September 24, 2006

No subject

September 15, 2006

Sleepless in Estonia

This is my first trip with the new computer, and having a wireless internet connection right here in my hotel room feels so luxurious I thought I would write an entry right away. After having walked once through the centre of Tarto (the second-largest city in Estonia) today, I can say I'm waiting for tomorrow, when I'll start some real exploring. The morning weather in Helsinki was nice and crisp and MS Meloodia stayed afloat the whole three hours' trip. I'm glad, however, that the return trip will be made on the express boat. A nice surprise was bumping into Dea on the tram down town.

On the way from Tallinn, we stopped at a place called Põltsamaa, where we got to see one of the most welcoming signs in recent history (see above) as well as test the acoustics of a big outdoor stage (just for fun). Dinner was at a good restaurant in Tarto, after which I tortured the singers for an hour or so with tomorrow's programme. We are split up into two hotels because everything here is fully booked - something tells me it's not because of eager audience members for our concert flooding the city from the surrounding countryside. But one can always dream...

Picture taken today at Põltsamaa.
It's funny to admit, but I find the "Finlandia"-hymn to be one of the most difficult "simple" Finnish pieces for choir to conduct. There, I said it.

September 12, 2006

The return of Claudio and other short stories

I just put this picture of the world's most precious cat on my desktop. Mornings don't get better than this!
When I was around seventeen/eighteen years old, I discovered Monteverdi's madrigals for mixed choir. I fell so in love with these pieces that I didn't listen to anything else for months on end. I got recordings of the second, third, fourth and fifth books of the madrigals - they are a real library of all sorts of human emotions which strike a chord now just as much as they must have done four hundred years ago. While going through my cd collection in the last days, I have once again started to listen to this music. It brings a lot of memories with it - like a night when I could hardly sleep and I waited hours until the house was awake so I could listen to one of my favourite ones without waking anyone up.

The Finnish coast from Austrian Airlines flight 348 HEL-VIE 5.6.2006
No doubt about it - conducting a choir is not very different from holding a mass psychology session. To be able to appear confident and at ease while mentally holding several plates spinning in the air (metaphor) is nopiece of cake. But one gets better at it with experience, and the important thing is to be able to behave naturally. Today I had to tell a woman I couldn't let her join the choir, and this is never a ball. In general, I'm very happy with how the rehearsal went and actually feel better about going to Estonia with them on the weekend, although I can also honestly say I conducted a whole piece tonight with my thoughts on something completely different. What else could I do afterwards except tell them it sounded great.

No fear of hights. Sulkava 25.8.2006
It's always nice to see Damascus on the news, even if it's for the wrong reasons entirely. But how often do you really hear good news from the Middle East? Anyway, I recognised some places from pictures of the foiled US embassy attack on the BBC and CNN. They are actually very close to where our home there is.

I realise the pictures in this entry are not relevant to the text, but they look good anyway.

September 11, 2006

Snowball in my mind

I'm having increasing trouble in finding inspiration for these entries. Obviously, there is a lot going on in my mind right now, with just under two weeks to go before moving. However, to write about all of my thoughts and things I have to do in the next few days seems somehow useless and I really don't think anyone would want to read about those things, anyway - this is a blog and not a public diary.

I have a list in my mind of things to really look forward to before buzzing off, and this list seems to be growing shorter every day. One of them was definitely spending two days listening to choirs at the international Harald Andersen chamber choir competition, which was organised by the Sibelius Academy last week for the second time. Contrary to what the jury decided, I thought it was wrong to not award a first prize to any of the choirs - however, my two favourites shared the second prize, and one of the choirs has finally convinced me with their recording that Frank Martin's mass for double choir a cappella is a great work.

But there still are things before the 25th worth waiting for, perhaps most of all our trip to Nuuksio national park, just outside Helsinki. We'll go to hike in the autumnal forest and spend the night in a cottage with a sauna. Everything else for those days has been put on hold - I can't imagine many nicer things to do before leaving the country for some time.

I'd better wrap this up and publish the post before I read it over and decide to delete it because it ended up being exactly what I didn't want it to be. I even tried to spice the entry up with a picture, but it seems blogger is having difficulties with that right now.

September 05, 2006

A lesson in bad taste

Picture taken in Belfast. Now with everybody's favourite tune "Climb every iceberg".

September 03, 2006

Quick checklist

Things to get before Graz - right now these are high priority.

Many more mp3 files of Finnish pop music (particularly Ultra Bra)

Finnish literature.

Blue SUOMI T-shirt.