Trip Start Sep 07, 2007
Trip End Sep 23, 2007

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Ciao from Corvara, in the Dolomites, i just arrived here last night after my travels from Savona.   I have just had my first meal of pizza after being here over a week. its hard to look at our great local pizza the same way again.

Saturday was a big day, the International Academy of Mandolino played a concert in a real Italian concert hall.  The orchestra was a combination of students and Carlo's famous mandolin orchestra.   The hall was in the center of Savona.    After a relatively easy day. the biggest event was seeing Carlo's research on how the mandolin has been perceived in art for the last 1500 years...mostly in religious art,  this little plucked instrument has been around
for a while.  mostly being held by angels in religious art.

Our bus picked us up and took us to the theater...we had a dress rehearsal but some time to walk around.   But our first surprise was being let up the steps and show our dressing rooms.   We had a few in each room but it was a blast to find our names on the doors like rock stars.   Damon had put a star on our sign to make it look official.   Our practice went well and we had some time to eat that awesome gelato again.   The concert was being presented in conjunction with an art show, in a way it was syncopated.  these little ornaments hanging from lines were dropping up and down over our heads..part of the rehearsal was getting the lighting right for his work of art.  At one point i saw an eclipse of light pass over my head...there was a dark ball on my sheet music.  there was a ceramic ball hanging about 1 foot over my head and the light created this shadow on my music. I was a bit uncomfortable at first with this thing over my head but was told it was safe and i shouldn't worry.   This was proving to be an interesting evening.   The concert started at 9pm but we got to walk around for a few minutes before the concert and after dinner.   Have not had alot of time for sight seeing at the music agenda was quite vigorous.  

When the curtain came up we saw a packed house of several hundred people.  this is one of the biggest crowds i performed to.   I was recording the show but later found out my new batteries were dead so Bob lent me a fresh set for the second set.   we performed the Bach obode concerto at full speed which for me was hit all the notes you can.   Carlo used this event as a European kickoff for his new album Kaze so he performed some pieces with the guitarist from Japan, Katsumi Nagagoka.   The second set was barbella and amadei with a small set of students playing a great piece written for 3 mandolins.  

The missing measures

Don't know what happened but during amadei,  i got zoned out and found booie (my standmate from California) flipping the pages (when i had been turning them for the whole week while practice)...don't know what happened but i managed to jump back in but my mind was else where.

At the end of the show each student was introduced to the crowd one by one with their name and where they were from... every time the crowd applauded and stood up.  i had one big smile on my face that night.    We ended with a encore of the 2nd Bach movement. i managed to get this recorded.    the audience truly appreciated our work.   for me,  as i weigh through the stormy seas of mandolin life, i managed to play alot of notes at a faster speed that i normally would, so this is a good thing.

We stood outside the concert hall for a while and said good by and took some pictures.  I met some of the folks from Carlos orchestra who had been sitting next to me.   amazing musicians and great people.      Mandolin music had been such a force in Italy for a long time but now its considered somewhat obscure.   Guys like Carlo are doing alot to bring this great tradition back.

I stayed up late and finished packing as I had a 10am train to Venice. My sleep has been horrible since i got here because of little time to relax and a stench in my room which was hard not to notice.  plus the beds were hard as nails but i learned to get used to it.  sadly, changing rooms was not the solution since it appeared to be a common problem.

In the morning, we all said good bye,  alot my fellow students i will see around new york and other mandolin events soon, but i will miss several new friends I have met from outside the US.

My voyage to Corvara started with the local train from Savona to Milan and the Eurostar (fast train) to Venice.  The Eurostar goes all over Europe and is similar to our accela train but more common.   The ride was fast and relaxing.

I was picked up in Venice by the tour company and it was a 3 long hour ride to Corvada, the folks who worked for Collettes were from the UK and NZ and were great to talk for the ride so i passed quickly.  we also had another hiker from the UK.  We still had light for most of the way so we got to see all of the great little towns as we rose into the dolomites.  The Callet Bracun where i am staying is at 5500ft ASL so my ears were popping and my head spinning as the altitude changed.  

If you close your eyes and just listen to folks speak in Corvara,  you wouldn't think you were in Italy but in Austria since there is a big influence in this area so there is a ton of German spoken and you can buy liderhosen in the store for the festive look. 

The great news was my accommodations were first rate and i had a bed close to my own and i slept like a baby.  i could use a few siestas to catch up.

Colletes is a UK based company who owns a few hotels in towns in this areas.  its staff are mostly from the UK and they are cheery and very helpful.   They have a dinner meeting where hikers and meet and discuss what they will do the next day.   I missed the office hour as they call it but managed to figure out my first days activities.   I was going to try a basic Via ferrata hike...the VF is a system of steps and cables which were put into place by the Italian army to move troops over the rugged mt. terrain.  they survive today and are maintained by the mountain society.    This hike would be a intro to the VF and start a bit later.

When I woke up I got my VF kit which consisted of a Helmut, some ropes, and a harness to use from handing from the cable system.  I got a ride up the via ferrata site from Tim and Tina a couple from the UK   As soon as we got up to the departure spot it started to rain, so the VF part of the hike was canceled, we walked up to a scenic spot and headed back down.   i realized i only have 3 days here so this killed the first day but i have not had any downtime since I've been here so i am taking this opportunity to chill.  i may go out for a quick hike later but i decided to eat pizza and take a nap.   i sound like i am a Italian.  Mr Bill (my mandolin) and I need a rest!

I will be going to Venice on Thursday for a quick visit till Friday and then off to Brussels.  Will check in later this week.

Ciao and hope you are all well. 
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