Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tour - Day 4 & 5 - Brooks, Alberta & travel to Pender Island, B. C.

We awakened in Calgary and went to work out before an excellent breakfast in the restaurant attached to our vast Sandman.  Then we googled for cappucino and discovered the Kawa espresso bar   where we had real, dense, delicious capuccinos and a one-of-a-kind apple/chocolate chip scone.  This was a beautiful coffee bar ... I was initially doubtful because it was so big, but Guy said it was just because it is in the spacious west rather than in the real-estate-challenged territory of Toronto.
We loaded the truck, chatting with some hotel execs who had sneaked into the parking garage for a smoke rather than braving the outside -28 weather.  We hit the road by noon, with the usual squabble over directions.  I loaded the first edit of my Vivaldi concerti into the CD player  and Guy listened for awhile before falling asleep during the 2 hour drive through the frosted golden prairie to Brooks, Alberta.  I took pictures with my iPhone, trying to capture the delicate palette of golds, lavenders.  Haven’t looked yet, might just have pictures of the hood of the car.
We easily found our hotel at the side of the main road into town.  We got take-out so that we would be sure to have something to eat between the sound check and the concert at 7:30.  I worked on a blank and Guy caught up on emails before we headed over to Griffin Park Theatre.  We were met by a very nice technician named Derek who let us in the back door, then we were greeted by Janet who brought a plate of sandwiches, a kettle, fruit, whipped cream, tea bags and drinks... real prairie hospitality!  It is so comforting to have food backstage, especially the way that they did it in Brooks, tiny sandwiches, fruit cut up into bite sized pieces, cups for the tea.  Somebody thought through the details and it adds up to a genuine sense of welcome.
Marilyn Jackson came to greet us and then she realized that the programmes hadn’t been printed!  It was 4:30 and the concert was at 7:30, so I said that she shouldn’t worry about it, but she insisted.  So I got on the phone to our manager and he forwarded the materials again, and Marilyn got excellent programmes printed in time for the show!
Guy and I rehearsed in the theatre... the acoustic is warm, no echo but not overly dry.  At one point, a large man came on stage and without saying anything to us, shouted up to Derek who was in the sound booth, “I’m really busy and can’t come tonight!”  He then glanced at us and was about to leave, so I introduced myself and asked him some questions... he was the local band teacher and plays both trumpet and piano.  He said he might come to our next concert if we ever return to Brooks.  I smiled and said that would be nice.  I asked him if he had any bassoonists in his band, and he said that there is one who is interested, so I asked him to encourage the young player to contact me.  
We rehearsed with the light-voiced Kimball piano… the lectern of this compact piano was quite small and the biggest challenge was to keep the many pages of our recital book from flying away during his rapid page turns.
After the rehearsal, we went back to the hotel to eat dinner and get our gear.  Guy wore his patent leather stage shoes out into the -30 crunchy snow and did not fall down once. I changed into my blue feather gown at the hall but had to wrap myself up in a huge wool shawl while backstage to conserve body heat.  The audience filled up the hall and Shanda came backstage to introduce herself before going onstage to introduce us.  She introduced me as Nadia and apologized sincerely after the concert.  I didn't mind…I assume people will know my name once they hear the show!
The audience was larger than I expected given the freezing temperatures in this small prairie town... maybe 200 people and all of them wearing coats, hats, gloves.  They stayed until the end and bought lots of CDs.  There were many children who stayed for the whole concert and several people came to tell me that they knew George Zukerman.   One of Guy's childhood neighbours was at the concert… Kim Taylor said that she bought tickets for this show last July when the season was announced and she say that we would be performing in Brooks.
We open the tour concerts with Flight of the Bumblebee and this one was almost faster than I could play.  We punctuate the music with stories and always worry that we are rambling too much.   The first half has a duo with piccolo trumpet and bassoon by Boismortier, one of the e minor, opus 50 sonatas by the same composer, a Bach aria, 4 Paganini duos  for corno and bassoon and the Schreck sonata for piano and bassoon.  We visited with the audience during intermission and talked mostly to a family with three children, ages 8, 10 and 11.  The second half opens with another Bach (Air on a G string) along with the Prelude and Scherzo by Jean-Jean, short pieces by Shostakovich and Piazzolla and Glenn Buhr, ending with our beloved St-Saens Sonata.  Some people in the audience stayed to tell us their impressions and buy CDs... a really welcoming, kind group of people.  Derek (our technician for the evening) waited patiently for us to pack up and load out.
We went back to the hotel to pack, then put on long johns and jackets and socks to go to bed... it really was cold last night and the heat really did not have much effect in our room!  
We got up early to work out in the tiny cardio room... I had my first experience on a stair climber.  Then I made a blank and we packed our suitcases and wrangled everything back into the little blue Ford Edge.  We were surrounded by massive pickup trucks packed with compressors and other heavy duty equipment that we assumed was for the many oil drilling sites dotted around the countryside.
The car started with just a small whine of protest and we returned to Calgary.  The sun was hitting the gold of the fallow fields everywhere as we drove along.  Everything went smoothly despite the great cold.  
We returned the car and went to check in for our flight to Vancouver.   The stupid automatic kiosks never work for us but this time, the front panel of Guy’s machine flew open, and somehow caused the trumpet shipping case to topple over on top of the corno in it’s soft case.  I thought it would be flattened, but there is a large ding in the curve towards the bell and a newly flattened area.  He still hasn’t tried to play it since our travel day is not yet over and fingers are crossed that it will not be whacked out of tune.  
We flew to Vancouver where they are in an unusual cold spell.   The airport is filled with native carvings and seems very grand.  We rented a Ford Navigator to drive to Pender Island where they say the snowfall is deeper than the mainland.  We arrived 3 hours early at the ferry terminal and ate Chinese food and had organic espresso and booked our return ferry.  The crossing will take 2 hours since we have to go to Nanaimo then Pender Island.  It is a long day of travel but not difficult….I am hoping that there will be somewhere soundproof to practise tonight, or maybe we will just fall head first into bed.

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