Here it is, the LONG AWAITED conclusion to last night's post!
BUT-- before I get to the juicy dinner details, I'd like to tell you about today.
It was a Very Good day. I slept well and through the night (which is always a blessing when traveling overseas and battling jet lag), and woke up to a shower, a coffee at Soho Cafe, and a brisk walk to the Academy. Anna (the pianist) met me there, and we had a very good rehearsal of the Clarke pieces at 9 AM. We were interrupted by The Man Who Sets Up AV Equipment, but that was good too, because it taught me that Poland (and apparently a lot of Europe) is not comfortable with Apple systems. It took a while, but we got to a solution (we thought) that would work with my Mac-based presentation.
I left shortly after the morning lectures started (re-read yesterday's blog-- I do NOT understand Polish!) to find a lovely cafe where I had breakfast. After that, I went back to the Academy and listened to a few Polish lectures (and though I definitely didn't understand everything, I did take some information away from each), until it was my turn. SURPRISE!! The equipment didn't work! Thankfully Marcin and his handy-dandy zip drive were in the audience, and I was able to present my topic, "How Loud is Too Loud?" without too much headache.
Do YOU know "How loud is too loud?" Loudness is a psychological concept-- but decibels (sound intensity) aren't. I spoke about the human auditory system and how it works, what we do to damage it, and how we can protect it. I saw a lot of shocked faces after my presentation, so hope I helped this audience to consider the things they do that might put their hearing in danger (and seriously, folks-- for musicians, it is SUPER important to maintain our hearing skills!!). The one, super easy take-home-message is, WEAR EARPLUGS! If you have any questions about that, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After my presentation, we all had lunch at the Academy Cafeteria, and then I began my marathon 3-hour master class. I met with 6 students for a half hour each. In a completely bizarre turn of events, I had only heard or played two of the pieces I was presented (usually you know all the pieces played), yet I feel like I was still effective with all of the students. The very cool thing is, you don't have to talk about the notes on the page to be a useful instructor (that's an Insider Secret!). With almost all of them I talked about technique, and different ways to approach their instruments and what they were playing. Thankfully most of the students were (or at least seemed!) comfortable enough with English to understand what I was saying, and I do hope I gave each of them something to think about. Whether or not they adapt my ideas into their regular viola lives is completely up to them and their teachers, but either way, I'm pretty sure I gave them some ideas to stretch their understanding of viola playing.
After that, I was blessed to be able to share my interpretation of Rebecca Clarke's Shorter Pieces for Viola and Piano with pianist Anna Starzec-Makandasis. She was an absolute joy to work with these past few days, and performing with her in front of an audience was no different. THANK YOU Anna!!! I'm very happy with how I played, and feel like I was well-able to project how I feel about these six shorter works. I got some really nice comments afterwards, and look forward to sharing with you the audio recording I know was made at the concert.
After that, Spencer and Nicholas played THREE (yes, THREE) full sonatas back-to-back without a break!!! They were all Romantic-style/era pieces I'd never heard before, and they are all completely worthy of being a staple in the Viola Repertoire. Kudos to Spencer for finding these Gems, and to him and Nicholas for giving a Seriously Killer performance!
Then, finally, we were off to dinner. It was quite lovely, with lots of laughter and many languages (mostly Polish and English, with a bit of Italian, Russian, and French thrown in), and a LOT of light.
Well see... now we've finally come to the Very Memorable Dinner I shared with Spencer and Nicholas last night...
We went to DARK RESTAURANT. Unwittingly (seriously) we ended up at the only completely blacked-out restaurant in Poznań (and I believe Poland). What? Well-- we arrived (after having read a few reviews and being attracted by their vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options (we'd eaten a LOT of meat in the last few days)) at a place that looked a bit spooky. But it was raining and we were hungry and tired and we could understand the language on the sign... so we went in and waited for a while at a long table in a dim room, listening to other customers chatting and laughing in another room...
Eventually, an employee came over to educate us about where we'd unwittingly turned up-- Turns out DARK Restaurant isn't lying. It was a COMPLETE black-out experience. For those of us who had cell or data service, we had to turn off phones, and off we marched (hands on one-anothers'-shoulders) into a completely pitch-black space. We were guided to a table and chairs, all the while hearing the other diners around us and being unable to see ANYTHING. It was COMPLETELY DARK. When our plates arrived, it was difficult to use utensils. I kept being surprised by what I found on my plate (OMG!! It's a GREEN BEAN!!!), and after dinner and the full-light debriefing learned that only about a third of what I thought I was eating was actually what I turned out to be eating!! It was a CRAZY and VERY MEMORABLE experience. Seriously-- when is the last time you went out to eat and didn't check your cell phone at least once? Or glace at a TV screen? Or notice that person over yonder? Or any number of things we ALL DO when we can see? It was wild. Nicholas and Spencer and I had really great conversation-- there was no other option. Some of us reverted to "cave-man style" eating (seriously-- if you can't see what's on your fork, let alone your plate, how are you going to get it into your mouth??), and ALL of us had a really great time. I think we were all a little nervous about it once we realized where we were and what we were about to experience, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was SERIOUSLY the most memorable dining experience I've ever had.
Have you ever been to a dark restaurant?
After we got back, Spencer sent this funny text: "Selfie From Dinner"