Berlin to Leipzig – 03.07.12
An amazing two weeks in Berlin just came to a close. I’m now sitting in the ICE bullet train, headed to Leipzig to begin a six-day trip across Germany and finally to Fontainebleau, France (just outside of Paris). There I’ll spend four weeks at the American Conservatory with other music students from around the world. So, now that I have a few minutes here to relax, I’m going to try to sort out some of the highlights of my time in Berlin. First,
-the Komische Oper’s somewhat bizarre and yet powerful and strangely satisfying production of Mozart’s Idonemeo (even with a stage/set malfunction that interrupted the opera – twice!)
-Konzerthausorchester Berlin with an all-Russian program: Glazunov, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky. The highlight for me were the winds in Stravinsky’s “le chant du rossignol”
-Seminar classes at Samuel Adler’s summer FUBIS program at the Freie Universitaet
-a wonderful meeting and lesson with composer Reiko Fueting, which involved an hour and a half or two-hour stroll along a canal, through a forest in the outskirts of Berlin in Koenigs-Wusterhausen
-Stumbling upon a free chamber music concert on the international “La Fete de Musiqe” (Jun. 21) at a beautiful church in Kreuzberg.
-meeting John Dawson, pianist for the Deutsche Oper and mutual friend of mine and Howard Pollack’s (musicologist at U of H). We spent one afternoon reading 4-hand pieces at the piano, just as Howard and I love to do. So there was that neat little symmetry.
the sights in and around Berlin:
-Spandau: Altstadt Spandau, St. Nikolaikirche, Spandau Zitadel
-Potsdam – Sanssouci Park, palaces, gardens. Potsdam is where Bach met with Frederick the Great in a famed encounter that led to his “Musical Offering.” Unfortunately, that particular palace was destroyed in WWII, but there are plenty of others in Sanssouci Park and in the surrounding areas. The grounds and gardens at Sanssouci are…I can’t find the right word…scrumptulescent?
-central Berlin: the Tiergarten, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Franzoeischer Dome, Berliner Dome, Konzerthaus, Kudamm, etc. etc. etc. (why bore you with an amateur tourist’s pamphlet?)
-Kreuzberg: wonderful streets, shops, restaurants, Viktoria Park, and (perhaps best of all) Mustafas Doener Kebap
-Fan Mile at Brandenburger Tor – One of my favorite “just for fun” activities in Berlin. Three friends and I went down to the “Fan Mile” in the Tiergarten for the public broadcast of the Germany vs. Greece Eurocup game. An estimated 400,000 fans also joined us.
-Rice Friends: there happened to be five Rice music students in Berlin at the same time – for four different reasons! It was great seeing Ross and Hilary (composers), Meghan (violin) and SeHee (cello), especially since we didn’t all necessarily see each other that much back in Houston.
-New Friends: it was also a pleasure meeting new friends, mainly via Ross and Hilary and the FUBIS program. Most of the aforementioned, to-be-mentioned, and unmention-(ed)(able) activities involved them as well!
MUSTAFAS – best Doener Kebap in Berlin.
odds and ends:
-Morning cappuccinos and reading (currently DFW’s “The Broom of the System” – this is a reminder for myself to bring this up in a later post) at various cafes. Each cappuccino a work of art.
-Berliner dogs, the most well-behaved creatures on the planet. I just felt that was worth mentioning.
-Bespectacled German toddlers in plaid and overalls, uttering wonderful things like “Tschuss, U-Bahn…Tschuss!”
-Observation: one’s German tends to improve throughout a given day, followed by a sharp drop in quality the next morning. Beer may be a factor.