23 May 2011

Shoe Polish and Opera Houses, or I arrive in Eutin.

Well, I am now in Eutin, having arrived yesterday afternoon. The flight from Detroit to Amsterdam was long and I wasn't really able to sleep, not out of worry for the impending Rapture (which seems to have been averted), but more out of a combination of excitement and discomfort. I was thus able to finish two movies. An airplane is really the worst possible place to watch a movie; I remember last year I saw Avatar on the plane and never in the theatre and accordingly never experienced the good part about it, which was supposed to be the graphics. Anyway one of the movies I watched on the plane was Le concert, which my Swiss host father recommended to me last year. Now, I love the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, but I have a problem with this film. The actors (most notably the soloist)  is faking it. The recording sounded fine, though, so for any musicians ever watching the film, just look away or close your eyes when it zooms in on the soloist and you will probably avoid any negative side effects. To classical music fans who don't know about the technicalities of playing an instrument: please watch this movie. I am sure you will enjoy it and won't even notice that the actors' bowings don't match what you are hearing. I did enjoy the linguistic aspects of the film, however; I like the sound of Russian even though I don't understand it at all, and it was nice to hear some French, even though I couldn't turn off the subtitles.

After about 20 hours or so of flying I came to Hamburg and took the train to Eutin, which takes about one and a half hours. My phone was out of batteries so I just waited at the train station until my host family came to pick me up. While I was sitting there an old man came by and said hello and asked if I wanted to drink a coffee. Well, I was still trying to adjust to local time and by then it was after noon, so I said no thanks because I really need to sleep and if I drink coffee I won't be able to. He said I reminded him of his grandchild and bought me a bottle of water. He also tried to make a joke about me shining his shoes as payment, but I didn't get it because I didn't know the word for shoe polish. But it was a really nice welcome from a complete stranger. It also eased my worries about understanding the accent here; besides the word for shoe polish I was able to understand everything he said just fine. I had been slightly worried because the people next to me on the train had a pretty strong accent that I couldn't quite understand, but I think they were from Kiel so maybe there is more of a dialect there.

Today I started at the Volksbank, but I haven't done much there yet. I'm just learning my way around and will hopefully have something more substantial to do tomorrow. They have rented out bikes for the interns so I received one today and now have a mode of transportation! I've seen buses around but Eutin is so small there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to use them unless traveling to the next town over. This evening I was feeling more awake than I was yesterday around this time and had the opportunity to play viola, which was nice. My host family has given me a wire stand that is exactly the same as the one my first Swiss host family let me use; this is a nice parallel.

Speaking of parallel occurrences, there is a new opera house being built in Hamburg just as there is one being built in Kansas City. We were talking about it at dinner and they showed me pictures. Apparently the construction is taking forever because it is so expensive and the new Hamburg government doesn't want to spend so much; also, the architect apparently keeps wanting to make changes to the original plan. The new building is on top of an old warehouse on the harbor.

Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg

Kauffman Center, Kansas City

15 May 2011

I found a bug in my computer.

Or a bee, rather. Look what I happened upon while searching through my old photos:

In the JCCC courtyard during the Japan Festival. 

14 May 2011

Eutiner Festspiele

I think that the older you get, the more time speeds up. How is it that I haven't posted since January?! Well, finals week is next week and then I'm off to Germany for the summer. I'll be living in Eutin, the sister city of Lawrence, for about three months. I have been selected to participate in the Eutin-Lawrence sister city internship, for which I will be doing something in a bank. Then at the beginning of July, the KU Symphony will be flying over to perform in the Eutin opera festival (Eutiner Festspiele).

The story behind this is actually quite interesting. Last year the festival ran into financial problems, so a group of local businessmen swore to find a way to bring back the festival and came upon the idea of inviting the KU Symphony to play. Phone calls were made and meetings arranged. A delegation of KU music students and faculty went to Eutin to perform a concert, which was a big news story in the area. The following video is the news report from the regional station.


This concert being such a success, the plan moved forward. Now, after having performed Hänsel und Gretel six times for a Lawrence audience, we are rehearsing Don Giovanni and will soon begin to work on other pieces for the opening and closing concerts.

I've heard that there will be internet available where I am staying so once I leave I hope to keep this blog updated with what is going on with my internship and the opera festival. For now, I have to attempt to finish a programming project and study for my physics final. Exciting, right? At least I only have a few days left before I can begin to prepare for this summer's adventure.