Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Institut at Last!

I got back to my room and had a little time to kill. I must have dozed because I awoke five minutes late. I rushed over to the Institut in time to participate in the opening quodlibet consisting of three four part rounds being sung all at the same time, a total of twelve parts. The faculty was then introduced, and then we were introduced, coming from a total of 23 different nations. We were called to stand by country. Of the 95 participants Greece had the most with 17. Turkey and Spain were almost as well represented. The United States was far down the list with seven, only four of whom seemed to be present.

The participants were divided into three groups for the morning sessions. I am with the B group and went with the others to a room with Verena Maschat, where we introduced ourselves in more detail. The demographics of the participants were fascinating, totally unlike anything you would find in an American levels class. There were academics, a couple of musicology students from Greece, pre-service teachers, many preschool teachers, private instrumental teachers, even a fellow from Texas who had received an AOSA scholarship to attend. All in all not many teachers who do a job like mine. This should be a very unique week.

My electives are going to be “Music Listening with Children”, taught by Soili Perkio (I have got to learn to make umlauts!) of Helsinki, and “Rhythm Training and Percussion Techniques for the Classroom” with Gerhard Reiter of Vienna. In the morning sessions we rotate among different faculty.

So far I’ve had extended conversations with Chris, a university lecturer from York, England, Monica, a preschool teacher from Italy here for the third time whose mother attended for thirty years and knew Carl Orff personally, and Eckhartd, a guitar teacher from the Stuttgart region.

Sightseeing’s over, time to get to work….

Mirabell Garten

This Morning I got up and had some time before the first class meeting. I took bus #3 into town and got off near the Mirabell Gardens. These formal gardens a part of the Prince-Archbishop’s summer residence (not the summer day residence – that’s Schloss Hellbrun.) The gardens are spectacular and immaculately kept, although have seen the guy with the smelly little diesel cart and tank at work I don’t want to know what type of crap they’re pouring on these plants.

I found a garden of odd little stone dwarves while exploring the north end of the park. I stood on a hillock where the garden commemorated Kaiser Franz-Josef, photographing the perfectly framed view of the Alt Stadt with the dome and the Festung. Suddenly and old time Austrian band marched out of Schloss Mirabell and into the gardens. Imagine the perfection of the scene, with the band playing, the brilliant sunlit morning, the gardens in full bloom. I was enchanted.

While they played I explored an open-air theatre made from hedges. It even has a pit for an orchestra. What a great spot for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream!” While exploring the labyrinth of paths that provide for the entrances and exits of actors, I stumbled upon a playground full a child’s dreams worth of gargantuan playground equipment.

I crossed the river and went looking in the northern end of the Alt Stadt, where the Monchsberg squeezes the city against the river, for a good inexpensive lunch. I found it at a little pizza place called Soli where the proprietor served me a hot plate of Risotto with clams. I sat outdoors in a little square watching people and carriages go by, marveling that here I was alone in Europe. It was like something I might have read about someone else doing. Now I was that person.

I went next door and took a lift to the Museum of Modern Art which is located next to a castle atop the Monchsberg . The museum was a little disappointing, as they were showing work by British and American artists the sort of which I felt I could easily see in the United States. I walked out of the museum for the view and was a little disappointed by that too, having been on the platform of the Festung the day before.

I meandered back through the city and decided to give the dome a second try. Probably because I was less exhausted after a good night’s sleep, I really got into it. I went around really examining all of the art, especially the eight smaller altars at the sides of the church as well as the ceilings, really trying to identify the biblical stories they were based on. It’s interesting, a gothic cathedral would have a great deal of statuary on the outside, the building serving as a vast sculptural encyclopedia of faith for the vast majority who were not literate. The Baroque Dome achieves much the same thing, except on the inside using paintings and frescos.

Worried that my time in town had gotten past me, I hopped the bus back to the Frohnburg.

I Go to the Supermarket

I took the bus back to Schloss Frohnburg and couldn’t help myself, I fell on the bed and napped for a couple of hours. I dragged myself out of bed and went to the supermarket that is about a three minute walk down the Frohnburgweg. There is a lovely park with excellent playground equipment and many happy families using it.

So I got there and scoped it out – whoa it’s really different! It’s like I’m in a foreign country or something (oops I am in a foreign country aren’t I?) It is really hard to shop, because the products are so unfamiliar, and I have to surmise the contents with my bad German. On top of this I have to figure out how to feed myself for a week without a kitchen or utensils. They don’t seem to sell disposable products like paper cups (or any cups) in an Austrian supermarket – you even have to buy your own bag. I ended up buying a measuring cup to drink out of. So dinner was fruit, muesli, and yogurt.

Incidentally, in the final analysis I bought some weird stuff. I've got to get better at this!

After dinner I went out and walked the Hellbruner Alee down to Schloss Hellbrun, the summer day palace of the prince-archbishops of Salzburg. There and back was probably another four or five miles. I didn’t tour the Schloss, but I took in the gazebo from the “Sound of Music”.
This was a totally different walk than my downtown walk. The Alt Stadt is remarkable for its lack of greenery. Hellbrunner Alee is GREEN and the fields smell good. People of all ages bike walk and run the Alee (hey, Maria danced and sang it.) In both cases the buildings tend to be yellow stucco with red tile roofs. This style tends to be a lot less harsh in the greenery.