This will be the last blog report for this trip. The day in Sao Paolo was absolutely beautiful. The sky was blue and the air temperate. Walking around the city was fascinating. There are new and the old buildings juxtaposed. We walked through a park that looked like a piece of the Amazon with 400 year old trees sailing up to the sky.
Tonight was the last concert in a cozy theater that was packed with music lovers. There was a young boy in the front row and he was riveted to the Virtuosi for the entire concert. An older woman in the second row was dancing wildly in her seat to the music. It was a perfect ending for another fascinating and enriching adventure with the Virtuosi.
This is a unique collection of young people who have become very close friends. They understand how to make music together, to have a good time together, and to support each other. They have become a family. I’m sure that this night not much sleeping will happen but all are going away with experiences that will be remembered for a lifetime.
Thank you to all who made this trip possible…The Jacobs School of Music, The Starling Foundation, Mozarteum Argentino, David Jacobs, Daniel Stein, the Meltzers, and all you parents.
Tomorrow is a long travel day back to Bloomington. We will see everyone very soon.
Many best wishes from us all,
Mimi and the Gang
Hello to everyone!
All days are so intense that as I write about yesterday it seems already a long ago distant day. It began with a 12 noon concert at a “country club” (really a very big city club) called Hebraica. There is a very large Jewish population in Sao Paolo and they have built an athletic facility, concert hall and restaurants in a walled in park in the middle of this gigantic city. For me it was seeing my grandparents of 50 years ago. (I guess we all grow older.) The audience was very amusing for us…there was the “oy vay” man sitting in back of me who every minute would say oy vay until I thought these were his last words on this earth. But after 10 minutes he was totally engaged in the concert. At the point in the Tour Medley where the Tango was playing, Ariel heard a woman in the front row say very loudly, “Don’t they know they are in Brazil?” Thank goodness the Bossa Nova followed and there was a sigh of relief.
The second concert of the day took place at the Fukuda Institute, a new and original music school where an IU DM cellist, André Micheletti, is very active. The audience was patiently waiting for us since we were late (not too unusual here). We still had to gobble down the delicious lunch that was waiting for the hungry gang. Finally the concert began and it was exciting. The Virtuosi thrive on playing for kids who are also striving musicians. They were called back for a few encores and by the end felt elated and tired. A woman from the school made a speech saying how moved all were by the playing and that within the music they were able to find the quiet space of peace and beauty. It was so heartfelt we were all moved.
Next came the party at the home of Daniel’s mom, Cecilia. It was the time that all could relax amidst friends and the generosity and warmth of Cecilia. We feasted on cheese bread (a Brazilian speciality), lasagna, salads, cakes, chocolates and went home full and happy. Thank you to Daniel and Cecilia!
Monday was a day off. I went to the Fukuda Institute to work with teachers and students. I am hoping that a few students will join the Summer String Academy next year. There are many gifted kids here with dedicated teachers.
The Virtuosi practiced all morning and then went with Daniel on a walking tour of the neighborhood. We ended up tonight at a fantastic pizza restaurant. The highlight was the nutella pizza for dessert. On our way home we ran into the big demonstration that you may be seeing on the news. There were 150,000 people out on the streets demonstrating against a raise in the bus fares. There is a lot of unrest in this country and we have been learning many interesting details speaking with our hosts. This was the first major demonstration that the young Virtuosi have seen and another interesting event to add to their list. Not to worry, we are all fine.
Tomorrow is our last concert and full day in South America. Will give you updates as we go.
Today is Friday and a long travel day from San Juan to Sao Paolo via Buenos Aires.
But first a few words about last night’s concert in San Juan. We thought the concert began at 9 PM but when we arrived at the concert hall we found out the start time was 9:30 (which means 9:45). The Virtuosi assured me that they would be fine at this hour because they are teenagers and that extra adrenalin kicks in at about 10 o’clock. And they did not disappoint. It was another magnificent evening with a spontaneous standing ovation at the end. I observed people in the front rows who had smiles on their faces from ear to ear.
We had a late night dinner after the concert (beginning at midnight) with our host Eduardo Savastano and Adriana, a very nice woman, the Dean of the Conservatorio. The serious conversation dealt with how to raise the level of teaching and playing in San Juan and throughout Argentina. We came up with some good ideas that we will try to implement in the next months.
A few thoughts…..
Touring is a lot of work and takes an enormous amount of energy. One has to stay healthy, find the time to practice, eat and sleep.
A typical concert day goes something like this:
Wake up in the morning and eat breakfast.
Practice or have a lesson with Mimi until 11.
At 11, pile into a van to get to the concert hall.
Rehearse the group pieces, chamber music pieces and solos and practice backstage if not on stage
2 PM pile back onto the bus to return to the hotel for lunch and a much needed siesta.
Around 5, think about getting ready to go to the hall…wash up, exercise, practice some more.
Get to the hall at 7 for a short rehearsal and sound check.
Finally the concert begins at 9 or 9:30 and all have to be fresh and ready to go.
Concert is over and then the public is waiting to meet the Virtuosi for pictures and conversation.
Then it is dinner time.
By 2 AM it is time to crawl into bed.
Also at this point in the blog I want to say a few words about Ilya Friedberg our pianist and Daniel Stein our Tour Manager. There is no possibility of a successful tour without exceptional people such as these. Ilya is a beautiful pianist who nurtures artistic growth with the Virtuosi from one concert to the next. Daniel is our constant companion with translations, directions, where and how to get places, schedule details in addition to having planned all aspects of the Brazil tour.
We are extremely grateful!!
Tomorrow we have two concerts in Sao Paolo and will keep you informed.
Saturday was our first day in this HUGE city. It has a population of 24 million and is the hub of commerce for Brazil. It feels like a country, not a city. The traffic moves 24 hours/day and I wonder where everyone is going.
The day was a day of extremes and eye opening for all. A van picked us up in the morning and drove us ½ hour to another district of Sao Paulo, this one a barrio. People are living everyplace and in any kind of structure that provides shelter. There are many people on the streets buying and selling, all very colorful and busy, busy, busy. The Virtuosi played at an organization called ACER. It is a neighborhood center that provides a safe haven for kids in the area. The center offers activities and classes of which one is a percussion group. We played for these young people and then they played for us. They were amazing! Their sense of rhythm, ensemble, and enthusiasm reverberated up and down my spine. All went to lunch together and our kids made friends with a few of the kids from the percussion group. These are beautiful children with wide-open eyes and hope. Jonathan and his staff are devoted to changing the lives of young people. It is done out of love and conviction, and it is an overwhelming proposition. We were all moved.
In the evening the Virtuosi played a benefit concert for ACER in a private home that was everything opposite from the morning. (One of the ACER percussion boys joined the Virtuosi for the Tour Medley shaking the “shaker”.) Jo and her husband who are devoted to helping ACER hosted the event for 100 people in a beautiful glass enclosed space. There were many English-speaking people who are now living in Brazil at this concert. (It was easier for us to communicate. Portuguese is a mystery language for all of us except Greg.) The Virtuosi played their hearts out and hopefully ACER made some significant gains. Even though it is winter here, a lovely party was held outside. The Virtuosi mingled with the crowd and Greg could be seen surrounded by teenagers speaking Portuguese.
To sum up the day…what we are seeing is that there are many ways of life in this world. The visual images and interactions with people open our minds to a larger understanding of what is out there.
More soon. Sunday is another big day.
Mimi and the Gang
FROM AMY on Thursday
The last morning in Mendoza (now yesterday) started with grunts and groans accompanying the early morning lessons as Virtuosi members woke up in the wee ours to practice, eat and shop. . . . and more shopping. After the morning lessons, the Virtuosi herded together and went shopping with Daniel. Between the shopping, incredible amounts of delicious foods were provided as we sat and nibbled on our (almost hourly) delicacies. The shopping tour yielded many treasures and everyone had a very satisfactory time.
The fearless shoppers then made it back to the hotel where the luggage was being held and waiting to be crammed into the bus. It is safe to assume that everyone’s luggage grew bigger and fatter.
Once we boarded the bus we enjoyed our first class bussing experience for the two hour ride to San Juan. The view of the Andes Mountains on our extremely cushioned seats was breathtaking and Greg took enough pictures of mountains on his IPad to last a lifetime. However, one can really never capture the wonderful time we have had and are having.
Now from MIMI…
It is Thursday and our last full day in Argentina. The Virtuosi rehearsed this morning in the modern concert hall, all wood with chairs sloping to the stage like a Greek theater. I remember this hall from the previous tour as being one of the nicest venues. Because of the wood, the tone is warm and resonant. Our host, Eduardo Savastano from the Mozarteum, is taking care of all our needs. We are comfortable in our hotel, all meals come complete with three courses, and the van is waiting to take us to the concert hall when needed. (In short, we are becoming very spoiled.) It will be another late night with a 9 PM concert and dinner afterwards. The kids are getting used to this routine, especially the nice siesta after lunch.
Mimi and the Gang