Saturday, February 27, 2010
I performed with the student orchestra from Trondheim, Norway last night---and I've got to tell you, it was a fantastic experience.
They're a wonderful orchestra, and it never ceases to amaze me that MITSO, Illinois Wesleyan's orchestra, and an orchestra from Trondheim are in the same league and trump each other out of the park (but in very different ways).
We played Finlandia, excerpts from Shostakovich's score to the movie "The Gadfly" plus some wonderful Norwegian pieces: Eivind Groven's Hjalarljod; Harald Saeverud's Kjempeviseslatten; Tchaikovsky's Pezzo Capriccioso; and Johan Halvorsen's Entry March of the Boyars. The conductor was British but spoke all in Norwegian while rehearsing...I could grab numbers and such, as they're similar to Swedish, but everything else went on feeling alone. It's a real test in your ability to listen.
Elise and I switched off playing fourth horn, and Terje was an incredibly easy musician to follow in terms of note length, tempo, all that---very much leading without being obnoxious. It was just so much fun---I've never really had that much fun doing a "sight-reading then play a gig" sort of experience before. Most of the time you're just trying to keep your head above water, but the music didn't have any crazy-difficult sections, so I got to enjoy just being in the orchestra and being in that zone of sound. I don't know if I've ever described what it feels like to be "inside" an orchestra. You're sitting there, and being enveloped by music, by sound, by vibrations. I find it to be one of the most stress-releasing experiences that exists in this world, and probably why the last month of summer finds me stir crazy with some sort of anxiety that isn't resolved until the first day of orchestra.
The students were mostly from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology--in Norwegian is the "Norwegian University of Technological Sciences"---which, if you notice, spells "NUTS" in English, hence the change of their acronym to something like the Norwegian Technology and Natural Sciences University, or NTNU. They presented the members of MITSO which played with them a hat, some Norwegian chocolate, and this amazing polyester cylindrical scarf-thing which apparently everyone and their mother has in Norway (or several). It has the logo for the 100th anniversary of NTNU: "100 skapende år"
I look so Norwegian, eh?
After the rehearsal, I brought five of the performers back to my apartment for an impromptu dinner of pasta and sauce - nothing fancy, but it was cheaper/better than Anna's Taqueria and fun to hang out with people at my place and inviting them into my home. I brought some back for Terje, who forgot his suit at the hostel and had to run back across the river to get in instead of eating dinner. Which means...there are pictures of my pasta on facebook somewhere. I couldn't stop laughing and teasing him and the rest of the Norwegian guys for their fascination with a bowl of pasta.
The concert went quite well, but it wasn't as well-attended as anyone would have liked. We had a reception afterwards for members of MITSO and the Trondheim Orchestra, which is where this picture was taken:
Terje and Ida were two of the other horn players; unfortunately the programs they brought didn't actually include the names of all the performers, so these are the only two names that I can write down and feel reasonably certain I spelled correctly. But it was wonderful to meet and talk with them --- the older guy who had graduated from Trondheim and now worked in seismology in Norway but came back to help out, the flautist who had the most wonderful style and mannerisms and slammed her home town's post-war ugliness and her adventures trying to find a flute store in New York City, the smiling one who joked a lot about chocolate and talked to me about the myriad of ways one wears a circle scarf (see above).
And as I wrote to a friend, "I have a crush on about eight different Norwegian boys."
There's a reason for this, though...I have never met a group of people my age that were all so friendly, kind, poised---Americans don't "do" poised. Okay, that's a generalization...maybe if you're on the Sartorialist or have parents that teach you that inherent ability to be confident and self-assured without coming off like an arrogant cocky individual...I mean, I love my parents, but I didn't exactly receive that sort of education. But all of these guys---they were just spot-on...impeccable manners without being stuffy, smiles without looking like creepers, dressed well yet not in flagrantly extravagant clothing. They laughed easily, never tired of the poor Americans who just can't say their names no matter how hard they try, and just made it one of the most fun evenings I've had since I came to MIT.
But yes. Eight of them. With their slim-cut suits, well-kept shoes, and Buddy Holly glasses. You've got an admirer here in the states. Come to visit anytime. And bring your friends.