This post is best enjoyed while listening to Falco's hit song, Rock Me Amadeus.
I had to have a piece of the action.
During the two days of the festival, there were enough traditional goodies to satisfy any hard-core Amadeus fan. I saw plenty of piano, lots of woodwinds (clarinets, flutes, oboes) and strings (violas, violins, cellos), but there were also several instruments that you might not expect at your traditional Mozart concert. I suppose it's a bit like fanfiction--you know the source material is good if people are so excited to play around with it. I saw saxophones and keyboards, ocarinas and kotos, electric guitars and mandolins. I even heard a symphony in the style of a swing dance. Take that to the bank and cash it, baby!
Of course, when I sat down to write this post I realized that even though the music at the festival was great the people playing the music were the best part. Becoming Mozart meant having an instant "in" with the performers, so I had an up-close-and-personal concert experience and met most of the performers. I also had a chance to surprise my students by showing up at their performances as a man in a white polyester wig. I can't put pics of the kiddos online, but trust me--they're adorable.
Famous composer? More like saxophone genius.
*This is false.
Who knew that the best way to pick up chicks is premature polyester gray?
Kanto Felice is a chorale group who all graduated from the same university in Osaka but who now all live in the Kanto area of Japan (essentially the Tokyo area). Even though they said they only get together to practice once a month, they still sounded lovely. They sang several songs from Mozart's Requiem--usually performed with a full orchestra and some male chorale participation--accompanied by nothing more than a piano.
They got so much applause when they finished the last Requiem song (Sanctus) that they came back on stage for an encore. An encore which wouldn't have been complete, they said, without the big man himself helping out. Now, for all I know Mozart sounded like an ogre when he opened his mouth, but I personally have the voice of an angel* so I gave it my all. We sang Agnus Dei. Please listen to it and pretend that I am Kathleen Battle.
*This is also false.
If you said Unazuki Onsen Resort in Kurobe City, Japan, you are correct.
I was waiting for the last performance of the day on Saturday (a very talented pianist in a very fluffy pink dress) when I heard it: English. Unaccented English.
Now, my English interactions in Japan are limited to a.) my students and b.) other English teachers who subconsciously use an embarrassing amount of helpful gestures (thanks, job), so I couldn't pass up the chance to talk to someone normally. I asked her if she'd enjoyed the festival so far, and eventually the conversation wove around to this:
Judy: "Are you from Canada?"
Me: "No, I'm from America."
Judy: "Oh, what state?"
Judy: *blank stare* "Where in Colorado?"
Judy: "Me too."
Me: "You're kidding."
It turned out that the woman was named Judy, and she had previously lived in Unazuki for a while instructing teachers in Montessori education. When she's in America (about three months out of the year), she lives less than a mile away from my dad's condo downtown. Of all the art museums in all the towns in all the world, she came walking into that one.
I don't know what the odds of this happening are, but I'd place a bet on them being astronomically low.
感想 （かんそう） Reflection
I think passion is amazing. It drives people to create beautiful things just because they want to--just because they like doing it. Who knows how much time each of the Mozart performers have put into their art to get where they are now. Most of them have been playing instruments since they were in elementary school, if not even earlier. One of the solo pianists said that she practices for two or three hours every day.
(2.5 hours per day X 365 days a year X probably 15+ years = 13,688+ hours)
When you consider that most of these people are not professionals (meaning they have a day job that helps with things like eating and paying rent) that number seems impossible. The thing about passion, though, is that it's not a sacrifice. The joy their dedication brings them is more than enough justification for the time and energy they put into it.
Having never played an instrument (other than my own angelic vocal cords, of course), I love being around people who do. Like a cat soaking in the sun, watching someone interact with their passion in such a direct way lets me vicariously feel their adrenaline and joy. The world is filled with so many terrible things--sometimes it's nice to be reminded that there are people out there who dedicate their lives to making it more lovely, if only for a few hours a day.