Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 22 - Classical Music via Horsehead Fiddles

Today the weather got above freezing! The forecast was for a top of 4 but we only saw a top of 1 (with a windchill of -1). However because it was very overcast the world did not melt away like it sometimes starts to... and actually it's snowing again right now. The snow is forecast to continue right through the week and Rachel is starting to get concerned for our flights (they cancelled them on the weekend). If we miss our connection in Beijing it will be difficult to get back to Sydney. There's only a three hour gap (perhaps not the best plan but the only one we had at the time). So pray for good flying weather next week!

Our classes were fine. We put our classes together for the second hour to teach them to sing 'Here I Am To Worship' and 'Lord Reign In Me'. This was the college's request, not ours, and now Rachel's class are even further behind than ever... plus they have no textbooks as the college has run out of the next in the series! But they seemed to like the break anyway.

After a lunch of soup with bread and sushi, and a very short music practice for Seumas, we prepared our lessons for tomorrow and came home for a few hours.

We went back to UBTC at 6pm to meet up with Gana, who had bought tickets for us to go to hear Mongolian State Philharmonic.

After a short wait for a 'taxi' (as in, any random person driving past willing to take us) we got to the theatre half an hour before it started. We checked in our jackets and went upstairs to sit in a beautiful foyer: marble floors and gold and maroon wallpaper.

The concert hall itself was also very nice. We were sitting on movable chairs in the front row due to it being sold out, but this turned out all for the good as it gave us a chance to see the musician's technique.

The orchestra was made up of 12 horsehead fiddles (filling in for violins), two cellos, two double bass, a piano, two flutes, two yatgas (Mongolian version of the zither), a few kinds of xylophone, timpani, cymbals, and a triangle. The horsehead fiddle is a traditional Mongolian instrument. It is kind of like a 2-stringed violin, played vertically, but instead of pressing the string to the neck, you simply press the string taut with your finger at the appropriate position. All the musicians wore white flowing traditional-style robes with black jeweled hats. They looked very elegent.

The pieces consisted of a mix of Russian, famous western, and Mongolian composers. Each piece was about five minutes long, so very accessible for those like Rachel who aren't accustomed to classical music. Many of the pieces were the famous standards. The horsehead fiddles sound just like violins and the soloists were amazing.

Each ticket cost less than $8 Australian... which still prices it out of reach for many. We considered it much better value than any classical performances we've attended in Sydney!

And now home! Bed soon: both of us have sore throats which is unpleasant but not surprising considering how much we go from the freezing cold outside to the heated indoors.

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