Tag Archives: CSUMusic

In The Green Room: April 2017

cover of the April 2017 issue of The Green Room

April 2017: The Green Room

It’s The Green Room’s anniversary! Our creatively crafted and responsibly delivered online showcase of all things performing and visual arts at Colorado State University is now two years old. As you continue to engage with the arts at CSU, we hope our free, story-telling solution continues to be a part of the mix. Click here to read the magazine.

April is an exquisite time of year with the lovely crab apple trees in full bloom. Fort Collins has a special affinity for the varied-colored trees, with their heavy clusters of blossoms. Laden with meaning, the blooms were considered a symbol of artistic creativity by the Celts. Perhaps with the trees encircling the UCA as a contributing factor, April is the culminating month for events each academic year, and 2017 doesn’t disappoint! This month’s highlight events include the Spring Dance Concert, the opening of Little Shop of Horrors, The Musical, and two nights of the University Symphony Orchestra.

As you read the pages of our second anniversary issue, we hope you find an event that feels tailored to your tastes, and that we see you at the UCA soon. Altogether, it is an ideal time to visit campus!

If you’ve enjoyed this publication, please share it, send us your own story ideas and news. We thank you for your ongoing readership and support!

Cheers,
Jennifer Clary Jacobs
Marketing Director, University Center for the Arts


Our Bond is Beautiful Music

Colorado State University Special Assistant Professor of Horn, John McGuire, is currently traveling in Russia by special invitation, as a member of Fortress Brass Quintet.

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After a 4 hour train ride on Sunday, we arrived in Moscow from St. Petersburg. We have been very fortunate to have great weather almost the entire trip. Normally,  it is pretty cold here by this time of year, but it is unseasonably warm and we Americans love it!

Fortress Brass in Moscow

Fortress Brass in Moscow

Our time in Moscow included a little sight-seeing, but centered on a day of rehearsals for our final performance on Tuesday evening. Everything went smoothly, as expected. When you tour, it can be very tiresome to be out of your norm, but rehearsals become a time when your balance is restored and you get rejuvenated, and that certainly has been the case for the Fortress Brass!

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On Monday, we had a masterclass at the Moscow Conservatory, where we heard some tremendous young college age students. It is always interesting to see how, in spite of language and cultural barriers, we are always able to effectively work with these musicians. Words aren’t always needed! And they are so interested in our views that many students stay long after the masterclass to talk to us and ask about anything and everything, through an interpreter if course!

Dan Cherry, Fortress Brass trombonist, and a Moscow Conservatory student.

Dan Cherry, Fortress Brass trombonist, and a Moscow Conservatory student.

Tuesday evening we performed for the final time on this tour, this time at Rachmaninov Hall at the conservatory. We were one of several groups on this opening concert for the annual Brass Days Festival, where we performed Bach and American composer Arthur Frackenpohl, which was completely new to the Russian audience. The response was tremendous and completely thrilling!

Lobby to Rachmaninov Hall at the Moscow Conservatory.

Lobby to Rachmaninov Hall at the Moscow Conservatory.

But I must say, the coolest part of the evening for us was listening to all of the other groups on the concert, which were made up of the top professional brass players in all of Russia. They play with such power and authority that it is truly mind boggling – it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up!

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Afterwards, there was a reception with everyone who performed, and our host here in Moscow, Vladislav Lavrik – principal trumpet of the Russian National Orchestra and a leading international soloist – said in a toast that “despite all of the differences our cultures might have, we all are here for the same reason: to make beautiful music.” That is our bond and that is something we will always have. So, as I prepare to return to the U.S., I keep that in mind. Music is our bond. It transcends race, culture, politics. ..everything!  And that is a comforting thought, don’t you think?

~ submitted by Dr. John McGuire, Assistant Professor of Horn

What Words Cannot

CSU Horn Professor, Dr. John McGuire is traveling in Russia as a member of Fortress Brass. The quintet is performing and teaching masterclasses for the Wind Music Seasons International project, held throughout the year since 2003, as a component of the annual Romantic Trumpet International Festival. As the festival grew, it added traditional concerts of American soloists and brass quintets, called American Brass Autumn, to its offerings. We are enjoying Dr. McGuire’s blog entries from Russia!

Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace

Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace

10.10.14 – Tonight we performed at the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace in the heart of Saint Petersburg, a 200 year old palace that has also served as a hospital and now a concert hall. We shared the concert with a local band called The Defílé Brass, a group that specializes is popular music arranged for brass ensemble. They really got the crowd going with their exciting performance!

Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace performance hall.

Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace performance hall.

The Fortress Brass’ part of the show was just as exciting, focused on popular music of an older generation – Dixieland and the Roaring 20s! This was by far the largest audience we have had in Saint Petersburg and moreso than anything else, what I noticed was that it was such a varied crowd. There were families with young children who were clapping along with our tunes, elderly people who were just grinning from ear to ear with our standards from a bygone era, and every age in between.

Fortress Brass

Fortress Brass

In fact, there was one lovely elderly lady that came. She only spoke a few words of English, but it was quite clear what she was there to see. It was us! She comes to hear us perform every year when we are in Saint Petersburg, and she always comes up to say hi, and let us know how much she has been looking forward to hearing us. How utterly beautiful is that?! She even brought each of us a gift, a wonderful calendar with pictures from Russia. Somehow, I think I may keep that calendar well beyond its date of expiration!

Catherine's Palace

Catherine’s Palace

The sights and history of Saint Petersburg are astounding (like a visit to Catherine’s Palace), but the reason I have every intention of returning to perform here is simply for the people. Politics are nothing. People are people. And these wonderful Russian people welcome us, and embrace what we do with open arms and open hearts. Music expresses what words cannot.

Fortress Brass

Fortress Brass

Tomorrow is an off day, then on to Moscow! We will have a couple of rehearsal days and will teach masterclasses at the Moscow Conservatory before performing as part of the annual Brass Days music festival! More soon!

~ submitted by Dr. John McGuire, Assistant Professor of Horn

From Masterclasses to Mahler to Madame at the Mariinsky

Colorado State University Special Assistant Professor of Horn, John McGuire, is currently traveling in Russia by special invitation, as a member of Fortress Brass Quintet.

Saint Petersburg Music Academy masterclass.

Saint Petersburg Music Academy masterclass.

Today I spent the day with my colleagues in the Fortress Brass as we taught masterclasses and gave a short recital for the students at the Saint Petersburg Music Academy. These students are pre-college age and showed us that there is a tremendous amount of musical talent in the younger generation here in Russia. They performed for us collectively as a brass ensemble, playing an arrangement of part of Mahler ‘s Kindertotenlieder and later individuals on each instrument volunteered to play for each of us in front of a large audience.

Saint Petersburg Music Academy masterclass.

Saint Petersburg Music Academy masterclass.

As a pedagogue, I have to be honest, these students, while still young, displayed a tremendous amount of maturity and musical acumen. They each had things that needed attention, but it was very refreshing to see just how eager and capable they were to hear our perspectives and to implement them quickly. You hear so often in our media about the Arts dying, but I can assure you that they are alive and well and quite secure for the future over here in Russia! How wonderful  to see!

Fortress Brass and students from the St. Petersburg Music Academy.

Fortress Brass and students from the St. Petersburg Music Academy.

After that,  the Fortress Brass performed a short recital, including several standards from the Baroque period as well as jazz standards. The audience was quite enthusiastic and eager to hear more, especially the jazz tunes.

Madame Butterfly at the Mariinsky Theatre.

Madame Butterfly at the Mariinsky Theatre.

And lastly, as a sign of appreciation for our efforts, members of the Academy’s faculty gave us tickets to tonight’s performance of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly at the famed Mariinsky Theatre! As I said before, the Russian people have shown time and again how kind, generous, and appreciative they are.

~ Submitted by John McGuire, Special Assistant Professor of Horn at Colorado State University

Expect the Unexpected

Colorado State University Special Assistant Professor of Horn, John McGuire, is currently traveling in Russia by special invitation, as a member of Fortress Brass Quintet. Over the next two weeks, he’ll share his touring and teaching experiences with us.

From John McGuire:

Experience has taught me that when traveling, expect the unexpected. As I headed out to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia last Thursday, I was supposed to have connections in NYC and Paris. But due to a baggage truck hitting our plane and knocking a hole in it, I had to be rerouted through Detroit (where I ran full speed with my horn to make my flight) then through Amsterdam. Still, I made it to St. Petersburg only a couple of hours later than planned, and was able to catch up with my quintet, the Fortress Brass, before our first rehearsal.

Fortress Brass rehearsing in their hotel conference room.

Fortress Brass rehearsing in their hotel conference room.

Our first concert was a gala event at the historic Cappella Concert Hall. This hall is part of a former palace just a block away from the Hermitage and Revolutionary Square. The concert included the Fortress Brass performing several jazz standards (of which the Dixieland tunes were by far the audience favorite!), solo Baroque concertos (including my performance of the Telemann Horn Concerto), and a second half that featured a Russian military band.

John McGuire warming up for his performance of the Telemann Horn Concerto.

John McGuire warming up for his performance of the Telemann Horn Concerto.

The hall was packed, and the audience was was enthused! At one point, the concert organizer came to the microphone and talked about how special and important it is for people from both our countries to come together and collaborate. The audience enthusiastically applauded and was clearly appreciative of everyone on stage.

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This is now my second trip to Russia and I have found the people here to be absolutely wonderful, warm, and gracious. Russian musicians are just like musicians anywhere. They have the same humor, the same artistic ideals, the same work ethic. And the audiences love hearing the music we bring to them, music they don’t usually get to hear. Whatever the political climate may be, I can tell you that the Russian people are wonderful beyond description. I hope you all can experience their rich culture and society someday!

ClarinetFest 2014: Reflections

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I can’t imagine anything better than spending a week surrounded by top professionals in my field, soaking up their wisdom, hearing unforgettable performances, all the while taking it in alongside my best friends. Indeed, it was a dream come true to attend ClarinetFest 2014 this summer in Baton Rouge, La., with my ensemble, Quartet Atrevido!

I first attended ClarinetFest two years ago in Lincoln, Neb., and ever since, it was a goal to perform there myself, although I never thought it would be as soon as two years later! Collaborating with Quartet Atrevido (QA) at CSU has been a transformational experience for my growth, both personally and professionally. The opportunity to perform with QA at the conference was a remarkable capstone to our journey together. It was wonderful to share in their first ClarinetFest experience, and I was very glad they enjoyed it as much as I did!

Networking is absolutely vital in the music industry, and the gathering of so many artists and teachers at ClarinetFest makes it an ideal place to make connections. I have been working intentionally for several years to expand my professional network, and was thrilled to recognize and know quite a few people present – one in nearly every room I was in! I met many new people and also reconnected with former colleagues, teachers, and fellow International Clarinet Association members I had met in conferences past. It’s hard to explain the sheer excitement of having so many clarinet players in one place!

The lectures on entrepreneurship and diversifying one’s career were undoubtedly useful, especially right after QA had organized a chamber music concert, something we were all highly encouraged to do at the conference. Hearing how other artists create their careers and gain audiences gave me many ideas as I craft my own future. As an educator, I appreciated learning from the expertise of renowned pedagogues and attending an enlightening panel discussion on “Teaching Entrepreneurship to Students.” As a student of the clarinet, I was amazed by the opportunity to perform in a masterclass for Jacques Merrer, a French clarinetist who has incredible passion for the integrity of the music. I worked with him on Introduction et Rondo by Charles-Marie Widor. It was a rare chance to perform a French piece for a French player, and I learned much about how to play in the French style.

Attending recitals expanded my knowledge of the clarinet repertoire immensely. I was able to hear several world premieres, as well as the clarinet in new settings – clarinet with voice, with traditional Japanese shakuhachi, with electronics, and even accompanied by Beatles music. I also was moved to tears by the performances of some of my favorite pieces, especially the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, Poulenc’s Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon, and Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet. It’s an incredible experience to see your musical heroes perform live and in person. The conference offered no shortage of these moments, featuring performance by artists I’ve admired for as long as I can remember: Stanley Drucker, Jon Manasse, Deborah Chodacki, and others. It’s also excellent to be exposed to new artists.

Taking the international stage with QA was a career highlight, and I am very grateful to all of our sponsors and our teacher, Wesley Ferreira, for their tremendous support. The entire experience was a beneficial lesson in being a professional musician in the 21st century – from auditioning, to preparing, raising donors and funds, organizing our send-off concert, planning our trip, to finally performing. And the opportunity to collaborate on stage with my favorite colleagues was a complete and total joy!

emily kerski.headshot_web ~ contributed by Emily Kerski, Music Performance, ’16

Shaped by the experience

In addition to the Colorado State University Faculty Chamber Winds performing at the MidEurope Festival for Wind Music in Schladming, Austria, CSU music education major and percussionist Spencer Poston also participated in the festival as a member of the World Youth Wind Orchestra Project.

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Spencer Poston and Richard Frey wait for the marching band exhibition to begin.

Initially, Spencer wasn’t sure about applying for the ensemble when his professor, Dr. Richard Frey, CSU associatiate director of bands, recommended it last fall, but seeing how his face lit up as he reflected on his experience, it’s clear he made the right choice!

Founded in 1997, the World Youth Wind Orchestra Project (WYWOP) is an “intense musical week” for high school age to young adult musicians, and a cornerstone of the MidEurope Festival. “[It’s] a very special wind ensemble that pulls performers from all parts of the world,” described conductor Dr. Kevin Sedatole, who is director of bands, professor of music, and chair of the conducting area at the Michigan State University College of Music. “Spencer was part of a fairly large United States presence in the group.”

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Dr. Kevin Sedatole and Spencer Poston

Spencer found out in mid-April that his application had been accepted and he spent much of June rehearsing the music on his own. Although the CSU junior went to Ireland with the Marching Band in 2013, it was his first time traveling alone and he was understandably nerve wracked, arriving in Schladming on July 6 and jumping right into rehearsals. “I didn’t know anyone and was the only student from Colorado,” he said. “But everyone was so welcoming and friendly.”

With the majority of members coming from Austria, Germany, and America, rounded out by students from Australia, Japan, Spain, and Canada, along with Austrian and American conductors, Spencer was pleasantly surprised that musically, communication wasn’t an issue. “The main difference was the tuning pitch of A=442 instead of 440, so the pitch is higher,” he explained. “Other than that, it was easy to go into rehearsals.”

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The World Youth Wind Orchestra Project, performing under the direction of Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant.

Dr. Sedatole agreed. “I watched Spencer interact with his new found colleagues in the percussion section. You could tell from the very beginning that even though there might be a verbal language barrier that there was definitely not a musical language barrier.”

Within the varied repertoire, which was performed at the festival’s final concert, Spencer’s favorite piece was Steven Bryant’s concerto for alto saxophone, with Dr. Joseph Lulloff, professor of saxophone at the Michigan State University College of Music, as the soloist. “It was cool to play Bryant’s music because he was there and his wife Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant, (visiting assistant professor of the practice of music at Duke University) was the conductor, so they knew exactly how they wanted the music to sound,” said Spencer. “Plus I’ve never seen anyone play like Dr. Lulloff does…unbelievable!”

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Spencer Poston and Steven Bryant.

As the week progressed, Spencer realized how much he was learning about conducting and rehearsing. “I didn’t expect this, but with five guest conductors it was remarkable to see all their techniques and working ways.”

Specifically, how they worked differently with the baton gave Spencer tools for the future. “I learned how to bring out sounds in the ensemble, you don’t tell the group, you need to show them,” he enthused. “I got something from each of them, and as an ed major, this was awesome!”

What came to the surface during my conversation with Spencer was how this experience circles back to his time at CSU. “I wouldn’t have appreciated all the conductors’ differences without looking at it through a music ed perspective,” mused Spencer. “I wouldn’t have noticed all the viewpoints if it hadn’t been for Dr. Frey and Dr. Erik Johnson, CSU assistant professor of music education encouraging and motivating me to want to be an educator.”

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With new friends Jonathan Villela and Katie Duncan.

Spencer seemed to have gained clarity about his future teaching goals and is looking ahead to graduate school for conducting. “I made some really good friends in the span of one week, which is kind of crazy, but they had similar goals and I got along with them immediately.”

“It was fun to see him interact with a very international section,” remembered Sedatole. “Spencer was an integral part of this section.”

“If I can get the money, I will go back next year,” concluded Spencer. And from the sound of it, WYWOP would gladly have him back!

~ posted by Jennifer Clary

A student’s look back…look ahead.

On the train ride from Salzburg, Austria to Sopron, Hungary, I sat down with one of the CSU Faculty Chamber Winds’ oboists, CSU alumni Shane Werts (’13, Music Ed), to talk about the past year, the tour, and his future as a musician.

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Shane Werts performs with the ensemble at the MidEurope Music Festival.

Shane spent the 2013-14 school year teaching band and choir at Gypsum Creek Middle School in Eagle County, Colo., and really enjoyed the experience. “I grew a lot last year – being in front of 40 kids everyday pushed my maturity and leadership. Even teaching middle school concepts, my musicianship increased through demonstrations on my instrument, and daily practice after school.”

During his time in Gypsum, Shane knew that he wanted to continue his studies, this time in oboe performance. In Jan. and Feb. of 2014, he auditioned at Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, and University of Iowa.

During our conversation, Shane reflected on the audition process, noting that some schools had a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, while others were much more intense. “A few schools had ‘stress free’ zones with coloring books and conversation between those auditioning, while others required complete silence.”

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The ensemble performing the festival’s opening concert.

Shane challenged himself to keep nerves in check, especially the weekend he had three auditions – Rochester, Cincinnati, and Cleveland – in a row.

It is apparent that this delightful and unassuming CSU grad kept it together as incredibly, he was accepted to all five schools, ultimately selecting Indiana for his Master’s in Oboe Performance. “In the end, after considering the teachers and financials, the feel of the audition experience really influenced my decision.”

Prior to the CSU Faculty Chamber Winds’ tour, Shane had not been out of the country and jumped at the chance to play. “The trip has been awesome! Everyone on this tour are people I look up to, and I had really enjoyed playing with the ensemble on the Mozart and Rossini pieces during my senior year.” “It’s an honor to be here,” he added.

Additionally, Shane recognized that master’s students are expected to be productive during the summer. “Everyone seems to be at summer festivals, and I’m playing on a tour in Europe, it’s important.”

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Starting with his decision to major in Music Ed, people associated with CSU were an important influence. “In high school, I didn’t have a clue, I was pretty lost, but I really respected my first private teacher and my high school teacher. Erik Johnson (now Assistant Professor of Music Education at CSU) was always so happy and that inspired me. John Hermanson (CSU ’08, Master of Music, Conducting/Music Education) really helped me figure out where to go.”

Lessons prompted by experiences at Colorado State University are prominent in Shane’s story. “At CSU, I learned that it is important to be a humble person because everyone starts somewhere. I never made an all-state band or orchestra in high school, and seeing [fellow student] Tony Fredrico accepted to the navy band was motivating because Tony didn’t even start playing until high school. I also remember being at the national double reed convention and saying to Dr. Moody (professor of double reeds and theory), ‘Those people all play better than me, but I can do better than that.’ It became an indicator of what to strive for.”

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The CSU Faculty Chamber Winds delight crowds at Mirabell Garden in Salzburg.

Looking ahead to life at Indiana University, Shane expects a big department to be very different. “I’ve heard it is competitive, although the oboe teacher fosters a friendly studio environment.”

After talking to Shane, I have no doubt that this CSU grad will succeed, even flourish, at the graduate level. He mentioned that through multiple summer jobs, he’s always paid for his own instruments and equipment. This past summer he bought a car, a gouger (the most expensive oboe tool which thins tube cane, the first step in making reeds), and saved enough rent for the entire next year.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Shane,” chimed in Gary Moody, who had been quietly listening to our conversation. “He was one of those students who came in every week sounding better, which you can’t always say about every student.”

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Shane as saxophone section leader in the CSU Marching Band.

Shane’s reaction to his CSU experience is very positive. “I learned how to teach, became proficient on my instrument, had many performance opportunities, and was tenor saxophone section leader in Marching Band. And at CSU, Dr. Moody is where it is at,” Shane enthused about his teacher.

“CSU is a great place to start and grow, and it is getting even better. I would go there again for sure…if I had to do it again, I would choose CSU, hands down!”

Best wishes Shane!

~ posted by Jennifer Clary

Two tales of one city.

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On Thursday, July 17, the ensemble performed their final concert of the tour as part of the Staromestský Letný Festival, in the city of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The festival, in the Zichy Palace courtyard, and other venues around the quaint and popular Old Town, featured artists from Slovakia and abroad.

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The ensemble’s time in Bratislava, a city of half a million on the Danube river, was brief, with only a couple hours for sightseeing before dinner and the concert, but we certainly enjoyed what we saw in the Old Town district.

As the final concert of the tour, this night was especially poignant. Each piece in the repertoire has been embedded in the minds and hearts of the ensemble members, and this blogger could feel the collective absorption of each phrase, as if the performance was as much for the players as the audience.

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By the River by Aaron Copeland

Shall we gather by the river,
Where bright angels’ feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God.
Yes, we’ll gather by the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river.

Gather with the saints by the river
That flows by the throne of God.
Soon we’ll reach the shining river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease,
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.

As baritone John Seesholtz tenderly, yet powerfully, sang the final stanza of “By the River,” our summer pilgrimage felt complete, our own melody of peace proclaimed by exploring of the core and edges of both our music and Europe. How fitting to play here, on the Danube river.

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Following the concert, another impacting moment occurred at the Camel Pub, one of dozens of packed Old Town bistros. The group will forever remember our waiter, Tomas (pronounced Tomash), the punk-band lead singer from Galánta, Slovakia.

Finding out that we were classical musicians, he asked if we knew of Zoltan Kodály, to which Copper Ferreira exclaimed that Dances of Galánta was well-known by the ensemble.

Tomas was truly exuberant, taking out his phone to show us the view from his bedroom window in his home town, Galánta, of Kodály’s disrepaired castle. “I am touched that you are here and know of Kodály, and my home,” our endearing waiter enthused. Since the Kodály method is an intricate component of Colorado State University’s elementary Music Ed Program, the special moment was not lost on us.

Driving Directions from Galanta, undefined to Bratislava, undefi

Tomas travels about 35 miles into Bratislava to wait tables, but is not as enthusiastic about the city as we were from our limited exposure. “You’ve only seen the part they want you, the tourists, to see,” he stated. “It’s not always a nice place.”

This seemed in direct conflict with the opinion of this blogger’s friend, who lives in Vienna and often spends long weekends in Bratislava, his “favorite place, next to Vienna.” “It’s such an up-and-coming city, so chill – it’s wonderful to just hang out in the park by the river,” my friend had told me.

As the bistro was closing for the evening, Tomas delivered some take-away wisdom as he claimed, “Americans live to work, Slovokians work to live…” I think it’s safe to say that we’d all live for the chance to come back to Bratislava and find out more about this slightly exotic city for ourselves. Thanks, Tomas!

Click here to see more photos of the concert and Bratislava.

~ posted by Jennifer Clary