Archive: March 2012 - Howard Dyck

Mozart – Ever LARGER! Verdi – Ever BETTER! Kunming – Ever AMAZING!

  • March 28, 2012
Mozart – Ever LARGER! Verdi – Ever BETTER! Kunming – Ever AMAZING!

So where was I when we last talked? I think I was raving about the La Traviata rehearsal with the chorus. What fun that was! But much, very much has happened since then. Saturday morning Maggie and I were invited to attend a rehearsal of the Higher Vocational College, another adjunct school of Yunnan Arts University. The singers (average age 18-20) in this choir on the old campus are all aspiring music teachers, and they are serious about what they do. They rehearse every Saturday from 8:30am to 12 noon, and then again from 2:30 to 6pm, a total of 7 hours! And I understand they rehearse Thursday...

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Fallen Woman; Lethal Silence; Malodorous Neighbourliness; Living with a Star

  • March 23, 2012

In the existential hothouse that is Kunming in March, 2012, one's experiential quiver fills to overflowing very quickly. So, let me open a few windows for you to see what life has been like here for us these last several days. You're way too polite to ask, but I know, you really want to know about the fallen woman, right? Relax, I'm referring to Violetta, the tragic courtesan heroine in Verdi's splendid opera La Traviata. Traviata is often translated as "fallen woman" or, more accurately, "the woman who strayed". As I mentioned last time, I have been invited to "coach" (read conduct) rehearsals...

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A Kunming Photo Gallery

  • March 21, 2012

Today, just a few photos which summarize, at least to some extent, the limitless contrasts of this part of the world. And then, there's this... But there's also this... And, lest you believe everything you read about environmental carnage in China, this is one of thousands of light standards along both sides of the multi-lane highway connecting Kunming and Chenggong, where the new university campus is located. Each standard is equipped with 2 solar panels and a wind turbine. And, at the market, there are always some helpful hints as to what kind of critter you might be thinking of roasting...

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Succulent Serpent, Canine Birth Control, Singing in the Sun, Technological Breakthrough!!

  • March 18, 2012

It's Sunday, and we are enjoying another glorious day of brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the mid 20s. We just spent a couple of delightful hours sitting on the tiny outdoor patio of the French Cafe, which has become one of our favorite spots (the lattes and the pastries are nonpareil). Yesterday as we were heading out, it suddenly occurred to me that, as much as I'm relishing this whole experience, I am now at the point where I think I'm actually going to miss this place when we take our leave on July 1. Mind you, that's many unanticipated pleasures and challenges in the future. There may yet be times...

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Kunming: The Rite of (Eternal) Spring

  • March 14, 2012

For today's edition, a tip of the hat to Igor Stravinsky, whose ground-breaking 1913 ballet Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) evokes the orgiastic, untamed, pagan frenzy of ancient Russia. Here in Kunming, the "city of eternal spring" (so named because of its surprisingly temperate climate - remember, it's 1900 metres above sea level), we too continue to experience all manner of exotic sights and sounds (no human sacrifices, however, a la Stravinsky). The weather is perfect, with highs in the mid 20s and lows in the high single digits. We've had a succession of sunny days, although there's...

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Three Pieces in the Shape of Kunming

  • March 10, 2012

With apologies to Erik Satie and his whimsically titled Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear, let me recount for you three musical events of the last two days which typify the stark contrasts of this amazing part of the world. Satie's composition, despite its title, actually consists of 7 piano pieces, so perhaps you will excuse my beginning with a Prologue and ending with a Coda. Let's call the "Three Pieces..." Exposition, Development, and Scherzo (the latter to be taken in the original German sense of  the word (as in "Scherz" or joke). So, my 3 pieces are in fact 5. 1. Prologue We continue...

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Mozart LIVES in Kunming!

  • March 6, 2012

Today was one of those days we conductors wait for, sometimes for a very long time. After months of planning, corresponding, anticipating, the day finally arrived. It was my first rehearsal with the Yunnan Arts University choir. There were 33 singers, decent readers, nice balance too. They're a young choir, typical university age, and they have a remarkably mature sound. There are actually about 60 singers in all registered for the choir, but guess what....university students in China too have part-time jobs. So today the numbers were down a fair bit; we'll see what happens next week. The rehearsal...

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Every day a new adventure

  • March 4, 2012

It would appear that we are the rainmakers! We had rain pretty much every day in Taiwan last week. Then when we arrived here in Kunming, China very early Friday, we brought rain with us again. Kunming has been suffering a rather severe drought for quite some time, so the rain is welcome. But today we've had the sun and we're loving it! Everyone is out in the streets. Kunming is buzzing! In fact, as I write this, there's something resembling a carnival going on in the street below us. The din of the non-stop party is blending (not disagreeably!) with the Schubert Eb major mass which we're listening...

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Two Occidentals getting Oriented!

  • March 2, 2012

We have arrived in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China. Yesterday was a fairly stressful one. It started in Taipei, Taiwan where we had spent a delightful 6 days with our son Anthony, his wife Vanessa and their 2 darling daughters Trudi and Izzi. They own and operate an English language school, and Anthony is also developing Taiwanease.com, a website especially designed and intended for ex-pats living in Taiwan (of whom there are 10s of thousands). However, I digress. After we had been dropped off at the Taipei airport for what we thought would be a straightforward flight to Kunming...

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