Wednesday, March 1, 2017

#IWSG – MARCH 2017 CHECK IN – LOOKING AHEAD TO #A-TO-Z


I'm still trying to catch my equilibrium and get back into a semblance of my previous routine, prior to our whirlwind tour of Japan, and this is one of the problems with being so damnably hard-wired. Once out-of-whack, it takes a while to get everything back in order. It didn't help that my phone never made it out of Florida, or at least out of the United States, and it got lost, along with my mind, I fear.


This is apparently how they like to land in Japan, like a freakin' dart, head-first! We had some interesting flights and as both of my parents were pilots, I had a pretty good idea if we were in good hands or not. We were, but we did have some interesting take-offs and landings in the 7 flights we took during the tour!

I spent a couple of weeks playing catch-up with doctors and practicing and for the first time in many a year, I was thrown for a loop with a piece of music I had *gasp!* never heard before, although I know the composer fairly well. The composer is Gustav Holst and the piece is called “Bela Mire” or something equally nondescript. I'm too lazy to go look at the thing in the next room as I pound this out on my computer, but it IS a delightful piece! The first movement is a sort of Chabrier “Espana” type of affair, with that Spanish flair to it.

We haven't played the second movement yet, and the third movement is apparently inspired by some goat herder that ol' Gustav heard from miles away, as he sat on the hillside, playing his goat-skin bagpipe, with hollowed-out goat horns for drones. According to Holst, he heard this “melody” for two-and-a-half hours and it stuck with him. And boy, howdy, will it stick with you after you've heard this bastard. It starts out kind of slow and very drone-y and mysterious in the violas, on our two lowest strings and the movement of the melody is in 4ths and 5ths, lending an open, very eerie quality to the sound. We start out so softly, you have to strain to hear us.


Meet "Wolf", my viola. He's an Italian snob, and gets his own seat whenever we fly. The gentleman next to him is Alex, who plays trombone. It was a great tour!

As the sound builds, it becomes a bit more robust, but really isn't any happier, and then all of a sudden, the oboe and winds burst forth with the upper strings (along with us) and we play this hell-bent, 20-minute (or so it seems) very closely-intervaled snake-charmer type-thing that changes meters every so often just to keep it interesting! Twenty minutes (not really) of this is really pretty mesmerizing and I can understand why Holst was taken with it, but I sure as HELL would NOT want to play this version of “Bangalore's Greatest Hits” for two-and-a-half hours. We're also playing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and I actually taught it to a student years ago.


My friend, Dana Tollan, a violinist from Rumania and I in front of Yokohama Harbor. This was about as warm as it got. From here we went to Sapporo which was 305 miles from Siberia as the crow flies. Gorgeous, ancient Sapporo, which we thoroughly enjoyed!

Even though I'm a violist, I taught violin and I had this advanced student who wanted to learn it. I thought, “Great, time for the woodshed.” I stayed just about two weeks ahead of her as we plowed through this thing. My current stand partner had done a similar thing with a student of his, so of course, we were “air-playing” the solo part in the back of the section, when the violas were resting. Never grow up. That's my motto.


Sapporo, home of Shoguns and Japanese Macaque monkeys that live in the hot springs pools.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to continuing my “Nebraska Avenue” series this year for the #A-to-Z Challenge 2017 and FINISHING it this year. I will have no commitments, or few to keep me, and will not be going on any vacation until the summer, when I hope to join my better 2/3s in the Badlands for a bit; ridin' horses and ropin' steers. Baloney. He's gonna play bass, and I'm going to SEDATELY ride whatever nag is assigned to me. . . maybe. Anyway, I've not written much lately and need to get back to it. I miss the creativity and the fun. How is your #IWSG?

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