Archive for April, 2007

Australian Road Trip

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Just arrived in Melbourne after a 3,000 km drive through Australia on my own in a camper van! What an amazing country this is – I could have driven around the coast from Brisbane to Melbourne, by all accounts very beautiful, but I have seen a lot of good beaches in my life, but never the Australian outback so I decided to head inland. Once I had passed the Great Dividing Range, it was the big empty outback, and quite incredible. I have never been anywhere so empty, but so full at the same time – the land has such a strong energy there that it’s like having company the whole time. The view of the stars at night with zero light polution, and the silence that accompanies it is unforgettable. Through a friend of a friend, I ended up piggy-backing on an archeological trip to Mungo National Park accompanied by the local Aboriginal tribal elders – we saw the sacred site where the 40,000 year old remains of Mungo Man and Woman had been discovered, which was really moving. I slept that night in a swag (a kind of sleeping bag in a bigger bag, under the stars, magic), and then made my way down to Melbourne the following day. Great adventure, I really love this country!

Now at the Australian National Academy of Music for a couple of weeks, performing, teaching, coaching, jamming etc.

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Australian Spirit!

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

I’ve just finished a week as Guest Director of the Australian Youth Orchestra’s inaugural Chamber Music Camp, and it was a very memorable time. Also a busy time: I played my On The Road recital programme early in the week, and a bit of chamber music as well as teaching, impro classes, leadership sessions, and practice. There were six string quartets taking part in the camp, all learning lots of repertoire, practicing like crazy, aiming for the Saturday concert which was amazing: 5 hours of string quartets! But the great thing about the week was the spirit of the particpants – such enthusiasm, generosity and support for each other. I’ve always found Australia to be an easy place to work in terms of the general working vibe, and this experience underlined that impression. These guys really wanted to work, and to improve their game, learn new techniques and so on – it’s such a tonic to be surrounded by musicians who are so idealistic and eager. And the general culture here seems so ‘Can do’ and positive. It was the first of five funded years of Chamber Music Camps, and I’m sure that after these five years it will continue, making a significant impact on the Australian music scene.
Now I’m off travelling for a week before my residency at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne. Tomorrow I pick up a camper van and head off by road. 7 days of solitude in the outback. Solitude with just me, the koalas, the kangaroos, and the spiders, snakes, crocodiles. Hmmm….England seems so safe and comfy…..

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The Joys of International Travel

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Currently sitting in the lounge of Singapore airport, but only just….for ridiculously complicated reasons I ended up looking at the wrong schedule at home and booking a cab to Heathrow, but found myself sitting in the cab feeling increasingly uncomfortable. You know that feeling that something isn’t quite right? So eventually I opened my laptop and discovered that I was flying from Gatwick, and 15 minutes sooner than I had thought – I yelled at the driver to turn around fast (a bit useless as at that point we were stuck in a traffic jam). It turned out that the flight would close, and wait for no-one, at 8.30pm, and it was 7.40, a traffic jam, and we were 45 miles away. Stress. I managed to half check myself in on the phone, so that if I made it it would be faster to get through the airport. Thankfully, as holidays are approaching, London and the M25 were quite empty, and I got to Gatwick at the check-in at 8.26. But it wasn’t that simple, because my cello seat had been booked in all wrong! It had been booked in as a person, which meant, as we were going to Australia, that it had to have a passport and visa number next to it before it could be assigned a seat….I don’t even know how they sorted that, but it was something to do with faking handwritten boarding cards for the cello….and finally I was in my seat. It didn’t end there however, because for the Dubai/Singapore leg they had assigned my cello a middle seat (they have to have window seats as no-one can get past them), so there was general consternation and discussion and phone calls. Eventually they put the cello on the cupboard. So why did we have to go to the expense of buying an extra seat?
Anyway, now I’m at Singapore, have just refreshed in the shower, and am looking forward to the last leg of the journey to Brisbane! I love Australia! More soon…just noticed it says ‘last call’ on the board for Brisbane….

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