Happy Valentine's Day!
I haven't updated since I went to Iceland back in November, so I'll try give short updates on what I've done since then. Christmas is quite a long read, but the rest should be more concise.
I missed the last few days of class before Christmas break to go see that London Symphony Orchestra being conducted by film composer Alexandre Desplat. When I arrived in London, I arrived at London Euston and went to my hostel, which was completely awful. There were many, many people there who were throwing and breaking dishes in the kitchen. Then, there were these two men who looked like they were 40. Apparently, they were staying at the hostel but just met. They had an extensive conversation outside my room door about how both of their wives recently cheated on them and so now they were trying to find somewhere else to live/someone else to be with/new job. It was so sad but so weird and awkward at the same time.
It felt amazing to be in London again. Seeing the red double decker busses, red telephone booths, gorgeous buildings, and the busy hustle of the people were all warm welcomes back to this amazing city. I went to the British museum and Tate Modern, but sneaked down into the shop of St. Paul's Cathedral because that is my favorite place in London. I saw some really interesting things at Tate Modern this time around, and so I was very pleased with that visit! It didn't quite feel like London though until I saw Big Ben across the river. It was lovely to walk along the river again and to visit some of the places I visited before. People told me that the London Eye was a waste of money, which is sort of true in the summer time because it doesn't get very dark. However, as it was December, the darkness became speckled with the city lights. I figured it was now or never because I don't foresee myself visiting the UK in the winter time in the future with jobs and such. It was an incredible experience that lasted for half an hour. It was so incredibly beautiful! The streets in London are not in blocks but in strange, twisted and curvy designs. The lights of the city definitely highlighted that. Traffic looked like currants and even the dark water sparkled occasionally.
The concert was nice! It was cool to see the composer actually there and conducting. The best piece (in my opinion) was the last one which was a compilation of the last two Harry Potters. It was definitely the most lively music that was played and probably the most technical. Desplat isn't a very loud composer like John Williams or Hans Zimmer, but I loved seeing how cleanly the orchestra played fast sixteenth notes and what I would consider to be tricky rhythms.
I met with my teacher Richard from my study abroad trip from last year. His wife had a daughter named Neve and she was one of the sweetest little girls I've ever met. We went to the Children's museum and had tea and then played with his daughter for a bit, all while talking about life and school and London and Glasgow. We visited several small galleries and saw some small pieces of art. His daughter loves doing up and down steps, as this was a new skill she recently mastered, so we went up and down several stair cases for a while. Neve was definitely the highlight of my trip to London.
The night I came home from London, I stayed up chatting with my roommates until I had to leave to go to the airport the next morning. My plane went to Amsterdam, Detroit, then Columbus. I didn't tell anyone but my mom, dad, and Collin that I was coming home. My family always has a big get together for Christmas at my grandma's house so I thought it would be cool to show up unexpectedly. Collin even got to come with me this year! It was a great time with family and everyone seemed to happy to see me. My sisters both cried when they saw me! <3 I've learned a lot while being in Glasgow, but one of the most important things to me is my family. I guess until I left, I sort of always took them for granted. I don't usually see most of my family except around holidays. In reality, the last time I saw my sisters to when I saw them at Christmas time was probably a shorter time than how long it usually takes for me to see my sisters when I was home in Ohio. It made me feel so loved anyway though.
I visited Bowling Green as well and saw graduation. The Pulitzer Prize winning Jennifer Higdon spoke and I love her. She spoke about thinking outside the box. She mentioned that now is the time to break the rules. It was nice seeing people again, but overall, I am happy to be graduated from there. Collin and I dropped in on Dr. Bill Mathis and had a short but really great conversation with him. I always liked Dr. Mathis and will always have a special place in my heart for him. He is such a good listener and just a goofy character. Collin and I then went to see Dr. Penny Kruse and Mr. Dr. Steve Kruse for dinner. It was a really great time to sit and talk about everything! I can't wait to do it again sometime.
End of Term 1
Once I returned to Glasgow, I didn't have class for another week. I had four huge projects due in that time period so I basically just worked and worked that week. One thing I did do though was go see John Barrowman (Doctor Who) and the Krankies perform as Buttons in the Cinderella pantomime. I'm not sure many people in the USA know about pantomimes, but I certainly didn't know what it was. It's basically a musical with small opportunities for audience interaction/participation. It's a family event (from what I understand, usually around Christmas time). While pantomime can happen as many times, the music and some of the text changes depending on popular events that happened in that year or recently. So for example, one of the songs they spoofed was Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball (they had a giant wrecking ball in which Wee Jimmy Krankie rode in the same fashion as Miley), and they also made several jokes about current political events, especially the Referendum. During the song right before the intermission, they blasted out foam from the top of the theatre so it would look like snow. I'm not going to lie, it was one of the most magical moments ever.
Beginning of Term 2
I recently began my second term of grad school, which is exciting. I'm taking a couple new classes.
Sound for the Moving Image II: basically, this is a continuation of what Sound for the Moving Image I was.
Sound Culture: This class talks about sound in our culture today. Some of the broad topics we will learn will be sound and the self, sound and politics, sound and emotion, sound and the environment, and sound in space (not outer space).
Music for Picture: We will learn about music in the silent film era, classical period, music from the 60s and 70s, television and theme tunes, popular music and cinema, music in world cinema, music for games, experimental film music, psychological implications of film music, and composition techniques.
I love each of these classes very much. We are learning MaxMSP right now and that's exciting. It's going to be interesting to learn about music composition from a non-theoretical approach. I've been trying to review music theory and I am so rusty, it's embarrassing. I even practice aural skills too because none of those things can hurt me in this class. I feel confident when I'm improvising in Dr. Tom Rosenkranz's class, but composing is different and seemingly daunting. It'll all be okay.
Ligeti's Musica Ricercata
I had my first major performance in Glasgow! ... sort of. I designed and edited the visuals to accompany the piano and dancers. I loved the feelings I had before, during, and after the performance. It was a lot of work and I am planning on making and posting a more detailed video of the visuals onto Vimeo. Check it out.
Overall, I've been having a nice beginning to a new term. I visit the tea cafe Tchai Ovna at least once a week, I had haggis on Robert Burns Day, and I even went to see Post Modern Jukebox perform at the Old Fruitmarket. I'm looking forward to working hard this semester and trying new ideas and seeing where I end up.