Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New York, Days 5-6

Whew. Didn't get around to posting last night. I apologize to all the dissapointed readers (I received messages from approximately 3456) and will do my best to brign things up to speed.

On Tuesday we packed up our instruments and took the bus for the first time, off to the United Nations to play a concert. We lined up our instuments outside, and they were sniffed by a dog to guard against bombs. Then we entered, passing through the equivalent, if not a more stringent version of airline security. Then we were in the UN! The peace-makers of the world! Whoopee! Or not.

They have a statue outside which is the pistol of a gun twisted in a knot. Here's the irony to me. Ok, they're probably trying to symbolize something like world peace, right? The absence of war and fighting. What's a glaring example of the lack of peace in the world today: the Darfur region of Sudan. Is the UN able to do ANYTHING to make that a more peaceful place? No, because of their fundamentally flawed ideology.

That's my two cents. But, I will say it was indeed a privelege to be able to perform there. We were heard by people from all over the world! (and possibly, all over the world. A broadcaster from UN radio taped some of the performance and interviewed our principal cellist and conductor afterwards.) Our audience was slight larger and much more enthused than at Ellis Island. We were also blessed with better sound, as the acoustics within the building were nice (my fellow first violinist Edward pointed out that God answered my prayer about that, which I prayed out loud with some members of the group).

The performance was FANTASTIC, in my opinion. Tony (our conductor) and parents and new lsiteners (i.e. my mother's two cousins) were inpressed as well. I had so much fun, and I thought we gelled and really had many moments of eloquently speaking the truth and beauty of the music. A great way to end the tour, the season, and my time in the orchestra. Performance-wise, that is. There was more to come.

My mom's cousin Anne is an artist residing in NYC, she paints watercolor, is hired by weddigns to paint live, does promotional designs and all sorts of stuff! I believe is the place. Her brother is a Photographer residing in NYC. Their Grandmother is my Great-Grandfather's sister. Ok, complicated I know. The nice thing is, they're related with us, and they live here and got to see my concert and spend time with us! We split with the group and grabbed some food, stopped in Grand Central Station, and then went to Anne's house. Spending time with her was one of the many highlights of my trip. It is one thing to see the city with a bunch of tourists (which HAS been a blast) but quite another to see it from a real New-Yorker's perspective.

She lives in a nice four-room apartment on the second floor of a building built right before the turn of the century. I got to see quite a bit of her art, meet most of the 9 cats she owns, as well as two dogs. We had seltzer water over ice with homemade mint syrup (I am determined to replicate this syrup at home) and looked at the art and chatted for awhile. My mom adored every cute-ness of her apartment, and wants to replicated the bathroom back home.

In any case, they both walked the dogs, and I got to spend some quiet restful time alone in the apartment (well, there were a few cat friends with me). This was also a rare experience for the trip, and relaxing and focusing for me. I used the computer and examined some of her pieces hanging on the wall, as I looked out the window on one of the more quiet, sane parts of New York City (she lives in upper west-side). I drank "minty-drink" and talked to the cats (I was once thoroughly startled by one when it initially joined me at the computer-desk. it seemed right at home though, with even a designated pillow.)

After goodbye/seeyousometime, we came back to the hotel. This turned out to be the ritziest night, for the group had reservations at the French restaurant Cafe de Artistes. It was jacket dinner, so we suited up and subwayed it over, taking pictures and laughing and talking and enjoyed multiple courses of good food.

WEDNESDAY!! that's today. our last day. sad.

So, a group of kids and sometimes adults, with varying membership, took morning runs in Central Park almsot every day, and I joined them for the first time today. It took waking up earlier but it was worth it. It was nice in the park and the run wasn't too bad (I thought I'd be left behind forthwith). I shouted at one point "life is good and we're alive?!" People didn't exactly express their agreement with me, so I'm not sure how many agreed.

Our final gig of the tour was a learning one. We had breakfast in the hotel this morning and then subwayed it to a church. The church was kind enough to lend their space free of charge to us, and here we had our "Master-Class." A master class is a special time of coaching by an acclaimed and excellent musician that is not with the students that receive this calss on a regular basis. After warming up, we were coached for about three hours by a fellow who was a violinist in the New York Philharmonic (as is his wife cirrently) for 30 years, now retired, and his son is the incomign conductor. They are old-time friends of our Conductor, who went to school with Alan, the son. It was a such a privelege to be coached by him, and he imparted wisdom and demonstrated technique to us that was very valuable and helpful. We were thankful, gave him a card we all signed, took a bunch of pictures.

The Finale (Grand? maybe..) of sorts for this trip was our evening deal tonight. We saw Wicked on broadway. Hm. This post is long already, maybe you can be glad I don't have a ton to say about this? haha. I thought it was very well-done, and I enjoyed it, laughed at some clever and funny parts, but I didn't not like the message or the story of the play at all, to be perfectly honest. Sorry, Wicked fans. It's not doing it for me. Moral relativism at it's most confused, and a substance-less plot. But, hey, I saw a musical on Broadway. The talent was incredible. My hat goes off to every member of that cast.

The play sparked (besides the oohing and ahhing and the cute male lead and the signer which some thought was out of tune and some didn't and the 5/8 section in one song) ... the play sparked good discussion among some of us, and I think we dissected it well, and foudn the small, rare, nuggets of value, and mostly agreed on the confused plot and the lack of substance. I was sort of blown away that they succeeded in practically not having a bad character in the play. It broke down the very structure of story-telling.

All right! That was more than I even let on I might say about this. And I hope my 3456 readers are not outraged that they got an intellectual Broadway Musical review when they wanted thoughtful, positive musings on a trip to NYC. To those offended, my apologies.

So I walk along the streets of New York and wonder what people are living for. And I am bombarded with lights and sounds and sights and music and noise, and I wonder if the inhabitants jsut learn to tune it out. Or maybe they spend the majority of their time in the sane areas, and this is the tourism. And then I am coached by a graduate of Juilliard, along with a talented orchetstra, and my mind wanders to the future, and where I will go to school, and what will my every day be lived for. My life is dedicated to Jesus Christ, and I will follow him all my days and give him all my strength, this I know. Am I in that, to dedicate much of my strength and days to perfecting the craft of music? Maybe. Why is that a fearful thought? It takes commitment and sacrifice. Just like living for Jesus.

And I see the lights in Times Square, and the angry man who won't make eye-contact with me, and the exasperated woman who's in such a hurry to get off the bus, and a burst of light and music and energy on a stage in broadway, and it's almost sensory and mental overload. I'm jsut glad to have an anchor, and a reason to rejoice and to be anxous about nothing. And it helps to get some of it out here.

Muchas thank you for reading, my friends. I hope it was a pleasure for you. I will see you soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New York, Day 4

Only 2 full days left! Days are packed, and sometimes feel long, and then they hop by together 'til most are gone.

Yesterday we went by subway to battery park, from which we took the ferry over to Ellis Island, where we would play our first concert. We had a few hours to spend there before the concert, so after we ate lunch, people split off and enjoyed themselves how they liked. We watched the river and the skyline, searched for names of immigrants on walls outside, walked about and sat about and talked. There was a museum and movie about Ellis Island that played also.

It came time for US to play, so we all suited up in our tour shirts, got our instruments out, and went to the lawn. We warmed up as parents passed out fliers to tell of us and our playing. When we started we had a small audience, and we played in the shade under trees, towards where most of the people, with the Manhattan skyline directly behind. It was a really nice atmosphere, and beauitful setting, but a difficult one for playing. Our sound wasn't warmed up by bouncing off walls as it would be in an inside setting with nice acoustics, and it was sometimes hard to hear one another. We were standing up, which was also unusual. But we went for it! And the music turned out all right. The first piece (Beethoven) was shaky in places, for it required quick changes and tight ensemble, and we were still getting our bearings. The next piece, a slow one, went off very nicely. The next, we rushed terribly, playing it much to fast, which made it difficult, but we got through. We finished off the set with our "Ellis Island Suite" a piece commisioned for and premiered by our orchestra two years ago. Now finally performed on Ellis Island. It was quite fun, and the sounds of Swing-Jazz, Jewish Klezmer music, and Folk wafted through the trees.

The audience seemed to enjoy it, a few parents got it on film, and we took a group picture against the skyline afterwards. I made a mistake yesterday, forgetting the camer battery which I was charging : ( so the photos from Ellis Island are only had by others. I think my mom got some on her iPhone.

After the concert people talked and laughed about problems with bugs they had during playing (our conductor had ants crawling on his score at one point) and moments when things went well or...not so well.

On the way back, a small group of us split off and went to see Ground Zero. My Mom and I with some others went. I was glad to be able to do that. It was hard to get to, and still under construction, nothing really there yet, which makes it all the more striking. It is a large area, and much vertical space. It was strange and thought-provoking to be there. It sparked some good conversation. We had to walk further, but it was worth it, I was glad not to miss it.

We were amused and impressed by Maraika, our bass palyer, who walked all the way and carried her double bass up and down multiple flights of stairs.

We all caught the subway and met the rest of the group at the hotel. That night we had a pizza dinner, and even more interesting conversation! I got to talk with my table abotu the histoy of the church, doctrines and practice, denominations, and the different beliefs that some Christians had. Some were Christians at the table, some were not.

I have started a facebook album to upload a few pictures as I finish up the rest of the trip. These will just be the highlights, with one more exhaustive later. I've gotten five up from the first day, and will fill in the last few days (that I've had picture taking ability) and continue from there. Enjoy! I hope it's nice to see a few glimpses as well as read. And I'm thankful someone's willing to let me use their laptop to upload pictures.

Adios my friends. See you soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

New York, Day 3

These days are packed. Last night I thought back to the morning, "was that really today?!"

Yesterday morning my Mom, Gina and I took an early breakfast and all headed over to the Brooklyn Tabernacle by Subway (we have had our share of subway riding! You start to get the hang of it.) We got to be part of an amazing church service. I really enjoyed singing some songs that I haven't heard for quite awhile. "Let the Glory of the Lord, rise among us" done by a full Gospel choir and a tight band, it was quite amazing. And there were songs I hadn't heard that were good to listen to. The building was amazing, the former theatre they meet in, just beautiful. Awesome artwork, some related to scripture passages written under them, some depictions of happenings in the life of the church. But the amazing thing was the presence of the Holy Spirit that morning. They had a guest preacher from Seattle who REALLY took it home, speaking on Holiness, and what is to be kept pure and holy before God. He hit modern issues head-on, with a strong stance, and it was very individually convicting.
The conclusion of that for me was that I wouldn't have missed it for anything. To be in the heart of New York, having seen the lights and steel and concrete and advertisements and ALL of it, and then to be in the midst of hundreds of voices bringing down the house for the Glory of Jesus...can't beat it.

The service was so good we lost track of the time and got a little behind the group, but we made it to the Manhattan School of Music before rehearsal started. It was a privelege to be able to rehearse there, and we had a really productive and fun final tour rehearsal for 2 1/2 hours.

(I said that you get the hang of subways after awhile, except that my mom and I missed one on the way back. The whole group had got on and it was crowded so we moved to another door. Just as one of our Violists hopped on the train the doors closed and we watched everyone speed away. We couldn't stop laughing. We knew our way back to the hotel fine at this point.)

Hmm, I must hurry, we're meeting together soon.

That evening we took the Circle Line Hudson cruise, on the top deck of a cruise boat, and got to see the Statue of Liberty (first time ever for me). Took quite a few pictures, many of which I'm happy with. I'm quite spoiled with my Mom's camera, among it's assets being a nice zoom lens. I'm really hoping to ask a parent for their laptop so I can share some with you, haven't had a chance to do that yet. We had a commentator on almost the whole cruise, detailing the sites and history and statistics and $ of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey City (which we saw on the other side of the Hudson.) The Sky was beautiful (more beautiful than any of the cityscapes in my opinion, althught they were impressive), we got to see nice cloud textures and the sunset, and the moon over Manhattan. Good conversations, dumb dance parties, jokes and laughs.

After this, those who didn't get food on board went out for food, and a group of us went for Korean food. We had a few Koreans with us, one who led the way (advice: go to Korean food WITH Koreans, they will help you out) it was very enjoyable, and I'm fulll enough that I don't need breakfast.

God is good and His gifts are plentiful. Friends, don't forget that we live like Kings. Few if any are the reasons we have to complain. I also find that God can point out in me something he needs to work on in me every day. A shortcoming or misplaced desire. It's tiring and frustrating sometimes, but He is faithful.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New York, Day 2

Yesterday afternoon we had the privelege of watching the New York Philharmonic play, an amazing Symphony Orchestra. They played a straight-up American Set, with three pieces by Gershwin, the "Appalachian Spring Suite" by Copland, and three marches by John Philip Sousa. They opened with the Star-Spangled Banner and closed with the Stars and Stripes forever (an encore). It was ironically conducted by a British conductor, who was hilarious, and apologized for the events of 1776, among other appropriate and humorous comments.

Last night we went to see the fireworks, and by the time we got to the area, the NYPD had closed off the area, for it was full. There were rivers of people streaming along the streets and the cars couldn't get anywhere. So we stopped on the street with hundreds of others hoping we could see something. When they started, they were barely appearing over a building, so we went over to where we had a better street view, and a had a pretty fair display of partial fireworks. It was very fun. Then the rivers of people (even larger this time) streamed the other direction, and we slowly found our way to our hotel.

Yay America!!

I am hoping to get picture on the next post (cross your fingers and fold your hands).

Blessings to all of you!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New York, Day 1 1/2

Do computer scientists count in halves?

I called it thus because I didn't get to posting last night. Anyway, after surving the entire week without getting sick, the night before I left I caught it, and was sick thursday night and Yesterday. We still flew at the same time, and I slept almost the whole flight, on my Mom's shoulder :) That definitely helped me mend.

I enjoyed listening to "Marching Bands of Manhattan" by Death Cab For Cutie when we were near landing. I just got Plans, for anyone who cares to know ;)

I had a good night of sleep last night also, and am doing much better now. Thank you all for your prayers.

Yesterday we ended up being on a flight (only by chance, since we weren't with most of the group) with one other girl from the orchestra and her mom. We shared a cab into Manhattan, and got to see the skyline and Times Square and all the people and bustle and busyness, which we've seen more of and will continue to see. We're staying right near the center of Times Square, about a block away.

This morning we walked about Central Park a fair bit, and had hot dogs from an NYC hot dog stand.

My recurring observation, is that this is a very TALL city.

More Later!

Friday, July 3, 2009

New York, Day 0

Hi Everyone.

My Mom and I fly at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

A few prayer requests. 1) There has been a flu going around my house. I am now 1 one of the only 2 individuals here who has not gotten sick (the other is my Mom, thank God). Please pray that I make it though tonight and tomorrow 'til I'm OUT OF HERE - well, please. It would be really good to not have to be sick right before this trip, especially on a day when flying.
2) My right ear is currently clogged with earwax, which I did inadvertently when I was trying to CLEAN it with a Q-Tip yestreday. Today we were trying Hydrogen Peroxide to clean it out and got some, but it's still there. Please pray that somehow I may be able to have my full hearing back for when we play and whatnot.
Last, pray for our safety and the safety of about 25 other kids and multiple parents who will be flying over tomorrow. My mom and I have to find our way by train and subway to Manhattan from the JFK airport, pray that that goes smoothly.

All is packed, now time for sleep.
The Lord's will be done.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rhyme Slime Time

"Yuck!", said the duck, when he stepped into some muck.

"Froodle!" said the Poodle, when he ate a noodle.