Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On Not Being a Tourist

I'm sure many of you, knowing me, have been wondering why I haven't posted a single picture on here yet. Isn't that what I do? Take pictures?

I think, subconsciously, I've been avoiding going around with my camera because I am trying to integrate into life here and not be a tourist for the year. I spent all last summer shooting thousands of pictures, and last summer I was a tourist. This year is different. I live here. I have an apartment, a community of friends all around the city, a lot of work...(Um, go-go gadget learn to chant Eicha/Lamentations in a week and a half?)

I've been having moments every so often that have really made me aware of how real this is. I mean, yes, I packed up my life, I got on a plane... but I've been here for a few weeks with little structure. Save for having the apartment (and learning Eicha), it could be a continuation of last summer, just traveling around, having fun... but it's not. Sitting in the Ministry of the Interior today arguing with them about issues related to my student visa --- that was pretty real. Actually, probably the only real "negative" moment. Sitting yesterday with other cantorial students to read through some choral music, that was rather thrilling.

I began to really feel the weight on my shoulders a few days ago. I went up north to Zichron Ya'akov, which was founded in 1882 by Baron Rothschild. It's a picturesque city at the southern end of the Carmel mountain range (noooo, I didn't take any pictures even though, yes, I had my camera...), known for, among other things, several wineries. So, I went to dri... no, I actually went to visit a man I met through a friend last summer, who I later learned was my great-grandmother's cantor in Cincinnati many years ago. We've been in touch all year, and he has been a great source of encouragement. Anyway, the day I was free to visit just happened to be his 79th birthday. We went to lunch at a winery (of course), and he showed me the beautiful memorial park, including a "blind-man's garden" full of herbs and Baron Rothchild's tomb. The views were stunning, it all was stunning. And then we went back to his home; he decided that we were going to sing. Three hours later...

It was my first real coaching over here, and was not-so-subtlely imbued with the message of, "Please. Keep this tradition alive." For three hours, we read through all sorts of traditional chazzanut, none of it written for a woman's voice, of course. We read some of his own compositions. He spoke of some of the most mindblowingly simple concepts that he teaches -- simple in theory, that is, not necessarily to implement -- which already have begun to transform how I conceive piece of music. This man has dedicated his life to chazzanut. It's up to me, to my classmates, to my colleagues to keep it alive. It's no small task...

No comments:

Post a Comment