Sunday, November 30, 2008
My apologies for not writing more frequently while actually in Russia. For whatever reason, the hotel's computers would not allow us access to the IC weblog site. Either way, I kept my blog on my computer and am posting it here now. Here was an entry intended to be post on Wednesday:
Well, it’s been a few days since we’ve been in Russia now. After a long and arduous journey to get here, it all worked out in the end. We arrived on Monday evening around 6:00 PM (we were originally supposed to arrive at the same time the previous day) – having lost a day in the Helsinki airport, we were all quite anxious to enjoy some fine Russian cuisine and see some sights. Dr. Meyer arranged a reservation for all of us at a local restaurant a few blocks from our hotel (which is a gorgeous hotel by the way). The owner set up a “family style” dinner with several plates ranging from cheese samples, to herb salads, to fish and nuts, to lamb… the list goes on an on. The night ended at a local café that proved to be a worthwhile investment of our time. While there, I was challenged by a Russian couple (in very broken English) to a game of foosball. When asked what color I wanted to be, I naturally responded “Well, it would only be appropriate for you to be red…” They enjoyed my joke.
Tuesday was the day of concert. I spent the free hours of my day walking about 2.5 miles down the Nevsky Monastery/Cemetery. The main purpose of this trip was to see the graves of Russian composers such as Tschaikowsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glink, Borodin, Balakierev, and Mussorgsky (to name a few). Later on in the afternoon we had our dress rehearsal and subsequent concert in Glinka Hall—a truly remarkable space that was classically preserved in its appearance and had acoustics like no other. We all often commented how we could hear things in our own music making in this hall that we couldn’t in previous performance venues (that’s a good thing!). Our audience filled about 30 to 40 percent of the concert hall’s seating; they were a truly appreciate audience. After a successful and well-received concert we all moved onto a traditional Russian cuisine restaurant that included a performance by a band of four folk musicians. I was truly moved by the performance of a folk ballad that I hope to link up here in YouTube I the near future. All in all, the performance and the collaborative efforts between faculty and students in making this all happen was an inspirational experience. We’re all extremely fortunate.
Today (Wednesday) we spent some time at the local outdoor marketplace by the Church of the Spilled Blood. The photo included with this post is the Church top. Following that, the students rehearsed with Dr. Meyer and the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra for the latter half of the afternoon. It’s quite the experience to be making music with people who you can hardly communicate with verbally, yet through the international language of music, we’re somehow able to make it all work. Truly amazing…
Following, rehearsal we hurried off to the Russes Ballet at the famous Marinskii Hall across from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. The dancers and musicians were of the highest class and quality and I thouroughly enjoyed the performces of three, one-act ballets (Chopin, Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scherazade”). And here we are back at the hotel for the evening. Tomorrow is a walking tour that Dr. Meyer set up for the students. Looking forward to that. To all my family and friends—love and miss you! If anyone from Bolton Center School in Bolton, CT is reading, here’s your shout-out from RUSSIA! PRACTICE and maybe someday you can have an opportunity like this one presented to you. Dasdivanya (that more or less means, “goodbye”)!
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