Keeping in Shape in the Alps and in the Sahara

Posted By on July 18, 2006

It is officially vacation time here in Luxembourg. The OPL played its final concert of the season at the Wiltz Festival up in the north of the duchy and its members have dispersed to the far corners of the globe and shall not meet again until September. My activities with the American Horn Quartet, as well as with Kristina, do indeed continue in August, and thus I must stay in reasonably good shape until my last performance on the 14th. Enter my brother Ken, who has traveled here from San Antonio and he has major “Reiselust” (travel fever). So we took off to Amsterdam for a few days, staying with our dear friends, Lauretta Bloomer and Bruce Rienstra, on their house boat, and then down to Switzerland where we rented a beautiful chalet way up in the mountains in the Graubünden area. On Friday the 21st of July, Kristina and I embarked on our honeymoon trip to Tunisia. We were several days at a beach resort hotel outside of Sousse and then we drove into the dessert to the town of Tozeur. Finally, we ended our trip at the oasis of El Faouar, which is quite literally the end of the road. We managed to procure two camels from a local boy named Naeer and his Berber side-kick, Saab and ride out a bit further (something I did several years ago) and experienced one of the most superb sunrises I have ever seen!. The temperature rose to around 107 degrees fahrenheit and, feeling a wee bit intimidated, we headed back to Tozeur and then eventually back to our beach-front hootel near Sousse.

On the house boat in Amsterdam, I managed to work in about 15 minutes a day practice before we set out each morning, exploring that fantastic city. Up in the Alps, we found the perfect venue for holding out long tones and playing some of our favorite slow melodies (plus the occasional excerpt from Alpine Symphony, of course). We simply walked out of the front door of the chalet, sat down on a rock and serenaded the mountains. Not the first time those mountains have echoed back the sound of a horn, I suspect.

Besides practicing in the hotel in Tunisia using our Yamaha Silent Brass mutes, we also found an oasis somewhere along the road, where we could practice a little Scheherezade, and of course my new piece for solo horn entitled “The Testament for Saladin” (see blog entitled “Ten Pieces for Solo Horn- The Volume is Complete”).

Staying in shape can be quite an exotic adventure, I suppose. Let‘s just hope I don‘t pour sand out of my bell at the AHQ concert. By the way, please check out the AHQ website for details about our performances in August (Czech Republic annd Germany). And note that Kristina and I are giving a performance-masterclass at the Hornklasse Nove Strasici on the 6th of August, where we shall be playing and discussing at least four of the new pieces for solo horn.

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