Album Release

Monday, March 17, 2008

O Champs-Élysées, la la la la laaaa

Ladies and gentlemen! The most expensive cup of tea I've ever bought: green tea at Le Royal cafe in downtown Paris... 6,50 EURO ($11).

Very pleasant cup of tea. Never again.

Moving on! I am on the train coming back from Paris because yesterday I played in a "spectacular" in a cathedral called the Madeleine. I was playing with a small group of musicians and a choir as they presented an oratorio about Mary Magdalene. 1200 people in attendance and an incredible musical experience! I've never played in a cathedral this grandiose; I will remember that feeling for a long time. Not to mention my badly blistered fingers. (It's courageous work, playing the harp.) It's crazy to think that Faure, Saint-Saens, and many other amazing musicians have also played there. I arrived to a harp already in place and ready to be played. After two encores, we came off the stage and moved into a reception overflowing with champagne (I'm going to miss France).

I feel a little like I'm in one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. I arrived in Paris the first day without a clue where I was going to sleep that night. I had made arrangements that fell through the day before, so I was hoping someone in the orchestra or choir might have a free bed in their home. One very beautiful and warm woman from Argentina quickly welcomed me into her apartment near the Arc de Triomphe. What a treat! Her place was amazing (5 exquisite floors), and I slept like a princess.

I was remembering the few times I've been in Paris, and particularly one time in which I was here someone I loved very much. We spent such a romantic time there; I worried that coming back would be depressing and lonely. But lo and behold! It was nothing but fun.

Out of sheer luck, I happened to be here during the grand opening of the Lyon and Healy harp shop in Paris. I stopped by to shmooze and to drink champagne and to play on my dream harps.

The concert at the Madeleine came with a team of sound and light engineers... really nice guys. Everybody was nice, actually. They came from all over France for this show. One of them in particular was exceptionally charming, and was nice enough to be my tour guide for a Friday night out on the town that doesn't sleep. Needless to say, I haven't slept, my feet hurt, and I had a blast... eating pizza at 3 in the morning, walking down the Champs-Élysées, singing, talking, and laughing until the sun started to come up.

And to polish it off, I shared a good old fashioned Starbucks (I don't see these much in the south of France) with some new friends before catching the train. I had to teach them how to drink their Caramel Macchiato out of a sippy cup because it was their first time at Starbucks. And just for the record, the French pronounce it "Starbuck."

So you see? Choose your own adventure. Thanks for my smile, Paris.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thoughts from Cosenza, Italy

Ciao from Italia! I'm here assisting my teacher this week as she gives a masterclass to a group of young harpists. I'm reminded how much I love Italy.

Things I appreciate about the Italians:
1. Their beautiful language (They sing when they speak.)
2. Their manner of talking (Usually loud, with copious hand gestures, and this multiplies if it involves eating.)
3. Their musicality (May be linked to their language?)
4. Their style and sense of fashion (Men in tight jeans)
5. Their pasta.
5. Their strong coffee and their frequent cigarettes breaks (both things I've given up giving up this week)

Other thoughts while being here:
1. Playing the harp in any capacity takes major guts.
2. Playing the harp (or any instrument) is a little like living life in general: It's never really finished... learning, growing, understanding, maturing, improving
3. Being in the teacher's chair causes one to learn many things, perhaps even more than the student
4. Humility comes before honor.

baci e arrivederci