So you may have read Nathan's most recent posting concerning the glorious Bayankhongor Classical music concert. A wild success, wild I tell you.
Rather than rehash what Nathan's dumbfounding writing skills have already entered into the historical record I will write a small review of the concert that recently occurred in Xarxurin (XX) on May 18, 2009.
We (Leslie and I with another volunteer who desired to watch what was about to go down) rolled into town in our van-thingy the day before our concert. Two days were spent in the near-by aimag center trying desperately to get to XX. One day we were thwarted by a closed market, another day by a drunk man who likes to throw glass and call women rather indecent names in Russian.
Putting that all behind us we were off to the theater to rehearse as soon as we arrived in the green and mountainy beauty that is XX. The school brought in their lovely casio with 61 keys (key number 61 unfortunately was out of commission) and no pedal. Once into the theater the school director asks me to take a look at the piano they have. I now know better than to get excited about these offers, alas. Wearing an excited face we go off to the piano room and discover that the piano has ringing keys, keys that don't work, and no functioning pedal. Last predicted tuning: 1980's.
What do I see when I turn to leave the piano? A 71 key Yamaha! Aha!
"Can we use THIS?"
"Yes you can."
Grand! We drag it onto the stage and begin rehearsal. There are two dilemmas before us.
1) What pieces can we still play from the BH concert now that we have only 71 keys and still no pedal?
2) What......setting....yes, setting... will we use? There are options like dual, strings, drum kits, choirs, and about 200 more.
The first question is easy for my solo works: Baroque or nothing. Turns out that all the vocal pieces are doable. Great. The second question is the really traumatizing one. One is forced to deal with the fact that you are about to claim to be doing a performance of western classical music on an electronic instrument...(At this point if there are any music professors of mine, former or future, reading this, I pray that you turn away, forgive, and forget what was done here).
We settle on the settings and decide that it would be nice to practice a little more but it is far too cold in the theater and it is getting late. So we borrowed the keyboard and planned to take it to the local volunteer's ger. Got it to the school before I decided that I was too ill to continue the preparation festivities and needed a good rest. Knocked myself out with Benedril and drank 3 liters of water.
The Day of the Concert
French toast. coffee. Off to school to practice a bit. Sleep. And it's go time!
We knew that we would be sharing this concert with some performances by the local school kids. Midafternoon we hear that there is a hip-hop-dancing, accordian-playing, energy-healing monk in town who just walked here from the Gobi. What a cool addition to the program! At 5 o'clock about 300 first and second graders flood the theater. Turns out they will be our audience. That changes things just a wee bit. We had 30+ minutes of music which we quickly wittled down to a no-repeats 15 minute set broken into two for attention span reasons. The show begins with singing and dancing, then comes: THE FASHION SHOW. That's correct. Then us. More singing and dancing. MORE FASHION SHOW! Us again. And...FASHION SHOW one more time. No monk. Not sure what happened to him. Perhaps he realized that this was not exactly his venue.
Trauma: childhood arts competition at the county fair. Little Tysen with his adapted version of Grieg's piano concerto crushed by the pink costumed dancing 3rd grader. This time I was able to deal with the situation much better.
Post concert. Everyone in shock. A "I don't think we'll ever see anything like that again" kind of shock.
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