Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 2 - Familiar Faces in Strange Places

On day 2, I woke to find Vladimir had returned, and after a fruitless early morning expedition to find breakfast, we picked up a few items at a 24-hour supermarket, and dined in the lobby of the athletic complex, under the watchful eye of the babushka at the front desk.  Nice. Then we met up with my good friends Celeste, Chad and Joe, who comprise our video crew and are also staying here at the not quite refurbished Olympic Village. Their mission is to record our band and entourage's every move for the eventual reality show. "Survivor - Perm".
I joined their morning ritual of coffee at the internet cafe, where we have only about an hour to do all things internet before we head out for the day. I have learned the best way to keep up this blog is write it offline and use the precious Wi-Fi time to quickly upload the text and photos for you, dear reader, so today's posting is a bit of a picture show:
Chad, Celeste and Joe work the internet from Moscow

Vladimir and the man they call "Little Sasha' (but not to his face)
(Still have not met "Big Sasha" yet.)
Celeste ascending from the Metro
We left the hostel and headed to the Metro to take a subway to the music hall where Huun Huur Tu are rehearsing a new orchestral piece written by composer Vladimir Martynov, which will be included in the same festival as our performance. The piece is for a small chamber orchestra and the HHT ensemble.  I was expecting a contemporary classical piece, but this was more pop, almost like a string arrangement for a band.  Very engaging and often powerful. The ensemble is led by Martynof's wife Tatiana, who is a great musician and a fierce presence.

The chamber ensemble and Huun Huur Tu rehearsing

The rest of the ensemble, with Chad on camera in background

Tatiana directs the ensemble. She is fierce - no slacking off on your bowing!
Kaigol from Huun Huur Tu


Joe LaRue hard at work

Vladimir & Celeste find the only space with fresh air in the hall

 Some of the songs used in the piece are the same as songs Carmen and I worked on for "Eternal", and I was intrigued by how different the approach was.  I have written string arrangements for 2 of the songs covered in this work, and my take was very different, and of course the Carmen Rizzo-HHT-MG Strings version are extremely different.  It's very interesting to hear other interpretations of material that you have worked on yourself. All in all, a very good (and long rehearsal).  I am afriad I did miss some of it, when I dozed off due to the jetlag, but the crew assured me I did not snore:)

Descending to the Metro - it's a long way down

After making our way back through the rush hour metro (think New York and Tokyo subway riders having a pushing contest inside a phone booth, and you have the image of what that ride was like), we had a chill evening back at the "complex". Sayan joined us and eventually Alexi and Kaigol from HHT dropped by as well.  All were fascinated by my little travel guitar, and took turns playing it, each one with his own style and mastery. Sayan revealed the mystery of the tunings he uses, part of the distinctive HHT sound. 
Alexi tries out my little travel guitar

Joe, Mark & Alexi 
Everyone hanging out in my room - am I still in college?
And where did Vladimir disappear to?

Sayan & Kaigol, the founders of Huun Huur Tu

Later, Alexi tutored Joe on the Russian alphabet and he and Kaigol demonstrated the difference between Russian and Tuvan dialects, as Sayan provided a background of tasty guitar improvisations. Hey are we in college or am I having a flashback? 
Alexi tutors Joe on the Cryllic (Russian) alphabet

At around 1 am, when Celeste noticed I was fading fast, we called it a night and everyone headed back to their 3-bed dorm rooms.  At some point, Vladimir, who had been sleeping though most of this, got up and left. As of this writing his whereabouts remains a mystery.

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