For our U.S. Internships, the fellows were dispatched all over the world: Scotland, Costa Rica, Juneau, Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, and New Orleans. I decided to split my time between Boston and Texas. (More on the Boston portion of the trip later… )
On Halloween Monday, I landed in Austin. My flight was a little nerve-racking trying to take my euphonium on regional jets, but Delta came through and offered me a free seat for my horn on both legs of the trips. Big kudos there! I was immediately greeted in Austin by former fellow Patrick Slevin, program director of Austin Soundwaves. From that point on, it was Southern hospitality all the way. Patrick hosted me all week at his crib, and showed me around one of America’s coolest cities. We ate, talked, ate, talked, ate, talked, ate more, talked in Spanish, and oh ya, taught too.
Speaking of teaching, Austin Soundwaves is the newest El-Sistema program, just three weeks young. I was thrown right in into teaching the percussion students just hours after my arrival. The program is partnered with four terrific organizations: The Hispanic Alliance, Southwest Key, East Austin College-Prep, and The University of Texas. The program began with 40 players, all string players and percussionists, grades 6-8. I arrived just in time to see the end of the paper-instrument process. Within four days of spending time with Patrick and his incredible teaching artists, the transformation and progress of the kids was remarkable. The discipline of orchestra rehearsal was demonstrated, the values of community reiterated, and the music making initiated. By Thursday (the 4th day of the trip), the kids were singing Bombay-La, and conveying respect for one another. They are slated to receive real instruments early next week, and have shown the promise to do spectacular things with them. All in all, pictures and videos say it much better than words.
I also had a meeting with Doug Dempster—dean of fine arts at UT, lunch with Jerry Junkin—director of bands at UT, and dinner with Egda Ruelas—executive director of the Hispanic Alliance. All inspiring people with a deep perspective about the arts.
Corey Durham came up to see me from Waco, and I dragged him to a vegetarian restaurant called Bouldin Creek Café—best decision ever made. Totally friendly, totally progressive, and totally delicious! A sample of their values…
Patrick took me to his late-night Spanish study session, where I attempted to understand what was going on over the wine and guacamole that was served. He tried to introduce me to juggling and tennis ball back-therapy, both of which will have to be continued on my next trip. Lastly, we indulged in colorful Argentinean cuisine, enormous donuts from a food truck, and a local American dinner overlooking the horizon. Southern Hospitality or former fellow hospitality—either way, it was a great week.
Cheers, here's to Austin!
From 2013 on, this blog will serve as a photo-blog encompassing students, friends, family, and other fun life events!