What an amazing day! Breakfast alone in the hotel buffet, with tasteful romantic middle-Eastern songs playing on the TV (so many people singing into cell phones in these music videos...!).
The five minute walk to the Academy of Arts is past the headquarters of one of the main Kurdish political parties. Friendly waves from the machine-gun-wielding guards. At the Academy of Arts, I walked into the end of a meeting with the head of the Academy, a political appointee. Final details were being settled, including our use of the venue tomorrow - which is great, since we've got some more rehearsing to do!
Currently, the Chamber Orchestra is five violins, one viola, and three cellists. It'll probably expand to a more normal nine, three, four and one, over the next few days as more students arrive from Kirkuk and Erbil. (The intermediate orchestra has about 40 members.) Once a few of the players were ready, we started rehearsing, with interruptions for seating auditions as more musicians came in. It's possibly a little harrowing to audition in front of your peers, but the students are pretty relaxed here.
If ever there was reason not to stop in rehearsal, it's this - even measure numbers sometimes need to be translated into Kurdish and Arabic, often more than once!
We started work on the last movement of Piotr Szewczyk's "A Journey Within," commissioned by the Young Musicians Orchestra back in 2005, practicing the groove. Mostly we rehearsed Mozart's "Eine kleine," and the Vivaldi Guitar concerto, which we'll perform with the guitar teacher here, Susan McDonald.
There are other collaborative possibilities on the horizon - more soon!