Thursday, September 08, 2011

Oregon Arts Orchestra - Prague July 16

We started this day with more random driving through the streets of Prague in an effort to find the Dvorak Museum. It seems several of the main roads were closed for construction, so we ended up driving more than we would otherwise have had to do. We found this bilboard explaining how things work, in case anyone was wondering.

The Dvorak Museum was a nice looking 2-story building. Kip and I headed up the stairs skipping the shop on the main floor. Up there we found the most amusing museum activity ever. They had white sheets of paper with Dvorak's head photocopied onto them and a set of colored pencils for us to make our own Dvorak-headed drawings. There were several hung around the room. We all especially liked Dvorak with a 6-pack in a speedo. Jae (clarinet-tootelary) made her own version of that one.
We next visited another Mozart Museum, I think it was the home of one of his girlfriends. It was a beautiful building, but not a very extensive museum.
We were then given some time to wander downtown. We ate lunch at another cafe, then wandered the streets with Kara and her daughter looking for souvenirs. I found some scarves I really liked.
Eventually we went into a chocolate/candy shop. I bought some hard candies I recognized from my youth. They're hard candies, circular, with bright colors outside and pictures inside, sometimes even words. They are incredibly strong flavored (we just finished them tonight). The picture shows the guys making them at the candy shop. They start out wide and fat, like saltwater taffy in consistency. Then the guys roll them thinner and thinner and finally cut them into rounds and I guess they let them dry then. I wish I'd bought more. The candy shop also sold chocolate, so we bought some. Unfortunately, the bassoonist's daughter bought and ate some too. She was hit with a violent allergic reaction. (Who knew there were nuts in hers? They don't lable things as well there as we do here.) She ended up in the hospital.
We went from there to Dvorak Hall for our dress rehearsal.
It is a beautiful place. I was thrilled to get to perform there. But as a real, professional performance hall, the rules for using it are more strict than they would be at a local cathedral or church building. Our rehearsal time was fixed. We could not go over. For our concert that night we were performing with a vocalist. He is an opera singer originally from Portland who lives now in Prague. Our rehearsal was spent entirely on rehearsing his pieces, which made sense because we hadn't played them at all before. But I was a little sad that we didn't get to run any of our other pieces and get my head out of tourist mode and back into performance mode. At the end of our allotted time, we were kicked off the stage and sent down to the dressing rooms.
We dolled ourselves up in our concert blacks and got ready for the performance, even the percussion section. The Bassoonist (Kara) rushed back from leaving her daughter at the hospital just in time to join us as we got onstage. She left our hostess Julia with her daughter. We were all amazed at her ability to come play under such stressful circumstances. The concert hall was packed as we went onstage. And the whole hall erupted in applause. Just because we walked onstage. This wasn't Kansas anymore, was it?! We walked in in little groups, and each group got more applause. It was kind of nice. They were very enthousiastic with applause after our performances, also. It almost seemed like they would have stayed all night if we'd had enough music to keep playing for them. But at last Liz in the violin section got the hint and walked off after our second encore and the rest of us trailed after. We didn't want to leave such an adoring audience, but the time had come.

Back at the hotel we had a late dinner and then wound down with an impromptu dixie-land-band practice. They were practicing for the concert scheduled the next day, but the hotel staff convinced them to come down to the piano in the lobby, by the bar, to play. We all sat and ate pretzels and drank pop and enjoyed the music.

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