Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Big #30

I'm back from New York!

It's been a lovely trip with uneventful flights that braved the New York weather, and everything in-between.

First stop was Rochester, NY, where I auditioned for Eastman School of Music. Seen here is the center area over with the student housing.

It was a very good experience. It had just snowed 6 inches of snow the night before and was below freezing, but if you decide to go to a school it really shouldn't be based on the weather. So I tried to block out the weather from my decision. Later it snowed another 3 inches just to test my principals.

It was much better indoors. The bassoon professor, Dr. John Hunt was so much fun! He's really tall and has a great sense of humor. He had a lot of constructive advice as to my approach to the bassoon and making music. His pupils say he is "picky", but I say that "picky" is what makes a good professor. The reeds were so dry there that they became thin as paper, and Mr. Hunt had all kinds of solutions which were interesting.

Moving on to New York City, Manhattan, Mannes, and Juilliard.

I honestly don't know why they call it the big apple. Any clues? It's not red, or shiny, or round.

Anywho the sights were marvelous and slightly less cold. It got up to a high of 54 degrees and stayed decent while we were there. The funny thing was that the weather turned foul just after we left. lol!

I saw many things while I was there and I grew in my comprehension of music and how to approach it. It's interesting how much one's mentality can change about something with each new piece of information that one gleans.

Anyways, one thing we saw was the Twin Towers, or lack thereof. You can actually see the crater left behind by their absence.

That was depressing and so was Staten Island (if you have the chance, do not go there)

Slightly less depressing was the Statue of Liberty.

It is incredibly regal and breathtaking as she reaches for the sky with a torch that has meant so much hope to immigrants coming across the seas in the hope of becoming Americans.

It's really quite moving. It's the story of people who wanted freedom, a fair chance at success without handouts, and were willing to work as hard as it took to make it. I know that story definitely applied to my ancestors. I saw a museum on Ellis Island that demonstrated the horrible things that immigrants had to go through in order to enter the United States. It wasn't a quick trip across the Atlantic, it took forever! When they got there they were imprisoned, tested, poked, stripped of all human dignity and their clothes. And if that wasn't bad enough, not all of them were allowed to enter! They had to take that miserable trip back home for reasons of being "mentally retarded", "unhealthy", "poor" or "violent". A lot of these reasons were bogus, and based on unscientific/superstitious tests. I'm glad it's 2008.

Ahhh. America the melting pot. The place where those who sought freedom and a fair chance at success could go if they got past Ellis Island. My ancestors somehow managed to get across and even after the indignities that they underwent, wanted to assimilate to the American culture. They wanted it so badly that they did everything they could to learn English. If they hadn't I would speak: Swedish, Gaelic, French (I mean fluently), Dutch, and many other things- that is if those people had been willing to marry someone they couldn't communicate with. Come to think of it, I might not even exist if it were not for the melting-pot-ness of America, which would otherwise be rank with small divisions of people refusing to learn to communicate with each other. What confusion that would cause. Could a nation undergo such division?

Another amazing view was Grant's Tomb.



It was HUGE and I mean massive. There was an upstairs and a downstairs and the upstairs was a small museum. What you see is just the ceiling, everything is made of marble, and it is so quiet and imposing that it makes you stop for a minute to catch your breath.

It's interesting that a man who fought in such a controversial war ended up with such a big tomb. I mean the Civil war split the nation in half as far as politics go and yet this man, who was on the winning side, has the biggest tomb ever with the exception of the pyramids.

The thing about New York is that there are way too many people packed into a very small area. Good news is that you can go on foot to most places and take the subway to others. It is not a driving culture.
The streets are packed anyway so there isn't much incentive to drive. We only missed one of our engagements due to public transportation so overall it worked well as an experiment. The subway is a little complicated though. You need a map. And there is no cell phone reception under-ground, so if you need to contact somebody, it's dashed difficult-nigh impossible unless you come above ground.

Only one more audition to go!

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