Monday, August 16, 2004

The Nashville biosphere

I'm just now back from the NFA convention in Nashville. I thought last year's surroundings in Las Vegas were over the top but it was tame compared to this year's environment! The Gaylord Opryland Resort is a nine-acre self-contained complex under glass domes. It's all climate-controlled, so that you can walk around during the day feeling like you're outside, but you're not really, and you're protected from the hot and sticky weather outside. When the sun goes down it seems like they dial the air conditioning back a bit, maybe 15 degrees, so that it seems like nighttime, but you still don't have to wear a jacket.

There's a jungle planted in there. There are hundreds of tropical plants and lots of fountains, a river, lots of pools, and waterfalls. Everything is connected by a maze of paths and escalators and stairways. It's very easy to get lost and I did, a few times. It was SO Logan's Run.

There are restaurants and shops. Everything is hella expensive though, and there was very little I could eat. I ate a $4.00 bagel with cream cheese one morning. I didn't really buy much food, relying on the granola bars I brought from home, and using my $10.00 daily volunteer reimbursement to get a salad or equal for dinner.

Volunteering was fun. I threw myself into my duties as door monitor for several events. I shared a hotel room with three very nice women. Katie Zimmer was from Michigan, Carla Holtz was from Ohio, and Angela Heo was from Korea. She gave the Korean flute workshop which unfortunately I didn't get to go to because I had an early flight home Sunday morning.

I really enjoyed Camilla Hoitenga's concert, "Savage Aural Hotbed". I got to see Robert Dick unveil his Glissando Headjoint at the Brannen Brothers exhibitor showcase (yay!!!!). I liked Paul Edmund-Davies' rendition of the John Harbison flute concerto. Shannon Heaton's Celtic flute workshop was very very cool. So was the lecture/demonstration put on by Indian flute boy wonder Shashank.But now I'm back and it's time to readjust and get back on all the tasks that have been waiting for me to finish traveling. I've got the first set of recording sessions for Not Made of Stone set up for January 2005, and it's time to start rehearsing for those.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 & Scotland the Brave

Regarding Michael Moore's movie, if you haven't seen it yet, you need to. TRUST me. :)

Now then, I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Scotland, which included Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Banff & Macduff, and the Orkneys. I was very much focused on ancient monuments...which is interesting because my album's going to be called Not Made of Stone, but I was intent on photographing things that were made of stone, in Scotland. I visited Rosslyn Chapel (mysteriously carved stone), 6 stone circles in Aberdeenshire, and 6 ancient monuments on West Mainland Orkney, including Skara Brae, Unstan Cairn, Maeshowe, the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brogar, and Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn.

It was so moving finally to see Skara Brae, after writing my piece about it in 1995, and always hoping to see it. It's well cared for by Historic Scotland, but that gives it kind of an antiseptic, unreal quality, the way the grass is kept closely clipped, and the way it's surrounded by explanatory markers. I know it has to be done in order to preserve it. I really learned a lot, and there was a lot of energy to be sensed from the ruins themselves and from Skaill Bay. Skaill House, the home of the laird who build the seawall to protect Skara Brae after it was discovered in 1850, is right nearby and can be seen in the background of one of my photos.
The Ben Nevis & Glen Coe area was glorious to drive through. It's quite a thing how the mountains there look as imposing as anything we have in California, and yet when you look at the map, they're all only about 1,000 feet high! When I go back, I'm definitely staying in the Orkneys longer, plus longer stays in Banff/Macduff and Aberdeen. Those were the places I really connected with the most.Having only just gotten over that trip, I'm off early Wednesday morning for Nashville to attend the NFA convention. I'm not performing this year, just hangin' out and volunteering and hoping to sell a flute.