Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wien, vielen Dank für Alles

Liebe Wien,

I wrote this and never posted it.. so I thought I should post it..

Vielen Dank...

for the incredible experiences I've had here -- I could never forget these memories.

for the huge shove in a new direction -- I can't believe how much I've grown here.

for the ???? amount of added pounds... schnitzel, mozart kugeln, croissants, kebap... the list doesn't end.  How about a gym pass to go with it? =P

for the caffiene addiction... your Kaffee is the best in the world.

for the friends I've made whom I know I can always revisit these memories with.

for the long nights of Deutsch studieren... but really not.. and then the frantic mornings of Deutsch studieren ;)

for the constant musical inspiration literally everywhere I go -- I love being in a city where being in the orchestra/opera is considered really really awesome.

for the opportunity to study with a Vienna Philharmonic horn player (the best one ;) !!) -- I've grown so much on horn and learned a whole new approach to playing, learning.  Danke Wolfgang!

I've come to love another orchestra like it's my home orch, even though they have a completely different approach than I'm used to!

Wien, you will be truly missed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We've gotten down to the final week of the experience of a lifetime...  from 4 months.. to 4 days...

It's really been developing all semester long without me even realizing, but I've completely fallen in love Vienna and everything about it.  I'm starting to feel that little pang in my stomach when I think about leaving all of this behind.  When we reached the 3 month marker, the relationships that I have been building here with my peers and teachers started to feel really important to me.  Now I am a little heart broken to leave behind so many amazing people and connections I've made.  I know I will always carry them with me and these are experiences are some that we will always hold dear.  

Every time I asked someone about studying abroad who had already done it, they gave me the "YES, you HAVE to do it.  It's the most amazing experience. DO IT."  They were right.. and I didn't really understand that until recently.  There are moments when I have felt so passionately just over the fact that I'm here, in a completely foreign country, and I dared to do that.  It was all my idea and my decision and I've made the most of it.

I remember before I left, when I was applying for this study abroad trip, I never truly thought it all through to be honest.  I didn't know what to expect, I just thought, hey it might be cool to go somewhere for a semester and all the music students go to Vienna.. for obvious reasons.  It didn't even hit me.. until.. I landed in Vienna maybe?  In all of our first meetings here, they kept saying, "You're already not like most students your age.. b/c you dared to do this."  Most students don't study in a foreign country.  I hadn't actually thought about it like that, but I suppose it's true and it's really cool.

I just had a really nice dinner with Ryan, Ross, and Howard and we just kind of talked about how everything moved so fast here.  September and October were normal (for me they were slow), and then, as Ross said, we hit November and it was like a race to the finish line.  And here we are.  Those 6 weeks flew faster than any 6 weeks of my life.  

I feel like it took me longer than most to really "find myself" here, but once I did, I've never been happier with my life.  I want to be here for a lot longer.  I feel like I've really broadened my horizons and opened up a lot of opportunities for my future.  I'm looking at some many options for grad school or... whatever happens after undergrad.  I'm so not ready to make those decisions yet, but I'm so ready to dive into everything.  

I've grown so much here.. everyone has :)  There is this indescribable feeling you get, I think, when you study abroad.  Kind of like that amazing feeling I had after walking out of every lesson in the Staatsoper and just feeling so content with everything.  Even if there was a lot of stress with school or people or anything.. my lessons, rehearsals, and concerts were such a relief from the stress of life.  It's this feeling that's reflected on everything here now.  I get this really happy feeling when I get to the top of the escalator in the Ubahn and I've chosen a perfect piece on my ipod to listen to as the Opera house comes into view.  Or when Wolfgang gets me backstage for operas and I look out into the gorgeous hall with an audience applauding more appreciatively than any audience I've ever encountered.  And when I walk in the Innere Stadt and see incredible building after building everywhere.. the history of this city!!!  There's just this utter joy from being in a city like this.  I don't think I could ask for anything more from a city.. (except maybe for free bathrooms =P).  But in all seriousness, I don't know how I really feel about leaving just yet...  I just need more time...

Friday, December 2, 2011

2nd Concert, Vienna Phil, and Parents in Vienna!

So, to continue the synopsis of November... I arrived back in Vienna from Italy just in time for out second IES concert of the semester!

This was the most important concert to me, as I played my favorite repertoire for the semester.  I played "Verlangen" by Franz Lachner, written for Soprano, Horn, and Piano.  The piece begins with horn solo with piano accompaniment for the first theme, then cadences and the Soprano begins to tell the story.  It's a really simple, pretty piece with a really catchy melody that I enjoyed playing. Then I played the finale from Brahms' Horn Trio, which is just fun :)  I think I've perfected the art of looking calm although I started out very nervous.. :)  It was a really fun concert and it was great to share it with so many wonderful people and musicians!  It was a success!

That weekend I also began voice lessons with my lovely rooommate, Emily!!!  It's actually really helpful to learn what I should actually be doing and understand more about the voice and vocal chords and how to control them.  We mostly did warm-ups and figured out what voice type I am (soprano.. of course). We talked about how opening the mouth will make singing higher easier, mouth shape for good tone and vowel, and numerous other things.  Thinking about things that make my voice sound better seem to be really helping my horn playing sound better as well.  I'm now in the process of learning a Schubert Lied!

That Sunday morning, I was able to get tickets to the Vienna Philharmonic playing Brahms "Ein Deutsches Requiem."  It was absolutely gorgeous.  One of the most moving performances of it I've heard, although it's only the 2nd time I've seen it live.  During one of the rehearsals, Wolfgang actually asked me for input on dynamics and I told him the 2nd horn needed to play the 4th mvmt solo louder and there was one other part where they could play out just to show off the interesting rhythm more.  I heard it in the concert.  The 2nd horn solo was absolutely gorgeous, I've never heard it played like that, he did a really lovely job with phrasing in such a short little solo!  It was a beautiful and emotional concert that I really enjoyed.
My parents on Kärntnerstraße!

Directly after the concert, I went to meet my parents as they arrived in Vienna!!!  It was a wonderfully planned out week that turned out to absolutely wipe me out, about as much as I knew was possible!!  I still had to go to all of my classes, practice, have lessons, and instead of relaxing or doing any of my homework, I spent time taking my parents around the city and finding places for them to visit and finding good food for them to eat!  The first day, I took them to a concert in the Musikverein with the Concertgebouw orchestra!  It was an absolutely amazing concert.  That orchestra is really world class, I was blown away.  The trumpet player really did it for me.  They played the suite from Stravinsky's Petrushka, and I honestly didn't know that trumpet solo could sound so easy.  Music just poured out of his bell like he wasn't even trying.  It was one of the most incredible things I've ever heard, everything about it was perfect, and he didn't seem to flinch a bit- he was so calm.  The bassoon player was the other thing that really hit me, I'm not sure I've ever heard a more beautiful sounding bassoon player in my life.  It was absolutely gorgeous, I wish he had more solos!  I was so glad I bought those tickets!!!

The food I ate this week was the best food I had during my stay here.  I took them to a Viennese cafe almost every morning and had a really nice, traditional breakfast.  This usually includes a Melange (the best coffee ever), Semmel (round, white bread rolls) with jam and butter, and if you get a bigger breakfast, usually yogurt and musli (granola-like) and fruit, and the most important... ham and cheese slices!  It's really easy to get used to these breakfasts!  Then on wednesday, I had a lesson that my parents came to observe and afterwards we went out to eat with Wolfgang at a really nice restaurant.  I had real Wiener Schnitzel and it was the greatest thing I've ever eaten.  The Marillenpalatschinken, basically crepes with apricot marmelade, was also the best I've ever had there.  Then I missed my history class (accidentally), and had coffee with them as well!
A very happy dad eating his Apfelstrudel and Weichselstrudel (apple and sour cherry)!

My parents also went to see Tannhäuser in the Staatsoper that night.  I had rehearsal that evening, so I couldn't sit with them, but I met Wolfgang and jumped into the pit after the frst act!!  It was a great performance, even without the first act.. and especially the overture!!  (sad face)  Wolfgang took us to the sky bar after the concert, which is a fancy bar at the top of a department store called Steffl, where you can see a really gorgeous view of Stephansdom, the largest and most famous church in Vienna.  Steffl is also coincidentally the name of the tower you can climb up in Stephansdom.. clever!  I also ordered my first cocktail there! :)  It was really nice to have my parents and Wolfgang meet and chat about music, Vienna, and many other fun, random things!  It was quite a day.

Other things that my parents did include: seeing the Magritte exhibit in the Albertina museum, going through some exhibits in the Hofburg palace, going in Stephansdom and Peterskirche, walking and eating at the Karlskirche Christkindlmarkt, seeing my school and apartment, watching a Vienna Phil rehearsal, seeing the Belvedere Palace and art inside it, observing a second lesson with Wolfgang at his house, shopping on Kärntnerstraße, and eating lots more amazing food!
My mom and I at Cafe Central for a Wiener Frühstück (breakfast)!
It was really cool to have my parents in Vienna and be able to show them around!  Who would have thought I would know my way around better than them! ha!  It's almost like.. I'm an adult or something crazy like that.  :)  I only wish they could have been here longer so that I could have done more with them and had more time to bring them everywhere!  I had a blast hanging out with them!  It was a wonderful week with my parents and I was sad to see them go.  Or rather.. sad to see me go.. because I actually left them alone for a day in Vienna as I went off for the IES ski trip in the Alps!  More on that in my next post.. for now, I'm off to get a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My 21st and a trip to Italy!

Wow, it's been almost all month since I posted!!!  So, here's a little synopsis of the month...

I had my birthday: Yay I'm 21!!  I went out, turned 21, had a crazy time, then woke up the next morning and stood in line for Siegfried all day :)  Siegfried was incredible.  Here's the cast:

And then... I went to Italy :)

Italy was unbelievable amazing.  First of all, you can't go wrong with 7 Italian boys, 2 Spanish boys, Luca Benucci, and me, the lone female.  :)  Not that bad of a situation at all.  This is the bunch of us that was still there in the evening for their little "first day being all together" party.
My  time in Italy was some of the best I could have imagined.  It started out a little bumpy with 7 connections to get there.  Ubahn to Schnell bahn to plane to train to italy's ubahn to train to different train, finally I arrived in Cesena, but I had no idea where to go, so I ended up walking around in Italy in the dark.  I decided that wasn't the safest choice, so I asked two people walking dogs, "parli inglese?" and one said no very strongly and the other said, "oh a little."  The one who didn't speak any ended up walking me all the way to my hotel in silence, as we couldn't really converse at all.  He was a very nice old man though!  So I got to my hotel and had a cute little tiny room with a bed and a sink and it was lovely, but cold.  I ended up having internet access though, which worked out really nicely as I checked my Facebook to see that I had a new message from Giuseppe, a student of Luca's who had recommended the hotel and said he'd help me with anything.  Then I took a power nap.  :) The two of us and another horn student, Vicente (from Spain), met later that evening at a pub in town and we chatted and they showed me around a little bit.  They also promised to meet me in the morning to get me to the conservatory!

The next morning, I woke up really early to shower, get ready, warm up, and find a place to have breakfast, all before meeting at the conservatory at 9.  I had a lovely Italian breakfast in a cafe:
Then Giuseppe and Vicente picked me up and we went to the conservatory.  I had 7 more guys thrown at me all at once and I couldn't remember any of these Italian names.  Right away I knew I needed to work really hard on the names.  I got it in a day: Giuseppe. Vicente. Stefano. Frederico. Mattia. Giullem. Davide. Emmanuele. Manuel. LUCA! and Tamino was the pianist (japanese).  

We started the day at 9 with 2 hours of breathing exercises, buzzing, and singing.  Luca uses a spirometer, which allows you to see your airflow by watching a little ball that is held up by your wind.  VERY USEFUL.  We did some breathing and buzzing together, then we would go around and he would listen individually and give us each critiques.  Then we each played an opening phrase from a mozart horn concerto (first notes on the horn), and using the proper air... wasn't that difficult or scary at all!  After all of this, we had individual "20-min" lessons.  Mine was an hour. lol.  None were 20 minutes.  I watched all of them work, and these guys were almost all new students of Luca's so they were only a little bit ahead of me in "Luca training,"  so watching and listening to them was quite informative as well.  Then around 1:30, we all went to lunch at a cafeteria nearby.  It was very yummy, I had pasta!  Then.. we go for coffee :)  They bought me special coffee.. that was absolutely delicious.  Then we go back to the conservatory and continue with lessons.  Mine was last and it was full of singing.  haha.  This was actually really informative.  He had my try a bunch of different things and then play again to see which ones really helped me sound better.  Turns out both the spirometer and the breathing bag helped tremendously and when I sung before playing, my tone was better than it's ever been.  The little buzzy thing (a circle on a stick, arnold jacobs used it a lot) did not help.. it made my sound rather harsh.  But these were fantastic realizations!  I need to BREATHE!!!!!!  
The streets of Cesena.. it was beautiful there :)

The last thing of the day was a mock audition because they had one coming up shortly.  They all played mozart 3 exposition and Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony horn solo.  Then we ranked people to see who did best.  Emmanuele won.  We got kicked out of the building at 7:30.  Yep, that's right.  9 AM to 7:30 PM with a lunch/coffee break.  SOLID WORK ON HORN.  It was incredible.  

That night was their party, Luca cooked homemade Ragu, which was wonderful and Guillem made something called a tortilla, scrambled egg with potatoes in it, also really yummy!  I stayed up really late talking with Luca about amazingly interesting, inspiring things and then totally passed out at the hotel.

The second day was basically the same thing.  We did more technique stuff in the morning and less breathing work.  He has his students work on flute vocalises for technique and a bunch of other things, horn and not horn.  Then more lessons and then we all switched off playing movements of Strauss 1, I got the 2nd movement.  We traded off playing, singing, and buzzing with the spirometer.  It was kind of awesome.  Luca's teaching is just really motivational and energized.  There's always something that happens with my playing, like a big realization that I CAN sound better or it CAN be that easy, etc.  I just need to hone in on all of those things and habit them.  It was a wonderful trip.. we ended with appetizers at a pub and really good conversation.  Luca is one of the most inspiring people I've ever met.  I mean just for life in general, not only horn.  He just understands and learns about each of his students individually so he knows what each of their personalities needs, on horn and in life.  

Playing, Singing, Buzzing on spirometer :) what a trio!

Random things I learned in Italy:
-Everyone's named Giuseppe.  The first, 2nd, and last guy I met there were all Giuseppe.  lol.  

-Italians don't speak english.  And they don't like when you do.

-Italians are not afriad to go for it.  I met a guy on one of the trains back and he started talking to me in Italian and I was like woa. Inglese. and then he actually spoke english which was a miracle.  So he started talking with me and asking where I was from and what I was doing here.  Then I got up to get off in Bologna and he followed me to the door.  I asked if he was getting off and he said no, he left his bag in another car.  The train stopped and I went to get off and he said, "Jamie, wait!" and I'm just like... "umm.. I need to get off.." and he pulls me in and says I hope that we can meet again sometime soon, and we go to do the kiss kiss on either cheek and he totally goes in for the kill and kisses me.  It was very surprising.. and then I left. lol.  Another italian on the plane from Rome to Vienna kept turning around and staring at me, so naturally I looked at him like, "what? why are you looking at me?" and then at baggage claim he come up to me, doesn't speak english, only german (he figured I was austrian) and asks me out to dinner.  I politely declined the offer.  Those Italians... fearless!  ;)

I want to study in Italy with Luca Benucci.  Not sure when this will happen, but I assure you, it will.

Well, I'll have to continue this November synopsis later, as I'm really tired.  Guten Abend!  :)
Lucaaaaaa :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

And it's only Monday!? WIN!

This monday was so epic that it deserves its own blog post all for itself.  I'll update on the other stuff later..

7 AM yoga/practice
8:30AM write more of 401 History paper
10 AM Vienna Staatsoper rehearsal of the 2nd half of Götterdämmerung
1 PM shove pb&j down my throat, warm up
2 PM (oops lesson time moved!) practice!
3 PM Music History
4:30 PM Almost complete essay for 401!!!
6PM Lesson with Luca Benucci!!!!!!!!!
7:30 PM All Bartok program with Esa-Pekka Salonon and the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Konzerthaus

So, I woke up 45 minutes late, no big deal, I was up until 12 writing my paper.  Felt good, but I was getting nervous for my lesson, as usual (with a new, famous horn player!).  Also a little nervous about actually getting the lesson (I'll explain later)!  So, I had time to write more of my paper that I need to get done BEFORE my birthday when it's due!  I do not want to be writing that paper on my birthday!!!  (or the night before!!!)  At this point I've got almost 8 full pages.  I need 10.

Then I ran to the Staatsoper (literally), and get there just in time to meet Wolfgang and 2 of his students to watch his rehearsal.  I LOVE these rehearsals.  Even when they are the most angry, depressing, confusing music (Wagner), it still really calms all my nerves listening to them play.  That's how it's supposed to be.  Watching/listening to them play just gives me a few hours to forget about everything else.  I don't have to think about classes (or that paper I need to finish), I don't think about my problems, or anything that I don't want to think about.  It's just a really relaxing wonderful break from life.  I'm going everyday this week. :)  And then I get to talk shop (or anything) with Wolfgang during the pause (and he bought me coffee! nom.)  Today we talked about Wiener horn sound compared to american horns, especially Conns. He also invited me to his studio recital to see all his students that I've been meeting play solos!

So, Luca.  Luca is the hardest person to get a lesson with.  I had been trying to get a lesson with him in Italy, but my times were not really working out with any of his times, and I couldn't chance going to Italy for no lesson.  So, it just didn't look like it was going to happen.  Then, on friday night I saw Luca's fb status (thank you fb!!!). It read: "Ready to go: Wien... Heldenleben, Musikverein, Mehta!!!  Very good combination!!!"  With eyed widened and jaw dropped, I immediately looked up the Musikverein schedule, and low and behold, his orchestra was on the list for Sunday and Monday.  Right then I sent him a facebook message along the lines of "Are you in Vienna?  I'm in Vienna.  Can I  have a lesson while you're in Vienna?!"  He sent me a messaged back saying "yes, we land at 2 tomorrow" and left me his phone number.  So, Saturday at 2 PM rolled around and so I obviously called Luca.  He answered and said, "Jamie!  I'm still in Pisa!"  He had gotten the times mixed up.  So we rescheduled for 10 AM on monday.  I made one of the hardest decisions ever on sunday: Die Walküre or Heldenleben with Luca's orchestra.  Luca won.  I went to this concert, and it was incredible.  The horns sounded particularly spectacular, which I was very happy to hear!  Luca has a gorgeous sound and SO MUCH power.  It's incredible how much he can play and his endurance is unimaginable in my eyes.  I thought to myself... I must be able to do this.  It's a good thing I have a lesson with him!  I met him outside after the concert to congratulate him and meet him finally.  He is incredibly friendly and a lot of fun.  He also told me that he had forgotten about his rehearsal at 10 in the morning for the monday concert!  We rescheduled for 2 PM.  Once again, monday at 2 rolled around and I walked to the musikverein and called Luca.  He was having lunch with the horns and had a meeting at 3.  We rescheduled for 6 PM, the absolute last possible time either of us could manage.  So, at 6 PM, as the Vienna Phil's rehearsal was just ending, I was waiting at the Kunstlereingang, artist's entrance of the Musikverein. 

This was actually pretty cool.  After all of the rehearsals I've sat in on, all of the horn players not recognize me.  I said hi to one of them that I don't know the name of yet, and I actually spoke with Wolfgang Tomböck, the longtime principal horn.  He was playing first on Bruckner 4 at the first rehearsal I saw here.  He's incredible, and also very friendly.  Then Wolfgang (my teacher) walks out the door, "The rehearsal is over, what are you doing?"  "Luca changed my lesson time again, I'm waiting for him."  haha.  So I chatted with Wolfgang for a little bit and then he pulls out his keys and says "I took my motorcycle today."  WHAT!!!??!  Possibly one the most 'square' guys I've ever met, and he's got a motorcycle.  He actually pulled it around to the entrance to show me.  Most mind boggling sight ever.  He is so legit.  The coolest person I know.  Viennese (cool accent), Vienna Philharmonic Horn, looks like Tom Hanks, awesome teacher, rides a motorcycle.  He's always got something new to surprise me with. lol.  

Anyway, Luca showed up and we scouted out a free room in the Musikverein basement, which we could not actually find, so we ended up using the Men's dressing room, conveniently in use by men changing for the concert. lol.  ((sarcasm))  So I whipped out my horn and played the first 2 pages of Mozart 4 for him.  He told me I had a really nice sound and it was really good.  He also asked why I breathe out of my nose.  It's a Jeff thing to use the nose and mouth, but I really was just taking super wimpy breaths.  He showed my a breathing tool that he uses everyday and showed me how to use it and we did that basically the entire lesson with also using the mouthpiece in the breathing thing.  Then at the very end, I played the Mozart again.  Mozart has never felt like that.  Nothing has ever felt like that.  I'm not sure how he did it, but he's the first person to REALLY get to me feel the difference with real breathing.  He is an incredible teacher.  He told me that he would like to work with me more and that I came to Vienna to really change my horn playing and he will help me.  And I will follow him.  I'm going to Italy next week.  Life changing.

Immediately after all of this crazy inspiration and running around a men's dressing room with guys in underwear staring at me having a lesson telling me about Zwiebel-Brot, I met up with Ross and went to see a totally epic concert.  Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Philharmonia Orchestra playing an all Bartok program.  Dance suite in 6 movements, Violin Concerto No. 2, and Concerto for Orchestra.  The first piece was really awesome, I had never heard it and enjoyed it thouroughly.  The violinist was incredible.  Christian Tetzlaff.  He has amazing control, smoothness, ease, beautiful sound, crazy technique of course, and he was just fantastic.  Esa-Pekka was a lot of fun to watch.  He looks like a young conductor, he has a ton of energy, almost always using both arms fully.  He's a very rhythmic conductor, very clear.  The orchestra had a distinctly British feel to it, I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was, but maybe it was the british brass sound.  The horns were definitely bigger horns, although I don't know what they play on.  It was a more open, less centered tone, very pretty sound.  The bass bone gliss solo was unbelievably loud.  I've never heard it that loud.  It was a really fun concert.  

This was my incredibly day and I totally wore myself out with happiness.. just beaming with happiness is very tiring. lol.  good night.

Friday, November 4, 2011

In der Schweiz!

Midterm break was spent in Switzerland!!!  The weekend was quite a learning experience in many ways.

Ross, Abby, Teresa, and I took a night train on thursday to Zurich, then hopped another to Luzern to meet Sanna (Ross's and my friend from IU who is studying in der Schweiz for a year!).  In retrospect, I don't think I will ever take a night train again, if I can help it.  It's a great idea to save time, but I barely slept and I was completely wiped all of Friday.  We didn't get sleeping cabins, so we just opened up all of the seats so they were all connected and tried to sleep like that, but I really failed at getting a good amount of sleep.

Sanna had a test the morning we arrived, so we went to her flat and dropped off our things and then went into the city to explore before we met her again.   We walked across the Chapel Bridge, which is the oldest bridge in all of Europe.  It was first erected in the 14th century!  Parts of it actually did burn down and had to be rebuilt, but parts of it are still authentic.
Switzerland is absolutely beautiful.  Although our first look at the small city of Luzern was quite foggy, its beauty couldn't be concealed.  There are also an enormous amount of swans in Luzern.  I had never seen so many in one place ever in my life!  
I had always thought that swans were beautiful, graceful creatures.. but now I just see them as giant white geese.  They were not afraid to walk right up to us as if we were going to give them food.  They also defecate all over the place, constantly.  Although some can still be quite beautiful, I'll never see them the same way. =P

We also walked along the Museggmauer, or the Musegg Wall.  It was built in 1386 and is still almost totally intact.  We were able to actually enter three (i think) of the towers, and we got a really nice view of the old city from above.  
It's still pretty foggy at this point, but it's still a great view!

This is a shot of one of the towers that we climbed up.

After meeting up with Sanna and grabbing lunch, we went to see the Löwendenkmal, the Lion of Lucerne.  It's a monument that memorializes the Swiss Guard for their battle against the revolutionaries that stormed the palace of King Louis XVI in 1792.  Over 600 soldiers died because they were overwhelmed in numbers.  The lion is 10 meters by 6 meters and is dedicated "to the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss."  The lion is impaled by a spear and has 2 shields, one with the Fleur de Lis of the French monarchy and one with the Swiss coat of arms. 
As you can see, he rests in the pretty solemn, gorgeous little area over a little pond.   It's a really nice place for some solitude.  I really enjoyed this monument.

We then moved on to the Gletschergarten, or Glacier Garden.  It was interesting, but a bit of a strange concept.  In a ticket to the garden, you were granted access to the covered area, the museum, an old house, and a house of mirrors.  It was quite strange.  but it was interesting!  At this point, I had just about topped out on energy from not really sleeping the night before, so I couldn't really soak up the information that was being thrown at me about glaciers.  However, the house of mirrors was plenty entertaining for an exhausted group of poeple!  This is my favorite pic from it:
I'm pretty sure everyone agrees, ONE Ross is plenty.  :)

We also visited a couple churches, all completely gorgeous.  Mostly baroque in style.  This is my favorite:
It said IHS up high on the alter, and I don't know why still, so I've dubbed this church the international horn society church.  I also really liked the marble juxtaposed with the white walls and the gold.  I think it's my favorite church I've seen here.  Honestly, coming from our little synagogue back in Chicagoland, I can't even imagine worshipping in a place so large and decorated.  These churches have become something else completely in my mind, they represent more art than anything else.  Even though I went to a service in Vienna, it was still more about the art and I actually went for the music because they performed a full Haydn mass.  

The second day was really all about the hike.  However, before the hike, we found an Alphorn shop and we all played some alphorn in the Swiss Alps!  
This is me busting out my trills or maybe my attempt at Strauss 1, but there were not enough notes for it.  =P
His alphorns are really nice and he makes a little design on the end.  The cool thing about the design is that he doesn't color any of the wood, he just uses different types of wood to get the colors!
The shop owner also didn't really speak english, so we were all attempting to talk shop with him in German.  We made it! 
And then we began the hike.  We hiked up Mount Pilatus, which has an elevation of 2128 meters.  I believe we got around the 1200 meter mark.  This was by far the most tiring thing I've done since high school basketball.  I am not a hiker, and it turned out to be quite difficult!  To be fair, I didn't expect it to be a jaunt in the woods.  But boy, was it tough.  We hiked for about 4 hours, with a break about 2 1/2 hours, when we reached the top of our hike.  We ate lunch, which by the way never felt so good.  It felt pretty hot for most of  the time.  We all overdressed and had our coats pulled off and sleeves rolled up.  then we reached a point where the climate had definitively changed.  There were no more deciduous trees and it felt a lot colder.  It was very chilly where we stopped for lunch.
This is the top of mount pilatus, from our highest point.

This is the view from the mountain, on our way up.
This is me, at our highest point!

Although I wasn't sure my hips, legs, or ankles would ever function again (they do, don't worry!), it was definitely worth it.  It was a great experience and then we went straight home and made very traditional cheese fondue at Sanna's house. 
This is the group (except Abby!) about to eat fondue!  The fondue was really good, but it is so filling and we probably each ate around 200 grams of cheese.  I had to stop early, because I couldn't eat that much cheese!!!  You almost need something cold to balance out all the hot cheesiness.  Nonetheless, it was a great meal after a long hike.  

I forgot to mention, we saw a ton of animals throughout Lucerne, but I met this sheep:
He was letting us pet him and clearly wanted food.  He made a little sheep noise every time I pet his head and he felt like a memory foam mattress, which was quite entertaining.  Expect he had very dirty memory foam, b/c my hand was clearly dirty from him.  I call him Temperpedic.

Our last morning in der Schweiz, we made a trip to the Wagner museum.  It looked like a very new museum because it seemed to be still having some work done and there wasn't a huge amount there.  However, it was very interesting!  
He lived here for only about 6 years (if i remember correctly) but in those years, he had a lot of interesting people visit him there.  I also hadn't realized that Wagner married Liszt's daughter, Cosima!   Although Liszt was a friend of Wagner, he wasn't happy about his daughter marrying him.  I watched a portion of a BBC video about Wagner which was very interesting.  I may have to look up the rest.  There were a lot of original scores, and Siegfried Idyll seemed to be playing endlessly. lol.  There were also a bunch of his personal belongings, piano, chair, old photos, etc.  

After that weekend... I really needed a weekend to rest ;)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Feelin' it..

Once again, I had a ridiculously busy week and was unable to or just too tired to make a post.  UNTIL NOW!

I have just completed my midterm for Music History (401).  At 7:30 in the morning when I began my "day-of-test study rush", I was definitely freaking out.  Then I went to a rehearsal of the Vienna Philharmonic playing Bruckner 7.  That calmed my nerves quite a bit because it just made me so incredibly happy.  :)  I then had 2 1/2 hours to study (which I used all of) and sat down and finished the test in under 45 minutes.  It was the easiest test I've taken since.. probably middle school.  Nailed it.  Now all I have to finish are my three page long papers for my philosophy midterm.  almost done!!!!!

So, back to the life in Vienna.  There is so much to be said for this past week and weekend.

On wednesday, we had a dress rehearsal for performance workshop, and then immediately after playing, I made a run for the Staatsoper to see my very first opera in Vienna! (finally!)  It was Die Zauberflöte (Magic Flute) and it was wonderful.  Papageno was incredible, great singing and great acting.  Sarastro had the most amazing voice and Pamina was phenomenal as well.  The Queen of the Night was not the best I had heard, but everything else was wonderful.  It was a great experience.  I was in the standing room, so there are these railings that you can lean on, but unfortunately for me, the man in front of me was leaning back and the girls behind me were leaning forward, so I was kind of forced to just stand.  The translators are also on the railings, so you have to look down to read and then up to watch.. it's a little confusing, but I'm glad I had the English to read!  I had never actually seen Magic Flute, I've only played in the pit at IU!  So, it was really nice to be able to see a production live.
The Cast :) Yes, that is a giraffe in the corner.

Thursday, we had our first IES concert of the semester, which was lovely.  I only played one piece, but it was very fun.  I led the ensemble of 5 horns and 3 trombones in Wagner's Pilgerchor from Tannhäuser.

Then immediately after playing, Blair (on my left) and I ran to the Musikverein to see Daniel Barenboim give a recital of all Schubert.  I believe he played Schubert's 4 impromptus (not sure which one maybe Op.142) and Schubert Sonata.  It may have been the most amazing concert I've seen in Vienna, or maybe ever?  I can't even describe how it feels to see someone who I've watched on youtube and videos and adored from afar, live on stage, in the same hall as me.  The entire time I couldn't get over the fact that Daniel Barenboim was right in front of me.  It was just as I had imagined and then some.  It was the smoothest playing I had ever heard from a piano.  He plays everything so evenly, nothing pops out of the texture that isn't meant to.  His balancing of all the voices was perfect, it's no wonder his orchestras are always perfectly balanced!  He obviously pays very close attention to that.  It was also just the most music making I've heard from anyone in a long time.  His phrases never ended (in a good way), they just kept flowing and certain notes were accented, but the line kept going and remained interesting and never bumpy or flat.  I was just amazed.  I was also kind of bummed that he didn't do an encore!!  He walked back onstage 5 times and still no encore. :(  But it was a wonderful night.  

Saturday was my german midterm, which kicked me in the butt. hard.  So, we'll see how that turned out.  But then my day was revived by Wolfgang!  Wolfgang invited me to sit in the pit of the Staatsoper for Strauß's Salome!  It was amazing!!!!!  This is one of those experiences that you can't have anywhere else!!!  

This was my view :) I sat behind the harps, who sat behind the horns.  It was gloriously loud.  Ross and Ryan actually said the orchestra was a little overpowering for the singers, but I thought it was marvelous.  hahaha.  The horns sounded amazing.  Wolfgang played 3rd, as usual, and he was great.  The low horn were super solid too.  The first horn cracked a few high notes, but not a whole lot.  They play almost the entire 2 hours!!!  It was insane!!!  They also have a really strange set up in the pit.  the order of horns was (L-R) 4,3,2,1,5,6.  It was odd, but I guess it works!

So, it's been quite an amazing week.  I need to get a LOT of practice in this week because I'm going to Switzerland this weekend!!!! :D  

Maybe it seems like a really obvious realization, but I really like living in Vienna.  I can't get enough of what I'm getting to do here!  Sure, I don't mind taking my IU classes again and I can't wait to play in IU ensembles and see see my studio and all my friends again.  But on the other hand, I really don't want to leave behind these opportunities.  I want to continue sitting in the pit for operas!  I want to stand in the standing room for concerts of orchestras from a different country every night and see amazingly famous conductors and soloists playing incredible music!!!!!  I don't want to leave this ever.  I want to have lessons in the Staatsoper and walk out into a city filled with incredible musical opportunities!  I never want to give up the feeling I have here.. it's just a combination of gratitude towards my parents and my life for getting this opportuniy, motivation to work way harder than ever before so that I can make it, gratification that I'm getting as much out of this as I can, and just pure utter joy.  Truly indescribable though.. I know now that it's going to be hard to leave Vienna.