Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I got in to Guildhall!

And I have been crazy sick, so sorry about the lack of communication. I spent my last couple of days in London sleeping. Philip, who was very sweet, decided at one point that I had been asleep too long and that he was bored, so he came in and said "are you still asleep?!! Come play with me!" and then stalked petulantly out of the room. It was pretty cute. He also at one point started playing with his bionicles, and I woke up just enough to hear him say "If you need me, I'll be in cupboard." Which was so adorable that I woke up further to write it down, and then fell asleep again.

The flight back to Baltimore was very smooth, customs was no problem, everything is good. (Angela's birthday was this past weekend so they threw a party which means that the house was even clean! (we use parties as excuses to clean. If the house is getting particularly messy, we decide that it's time for another party.)) Zane came and picked me up from the airport and then Will came over to visit. I chattered non-stop from about 8pm (which is when I finally got out of the airport) to about mid-night (which is when I collapsed unceremoniously into my bed and slept).

Plus, once again the lovely weather has followed me. London started raining for the first time during my trip as I was walking to the tube to go to Heathrow. And Baltimore is now going through a wonderful green heatwave (uh, green because it's been raining a lot and everything is growing).

Anyhow, the important stuff: Guildhall. I turned on my phone in the airport and began to start checking my messages and found that there were two from Guildhall (neither with any information, just saying that I should call a fellow named Sean Gregory (don't know who he is yet, suspect that probably I should remember). So when I got home I went through my stack of mail and there was my acceptance letter! Which had been sent on the 11th! (Which no one bothered e-mailing me about though clearly they knew I was in London because one of Mr. Gregory's messages began with "I think you're back in the states now...") Which really isn't a problem, except that I have to make a final decision by Wednesday. Yes, that's right: tomorrow. So now I am playing phone tag with him.

BREAKING NEWS: don't you like how I'm just interjecting this and not starting a new post or anything? Right, Sean called me back and basically they thought I was super-cool and "have a lot to offer the program" how cool is that?! Not only am I in, I'm IN in. Woo!!! So, right. Sean is going to research deferring, but in the mean time I am to fill out the form as "accepting pending funding" so that I am registered at Guildhall as being a certain person (wow, that sentence didn't make a whole lot of sense.) Sean was also encouraging me to consider doing the program 1/2 time for two years (Half time gives full time status because it is more hours than part time, so it wouldn't be a problem visa wise.) so then I would have time to work in London, which is lovely and all, but I don't think actually solves the problem of paying for living in London (plus, I've been getting all excited about living in Seattle next year) Anyhow, whee!! We'll figure this all out as it comes along. Yup.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


I promised you a picture of Lara playing Cajun fiddle, and then completely spaced out. So here you go. And because I love you, I have included my bicycle tour group in front of a windmill that Rembrandt used to paint (I'm sitting in the grass on the lower right hand side), cows from the dairy who were not terribly enthused about being fed by tour groups, and proof that bad public art can be anywhere. (Sorry it is sideways, I don't know how to fix that.)

I'm slacking!!!

I haven't posted in, like, three days! No!!!

Whew. I'm back now. It will all be okay.

I have arrived safely back in London, and it was kind of a relief to be back. I like Hampsted, and really just London in general. (Yesterday I explored Chiswick, pretty gardens there. Lots of lilacs.) Also, I have finally met Aneta and Philip and Elena! So that is very exciting. Elena is destructive, but charming; and Philip is learning to read and has an entire drawer full of bionicles, which I think is just about as hip as you can get as a six year old boy. They are all still on Singapore time and so have been waking up around 6- at which point Philip comes into the room where I am sleeping and brightly says "hello!" to which I moan in reply before eventually getting out of bed four hours later. It's a good system.

I went English Country Dancing again on Thursday. It was lovely. Lara came and joined me, and afterwards we went to the flat of a friend of Laura's and hung out for a while. I have now become a big fan of Australians, they're great fun.

It was interesting going back to the dance for the second time (it was free this time since we came last week! Nice, huh?) the regulars are all quite friendly- and while it is a "beginners" dance, if you don't catch on quickly- they tend to start getting impatient. There is a whole crew of older women named Ruth (Grammy: was the name 'Ruth' to your generation what the name 'Sarah' is to mine? I know over 50 Sarahs that are within two years of my age.) my favorite of whom couldn't help but give tips-especially on "swing your partner" which is harder than you might think. Unless Ruth has given you a couple of tips in which case it is great fun and you go too fast and get dizzy. Two of the regulars had their first time calling a dance that night too, which was very exciting. They did a good job and we all applauded wildly.

On Friday I went over to Laura's apartment and began to learn to play the fiddle with Lara. It was really nice to get my hands on an instrument again. I need to play with bands- in Chicago I would go to Old Town School, but where in Seattle? Dusty Strings? Lara played me some Cajun tunes too, which is what the picture is of. We also played some frisbee, which isn't an instrument. (Except that I wanted to participate with Lara's Irish tunes, so I got a small pencil and tried to play the frisbee like a bodhran. But it really didn't work. I think it could have had it been a much bigger frisbee...) Eventually Lara had to go to an appointment, so Laura and I chatted a bunch and she tried to teach me to play chess. I got better at it, but still lost both times we played.

We walked through Camden where I got on the tube to go return my key and get my deposit back from the building manager in Turnham green. I decided that it was so pretty there that I would wander around and proceeded to get ridiculously lost in Chiswick. I had a snack and read Freakonomics in a cafe that specialised in organic local food. (I had carrot, apple, ginger, lemon juice (tasty) and "asparagus in a mug" which then showed up in a mug and surprised me because for some reason I wasn't expecting it in a mug- not that I know what "mug" would have meant if it hadn't referred to, you know, a mug.) I was getting really in to the footnotes of my book, and was ensconced in a very comfy couch, so I decided to get dinner there too. Now, a handy tip for all of you restaurant goers: should you find yourself in an organic local free-range whatever food cafe, maybe don't order fish and chips? It goes against the spirit of the thing, and they are unlikely to be as generous with the frying as they might otherwise be. What they were very generous about with their portions: the fish was all in one piece and was as long as my elbow to the tips of my fingers. It was stacked on a wall of french fries and on the side there was what seemed to be a very thick split pea soup/mash thing that tasted like lentils. I ate about a third of it and then felt a little bit sick for the rest of the night. Oh well. Next time I'll stick to fancy vegetables in mugs.

Now I have some explaining to do:
Wasting her life in Paris- refers to a family story involving my dad's cousin who was living in Paris and having a grand old time instead of doing something "productive" back in America. As my father has pointed out, the phrase generally means: "doing something that may not have immediate application, but is never the less rewarding. " I would tend to agree. However, in the case of the hostel I was staying at in Amsterdam- I found a number of people who came to Amsterdam for weeks at a time to get stoned and drunk for their entire vacation. This seems like a silly way to spend that much time to me, so that was where the "It's possible I think (to waste your life in Paris). But only if you take a very active stance against mingling with anything other than what you already know" was coming from. If you're an American student and you go to a foreign country to go and get wasted with other American students- isn't that a really expensive way of doing something you could have done in your own backyard? That's all I'm saying.

That being said, I am now off to the bookstore again to locate authors for my mom. Because I am a dutiful and loving daughter. Plus, this way I get to read them first.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I feel so priviliged here. In the hostel I mean. I feel like a spoiled, empty-headed American student with too much money and not enough to do. You know the whole "wasting her life in Paris" remark? It's possible I think. But only if you take a very active stance against mingling with anything other than what you already know.

I only feel like this in the hostel- on the bike tour today I felt exhilrated and decided that if I ever get the chance, I want to live on a house boat. Preferably on some body of water that I could row on. Also, I would like a bike- and a city that I can safely bike in. Like, not Baltimore. I spent a bunch of time talking with a flight crew from Continental Airlines, and a group of friends from VA who were visiting a friend who spent the last year in Iraq. I also bought cheese. It was very tasty cheese from a dairy farm that makes cheese and wooden shoes. The farmer there speaks 15 languages. I feel so inferior. No tulips though, sorry about that.

After the tour I got lost, but eventually found Vondel Park. (I think that is the name...) It is a lovely place. My philosophy with parks is this: follow the sound of drums. This time it lead me to two groups sitting less than 30 feet from eachother. A group of Africans with a djembe and a guitar, and a group of --Aregentinians? (I only guess that because there seems to be a sizable Argentinian population in Amsterdam) They were trading off who was playing songs. It was really cool; right before they both packed up and left the park the guitarist from the "Argentinian" group went over to the African group and taught them to play 'Guantanamera' so I sang along under my breath from my vantage point up the hill and under a tree. I think the coolest part was that neither group was busking- they were both playing for the social aspect of it, for the joy of it. The "Argentinians" were a whole family group that had even set up a tent to shelter the toddlers, and the Africans were in a huddle around the bench that the guitarist and drummer were sitting on and they were dancing and eventually someone started using two bottles as another percussion instrument.

I had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant tonight: Bojo. or Boja. I'm terrible at remembering restaurant names. It was interesting, I don't need to go there again. It was nice to have a real dinner though- I haven't bought sit-down food much on this trip. And by "much" I mean this is the first time.

Tomorrow I'm returning to London, going dancing at the Cecil Sharp house again with my Australian La(u)ra buddies (and hopefully Kateri too), and will finally meet Aneta et al. Should be good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Well, that was fun.

That seems like a sarcastic title, but it really isn't.

I finished out my Van Gogh day with a visit to the Rijksmuseum and then opening night of "Hercules"by Handel. It is a very modern looking production. The stage was covered in sand (how much of it must get into the pit?!) and really cool set that had geometric shapes that moved in the walls and allowed for fascinating lighting effects. Quite a lot of the drama was done purely with the lighting, which was totally cool. The cast was dressed in sort of business casual clothing, with grey skirts and slacks. It was the first instance I've seen of forshadowing with costumes. The worse the situation got, the closer to the tragedy of Hercules being accidently killed by his wife, the more of the cast changed in to all black versions of their costumes. The singing was wonderful (but all of the female leads were Swedish? why?) and the orchestra was "fab,"Peter was right. My only complaint was that the first half was 2.25 hours long. And that is just waaaay too much early music opera without an intermission. I was sitting next to a man who got very squirmy indeed. There were also just a couple of issues with tempo- someone was pushing ahead most of the time, but it alternated between the chorus and the orchestra. It wasn't a bad thing - just a little bit of a tense thing.

By the way: want to find Americans? Go to a hostel in Amsterdam. Dear lord.

After the performance there was a reception for the musicians and invited guests, of which I was one. (The tickets were under "Norton-Middaugh" and that hadn't even occured to me so there was a bit of a panic as I was trying to figure out how to get in to the show. But it all worked out, so phew.) I met a bunch of people- what an international group that orchestra was. Peter brought his orchestra along with him and then hired a bunch of dutch musicians, except that one of the "English" people I met was Hungarian, and a bunch of the "Dutch" people were English, and one American from Alaska who has also worked with Webb Wiggins, so we had fun reminicing about him and then exchanged contact information. She suggested another grant that I should try for for studying in Europe. Then everyone went to a pub and discussed how, what with global warming and all, what you really need to do is put all of Holland on a raft- and then you'd be golden.

Peter and I have had a really good talk over the last couple of days- he aksed me how Peabody had been and I was hemming and hawing, so he told me why he had asked. He remembered what I had been like the first time we ever talked and how incredibly excited I was about everything and since then I haven't volunteered information about my music, I've only responded to direct questions. So he figured that something had been going on with my bass playing that wasn't all good. So he was very reassuring that I could do whatever I wanted and it didn't have to be music necessarily, but that what I learned from music would never disappear because it is part of who I am and all that. It was really nice to hear all of that from a mentor type. I was beginning to think he would blame me or something if it turned out that I didn't become a bass player. Which is a terrible reason to start a career. Anyhow, I still don't know what I'm going to do with my life (Mommy says I don't have to make any decisions until the plane trip home!) but I'm having bunches of fun.

Also, I'm in love with Vermeer.

Van Gogh Museum

Some of the paintings make me physically sick. There was just so much movement that I would get a little nauseous looking at them. Intense. There was also a room where a few of his paintings were shown side-by-side with contemporaries of his, and his stuff is just crazy in comparison. I also think that it is fascinating that at some points his colors are completely off, no where near natural colors-like lime green skies, and you (I) don't notice. Everything just works so perfectly together that the lime green sky doesn't register- that is of course what color skies are. Crazy, man. I also realized, somewhat belatedly, that Van Gogh had a background in pointilism. It makes perfect sense, except that he took it away from dots and in to little slashes, which I think looks cooler.

In other news I have moved from the Cosmos Hostel, centrally located right next to the red light district and, to the Flying Pig Uptown Hostel which actually is centrally located and nearby all sorts of museums. I'm happier. Plus, they have free internet and their stairs are actually stairs and not silly stair/ladder combinations.

I did eventually get ahold of Peter and Gail, and we met up and went to a pub next to one of the ubiquitous canals. It ws nice to see them and chat with them. We played dominos as well. I'm going to the Opera tonight, I'll let you know how that goes. Currently I am on a mission to find flower markets, and tomorrow I am planning on going on "Mike's Bike Tours"which is the same organization that did the bike tour in Munich that Laine and I enjoyed so much three years ago. This one apparently goes out to the country-side, so I'm hoping it will go by tulip fields.

Also: sorry for any typos that there might be. I usually use spell check- but I can't figure out how to get blogger into English instead of Dutch, so it is highlighting practically my entire entry.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I made it in, have found the hostel (it is very upright and steep- the stairs feel more like a ladder than, you know, stairs) and have checked in. I haven't yet been able to get ahold of Peter, but will try again soon.

Here is my thought process from the flight in as we were landing:

Those are pretty houses...gosh it is really flat here. I wonder what crop would be that weird mauve color...Oh! It's the tulips! Look at all the tulips! The fields look like crayon boxes! Dude! Man, it really is flat though.

More later, I'm off to hunt down food and continue trying to reach Peter.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I now have a place to stay in Amsterdam for 1 (one) night. I'll figure the rest out when I get there. I'm going to have to be moving every night because no one has a block of more than one night available. (um, if that didn't make sense here is an example: hostel a: has space on Monday and Wednesday, and hostel b: has space on Tuesday, well Tuesday and Wednesday, but different rooms.) I now also know how to get to Gatwick from Swiss Cottage, which is a lovely thing to know, and also how to get to from the airport to hostel a.

I'm almost ready, but I can't figure out what to pack in. My rolly suitcase (which was so very helpful when I arrived in London) feels like it is silly-big to pack in for three nights, but my duffel would be a pain in the butt to drag around while I am traveling and walking all over the place. So I guess I'll take the rolly. Hmm.

But enough of this thinking out loud- I finally got to the Tate Britain and I took a boat ride on the Themes! (which smelled oddly of celery. Explain that one to me.) The weather around here has been bordering on silly. I feel like I should be outside at all times to soak up the loveliness. And quite frankly, I have been sitting in front of the computer working on my Amsterdam trip for too long, so soak up the loveliness is what I am going to go do now. Sorry for such a short post-I'm sure I'll make it up again soon.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Ozomatli is the best live band ever. For real. Anyone who can get an entire hall full of people standing up and dancing and waving their arms in the air during the very first song of the very first set is gifted and amazing and quite probably not entirely of this world. I got very sweaty. Plus, the shows are fun because they make you meet whomever is near you. In my case an older couple named Judith and Garreth. "Our names just have the same ending coincidentally, we didn't do it on purpose."

Also, again with the Capoeira: the opening band (which was terrible and felt like watching narcissistic people doing bad karaoke) had a couple of people doing capoeira during a few of their songs and it was awesome. One of the guys kept sliding across the floor on his head. On his head.

I also finally went to the design museum yesterday. And really? The bookstore was the best part. And I think I want Phaidon's entire catalog. I'm off to the Tate today, because I need to see some pre-raphaelites. It is just necessary.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Contra dancing

Time Out is my new favorite publication. Mostly because they included "English Country Dancing Cecil Sharp House, NW1 7:30pm" under events for yesterday. And it was bunches of fun. Every Thursday they have what is basically a beginners dance session, except that there are totally regulars who come every week and are really good. I got there late, because although The A-Z has all the streets, it doesn't tell you which way the numbers go, so I started out on the wrong end of Regent's Park Road and ended up having to walk down the entire length of it, which really was fine because it is a gorgeous street (although maybe a few to many pastel houses) and a lovely night out.

Right, so I got there late, and I had some trouble figuring out where to go because the place was empty on the main floor, but I found someone to tell me to go down to the basement and there I found two different dances going on. I wasn't sure if I should just go in or not, you know, how formal was it? So I took a chance and went in and sat down next to the one person who wasn't dancing. She turned out to be a highschooler named Katie who was there with her friends and one of her friend's dad (who turned out to be from Cincinnati) and it was her first time too, so we figured out how it worked together, and then I contra danced for the rest of the night. yay!

There was this Chinese woman there named Xiaorui Wu. She is working on a degree in ethnomusicology and was there for part of a project, we traded e-mail addresses. She is the Asian one in the picture. During the tea break I met and chatted with Lara and Laura from Australia (there were a bunch of foreigners, I don' t have an explanation for that except that both Lara and I found out about the event from Time Out, hence my earlier statement. Lara is the tall one, Laura is the shorter one.)

After the tea break we sang happy birthday to the leader of the band and danced some more. There were about 30 people there all told, and a pretty wide range of ages as well. One of the sprightliest ladies had turned 80 two weeks before. She was great fun. There was also, somewhat surprisingly, a good ratio of men to women, which meant that it was much easier to tell if you were in completely the wrong place since the genders were actually accurate.

At the end of the dance Laura and Lara invited me out for dinner, so we wandered around the neighborhood trying to find somewhere the was open for food. (We ended up having a street dancing moment outside of a pub that had a jazz band, but no food) We eventually found this Greek restaurant that I don't remember the name of, but it was very good. We split a bunch of appetizers and generally had a grand old time. Lara is a somewhat classically trained violinist, she played with the band for the second half of the dance, and she is really interested in early music. (She went a little nuts when she found out that I play gamba, it was satisfying.) So we exchanged contact information and hopefully will have a chance to get together again before we both leave. (She is taking a job with a youth hostel in the Lakes district starting on the 21st.) So yeah, I had a great night.

Also, Peter has e-mailed me back. He is actually going to be in London on the 18th, so we have to get our visiting in on Monday. He also says that he has whipped the orchestra in to shape (they are, apparently, "fab" now) and so will be getting me a ticket for Tuesday. I'm excited.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm going to Amsterdam!

Where will I stay? I don't know yet, but I have tickets! I'm leaving on Monday April 16th from Gatwick at 3:50pm and will be returning to Gatwick on Thursday April 19th at 4:05pm. Woo!


All sorts of things are in the works right now. For instance: I'm finally seriously researching how to get to Amsterdam (and when). Peter wrote back and it sounds like the performance I'll be able to make is on the 17th, but he warns that "it is a Luc Bondy production and rather drab." I don't know who Luc Bondy is, and the fact that it is drab doesn't really bother me since the whole point of going while Peter is there is to visit Peter, not necessarily to see super-spiffy-early-music-operas. Also, I think I am in love with easyJet.com. They are proving to be both useful and cheap, and you really can't ask for anything more in an airline website.

Other things in the works involve actually getting in touch with some of the people that Mr. Nerenberg gave me contact information for and *hopefully* figuring out a time to go to Cambridge while I am still here. There is currently no actual plan, but there is a lot of fussing about with notebooks and calendars, which I figure is progress. I'll keep ya'll posted.

Yesterday I took a break from all of this touristing/museuming about and did my laundry and read British novels. It was good. I also went grocery shopping again. Somehow I don't think that giving you a play by play will be an interesting post, so instead I'll tell you about the ballet I saw: Mayerling a ballet in three acts.

I decided not to purchase the £5 commemorative program figuring that it is a ballet and ballets necessarily have to have fairly simple plots. This may have been a mistake. From what I gathered it was about Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary and his many, many mistresses. I do have the program with all of the dancers' names and what character they played, which is how I *know* that I was missing a lot. The problem was that everyone was at least a princess, so they were all wearing crowns which did nothing for identification help.

I think the ballet opened with Rudolph's wedding to whomever it was that he was not terribly happily married to. There was then much public humiliation and giant leaps that I think represented defiance. (or something) There was also this fun little manly man dance that the prince did with his guard buddies. I don't think it was necessarily supposed to be funny, but it really was. They kept doing this odd little hip-shimmy-hop thing. Eventually someone was accidentally killed by Rudolph who then sunk in to a terrible depression (good body language there, that part I was actually able to follow) and started shooting heroin (or some other injectable drug) and eventually ended up killing himself and one of his mistresses. I think. Though there are also two people in the cast list who are listed as playing two of the main mistress characters but as children. I know I missed that part... So it might have been a figurative death...I don't know. But there was someone who was lowered in to a grave that was cut out of the stage, and that was pretty cool. The mistress who eventually died (I think) was very very good. Lovely to watch.

The music was by Liszt and terribly dramatic, but in a good way. There was a full orchestra in the pit, including a grant piano. I was impressed that everyone fit. Anyhow, I enjoyed it quite a lot, but hope there wont be any sort of quiz on plot elements.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

True to form

I spent yesterday at the National Portrait Gallery- which is much cooler than you would expect. I rented one of those head sets that have mp3s of interesting facts, which ended up being a good idea. The headset actually made Tudor era portraits fascinating, which I think is saying something. Each set started with a piece of music that then continued in the background (they did a good job of having era appropriate music, which I was pleased with 'cause I'm a dork like that) and explained who the important person was, why the painting was important (if it was, many weren't), who the artist was, and if there were any important historical things illustrated by the painting those were mentioned too.

The gallery has also done a very good job of making sure that there is actual diversity within their collection (like every room had at least one painting of a woman, even the science rooms. A disproportionate number of the women were operatic sopranos though) and currently have informative panels along some of the paintings about slavery. Like, was the person in question involved with the abolition or did they own slaves and the like. Cool, huh?

I had purchased a ticket to go see a candlelight concert at St. Martins in the Field, but that didn't start until 7:30 and the museum closed at 5, so I had some time to kill. I ended up going to Trafalgar Square and climbing up on to the lion pedestal in order to do some serious people watching, but instead ended up talking to these two Pakistani students at Queen Mary: Waqas and Abbas. They wanted to go down to embankment and watch the buskers, so we walked down there. There is a fellow who plays the steel drums immediately next to the carousel which makes for terrible terrible cacophony that was only very slightly reminiscent of Ives.

The concert was good, but I was cheap and got tickets that had a completely obstructed view. (It wasn't supposed to be totally obstructed, but the only thing I could see was sometimes the baton of the conductor if I was trying really hard to see.) So what I did instead was stare at the ceiling. Fortunately, being a baroque era church, the ceiling was pretty cool. They are doing a lot of work on the church right now. The crypt and the brass rubbing area are both closed, and starting in May the church will be closed for services and concerts as well, so it was good I got there when I did. However, that meant that when I was looking at the ceiling I had to look up and past the scaffolding and plywood. I would tell you what they played, but I left the program at home. Sorry.

This morning I went to "cafe" in Mile End, which is a little, um, cafe, that I went to a couple of times with Laine. I remember it very fondly and have been wanting to have at least one English Breakfast while I am here, but I think remembering it fondly was a better idea then actually going and eating there again. Oi, so much grease. But lots of fried mushrooms, and you can't go wrong with fried mushrooms. Well, in my book anyway.

I'm going to the ballet tonight, total nose bleed section tickets, but at least they are not standing room- that would be awful. I'll let you know how it goes, and thanks so much for commenting (those of you who do) it makes me really happy!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Kitchens at Hampton Court

This is Mark, my buddy from the kitchens. He's making some sort of fig and wine paste-thing. I read the recipie, but it was still kind of confusing. (He was impressed that I could read the old english spellings. I blame Terry Pratchett for making me sound things out.) Aren't his clothes funny? I loved it.

The Gardens

We went to see the gardens, so I thought maybe you would like to see some of them as well.

new shoes

I bought new concert shoes, and I think they are super-cute. So, since this is my blog and I can do whatever I want with it: here are my shoes.

Uncooperative swan

I named this guy "Earl." Not for any particular reason, but he was being stubborn and refused to be photographed properly. So I took this picture. Serves Earl right.

Obliging Swan

For Easter Kateri, her friend Elizabeth, her roommate Karen, and I all went to Hampton Court Palace. It was lovely. A gorgeous day out and tons of gardens. The castle is the one that Henry VIII lived in with his various wives. It has a long and venerable history about which I know nothing. Now it is half artifact museum/half living history museum. I spent a lot of time in the kitchens talking with the guys who were roasting meat, mashing up figs, and building a 1/10 scale model of a giant fountain that shot out chardonnay that had once been used at one of Henry's banquets. It was good. Anyhow, this is an obliging swan.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Capoeira in the Park or I don't speak French

I've been wandering through parks recently. Yesterday was the Kensington Gardens and today I walked through Regent's park on my way to Camden market. At the Kensington Gardens I realized that I was tapping my foot to something, and so set off to find the origin of the rhythm. It was this little family group where the adults were playing whatever the instruments are called that accompany capoeira and these two little boys were doing the kicks and stuff. And by little, I mean they couldn't have been more than four years old. It was very cute. And then today in a band stand near the Queen's garden there were a bunch of twenty-somethings jumping around. (I wish I remembered the names of the moves or anything more authentic sounding than "jumping around" and "kicking.") Anyhow, it was cool and now I want to go to all the other parks and see if they all have bands of people doing capoeira. It might be a city wide movement, you know.

And the French. French would have been useful at the concert yesterday (or just in general for eaves dropping purposes. A remarkable number of people around here chatter away in French.) The opening band was eh. So-so. At one point he started talking and I'm pretty sure asked if it would be okay if he spoke French, and a massive "OUI" swept the crowd. From there on in, I was lost. Also, there was this woman sitting right behind me that kept randomly hollering Aiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyi (and no, that is not an exaggeration: it was long, loud, repetitive, and high pitched) Some other people were doing it on lower levels and it actually sounded pretty cool, but not right next to your(my) ear. Then it was just painful. That being said: Rachid Taha was awesome.

I'm all for any band that has tons of energy where the musicians roam about the stage and actually interact. (It's one of my favorite things about the Baltimore Consort). Rachid came out in a black suit with a shiny, orange tie and a white cowboy hat. He clearly loves being a rock start and was eating up all the screaming for him. Women kept climbing on to the stage. At one point there were twenty of them dancing away (I counted.) But it was really good, and fun and I have *no* idea what any of the songs were about because they were all either in French or Arabic. But high energy goodness none the less. (I get the feeling a bunch of the songs were political, but like I said: I have no idea.) Speaking of awesome live bands: Ozomatli is coming to the Barbican on April 13th.

Today I went to Camden Market where all of the merchandise is remarkably uniform. (I'm in a computer lab nearby instead of my regular one, and I must say: I like mine better. The guy who is in my regular one from Monday-Friday is much more pleasant. His name is Ronny and his from Sri Lanka and listens to a lot of Sinhala songs on You Tube while working.) I went to a bunch of shoe stores trying to find the quintessential ballet flat that I've been looking for, but found little success. I did end up buying a new pair of concert shoes though. I'll post a picture later. Oh, oh! I had a wall's ice cream! I had a "twister" which was my favorite from when we were on the canal boat when we were nine. It is pineapple ice cream with strawberry and lemon fruit ices. And I still like it, which was a surprise. Most of the things I liked when I was nine are a little too much now. Except not avocado. I will always like avocado. Particularly when drenched in Grammy's dressing. That's the best.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Why this is not a post

I usually post once I've come back to Swiss Cottage for the night, but tonight I'm going to a concert and won't be back before the shop closes at 9. So this is my excuse post that is not really a post.

In case you're curious I'm off to see Rachid Taha, of whom I know nothing except what was in Time Out. He is Algerian and plays all kinds of not possible to classify music. Should be good. It's at the Barbican, so I'm hoping now that I have spent a fair amount of time wandering around the complex that I will not get so lost that I miss the show.

I'm also going to go wander around Notting Hill, because it is lovely out and I want to walk around outside instead of inside a museum. Even if that museum has slides.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Tate Modern

Three things I have noticed with this blog:

1. I am both liberal and haphazard with my punctuation, particularly with commas.
2. Most of my titles involve exclamation points
3. I have been taking bizarre pictures. (loaf of bread? why? And I have four pictures of it...)

All that being said: Today I made a day of it and finally got over to the Tate Modern. I intended to go for half a day and then boat over to the Tate Britain (which I would still like to do at some point) but instead I fell in love with the museum and spent all day there. (Gorgeous day, by the way. I ended up walking all the way to the Westminster stop again because it was just so lovely out that I didn't want to be on the train while it was still light out. Plus, everyone and their brother was outside today which made for wonderful people watching.)

The giant gallery that they put out-sized installations in is currently filled with slides. Twisty, metal, amusement park slides that people screamed in as they went hurtling down anywhere from one storey to five. (I did the five storey one, of course.) You had to get a ticket to slide, and by 12:00, when I arrived, they were booked up until 2:30. So I vowed to get in line at that point and went of to discover the rest of the museum. I like it. I like it a lot. I like that they have organized by theme rather than necessarily by time period or artist (although that did end up happening sort of anyway.) And I have finally seen some Pollocks! And Rothkos!

Who are Gilbert and George and why have I never heard of them before? I bought an exhibition book about them because I was so entranced. (Plus, it was only £10.00 and I would have kicked myself if I hadn't.) I'll let you know more later after I have read the book.

I also finally picked up a copy of Time Out and now am hoping to go to the ballet on Saturday (I think, it isn't right in front of me.) So much to do, yay. Also, today I ran into Philip, a friend from the workshop who is actually from Portugal. He was meeting up with a friend at the museum and we were going to hang out later, but I can't get my blasted phone to work. So poo. Oh well, at least I got to chat with him a bit before jumping down the slide.

By the way, slides made by artists and their assistants? Very, very bumpy. It was a coiled slide and apparently takes 11 seconds from top to bottom. You know when you're little and someone pats you on the back and you say "ahh" and it's all rhythmic and fun? I said "ahh" all the way down, but quietly and too myself so as not to disturb other museum goers.

This is a tiny loaf of bread with which I am quite enamored. It is really very crusty, and when tapped on the top it makes a satisfying, almost wood-block-like sound.

My excuse for posting this is that Mommy wanted stir-fry pictures, but I ate that already- and really, I'm totally charmed by this loaf.

This is one of those virtuous Darwin awards I was telling you about. I love that he sank with his playfellow "clasped in his arms. " I probably shouldn't think this is funny, but I really do. It is just so dramatic. Plus, he didn't actually save anyone. An how did they know? Were there spectators? Or did his mother decide that David was the hero rather than his unnamed friend? So many questions...but it is a lovely tile.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


I was just going to go scout out the theatre where it is playing, but when I arrived people were streaming through the doors and I thought "lets see if they have any tickets left." And oh! they did! Mine was 'obstructed view' which really meant that I was right behind a little barrier over one of the entrance ways, so if you slouched back and tried to watch you wouldn't be able to see much, but if you leaned forward you could see the whole stage-without any pesky tall people in front of you. I ended up sitting next to two other girls who were also seeing it for the first time and who had also memorized the entire sound track. We were a little giddy. And it was good! And it makes so much more sense now! And the costumes: the chorus costumes were inspired (and you know how picky/snotty I get about costumes) They had waist-coats and vests and bustles and ridiculous colors and fabrics and lots of feathers and flounces. It was great.

Now, Andy and Nancy: I have been thinking for, like, three years now that they both died in the end and they *don't?!!* I don't know how I feel about that. I think I kinda liked it better when it was so very very tragic. Though this does explain the missing scarecrow.

Off to make dinner and read Thud 'cause I never read it in America and I kinda liked the British cover, so I bought it.

Extra points today go to this guy who had clearly just gotten to London and was switching trains at the Westminster stop. He was so excited, it was really cute:

"Wow!! They actually say it, guys! She actually said Mind the Gap!!"

For Gawel

This little guy is on a card reader for a garage on the stretch of street between the flat and the tube stop. I walk by him at least twice a day, and he makes me happy. I have no idea if "salad" is actually something incredibly offensive over here, but for now let's just assume he's talking about the leafy green stuff with dressing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I found the grocery store!

I discovered Sainsbury's yesterday. I knew it was somewhere around a: because Aneta had mentioned it and b: because I keep seeing people walking around with orange shopping bags from the store. But I hadn't found it yet and was beginning to get worried about my food situation. But it's all good now!

I bought a chicken. I then devoured half of it (I was maybe a bit hungry.) Also, some carrots. I am totally fascinated by British carrots. Did you know they are different? They are a much brighter orange and thicker and stubbier. I also got a stir-fry kit because Mommy had been so excited about those. The one I got has peanut sprouts in it and I purchased it purely because it was the prettiest. I also got a mini-treacle pie since I have never been quite sure what treacle is. Turns out it is the sticky bit in pecan pies. I felt like the pie needed some more nuts. Specifically pecans. I'm sure I got some other things, but obviously they were not as noteworthy since I'm spacing out on them right now. But seriously guys, the carrots are weird.

Today was my first day without something scheduled, so I slept until noon and then went to the V&A. You know that fashion exhibit that I was so excited about that I have been wanting to see since it was being set up back in 2004? Yeah, it was totally closed for refurbishments. So instead I went to the surrealist exhibit. (I'll go back for the fashion exhibit next week, I think.) The Mae West lips couch is really quite dirty and dingy- is there not some easy way of cleaning satin? You know, for a big important exhibit that is being advertised all over the city with pictures of said couch? Wouldn't you want it to be clean? By the end of the exhibit I found myself staring at objects/paintings/whatever and thinking to myself: "There is such subtle symbolism here. I wonder what they could possibly be alluding to..." I feel like the entire exhibit is summed up nicely by this quote from a panel describing a lobster-telephone that Dali designed:

"for him, the lobster symbolised the fusion between the edible and the erotic."

Isn't it possible for something to be surreal in a playful way? Instead of in a really heavy handed allusion to sex (but sex is bad!) sort of way? That being said: I still really like Man Ray's work. My two favorite things from the exhibit were a wardrobe that was painted to look like it was open, with a view of green hills and a lightly clouded sky; and a design for a small art gallery on wheels that looked like an artichoke. Sections of the leaves were hinged in order to open up to reveal windows.

At that point I had a slow-walking-in-museums back ache, so I decided to wander around the neighborhood and discovered Harrods. I wandered through Luxury Room No. 1, Luxury Room No. 2, and almost went in to Luxury Room No. 3 but fortunately noticed that the food halls were the other direction. Oh, the food halls. Such ridiculous things for sale, but much more reasonable prices than I had been expecting. Did you know that they have custom (bespoke, whatever) chocolate Easter eggs? There was a fellow in the middle of the cheese section (okay, that part I don't get. Probably not enough room in the chocolate room?) who was set up in a booth surrounded by giant chocolate eggs with a work space in the middle where there was melting chocolate that he then used to write on the eggs with and make little bunny and chick faces with. Corny, but in an "ooo, chocolate!" sort of way.

Then I went to the souvenir section. Want to find Americans? Go to the souvenir section of Harrods. I quickly escaped and continued to wander down the road. Which brings me to my next question: is it a bad idea to spend £25 ($50) on a pair of shoes that are are incredibly hip in London right now, but are also incredibly silly? Like, blue and white striped silly? Or even better, bright yellow polka-dotted silly?

At that point, I hopped on the nearest tube stop (can I just say how very much in love I am with the tube system? So, so, so wonderful.) and went back to Swiss Cottage. I then got stuck at a bookstore, and am just now headed home to make dinner. I'm thinking something with my peanut sprouts kit.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Actual Audition!


I am now on that sort of empty low after something that you've been anticipating for forever is finally over. What to do next?

Blog about it, of course. My accompanist was nice enough. There was some mix up in signing out the rooms and so a wind quintet came in to rehearse while we were in the room. He got rather angry and so, in an effort to calm him down a bit, I told him that things like that happened all the time at Peabody too. He was surprised. He expected that everything in America was well run. That sparked yet another conversation of America vs. Great Britain and how the two are similar/different. I keep being surprised at how many people have not been to America. I really probably shouldn't be. Though now is really a good time to go! The dollar is terrible! Go! Spend money in America! But buy locally, okay? Those independent bookstores need your money.

But the audition. We went in an played the Eccles. It went okay, better than the rehearsals had been. I was both standing and playing on an unfamiliar (much larger) instrument. It went okay. I played barefoot- I love that this is a laid-back enough program that I could play barefoot. Then I went and sat down, handed them my portfolio, and began to talk. A lot. Very animatedly. Leaning forward and making too much eye contact.

I told them that I was very interested in the collaborative aspects, more so than the workshop aspects necessarily. I told them about the poetry collaboration and about how that was 5 years ago and I still talk about it. I told them about how I had loved preparing for my recital, but how, when I thought about what I wanted to do with my life, I knew that it wasn't going to be sitting in a practice room by myself for hours on end and that it wasn't going to be with a traditional orchestra. I told them about how much I loved dance, and about dalcroze and movement. I told them that I was nervous that I was so much more interested in the collaborative aspects than the workshop aspects, but also that we don't have that in America yet, so I really didn't know what I was talking about. I told them about being a camp counselor. I told them about Peter McCarthy and showed them my article that I wrote for Bass World. I told them what I thought were the important/key points for a good/effective collaboration. I told them some other stuff too, that is what I remember.

And here is the thing: You know Jeffery Sharkey, the new director and his wife Alison Wells, the cellist that convinced the other cellists to come to the program? And you know the Young Se Toe (or however you spell that) Conservatory in Singapore that Peabody founded? There are all of these connections. The Leadership programme has someone in Singapore (Bernard or Bertram or something else equally British sounding and starting with a B) and apparently Sharkey has been talking to Guildhall a bunch and then there are all of Alison's proteges here now. So here is what I need to do: I need to talk to Sharkey and Alison. For real. Because I could help, I could be a great liaison between the Leadership Programme and Peabody. I would be really great at that. And that would be so cool.

So I might not get in this year, but they responded well to what I was saying and at the very least we have all met now and begun talking. They only have 8 spots, and they have three days of interviews. They have my e-mail address and are going to let me know if there are any events while I am still in London, but unfortunately it is Easter/Spring break and not much is going on.

And that's all I've got right now. Except that I am heartily sick of sandwiches. (Thought I am thankful that they have been feeding us these past three days.)

Audition Day!

I've got half an hour until my warm up time. I was looking for a restroom, but instead found the computer lab, and I'm not one to pass up free internet.

The end of the workshop went very well. We were supposed to add a couple of things and finish up our group composition by noon, in time to break for lunch. Instead we ended up working on it until the very end of the workshop at 4:30. So whatever we were going to do after lunch, never got done. It was interesting though, how they put the whole composition together. We had a large beginning groove that the leaders had written and arranged for our instrumentation, then we had broken up into groups, written two more melodies and a B and C section. By the end of the morning session each individual group had written a third part. For instance: I was in the B section group. On Saturday we had written a repeating bass ostinato figure, chord progression, and solo over the top. On Sunday we added a theme for the winds and strings to play while the rest of our section went on the same. It added so much, I got to listen to that part of the recording and it was amazing sounding. The whole composition ended up being about 20 minutes long, and I played nearly the whole time. My left arm is in quite a bit of pain now, because I am stupid. Oh well.

After our workshop ended a bunch of folks went out to a local pub, but the conversation was rather stilted and we all suddenly realized that we were each other's competition, which was no fun. I don't envy the leaders who will be making the admissions decisions, there are about 23 people auditioning and *maybe* 8 spots. So just about 1 out of 3 will get in. Oi. But no, not thinking about that yet, I still have 15 minutes before my warm up...

After the ill-fated pub gathering I started to walk back to the pub station, but A: got distracted by the Roman wall sitting randomly next to a metal gate, and B: got distracted by a small garden. So I took some pictures of the wall (amazed by the fact that it has just been worked around. It is old! Save it! Though, I guess there are so many old things in London...) and then went into the garden.

The garden turned out to be the communal graveyard of three churches- but it is smack dab in the middle of London, so of course it was bombed to pieces during World War II. Anyhow, they have turned the old headstones into flower bed edgers...I was amazed, and then love the idea. There was also a wall of glazed ceramic tiles that read like virtuous Darwin Awards: " so-and-s0; aged 11 years, drowned saving two unknown boys while skating at the park." That isn't a good example...some were really quite funny. In a sweet sort of heartbreaking sort of way.

At that point I realized that I was right next to St. Pauls and therefore right next to the millennium bridge, so I went for a walk. Unfortunately for me I remembered the bridge and the eye as being much closer to each other, so it ended up being an unexpectedly long walk. To pass the time, I played: "spot the American"

Here are some things I noticed:
Cowboy boots: definitely not American, probably Japanese.
Skinny jeans on boys older than 14: definitely not American, anything but American
Northface jackets: American
twirling hair: American
Men wearing scarves as an accessory: not American
Sorority girl makeup: American. Americans are apparently the only ones who try to make the entire face the same shade, everyone else allows for gradation in color. Notice, I didn't say "bottle blond hair" or "heavy makeup" but specifically sorority girl makeup.

off to go warm up, I'll let you know how today went later.