Beijing – Day 4

After a morning of practicing, our host, Fan Lei treated us all to another amazing lunch.  I had turtle, venison, goose, manta ray and an amazing ginseng soup!  He has assigned three of his students to chaperone the four guests around throughout the week and these students have already become great friends.  At least one has been with all of us at all times.  None of the Americans that are here for the festival have cell phones that work but we haven’t needed them for communication at all.  Jason, Emma and Ming have been around to get us from here to there perfectly, and always with a smile.

After lunch, Marty Erickson and I took a walk to the Forbidden City and then across the street from that is Tiananmen Square.  On this same road is the Beijing Concert Hall where the orchestra concerts are held and the brand new Opera Hall.  It’s hard to take in the scope of how large this opera hall is by my phone-photo but there are easily a couple of football fields inside this thing.  The city of Beijing has 8 symphony orchestras and 4 of them are full-time.  The principal trumpets from the opera orchestra and Beijing National Symphony were at my concert on Tuesday.  One was from London and the other from Vienna.  This is interesting because as I have walked around I do not feel that Beijing is nearly as cosmopolitan a city as Chicago, New York or even my home, Madison.  I would say that I have seen maybe a dozen westerners since I’ve been here.  It is also intriguing that a city of this size feels very quaint or innocent somehow.  The general pace of things is slower and more relaxed than most big towns in the US.

This evening’s concert was percussion night and I played a few things with Dane Richeson on his recital.  We played a couple movements from Jim Stephenson’s Vignettes and a beautiful tune by Emmanuel Sejourne called Katamiya.  (trumpet/marimba)  This was a slightly smaller audience than the other nights with about 200 people in attendance.  Dane is here this week primarily to teach African and Latin percussion to these students.  He is a master at this and I am sure the students are getting a lot from him however, I think it’s a shame that he cannot work with them on drumset or jazz style.  They have no jazz program in place here at all so there is no equipment for him.  That afternoon he worked with the CCOM percussion studio on an African piece that involved all 20 students with dance and singing.  This was a huge success and a great way to end his program.  Dane is the percussion professor at the Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin – where I received my undergraduate degree.  His recitals were always the events that no students wanted to miss.  This night was no exception.

A friend from home who has been to Beijing a few times told me there were three things I must do while here; have the Beijing Duck, see the Great Wall and have Hot Pot.  Tuesday was the duck, Friday will be the Wall and tonight was HOT POT!  All I have to say is the Wall must be pretty Great in order to live up to the standard of getting on this top three list.  The table is built around a clay pot or cauldron.  There is a whole goose with broth boiling away in the pot when you arrive.  Then the staff brings plate after plate of different kinds of mushrooms to put in the pot.  There are a few different sauces to use as condiments but it really doesn’t need anything.  Eventually the goose completely falls apart and the resulting mushroom/goose soup is like nothing I’ve ever had!  I think I wrote in my first post on China that I was afraid I might lose weight on this trip…wow, was I wrong…

One thought on “Beijing – Day 4

  1. Frank

    It’s great reading about your trip. (It makes me want to visit Beijing just for the food!) Thanks for taking the time to write so the rest of us can get a ‘taste’ of China vicariously (pun intended!)

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