One of the most rewarding, sweet and pleasurable activities on this great adventure is working with music students in every country. These young people are creative, bright, and brave, because we are bringing some new material and challenges. We are making so many young friends. To see the smiling faces of these young artists and to hear heartfelt melodies pour from them through their instruments or voices makes me feel like the world is smaller and we are so much the same everywhere.
Some of the students remind me of my own kids who I miss so so much. (I am so grateful for Skype). Some are the same age and I want to share these experiences with my daughter and son…as much as they can stand until they don’t want to see one more photo or hear one more story. So many remind me of my students at home. There is a lot of music happening around the world made by kids. What a gift.
Everywhere we go we are meeting warm people from the embassies, the people who are helping put events together, and so many music students who we have been getting to know in our short time in each stop. Lot’s of cameras are snapping with many many pictures and I recommend that you visit our facebook page, as there is a great deal to look at and some videos. In particular, there is a new video of some music students in Tetovo singing a song with such a beautiful melody. I was in a small classroom with them. We had just done our presentation for them. Some students played for Dina, Alisa, and Jess and these students excitedly pulled me into a different classroom and sang and danced. They sang an Albanian song, a Macedonian song, and then we all belted out Rolling in the Deep together by Adele. This experience, along with dancing with music students in Bitola where we spent yesterday, are the highlights of our experience here. We felt the same way in Azerbaijan interacting with young musicians. It’s such an honor to be able to do this. The travel is hard. We are sleep deprived and the schedule is very busy, but what a gift to be able to connect with amazing and bright young people with the language of music. Music really does bring people together!
And now a shout out to my students. I miss you!! I hope you are having a wonderful month. Hi hi hi!
Bitola is such a charming town with beauty and warm friendly people. We not only played for high school music students today, but they played for us (so did our high school friends in Tetovo). We danced with students to Jovane Jovanka, the same Macedonian piece we played for them. This time they played. Macedonian dancing with teenagers leading the way! What joyous fun!! After, our host from American Corner, Ivana, took us to a restaurant to taste real Macedonian fare. Clay pot after clay pot came out and we ate and ate. Really incredible experience. We just sound checked at the jazz club and now have a little rest before a concert tonight. I love it here in Bitola!!
Aside from night time flights with various stops in the Istanbul airport in the wee hours, I am filled with old sights which are new to me and meeting interesting people and enthusiastic music students. Today we have traveled to Bitola which is in the southwest region of the country. It is historic and beautiful. Minarets abound, alongside Eastern Orthodox churches.
The holocaust museum in Skopje is a 3 story gallery of photos and stories. This is my first time in Europe and that was my first time at a holocaust museum. It was very humbling.
Today in Bitola, we play for students in the day and a concert at a jazz club.
Yes, as Jessie wrote, we played our first concert in Azerbaijan today at a beautiful cultural center for an exuberant audience and hosted by wonderful folks at the embassy.
Here is some press about RVSQ in the region.
It has been wonderful to start our tour in Washington DC in beautiful crisp weather. We played for bright and enthusiastic 2nd graders at the Filmore Arts School and were hosted by our sponsors at American Voices and the State Department. I took a walk today on the mall and was very moved to see the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, the White House and so many other sights. We have been vested with the title of cultural ambassadors and can’t wait to meet all the people and musicians awaiting us in Eastern Europe. Here we go!!
We will perform our own arrangements of songs and pieces from the countries we are going to. It’s already been a journey of sorts to become familiar with this music. Are we packed and ready?? Almost. Phew. I miss you already, students of mine! Oh…and practice!!
Irene here. Packing for a trip is one thing. Packing for a trip which takes one to Latvia in December is another. We know some of the concerts we play will be in very cold halls, so warm concert worthy clothing is a main focus. We leave in one week, starting in Azerbaijan. I have only seen the Caspian Sea on a map. We will be looking at it for real in about a week and a half from Baku, Azerbaijan!