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.

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