly hit me that I was playing a concert at an international festival in Russia until I was on stage performing. The other concert that the students had the pleasure to participate in was a concert with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, conducted by Ithaca College's own Jeff Meyer. That was an eye-opening experience as well. Their emotional approach to music was very moving and I found it interesting to compare it to how many American musicians approach music.
Needless to say, I came away from this trip with rich memories and an irreplaceable experience that has factored into my musical development. I can't be thankful enough for being given the opportunity to travel to Russia to play in this ensemble with such wonderful musicians, as well as the opportunity to work closely with the faculty.