Thursday, June 23, 2011

Concerts, Concerts and (it seems...) More Concerts

We love Kwa-Zulu Natal.  And we really don't want to leave.

It has been a busy week!  We will travel with the KZN Philharmonic to Grahamstown next week, and the departure date is fast approaching.  We leave Sunday at 5 am.  We will open the Grahamstown Music and Arts Festival with Brahms' Second Symphony, and do three shows of Swan Lake, in collaboration with the Cape Town Ballet, throughout the week.  We've been told that this festival is really something to be seen - many productions of theater, music, jazz, and markets appear in the village during this time, and we are really excited to get to walk around the town and see everything.  It will be awesome to be part of such a happening festival in South Africa.

This beginning of this week was spent in a practice room at the KZN rehearsal hall, hours and hours rehearsing just string quartets in preparation for our performance this past Wednesday night.  (Was that last night?)  The quartet recital took place in a beautiful and intimate chamber music hall at Howard College, at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, whose foliage resembles a jungle atmosphere and whose architecture boasts an open air meeting place right outside the hall.  We had a thorough dress rehearsal, and were especially excited about performing our 20th Century homemade "Suite" of movements - a piece we created ourselves out of five different 20th century composers: Bartok, Kevin Volans, Villa-Lobos, Ives, and Jennifer Higdon.  The Suite comprised many textures and styles but we ordered the movements in such a way that the whole work felt cohesive and sensitive, as a modern string quartet might sound.  We thought the most interesting transition was from the Villa-Lobos movement (which screams of the Rio streets at night) to Ives (which is an advanced take on the church hymn.) It was physically so momentous to finish the Villa-Lobos that we had to breathe a bit before starting the church movement form the Ives quartet.  We felt like it really showcased a raucous Saturday night in Rio before ending up in church the next morning - a typical Sunday morning in New England.  Many supportive and amazing KZN Phil members graciously attended our show, and the standing ovation we received at the end of the concert made us feel so welcomed as part of this talented community.  It was so much fun to perform in such a warm environment.  The night was chilled as we waited for our cab to take us back to the hotel, and there we toasted our last big chamber music performance in the SunCoast's dining room.  We eat here a lot - the staff is great and the food is great.  And we don't have to go anywhere at all.  The hotel staff is definitely getting to know us!

Today we've been resting after a morning rehearsal, and tomorrow hope to go the beach and pool before we leave for an 8 hour rehearsal day - we will perform with the KZN Phil as part of the festivities for the International Olympic Committee event on July 5 back in Durban, and for that rehearsals start tomorrow.  We also hope to read a young composer's string quartet during our dinner break!  We are looking forward to that. 

In other news, our fabulous violist, Brenton Caldwell, turns 30 tomorrow!  We will celebrate all day with candy, music, pizza and movies at David and Alison's house.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRENTON!

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