On Tour to Valladolid

Another whirlwind tour in November 2007, this time comprising two complete operas within 10 days. It started off with a bang – R. and I had a concert with our own group on Wednesday night in Nijmegen and arrived at my house at 12.30 AM. After a very short night (catnap, really), our taxi arrived at 5.15 to take us to the airport to fly to Bergamo. We arrived at 9 AM but my suitcase didn’t. They had no idea where it was or how I would ever get it back and wanted to send it on to Madrid to meet us there. I didn’t like that idea so much; I know how enormous Madrid airport is and thought I’d never see it again. So we reluctantly left the airport and drove to Lonigo, ready to meet the orchestra who had already been rehearsing for two days. What a feeling, walking into a rehearsal with your glasses on, unshowered, two hours of sleep behind you and no suitcase.

We rehearsed there that day and I discovered that the suitcase had gone to Pisa (not Bergamo), then to Rome, then to Bergamo where a colleague picked it up that night and met us the next day at Milan airport. So glad I was to see it… and then to check in again and relinquish all control once again. We traveled for exactly 12 hours that day; bus, plane, bus and hotel in Valladolid at 11 PM. What a lovely hotel, and such a relief to have a shower and crawl into bed.

Valladolid is a charming town and it was perfect weather, although a bit cold.

R. and I had a nice walk around town. The most stunning sight was the entryway to an old palace where the Museum of Sculpture is now housed. I’d never seen such a beautiful gateway with patterns behind the statues, a sort of 13th century wallpaper.


The concert was in a brand-new huge concert hall; so new that there were no mirrors in the dressing rooms and no cafe. It was also humongous and the audience wasn’t very large so it felt a bit empty, but they were very enthusiastic. After the concert, we raced back to the hotel and hid in the bar with our instruments, waiting for the conductor. When he walked in, we burst out in song — “Tanti Auguri a Te” better known as “Happy Birthday.” We presented him with a pink sweater and a cake and much merriment was had.

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Museum für Sepulkralkultur (jawohl)

Several years ago, I played a concert in Kassel (DE) with my chamber music group. We were booked to play in the Schütz festival there, although we weren’t playing Schütz. We were, however, playing quite a gloomy program to fit in with the venue — the Museum für Sepulkralkultur. Yes, there truly is a museum dedicated only to Sepulchral Culture; I bet you didn’t even know there was such a thing as Sepulchral Culture! (Say it again — Sepulchral Culture — and it sounds really funny.)

To say it was a bizarre place doesn’t really do it justice. We had been afraid that it would be underground in a dark and chilly tomb, but in fact it was a modern and airy building on the side of a hill overlooking the Naturschutzgebiet Fulda-Aue. It was quite a lovely and peaceful place, with many beautiful headstones, “death crowns,” coffins and modern paintings. The piece de resistance, however, is the coffin of Heinrich Posthumus Reuß, 1572–1635. He commissioned the Musikalisches Exequien from Schütz himself and chose to be buried in a copper coffin inscribed with the text of the composition. It was beautiful and not at all macabre. Posthumus, get it? Ha.

The title of the exhibition is “Mit Fried und Freud fahr ich dahin,” which I think is a lovely sentiment. A banner flew from the ceiling above our temporary stage asking, “Ist Erinnerung schöner als die Wirklichkeit?” Something we should ask ourselves more often, I think. Especially those of us intent on documenting all of our past travels. Ahem.

Oh, and the concert was a success!

I Keen, You Keen, We all Keen for Nankeen

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Shanghai wasn’t just silly restaurant menus. We didn’t have a lot of free time there (well, about 26 hours which sounds like a lot but not when you’re as jet-lagged as we were) but I made the most of it. I made sure to pop over to the Chinese Printed Blue Nankeen Exhibition Hall, which was an unbelievable place. I love fabric not quite as much as yarn, but still quite a lot, and this was heaven. My Blue Heaven.

I was there for as long as it took to decide between the 50-odd different patterns and spend the rest of my money. Now that I’m home (and don’t have to carry it halfway around the world), I’m regretting not finding an ATM and buying a LOT more. Because man, that’s some beautiful stuff. What will I make with it? I have some small gift ideas, but we’ll see if I can ever stand to cut into it.

 

Chinese Restaurant Fun

in 2011, I went on tour with an English orchestra to Shanghai and to Perth. While it was a long way to travel for just 3 concerts, I made sure to use any available free time to see as much as possible.

One night I went with one of the other musicians in search of a meal before our concert. It was a holiday, the Lantern Festival, and everyone was out and about and the restaurants were packed. We found one that had a) space and b) a menu with pictures and English (of a sort). The food was quite good once we found something to order that wasn’t too scary. But mostly we were just crying with laughter at some of the options on the menu. Sorry for the photo quality, I couldn’t get the camera to hold still.

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