Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Back to the South (Winnipeg !)

We're on a flight back to Winnipeg, after our Northern adventure in Thompson and Snow Lake. Internet-less and phone-less for two days we would have felt completely disconnected from the world were not for the warmth of the locals. We had a great time. The two and a half hour drive through a forest reminiscent of the Siberian taiga, was pretty uneventful until we got closer to Snow Lake and a beautiful landscape started to form. The flat land become more hilly and lots of (frozen) mini lakes appeared. We stayed at an amazing hunting and fishing lodge by the Wekusko Falls and it was breathtaking. Our private cabin was literally ON the falls. As it usually happens we had time to drop our suitcases and leave for the performance venue. We had two performances: one for local kids, who behaved exemplarily well, and the evening recital. The venue was an unusual one, the beautiful home of David Hart, a wonderful man, art collector with impeccable taste who owns five pianos (including a wonderful Yamaha Concert Grand) and a beautiful harpsichord.
He is an avid music and art lover, and we started spending some time watching wonderful videos, while waiting for lunch. The highlights included an interview with Arthur Rubinstein at age 90 and a quirky Canadian cartoon entitled Getting Started. David is the proud owner of a wonderful Elektra espresso machine, and I have to say he spent most of his time making me what seemed to be an obscene amount of delicious espressos and cappuccinos!

The kids were just amazing, and seemed to really get into the core of the music we played for them, and formulated very deep thoughts about the program. The evening audience was also wonderful. We met them after the concert and there was a wonderful feeling of having played our program directly to each one of them. A delightful reception hosted by David, the perfect host followed. We sipped rare tea served in two beautiful antique Russian samovars. I had another coffee, I think. To think that we were in Snow Lake, a small mining town in Northern Manitoba, surrounded by Russian samovars, beautiful art, Persian carpets and sipping espresso from an Elektra machine was mind blowing!
We drove our 10 miles back to the cabin, and woke up early to take a short walk around the property and the falls before going into town for yet another feast (breakfast, this time) at David's.
We will cherish our memories of Snow Lake for a long time to come. Back at Thompson airport I finally received all my e-mails for the past two days. About 100 emails, half of them junk, many serious ones and about a dozen of them with pressing questions needing to be answered, oh well, yesterday. Really? Now, really? How urgent can these be? Looking at Canada's vast forests from our plane now, and thinking about all the roads we still have to cover, it all seems relative. These tours seem to be a time to reflect on music, ourselves, and how small we are after all in this world, regardless of how big our preoccupations might seem back home. Kipling, Langenburg, Yorkton and Wynyard left on this segment of the Prairie Debut tour.
Oh, I will miss the Elektra in the next few days.

our cabin on the Falls

the Elektra!!!

Petting zoo

the Falls from our cabin

 Lucille and I on the property

southern Italian playing with snow

amazing falls

 the falls from the suspended bridge

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Canadian Tour 2 - part 1

Greetings from Thompson, Manitoba. Check it out on this MAP
We were greeted by a a balmy -26C (-15F) at the Thompson airport. The air brought me back to our Trans-siberian tours. You can read my first long diary from that amazing trip HERE.
The air is cold and dry and as soon as you step out you feel your nose hair starting to freeze. I have to say it is much more pleasant than the relatively warmer but more humid Winnipeg, where last night we started the second of three legs of our Praire Debut Tour. The tour will cover about thirty towns across Saskatchewan and Manitoba in three segments: the first was last October, this current one in December and the longest final leg will take place in February.
Winnipeg was fun. Lucille and I played as part of the Virtuosi Concerts Series, the major recital series in town. We were chosen as poster children for the season brochure and it was nice to see our faces at the Winnipeg airport. We played to a wonderful sold out house, on an old Steinway D, signed by none other than Claudio Arrau!
So we boarded a small ATR-42 propeller jet flown by Calm Air to Thompson, picked up our monstrous Dodge Ram 5.7L 4X4 pick-up truck and drove to our hotel. We were warned by the tour manager not to go out, as apparently the town can be dangerous, and only to eat at the restaurant recommended by the hotel. We left for the restaurant just to find out that they are closed on Sunday, we tried another establishment, but after looking at the "way-too-cozy" atmosphere and noticing a smell of cheap alcohol (at 5pm), we decided to drive through an A&W and eat burgers in our room.
Tomorrow, we leave for the charming town, appropriately called Snow Lake, a mining town in which just last year the largest Canadian deposit of gold was discovered! We have a school program and an evening concert there tomorrow, and it will be by far the most remote destination of this tour.
Oh, I almost forgot. I need to plug in the Dodge's battery to an outlet in the parking lot, so that the battery won't freeze over night and the car will start in the morning. I have never done this before. I hope I do it right, or we might end up staying in Thompson and eating at A&W again...
Welcome to Thompson airport

Typing the destination on the GPS 
Driving in the Prairies

Sweet ride

 Calm Air Pamphlet 

 Winnipeg Program