Today was a busy day for me! I awoke for breakfast followed by lunch and as per usual, our composition lesson. Today our lesson was conducted by Dr. Elliott Mckinley (our professor). He showed us some of his recent works, again, followed by insight into the compositional process. Immediately afterward, I met with the Klezmer group to plan our addition to the Saturday concert. Unfortunately, we had no direct access to any percussion instruments, so, on Monday, Dr. Forest Toby and I planned to meet at a local music rental store to see what we could do. In the meantime, I was tasked with writing out some percussion parts for the three pieces we would be performing. Afterward, I quickly changed in the hotel and made my way over to the Chiesa di San Giuseppe for the Siren Quintet’s reading of our pieces. Disappointment followed as there was apparently a terrible miscommunication to the group. We had sent in our pieces months ago and they had just been handed to the group at the beginning of the festival. They were told it was to be an unrecorded sight-reading, where it was actually meant to be a recorded performance. After a lot of start and stop readings, the quintet informed us of the miscommunication and apologized greatly for the incident, offering to record for us again sometime. After dinner, we proceeded to another concert at the Chiesa di San Domenico for a Baroque concert. With wonderful pieces by Handel, Albinoni, Vivaldi, and Bach, the concert proved to be another beautiful success, followed by a fun encore featuring a pizzicato twist on a famous jazz piece.
Today I was able to sleep in a bit before getting up to join part of our group having breakfast at La Brazilera, which from here on will be referred to as ‘the flagship’ as we usually meet or hang out there. After hanging out and chatting for a bit, we headed to lunch at the communal cafeteria. (For reference, breakfast is often seen as a very light occasion, consisting of only coffee and a croissant.) The cafeteria was just what one would expect. It was very similar to your high school cafeteria, where you take a tray and move down a line selecting your items. After lunch, we walked to St. Mary’s College where we attended our daily composition lecture, today listening to Dr. Peter Farmer present some of his works, followed by constructive discussion. After the lesson, we had free time until the 9pm evening concert at Fondazione Ferrero. The inaugural concert featured singer Hilary Cole. Her standing ovation earned her three extra encore performances.
There was a similar basic schedule for the composers this morning. Breakfast, lunch, composition lesson at 1pm. However, today we listened to St. Mary’s composition professor, Dr. David Froom talk about some of his works and lend some constructive criticism for the group. I also met privately with Dr. Froom to talk about a couple of my own pieces, looking for some general advice on the compositional process. His suggestions proved helpful in aiding with some last minute changes to the piece that would be performed the next day by the Siren Woodwind Quintet. For the evening concert, we saw the St. Mary’s College Men’s Quartet, followed by Brian Ganz performing an all-Chopin concert on the Pianoforte in the beautiful Chiesa di San Domenico. After the concert, Max, a student from St. Mary’s pulled me aside asking if I was a percussionist. I told him that I was and he proceeded to invite me to be a part of a Klezmer performance on Saturday, June 2nd. I was thrilled to accept, as I was itching to actually perform during the trip.
I awoke slightly earlier than my two roommates (thanks to the extra couple hour nap that I had taken the day before) so I utilized the time to write up Day 1’s blog. As we neared our 10am meeting time, we made our way to la brasilera for a quick bite (as is customary for breakfast in Italy) and coffee. After chatting and hanging out for a couple of hours, we went to lunch in a cafeteria lunch room style venue. We lined up, grabbed trays, and chose from a good selection of meals. Once we finished our lunches, we met at St Mary’s College at 1pm for our Music Composition Class. We talked with David Froom, composition instructor from the St. Mary’s College of Maryland, about composition as a whole and stylistic approaches as well as the details of our recordings (which will be produced by him) that will be made later in the week for the pieces that we wrote for the Siren Quintet’s concert. Once this class ended, we were free to spend time in town for the rest of the afternoon/evening as the festivities for the Alba International Music Festival wouldn’t be starting until the next day (Thursday).
It was around 1pm on Monday that we said our goodbyes and boarded our first flight to Minneapolis, where we had about a 1.5 hour layover before boarding again for Paris, France. This flight was about nine hours plus another two hour layover before taking our final two hour flight, now with the students from St. Mary’s, to Durin, Italy. From here we all traveled by bus for one hour to Alba. After all of this travel, sleep would yet evade us, as it was only about 11am in Alba. We spent the first half of this day getting acquainted with the town, being shown important locations, restaurants, and banks where we could change our money to the almighty Euro. At 5:30pm we convened in the Chieasa san Giuseppe with the St. Mary’s students and faculty where we went over a lot of the details for the International Music Festival starting on Thursday (It was Tuesday at this point). The rest of the group had managed to grab coffee before the meeting, but, being a non-coffee drinker, I passed. This was a sore mistake after all of the travel and being awake for over 24 hours at this point. My head began to do the ‘bob’ as I fought sleep with every ounce of strength in my body. The meeting ended and I chose to pass on dinner to take a short nap in the hotel. A few hours later, at about 10pm, about half of our group (IUE) decided to see where we could go to get a wi-fi connection, so we went down the street to Vin Cafe, were we enjoyed a light snack and a glass of wine. The wi-fi, unfortunately, only worked long enough for one of us to send out an email and then stopped working altogether. We returned to the hotel where I took a hot shower and then passed out for a good night’s sleep.
The group packs and prepares for the long flight to Italy. We are all meeting @ The Dayton International Airport tomorrow morning. We will be changing flights in Minneapolis, and then Paris, France until we arrive, after about 13 hours of flight time and a few more hours ‘airport-time’ in Turin, Italy. From there we will travel to Alba, arriving just two days before the start of the International Music Festival.
News in Italy: An Earthquake just 22 miles north of Bologna measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale kills 6 people and injures dozens more, destroying many historic buildings along with at least two aftershocks measuring over 5.1. This disaster hit at around 4am this morning leaving up to 3,000 people unable to return to their homes for the time being. Though a tragic event, it should not interfere with our trip, as the cities that we are visiting (Alba and Venice) are fairly distant from the affected areas.