Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Places I've Been!

After my first "retro-post" covering my trip to South Korea in 2010, I began to wonder exactly how many times I have traveled outside of the United States. While I have always had an acute philosophical sense of time passing, Life still sort of slips up on me at times. Perhaps it does to us all. I was filing and organizing things in the music office at St. Paul's over the weekend with some lovely choir ladies and chatting with them at lunch about travels we'd had and that we wanted to make. I have been a great many places, but there are tons more I would love to explore! A partial list of those will probably be my next post. Here, there are a few details and some memorable stories, but the rest is just a list! :-)
Most of my trips have been choral performance tours, choral and orchestral workshops, and dissertation-related studies. Many of these have been reduced, partially-funded, and in the case of the England cathedral residencies: fully-funded. Sometimes, I've stayed with families and sometimes solo. I am very lucky indeed. I have also planned and penny-pinched for the rest :-) I always think of travel as part of the School of Life and as I like school..........and work in a university...........I need to continue to travel.........always..........wouldn't you say?  :-)
1990 Germany & Austria This was a fabulous two-week, packed performance tour with the Charleston Symphony Singers Guild (Emily Remington, conductor). It was my very first trip out of the country and it completely changed my life! I had gotten my first job in high school to be able to help raise money for myself to go and my parents funded the rest as a graduation present. Some of the cities we visited and sang in included: Mannheim, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Kempten, Vienna, Salzburg (as part of the Salzburg Music Festival w/ Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy), Innsbruck, Hall im Tirol, Ulm, Friedrichshafen, Lindau, Augsburg, the amazing Wieskirche, and Munich. Some of my favorite memories are from Kempten and Ulm.

When we arrived in Kempten, I remember we were exhausted and it was late in the afternoon. I think everybody took showers and naps. When I awoke, it was evening twilight and chilly. I leaned out of our window onto the small town square below and just took a deep breath of the fresh air. As I looked out into the quiet and calm scene, a noise came from a small door on the side of the church. A little old man walked slowly across the square and took out a giant set of keys. He opened a box on the side of the stone wall and made a turn with his hand. Then, one by one, tiny hanging bulbs began to light.....slowly, until they lit up a string of lights around the square. The little man watched them, one by one, as I was watching, and when everything was lit, he closed the box and walked away. It was a beautiful, peaceful moment.

In Ulm, we were visiting the Ulm Minster, which has the tallest spire in all of Europe. It was about closing time and our choir began to sing. We performed "Holy, Holy, Holy" by Maxcine Woodbridge Posegate. It wasn't a very difficult piece, or a known pinnacle of choral literature, but the stacked chords and continuous dynamic intensity made for a moment of glory and it is one of my very favorite sacred pieces. Everyone stopped to hear us. I had never been in a place like this before and never imagined music could feel that alive in the very air we breathed. It was astounding and I was forever struck with a fever for sacred choral music written for such spaces!

1990 England  Salisbury Cathedral residency w/ Trinity Episcopal Cathedral choir in Columbia, SC, directed by John Haney. A small group took a van to Cardiff, Wales afterward, 1990 This trip was less than a week after my return from the above Austria/Germany trip! We sang evensong every day and stayed in the boychoir house. I remember that they had what I would call "straw ticks" for beds and there were a few pencil drawings behind a few of them. One of my favorite memories is of us sitting on the grass outside Salisbury cathedral and looking up at the enormous stone facades, lit by starlight and spotlghts around the side. It was a special and rare experience. Another memory is walking alongside the Avon river (Hampshire). The cathedral staff had provided bag lunches for us and inside were boiled hotdog sandwiches with butter. The ducks were very excited that day at their unexpected feast. Below is a famous painting of Salisbury Cathedral by John Constable (1776-1837).
1992 England  St. Paul’s Cathedral residency with Trinity Episcopal in Columbia, SC  1992 St. Paul's was amazing!! Getting to spend extra time in the building and below it was a treasured experience as was singing evensongs during the week and mass on Sunday. It was on this trip that I began to enjoy organ concerts and repertoire. We got to see partsof the cathedral gthat ordinary tourists do not see. During this trip, I finally saw The Phantom of the Opera and Cats. I also discovered English cider and that I liked it.....a lot!
1995 Poland & the Czech Republic with the Emory University Choir, where I had just finished my Masters degree in conducting. We began our tour in Prague for about four days. I loved the pedestrian places in Praha and the bridges. The Industrial Revolution had not been good to the face of the city and its environs, but it was still georgeous. I also loved Wenceslaus Square and the street musicians. Our group took a train from Prague to the beautiful Liberec where we observed a choir rehearsal and performed. Then, on to Czestochowa to see The Black Madonna at the Jasna Gora Monastery. through the Tatra Mountains (they were SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!) to Krakow, Poland. We visited Auschwitz the next day and I was completely overwhelmed. It was raining, cold, and dreary. Being in such a dreaded place of death and seeing what took place there was chilling. We took an overnight train back to Prague.
1996 France, Austria, Germany (stayed at a dear friend's apartment and had a blast while they were there and then took care of their place while they were away). We visited Freiburg and the Schwartzwald. After my visit, I took trains back through Switzerland & Germany to Austria to meet the USC choir for their Austria/Germany tour.
England  Yorkminster cathedral residency with Trinity Episcopal in Columbia, SC. This trip was a blast because several different Trinity choir generations mixed for the trip and I had friends from two different degree programs! We stayed in the stable house, where the jockeys stayed, about a mile and a half outside the walled city of York. LOTS of Viking history here and archeological interests. I saw a hedgehog in the grass for the first time! Each night, we would go to the horse pasture after dinner and give the horses sugar cubes
:-) We took over the local pub and made a lot of friends. We also were given special seats at a service at Yorkminster and the Queen herself attended. The music was GLORIOUS! I'm going to have to dig up my picture of the Queen mother in her green hat in her car. The picture below is of the tremendous minster.
1997 Austria & Italy: USC Concert Choir (as an alum) trip, over New Year’s. It was FOUR degrees on New Year's Eve and we were on the streets of Vienna drinking champagne. At the stroke of midnight, radios and TVs on large screens broadcast the pummerin - the gigantic bell of St. Stephen's Cathedral - you can hear it at this link  Then, everyone began to dance Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz. Check out this YouTube of Ricardo Muti conducting it...interesting facial expressions. The streets were packed with people dancing, exchanging small toy pigs (it's a Viennese tradition as well to exchange Glucksbringer, or lucky charms such as these) and then toasting. Some people began to toss bottles and champagne glasses on the ground. It echoed all around and sounded as loud as fireworks.
1999 England & France: USC Jazz band and Jazz choir to London and Paris to perform Duke Ellington’s Sacred Service. We sang in Notre Dame! One funny thing (well, NOW, it's funny), was that our group went to a restaurant underground for lunch one afternoon before leaving Paris for the village of Honfleurs in Normandy. The floor had tree roots all over it and the trees were growing right up through the top floor and out above it. I ordered French onion soup because I thought "we're in I should try French onion soup..." As one of the waitresses brought our foods, she tripped. CUE slow motion - a flying, swirling, disc of hot melted cheese and onion and bread flew across the way and landed directly upon my kneecap and molded itself onto my jeans. O U C H !! I have to say that I did sort of scream because it hurt so much and was so dang HOT. The worst part was having to get back on a hot bus for hours and smelling like stank onion.
1999 Bulgaria – My first trip to this magnificent country! It was at the end of a very hard spring semester and much was going on in my life as a whole. I was actually quite down about it all, but signed up for the choral workshop through what is now the Varna International company. It was a workshop to study the choral music and historical styles of American, Bulgarian, French, and Russian music. Larry Wyatt (The USC in SC), Helene Guy (Paris Conservatoire), Boris Tevlin (Moscow Conservatory), and Marin Tchonev (Bulgaria, the choir of Morski Zvutsi) were the clinicians. I loved my experience so much that I created a proposal to teach a course the following year! In another post this summer, I will expound on my beloved Bulgaria!

2000 - Bulgaria – choral workshop, stayed to teach a week afterwards
2001 - Bulgaria – choral workshop, orchestral workshop, taught, then Rome afterwards
2002 - Bulgaria – orchestral workshop, taught, then Greece afterwards. After exploring Athens for two days straight, I walked to the pier and hopped on a boat to Paros for a week. I stayed in a small B&B, walked all over the island, and spent a whole day horseback riding from one end of the island to the uninhabited area on the other side and along the beach. I got BAD sunburn, but had a BLAST! :-)
2003 - Bulgaria & Scotland – I will write more on Scotland later this summer as well. I had quite an adventure. It began with my arriving in Aberdeen and staying six miles outside of the city. The next day, I walked into town, all over town, and walked back! WHEW! There was a giant cow munching grass outside my hotel (The Water Wheel) window. There were TONS of people with my EXACT same hair color in Scotland! I rented a car and spent a week driving all over northern Scotland via single track roads, crossing the Cairgnorms, and including the Isle of Skye. I got lost a few times, didn't make reservations, and almost ran out of gas. It was so much fun!!!
2004 - Bulgaria – orchestral workshop. This time, I stayed for a month, visited schools (including a folk high school in Varna), interviewed some conductors for my dissertation, and I got food poisoning about five days before I came back. I watched Ronald Reagan's funeral service from my apartment bed and ate ice chips I made from apple juice.
Bulgaria & Romania – took my students to participate in Brahms Requiem workshop. About seven of us took a van to Bucharest for a day and a half. Then, we took a train through the gorgeous Transylvanian Alps to the Medieval town of Sighishoara where Vlad Dracul was born. 2007 I will do a separate blog post on this over the summer. So....that makes THREE that I hope to remember to do!
South Korea  & the DMZ - “Fam” tour, January 2010  See previous blog post! :-)
Austria & Italy - In 2010 I taught music for the UNO Innsbruck program. For three weekends, I took train trips to Italy (weekend #1 - Bressanone/Bolzano, weekend # 2 – Rovereto, weekend # 3 - Padua/Venice), and for the final weekend my friend Kavita and I went to Salzburg and had a BLAST! I hope to teach for the Innsbruck program again. I will probably blog about a little of this trip and my weekend adventures! This picture is from my glacier hike!
Brasil & Argentina – July 2011 Spent three weeks working on a book with my colleague. In Brasil, I visited Curitiba, Blumenau, Jaragua do Sul, and Iguaçu. I visited the Argentine side of Igazu and the surrounding small town. Separate post, but that one might be about photography. I had a blast! I drank espresso and red wine and LOVED them for the very first time. I also learned to make pear risotto, understand some Portuguese, and ate pine nuts as giant as Brazil nuts. I was collaborating on a book project - which will be finished THIS SUMMER with my colleague maestro Daniel Bortholossi. The "88" butterfly below is from the Argentine side of the Iguazu falls natural reserve. The falls on both side were magnificent!!!
Mexico – 6 cruises (1 self, 1 w/ friend,  1 summer, 1 Nov., 1 w/ Mom, 1 w/ Jefferson Chorale) I’ve been able to see historically significant Mayan ruins at Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and Tuluum. I've been ablt to do so many because I had the great fortune to work with a wonderful company that helps plan choir trips and festivals. They sometimes need a judge for a group, based on national standards and sometimes they needed an escort for a group and called me. I am indebted to my friend Dawn N. for these opportunities! :-)

There! So, that's all I can think of a yap about for now. Wow, now I have tons more to blog about. I think I like blogging  :-) I will probably do a separate post on each one of these trips!!!!! So many terrific experiences!


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