So time has flown. I’m actually back in Halifax now, in normal life, with echoes of this tour and these concerts ringing in my ears! But the last week or so oft the trip was intense, with lots of travel, new music, technical challenges, and schlepping of celli!

Here are the last few posts from Bologna to Venice, and back (and forth) again:

The Theatre di Tese

When I first visited Venezia in 2013 I was transformed. It was a magical place, unique, old, grand and decrepit simultaneously. Yesterday when I struggled to walk across to La Giardia it felt like Disneyland! In fact I saw 2 separate Disney stores…. it occurred to me that every person I saw was a tourist and that the locals, (if there were any in the service industry) existed here only to serve us. A little like Cuba or the Bahamas!. It was a bit of a shock as I was so moved by the ambience before. Not surprisingly there was real evidence of a locals anti tourist backlash in banners and graffiti.

I spent about 3 hours roaming through the Biennale architecture exhibit at Arsenale,

Evidence of local unrest…

and loved that experience. I guess it was separate enough from the glory of Venezia. I saw a huge number of architectural exhibits from all over the world. Some theoretical or conceptual, some idealistic and forward looking, some sad truth telling. Each was thought provoking. I also went to a concert of Elliot Carter’s music played by a Roman chamber orchestra at Theatre Test. The oboist for the concerto was most memorable, that and the mandolin note at end of the sextet.(complete with dramatic cutoff by the conductor!)(conductors….). The house was quite full, and the applause long. Carter begins to sound a bit the same to me, but there were really enjoyable moments. Then I walked home though the quiet home down dark narrow streets, full of mystery, history, magic….okay it’s not so bad, just don’t make me walk over the Rialto at noon on a Saturday dodging selfie taking tourists!

a Chinese installation at La Biennale

I finally met Sue and we headed back to Bologna by train for rehearsal and the concert. There we met up with Arne Eigenfeldt from Vancouver and Lawrence Casserley once again. We had a great dinner together after some work at Nicola’s tower. Dinner is always the most important part of any Italian rehearsal or concert I’ve learned! As usual for this tour, concert day in Bologna was a long one. It’s a complicated setup with 4 laptops (5 in Venezia) 4 speakers and signal routing with a minimum of plugging and unplugging. We all worked hard to set up speakers, untangle Nicolas cables and get sounds. The concert was held in a

my street in Venezia

percussion room at the conservatory, big, old and bright sounding. The audience was small but it was nice to play some of Arne’s music, as well as Lawrence’s Enigma piece and Metamorphose by Nicola. And we felt pretty good.

Tuesday morning Sue and I got up early to get back to Venezia and

Norm with Nova Scotian composers Jerome Blais and Derek Charke

have a day off. We got straight onto the Vaporetto this time, no hiking through the crowds. We met up with Jerome and Derek who had just arrived and we rode the Vaporetto to Murano and the Cimeteri island. Venice takes on a new shape from the water, and I began to chill out a little about the crowds. The Arsenale where we were staying and playing is really pretty calm compared to the St Marco and Rialto areas. I started to notice and love the empty streets, laundry hanging in multiple levels and the cafes with their outdoor tables. Scenes of everyday life started to pop up: a couch being delivered by boat, older people being helped off the Vaporetto, (it must be a tough/impossible place to be physically challenged!) dogs and kids. We had a great tour, saw some nice glass, visited Stravinsky’s grave and watched the sun go down from the boat. Sue and I ate alone that night and retired a bit early to recover from the late previous night and to prep for the next 2 days.

If you zoom in you can see our names!

Wednesday morning the Nova Scotians went to the Peggy Guggenheim collection. I love this gallery! That Jackson Pollack, the Riopelle, the Calders and Picassos. Not too big, and in a setting that always makes me wonder about the artists that visited and the parties that must have raged through that house! In the afternoon we found the Teatro de L’Armi and set up again. Here things were made more complicated by various audio mysteries, but by the time we left after 4 hours, all was right. Then another great dinner with grappa and lots of laughs. Sue and I had loved to the really beautiful B and B provided for us by la Biennale and we had a great sleep.