Saturday, June 29, 2013

On the Road to Belgrade, Teens Encounter History and Create Beauty

I decided not to blog about Stretto Youth Orchestra's tour of Europe, even though I had asked readers to contribute money to helping some of the needier musicians afford it. That's because our son, nearly 17, is on the trip and likely wouldn't appreciate his mom giving moment-by-moment accounts from New Jersey of the journey that I could glean from his instagram account and his messages to me. This is his journey, not mine. 

That said, I thought it would be okay to share an email that all the orchestra parents received today from Sherri Anderson, founder and leader of the group. This will move you. Thank you to those who helped to pay for this journey and to those of you who continue to send out your good wishes and prayers.

Dear All, 

We spent the day driving through Croatia and Serbia. Milka (one of the musician's parents who grew up in Montenegro) and our bus driver gave us the history lesson as we went. Lots of sad history in this part of the world.  Our bus driver even told us of taking a group of elderly Serbians to visit a memorial at a former concentration camp in Croatia and having the bus attacked by a distraught man with a gun who was angry that he had lost relatives on the other side.  

We arrived for our concert in a space that was beautifully designed acoustically in Old Belgrade. It was an Evangelical Church with plain stucco walls and skylights covered with grates.  The place was packed.  

The warm-up was a little pitchy, but by the time of the concert the kids were in good form again.  As I was listening in the middle of the Vivaldi 4 violin concerto, Milka passed me a note translating the writing on the large textile cross that was the only ornament on the plain stucco.  It was a blue material and the center of the cross looked like a river.  

This is what the translation of what the Serbian said in the four quadrants:

                                                     Divine Adviser
                                                     Father Eternal
                                                      God Mighty
                                                     Lord of Peace

Just looking at the peace and unity among the kids actually made me cry watching them.

After the concert we went to a restaurant that literally floated on the Danube.  We ate fresh trout and watched the rain on the river.  Since it was Saturday there was a singer with a keyboard player.  I was impressed to find out that he had an accordion stop on the keyboard.  
Then the party began...Susan pulled Anna up to dance and then Farshad stepped it up as the first gentleman to get out of his seat.  Eventually all our kids were up dancing to who knows disco ball, but some red and green LEDs flashing around.  

Not being left to my adult company, the kids chanted my name at an embarrassingly loud level until I joined the dance party.  For the record, no other parents ever surfaced to back me up until Milka glided through briefly (a highly competent social dancer).  Some of the younger  native Serbs got up in the room adjacent, but our kids were clearly the far less inhibited bunch. There will be pictures forthcoming.

Tired, full and happy we are all off duty until departure at 10 tomorrow.


1 comment:

  1. Re uninhibited dancing:
    1) Musicians make the best dancers because steps or no steps, they know where the beat is! and that is critical
    2) I wonder if part of the benefit of music experience during childhood is you get a lot less self-conscious about having people look at you when doing things?