Thursday, 27 October 2011

Lennoxville / Sherbrooke / Bishops trip

Recently, I had applied to Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec. I was accepted by the school, but needed to do an audition as formality. Thus, I planned a trip down to Lennoxville. On my list of things to do were:

1. Meet the family I'll be living with.
2. Visit friends.
3. Experience living on University residence (apparently Bishops is like the movie American Pie at times.. exciting!)
4. Meet the music faculty.
5. Take the Bishops' tour.
6. Do my audition.

Everything went as plan, but making that plan was difficult. Unfortunately, the ride to Lennoxville and back had bailed on me, so I had to organize something else. Fortunately, my teacher is extremely gracious, and offered me his trunk and to drive his car to the bus station! However, I do not have a full license so he said 'No problem. Bring a friend and get him / her to drive you to the bus station, and drive the car back!' I was floored. First of all, Reuven (my teacher), is lending me his bass trunk (these run anywhere from $1,500 - $3,000), and then he's also allowing one of my friends (someone he's never met before) to drive his car to the bus station with me, and drive it back alone! I asked my friend Samuel Mckee to drive me there, and fortunately he said yes.

When I arrived at the bus station, I had many stares. This was because of how large a bass trunk is (click on this link to see: double bass trunks), and that somehow, a man of 5'7 could handle it by myself. The flight case weighed 50 pounds, my case inside weighed 20, my bass weighs 30, and everything else weighs about 5-7 pounds. In total, that is 107 pounds - no easy feat.

Anyways, when I put my bass into the bottom of the bus, the driver told me that I'd have to pay extra, and I said 'No. The website said "1 piece of luggage, 1 carry on", and this is my luggage, so I am not going to pay extra'. He didn't argue further. However, I was nervous that he'd take it off, and I wouldn't realize until my arrival in Sherbrooke. Fortunately, this did not happen.

When I arrived, it was raining lightly, and it was fairly chilly. I phoned a cabby and said that I had a very large 'suitcase' and that I'd need a van. They said that they'd send a car. I hung up the phone, and said that they were idiots. A bystander overheard me and said 'they never listen, do they?', while looking at my case, which stands 7'5 or so. Alas, the cabbie arrives, looks at me, and drives away. I phone them back and said that it wouldn't fit, and the woman asked me if I tried. I said, "the case is 7'5! It won't fit in a car. Send me a van. I don't care how long it takes". She told me to wait 15 minutes, and in the end, the van was quite large. My teacher had texted me a story of how he was in Winnipeg and in the same situation. In the end, he had taken a stretch limo because of his lack of options. It's hilarious what us bass players have to do sometimes.

Anyways, to cut to the chase, my audition was successful and they asked me beforehand if I 'even wanted to do my audition' and if I felt like I had 'wasted my time'. I told them that I 'might as well' do it. I only played two movements of a Vivaldi Cello Sonata, linked here: Vivaldi cello Sonata No.5.

So, to conclude, I am going to Bishops University for Music. I am enrolled in a Honors Music Major - Double Bass, and with a German minor. Germany is where I plan on completing my Master's degree, and perhaps my Ph.D (I can go for relatively free because I'll be fluent in German). I may also take an Italian minor as well.

Rodin / Claudel ballet

Recently, I had gone to see Rodin / Claudel. It was the second day of the world premiere, and the first ballet written by Canadian born Peter Quanz. I was in the third row from the pit, one of the best seats in the house (will run you about $120 or so).

First off, the order of my passions are as follows.

1. Double Bass / Music.
2. Ballet.
3. Jazz drums.

For anyone that knows me personally, and has talked to me about music, they know how passionate I am. I believe that ballet being second shows my passion for it very well. Almost every ballet I see makes me cry, and Rodin / Claudel came close.

Actually, Rodin / Claudel has an interesting premise. Auguste Rodin was a sculptor, as was Camille Claudel. Presumably, from the ballet, they both fell in love, but Auguste couldn't make up his mind. In the end, Camille goes insane and is committed to an insane asylum. Peter Quanz' narrative lightly tells the story of Auguste / Camille, but it focuses more on their romance. Besides Auguste's involvement in Camille's life, her whole story is intricate and interesting. Here is a link to her Wikipedia page (

The lead female was excitingly beautiful. So much so that I could hardly tear my eyes from her to focus on other parts of the ballet. It's interesting, during a ballet; there is so much going on. Generally, you feel that you must follow the lead dancers, but watching the support dancers can be so exciting as well. This was especially true in Rodin / Claudel. Most of the support dancers were dressed only in ballet undergarments that were skin colour. They were meant to represent the clay (or other objects) used to sculpt by Camille and Auguste. One of my favourite parts of the ballet was to see how the lead roles would move the other dancers to represent sculpting. Often, it was as if the leads' had a passion for sculpting, and actively drew it out while dancing. When I noticed this, it made me teary at how beautiful it was, and thinking about it now makes me teary as well.

However, as grandiose as the ballet was, it was not my favourite. I'm unable to pin point exactly where I disliked the ballet, but when I saw 'Giselle' by the Nacional ballet de Cuba, it became the 'untouchable' experience. I fear that nothing may touch this (except for Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky later this year), and am saddened to say that Rodin / Claudel did not make me shed tears, or have an extreme emotional reaction like 'Giselle'.

Fortunately, in conclusion, we can say that as Canadians, we should be proud to have Peter Quanz with us. He has choreographed internationally, and has had a world premiere with one of best ballets in the world! We should be happy, proud, and moved that a man came from our country, making such a beautiful piece. So, rejoice, and the next time that Rodin / Claudel is showed, go see it.

The leads at a rehearsal