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If you catch me with my hands in the till, I promise that I wasn’t trying to steal…

This week was the first start of my volunteer project! And what a project it is. It turns out that the person I met with last week ended up getting me to help out some people moving recording equipment and soundboards. My first day helping out was the second to last day in January, and I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous. My main contact, Paul, gave me instructions to find the first recording studio that I was to make a stop at: “go to this place that looks like a really old run down pub that isn’t actually a pub way on this street you’ve never heard of out in Eastern London, knock twice and then ask for a man named Eddie.”  Sketchy much? Just a little bit. Regardless of the odd instructions, everything turned out alright. I found the “pub” just fine and the people there recognized me as soon as I dropped the names of the people who sent me. Little did I know that underneath what seemed to be a derelict building was actually a professional recording studio. Over the course of the day, I learned that some of the biggest projects happen in places you would never expect. Many of the most prolific and important recording studios in London appear to only be houses on the outside. You would have to know that it was an actual recording studio to recognize it. Anyway, what my project for the day entailed was moving a bunch of monitors and theatrical sound boards from two recording studios to a warehouse all the way out in Pulborough in southern England. I visited studios that recorded the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and many other huge names in music along with transporting sound boards that had been used in the original productions of “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” It was a pretty fantastic day and I learned so much about popular music history. I can’t believe that this is what my work is. I can hardly wait to report next week!

As for music stuff I have seen this week, it really is all across the board. I saw a free Los Campesinos! concert for the release of their new album and also got the privilege to see the New York Philharmonic perform at the Barbican Centre. They played pieces by Hayden, Adams, Schubert and ended the program with Berg. It was a pretty good concert and I was blown away by the musicianship. The highlight of the concert for me, however, was the piece by Adams called “The Wound Dresser.” This had a vocalist whom I had actually attended a master class with last year. His name was Thomas Hampson and he was absolutely fantastic. I can’t really say that until now I have heard a vocal performance that actually scared me. The sheer volume of his voice at times shocked me and the way he used many of his words actually caused me to have goosebumps a few times. It was a great performance.

Theatre stuff this week was pretty good as well. On Monday , I saw a production of a Harold Pinter play called The Caretaker at Trafalgar Studios. The story follows and old man who is taken in to a strange man’s flat in London after getting him out of a bar fight. As the story progresses, we meet the man’s brother, who also seems to occupy the flat. Throughout the play as the audience learns more about the characters, and the state of their sanity (or insanity, as some might argue), the play starts to make you consider who is telling you the truth, and who’s point of view is one of reality. While all three actors were excellent, the show featured an incredible performance from Jonathon Pryce as the old man. The second show I saw this week was a far cry from psychological drama. At the Soho Theatre, the group saw a production called Midsummer, an intelligent and extremely funny romantic comedy set in Edinburgh. Two people down on their luck have a chance encounter and end up being intertwined in each other’s less than satisfactory lives, and through one night of luck, chemistry and 15,000 pounds, fall in love and begin to pursue the lives that they wished to lead all along. Does it sound cheesy? Yes. But it was surprisingly well executed, and I haven’t laughed at a production harder here yet. I would highly recommend the play.

                Sorry about not posting last week, but things here are really busy. The post for week four should be up by tomorrow. Keep an eye out!




Musical present of the week: Los Campesinos!

What else would I have given you?

8 February 2010