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I'm currently on the road with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, touring England and Scotland to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI. To date, we've performed in Edinburgh and Nottingham, and last night we performed a joint concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir which culminated in a boisterous rendition of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Oh yes, and HRH Prince Charles was in attendance :)
My many MANY tour photos will come at a later date, but for now, here's a little clip from the 4th movement, the "Ode to Joy":
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Whn1urlpWvw] Off to Salisbury tomorrow, where we will perform in the renowned Cathedral. That performance will be broadcast on CBC Radio 2 on November 9th and 11th, and on CBC Television sometime during the holiday season. Stay tuned!
As I explained in the last blog post, a major focus of this Debut Atlantic tour is education - and good thing - as some of these experiences are becoming the most memorable for me. For example, Phil and I drove from Halifax to New Ross, NS, to play for a group of about 100 students between the ages of 4 and 14, where much to our surprise, we were greeted by name in the parking lot by a group of students! Their teachers had prepared them well with the educational materials provided by Debut Atlantic. In addition, they listened to the tracks on my website where Phil and I play together - and they even listened to some music by my Ukrainian band Тут і Там. Phil and I performed our program which included music of Prokofiev, Janacek, Debussy, and Brahms. We spoke to them about these pieces, and took questions from the audience. We also asked for their impressions of the pieces, and were pleased at the insightfulness of their comments. We then got to sign a couple autographs, which always feels nice/strange, and took a picture together with the older kids (the "littles," as they are called, had to go eat lunch):
After that great experience, Phil and I experienced one of the touring life's greatest treasures: traveling through scenic landscapes... and enjoying food. To get to Yarmouth, our next destination, we had to drive past the exit to Lunenburg, a UNESCO world heritage site. So we stopped in for lunch! We had heard that there was a great place to eat there called the Salt Shaker Deli. We (once again) had an exorbitant amount of seafood, this time featuring muscles, chowder, and lobster mac & cheese:
We then saw some of the sites of Lunenburg (see top photo), grabbed a coffee, and continued on our way to Yarmouth. In Yarmouth (where it is generally very, very windy, we performed for two groups of school children. Again, great questions and emotional responses to our music and questions!
Yarmouth boasts a lovely Main Street and very cleverly named free wifi (pictured below):
From Yarmouth, we drove back to Halifax, where we would share in some real Haligonian hospitality and eat lobster. They were delicious!!!
Our last tour duty was to coach the students of Dalhousie Univeristy's collaborative piano class. We listened to some very talented and hard-working students perform, and did our best to help their already impressive performances develop further. We capped off the end of the class by performing a couple movements of the Prokofiev sonata we had been performing on tour. It was a lovely way to finish the week.
I'd like to thank everyone at Debut Atlantic, all of the concert presenters, the students and our audience members across the maritimes for such a wonderful experience. It was lovely to perform and to get acquainted with so many wonderful people, and I hope to visit and perform in the region again soon.
Greetings from China! We started by visiting Hong Kong (where we performed a joint concert with the Honk Kong Sinfonietta) - an amazing place that I would gladly revisit. Hong Kong is a very worldly, open city proud of its Chinese culture and heritage and of its appeal to the world at large.
Before our performance, we had three days to rest up and acclimatize to the new time zone. I sampled some delicious dim sum, investigated many different areas (by ferry) and went to The Peak - a high point with an unbeatable view. Here are some shots :
From there, we crossed into mainland China, to the city of Guangzhou. Mainland China is completely different from Hong Kong in every way, which led many of us to experience some culture shock. A few small groups went to see the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, which was a very beautiful, peaceful, and green space. The scent of incense was everywhere. The Great Hall within the temple was the highlight for me:
A friend and I investigated the neighbourhoods further, which was really interesting. We performed that night with the view of the Canton Tower in sight.
We are now in Chongqing, a rather large city at 33 million people which I had never heard of. This area is known for its Szechwan cuisine, and we have been sampling many of the finest regional specialties - the best of which is hot pot:
After spending a couple of days in Tianjin, a city known for its sections of European-style architecture, we moved on to Beijing. Most of the orchestra spent their free time in the Silk Market, buying scarves, pearls, and having specific items of clothing made for them. Another Beijing highlight was the roast duck (Peking Duck), which I got to sample two nights in a row.
We also visited the wall, which was a major highlight of the trip!
Our final few days in Beijing and Shanghai were quite amazing, with some really moving and inspiring performances. What an amazing trip!