Last weekend (June 7th), I arrived in Salerno with minimal damage to my person and none to my luggage (it not having to be concerned with strained muscles from sleeping in peculiar positions on the plane). The train was on time (!), as was our lovely director/cat-herder Regina, and the journey from Salerno to Varano was pleasant and only somewhat nerve-wracking (driving in Italy is not for the weak of heart).
Due to various and sundry reasons, I had nearly no time to write music before departing for Italy, so I have been madly scribbling away in various locations about "C'era una volta" (my room, the garden, the hallway floor…), inspired by the strains of Bernstein and Rossini that waft from the fengshui room of rehearsal to my apprentice ears.
I broke my record of "gelato every day spent in Italy", and so my gelato/day ratio has sunk below 1. This is probably for the best for both my health and my wallet, but you know what they (presumably) say: a gelato eaten is a gelato earned*. Of course, going without gelato is no hardship when the food here is so delicious…mostly cooked by us, we few, we band of musicians, but last night we were fortunate enough to feast on food provided to us by our gracious host, Tonino. The pasta! the greens! the bread! the salad! the meatballs (three-meat, naturally)! the spicy olive oil!(!!!!)…if that were the high point of my journey, I would be satisfied.
Some notable accomplishments from this past week:
Culinary accomplishments (in rough chronological order):
--cut through a watermelon with my bare hands (that were wielding a short chef's knife)
--learned how to get the most out of the cheese grater (spoiler: it involves also using a fork)
--helped make mushroom risotto (and consumed it! mushroom bravery ftw)
--helped make meataballs [not a typo]
--made parsley pesto
--had buffalo (buffalo) cheese, yogurt, gelato (that's right, you read that right, buffalo gelato, SO DELICIOZO AHHH), and budino (pudding) (chocolate, of course)
--had a mushroomy pasta fagioli soup (the bravery continues!)
--made rosemary-romano polenta with rosemary olive oil
--had Nutella every day with breakfast (I don't know if this is an accomplishment or a--no, never mind, definitely an accomplishment).
--wrote an additional five minutes of my woodwind quintet for the Fiati 5, "Saturday Morning in the South End"
--discussed contemporary audience engagement with classical music, including the problems with valuing one type of listener over another, particularly when the division of "active" and "passive" listener is so unclear/fuzzy
--listened to the Fiati 5 play beautiful music, including a quintet by Kyle Werner that made me want to only write music that creates weird overtones
Misc. cultural accomplishments:
--attended the local festival/party for Santa Maria di Constantinopoli
--was eventually allowed to depart said festival/party
--in addition to Varano, have visited Eboli and Campagna (the city, not the countryside. or the region.)
--expanded my Italian vocabulary to include words like "earthquake," "lentils," "nap," "non-alcoholic," and "pop music"
--achieved swimming in the local river
I have learned…
--how to draw Texas
--the definition of pausa (protip: NOT the same thing as pranzo, which is lunch. If you conflate these two things into one word, your Italian-speaking mother will laugh at you.)
--that the most effective way to exit a festival early is to dance your way out
--that you should not refrigerate mozzarella, but instead keep it out in its bag in a bowl of cold water
--how to play the card game Kemp
--that the lower register of the oboe is not verboten or "honky," despite what my orchestration book may imply
--the difference between bassoon and oboe reeds
--that the river is a lengthy, muddy walk from the road
Things I hope to achieve in the coming week:
--more puppy sightings
--finish writing my quintet, enter it into the computer, edit it, and give that music to the Fiati 5 to look over/play through
--learn the words to Va pensiero
--divers other musical, culinary, and cultural adventures!
*They don't actually say this, as far as I know, but CLEARLY they should. Whoever "they" are.