Sunday, September 13, 2009

Universal Language

Today was rich! We spent the morning hitting Biblical sites for Old Testament. Among others we stopped at the Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Absalom’s Tomb and Dormition Abby (where they claim to have found the Upper Room of the Last Supper). We read the correlating scriptures in each place and it was powerful! We headed home in the afternoon when it really started heating up. There is a little fruit market at the foot of Mount Scopus (the hill we live on) and we stopped today. The man running it was so nice and I got a pomegranate, two pears and a mango for four shekels (almost a dollar). Delicious and nutritious…and cheap! When we got home the plan was to study but I fell asleep (note to self: NEVER study in your room) and slept right through dinner! Luckily I woke up in time to scurry to the concert upstairs.

I love music! Have I ever said that? The concert tonight was a piano trio first half adding a viola the second half making it a piano quartet. The program was Mendelssohn Piano Trio No.1 in D minor, Op. 49 and Schumann Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 47. The musicians were all from this area originally and three of them studied here at the Jerusalem Academy of Music. The violinist was, get this, my age. He is twenty years old and getting paid to give concerts! Inspiring and totally depressing.

I talked to them all afterward and they were so nice! The cellist (twenty-two) told me all about music schools here. She and the others got to do special army service for music. It basically means that they only train part-time and the other half of the time they play for soldiers and study at the Conservatory. Her little sister, a violinist, came to the concert and said that although it was nice to be able to pursue a music degree while all the other kids are doing army exclusively, it made the other half of the day in the army really hard. She isn’t used to compartmentalizing her life yet and she said that it is very tiring switching back and forth.

Bernice (the cellist) took my e-mail and said that she will write me out a little list of good violin teachers in Jerusalem that might be willing to give me a lesson! I told her that I will be starting Bloch’s Baal Shem Suite as soon as the music arrives and she said that I could really benefit from getting different points of view from the Jewish violinists here. I am so excited!

I also talked to the violist, Itamar Ringel, who studied at New England Conservatory. He said that growing up here he took the history for granted. His family raised him holding tightly to the Jewish tradition and that, combined with the political climate, prevented him from learning about the other cultures here. After studying in Germany and America he discovered the richness of learning about others’ beliefs, traditions and cultures and now that he’s back in Jerusalem for a while he spends all the time in can in the Old City. He said, “There is history in every corner of that place, if you have the eyes to see it.” I asked him if it is safe for him in all parts of the city, as a Jew. He said his best security is to wear a fanny pack and speak English. I guess looking like a tourist does have benefits!

We also talked about using music to speak to people. We agreed that every musician’s goal should be to change at least one audience member and that each player needs to find his/her voice in order to do so. Yo Yo Ma is incredible with that. I will always remember seeing him at Brevard last summer and his words, “Although I love music, people are my real passion. I play music to touch people of all races, cultures and generations. That is my quest.” I hope that my time here in Jerusalem will increase my understanding and ability to speak to people in this part of the world. I think the first step to understanding them is to love them and I already feel that happening.

They take the kids in the army on historical

field trips occasionally. I still shocks me everytime

I see girls younger than me carrying those big guns.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you're meeting the musicians there and enjoying the music. I guess you can have your cake and eat it, too. I adored the concerts in the Center. It's such a bonus to have great music right in the place where you live. How smart you are to learn from the musicians. I wonder what they are learning from you?
    Love and blessings,
    Nanny Ann