December 15, 2008

Last few days of Cardiff… and a bit of Bristol.

Last few days of Cardiff… and a bit of Bristol.

Didn’t have much to do until the end of term. Practiced for 2 hours in college, met Nikki to play duets, and attended Alicia’s Harp Recital on thursday, and went for dinner with the whole harp department at this nice Italian place called Zizzi.

That’s Nikki and I. Nikki’s a really good oboist. Fantastic tone, very nice sound, and extremely in control of the oboe. She can play really softly and very loudly too. She’s from Nottingham. She asked me out to play duets with her (it was supposed to be a trio with Sam, but Sam was hungover from a party on wed night). We picked up scores from the library and sight-read through Beethoven’s variations, swapping parts after each variation. Good fun! We should do a concert like that some day, swapping instruments/parts for the variations. It’ll be so hilarious!
The harp recital was interesting, but so very long. Almost 2 hours without an intermission. Alicia played my favourite two of Granados’ Danzas Espanola, No. 2 (Oriental) and No. 5 (Andaluza). It was also appropriate because she’s half-spanish. I thought the standard of the harp players was high. The performances were good and they introduced their pieces in a very professional manner. One performer, let’s call her SulkyGirl, wasn’t good. She entered the stage with a sulky look on her face, even though her teacher was smiling encouragingly at her. She didn’t acknowledge the applause, but proceeded to just sit down and play. Her technique was good but her mood spoilt the whole atmosphere. It was as though she was playing in her own little world, and the audience weren’t invited. After her solo piece (J.S. Bach’s Tempo Di Bouree transcribed into an Etude for Harp), she introduced her next piece, saying “I’d very much like to welcome B, a flautist, to play the next piece with me.” After that she sulked and sat down again, proceeding to perform her next piece. Even during the music I could tell that she was still in her own little world, and that she didn’t want the flautist there with her, she didn’t enjoy her music, and she’d much rather be in the Carribean Islands than playing her music. There was a duet performance on the Triple Harp, the official instrument of Wales, and Baroque violin. I enjoyed every bit of that performance. The finale was interesting, it was a 7-harp ensemble playing the Chanson Boheme from Carmen.
Dinner at Zizzi started at about 10. That’s Alicia and her department head and I in the picture. The harp department is pretty cool. It’s 7 of them girls, and they organize dinners and get-togethers, where friends are invited too. Dinner was awesome (: Pasta with fresh prawns, and an Amaretti Cheesecake for dessert.

Introducing Sandy my fantastic oboe teacher. Had my last oboe lesson with Sandy on Friday. We did Britten’s Metamorphoses. It was so nice to have a change of teaching style and interpretation, and as Sandy says, the most beautiful thing about playing the Metamorphoses is that no two oboists play them the same. Have worked Pan and Arethusa out with Tim Watts (who happened to play second oboist to Sandy for years in the opera long time ago! They’re good friends), so Sandy and I worked through Narcissus and Niobe. He didn’t really like Phaeton so we didn’t do it. We also did the Gillet nr. 3, the forked-F etude, and fixed reeds. He profiled 3 in total for me, with his german profiler.

That’s Mike. I met him for coffee at Starbucks, and he was so looking forward to driving back for the Christmas holidays. Had such an enjoyable time talking to him over hot chocolate. He’s in third-year, same as Alicia.

Attended the College concert in St David’s Hall with Alicia after that. They did Vaughn Williams Sea Symphony, a very large-scale work for chorus and orchestra and two soloists. Job well done to all of them, especially since they only got the music 11 days before the concert and commenced rehearsals one week before the concert! 4 movements, 1-hour-long. No intermission. My attention wandered frequently. During the second movement or so, a man wearing a white coat and jeans walked (making quite a lot of noise), from behind to the choir gallery area. He proceeded to sit down next to the choir and got up promptly and disappeared behind the choir after a minute or so, all while the music was still going on. I thought it was strange. I didn’t think much of it, until after the concert when the choir members discovered that some of them had items stolen. That guy had gone backstage, stolen the choir members’ stuff, and ran away. He had lots of time to do it (about 3 movements long, and the 4th movement itself was about 20 min long!) and escape. Many had wallets, phones, passports, iPods stolen. The police couldn’t do much about it. My flatmate Sarah seemed the worst-hit. Her passport and wallet with new credit cards and phone were stolen. I do hope they catch that guy soon. Thank God that she’s back home, and with a new passport.

Said my goodbyes to friends whom I’ll either never see again or never see for a long long long time. The flat felt so empty. Royce went home early, and Grace left early on saturday.
Grace, my favourite flat-mate. She’s been so nice to me, baking brownies for my birthday, lending me her DVDs so I can pass time, and watching TV with me at nights.

Left for Bristol with Shing Min and Stephanie on Saturday for Edward’s concert. Tried to sight-see a bit, but Bristol was a brown, boring place. Came across this though:

John Wesley’s place, and the first ever Methodist church in the world! Everything else was quite boring. We expected to see a nice park, but all we had were grass patches, leading to an old, run-down miserable church. So we walked around the shops instead. Everywhere looked the same, comparing the shopping arcades to those in Cardiff. There were the usual brands of The Body Shop, H&M, and all the others.

One of the old, brown buildings.

Stephanie the jazz singer outside the Hippodrome.

big, BIG brown building.

Houses lined up nicely going up the street. The church where the concert was held is on the left of the picture, with the arch. Also brown.

But with stunning architecture, and elaborate detail in the walls.
A huge, grand church. And the concert was a sell-out!! I thought the first half was rather good. The Bristol Chamber Choir, the oldest chamber choir in Bristol, was conducted by Edward. They sang mostly Christmas-like songs in the first half, and the second half was Gabriel’s Trumpet, a Christmas fable composed by Edward. An interesting piece incorporating some bible stories, but very long.

The concert ended about 5, and we caught the train back to Cardiff. Had dinner, then it was a night of Uno in Shing Min’s flat, with Stephane, Michelle and Edward who came back later. Fun! Watched X-Factor, and I’m so glad Alexandra Burke won. JLS was just baaaaad. Horrible intonation, bad hand gestures, and worse singing.

Went back about 11 and then hit the sack. Mum came on Sunday, went to the station to pick them up. Headed to St Fagan’s after that with Mum, Matt and Alicia. The weather was beautiful. Today we went to the Bay, then did a bit of shopping in the city. I cooked them Carbonara after that! It was yummy (: Tomorrow we’re picking up the car, then driving to Bristol, and settling down in Bath for the day. Might not be able to blog for a while, but will do so when I can. Watch this space!

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