Travels, Tangents, & Tribulations (with some Libations)

a chapbook of wanders and wonders

Posts by emcconn

Toledo: the stair-master of Europa

Posted on 21 April, 2012

Once upon a time, in a little old town called Munich, there was a singer who was desolate, poor, and had three days to waste before flying back to the US of A. Along comes a magical maiden from Toledo–her name was Vicki. Sound familiar from previous bloggage? Vicki and I got along incredibly well as travel buddies in Munich, and we kept in touch through the wonders of facebook ever since then. When I told her I was coming to Madrid, she immediately said, “Well you have to visit Toledo, too.” So I took the twenty minute train-ride from Madrid to Toledo on Saturday afternoon to join her. Vicki is very lucky, as her apartment sits in the heart of the walled city…

Madrid: do you want paella with that?

Posted on 9 April, 2012

After having perhaps one of the top three most idiotic accidents in my life, the rest of my flight was uneventful, and I woke up only once to see the snowy peaks of the alps. Vicodin: the assist that every traveler wished she had on international flights to help ease the time change. Arriving at the airport in Madrid, I received some pretty fantastic news—I was accepted to both CoOPERATIVE and BASOTI, two of my other potential summer programs.  My parents and I had a lot of on-going heartfelt conversations (despite the time difference) about my options and what was a good (and financially feasible) plan.  Ultimately, I decided to stick with my plan of attending SongFest in June, and then attend CoOPERAtive in…

A Note From the Erstwhile Editor (in case you were wondering)

Posted on 11 March, 2012

In my mind leaving at 3:30 for a 40 minute drive to the airport for a 6:30 flight with herself already checked in and boarding pass printed is plenty of time. At 3:30, as she packs the last few items in her necessities bag, she opens the door under the bathroom sink and somehow lodges a long splinter of wood deep under fingernail. With a howl of pain she jerked back breaking off whatever tip there might have been for me to grab with tweezers. The pain is constant and excruciating, and I cannot get it out although I can clearly see it under the nail. 30 minutes are wasted because I think I know where an Urgent Care Center is. I give up, hand her a bag of ice,…

‘I only know how to say, “por favor, la manta en el caballo” and “se muerde”; the former doesn’t help me at all, and I dread the situation where the latter would be used’

Posted on 5 March, 2012

If you know I am flying to Germany, skip this.  If you didn’t know I was leaving the country, start here.  If you didn’t know I was living at home maybe you need to  go back to my blog from the summer).  If you’re one of my parents who was a little confused on when I was actually leaving, see the following: Mom, Dad–I get it. I know you are ready to throw the lavish parties and FINALLY convert my room to that dreamy private reading room you’ve always wanted as soon as I get my sorry goodie-two-shoes behind out of the country, but give me a couple days. That all said, I thought I’d combine my pre-trip note with some FAQs. 1) Wait…

The Final Note (was a high C)

Posted on 16 August, 2011

The last week in Salzburg felt no different than any other week for me. A number of people were feeling the homesickness. Others were dreading/anticipating the start of school so soon. And others still were staying on in Europe. I was in the latter category–and still trying to figure out plans. Originally I was going to Berlin and then to Wolfsburg to see HOWEVS, I was having to wait ’til the last moment to buy my Fussballspiele ticket anyways due to incurring medical expenses on a “weepy eye” for more than 48 hours… so there were no tickets left for either Wolfsburg or Bayern Muenchen. Ganz ganz traurig. So then I thought, well, maybe I’ll just go to Berlin. Then my flight changed around….…

‘Es gibt zwei-und-fuenfzig Staaten in der USA’ ‘Nein.’ ‘Wie weisst du das?’ ‘Ich komme aus der USA…’

Posted on 14 August, 2011

For Americans and Europeans alike, let’s quick have a little history and geography lesson. According to the wonders of Wikipedia, there are, indeed, FIFTY/fuenzig/cinquante/limapuluh in the United States of a America. You might be curious to name all of them, so in that case, read this. On the American flag, there are thirteen stripes for the thirteen original colonies, and then there are fifty stars on the flag. Puerto Rico is NOT an American state. Washington DC is also NOT an American state. So moral of this story is, should you care to win multiple beers off Austrian Men (danke, Wolfie, Robert, und Sandy), it’s safe to bet on how many states are in the USA. Coming back from Vienna to Salzburg was like…

‘Ich schlafe mit einem riesigen Wels.’ ‘Wirklich?’ ‘Ja… fuer jetzt.’

Posted on 1 August, 2011

To go ahead and clear the air–yes, I do sleep with a giant catfish. His name is Calvin, and he’s five feet long. He’s also a pillow (a comfortable one at that). This is just what happens when you live on your own. The nights are too quiet, the cushions on the couch aren’t supporting your back enough to watch TV, so you head to your neighborhood Bass Pro Shop and invest in a giant fish. Week III of Salzburg was only a half-week, really, as then we had our travel weekend Friday through Sunday. The plague had hit hard and fast, and so numbers were thinning for master class and for opera scenes. I ended up subbing last minute in master class by…

‘Der, Die, oder Das, Liz?’

Posted on 29 July, 2011

The second week of Salzburg has definitely been a “dig your heels in and sing” week. All of us are required to perform one German Lied for our midterm concert in the third week, so that has been weighing on all of the musicians here. Pianists are scrambling and trading pieces; professors keep double checking their students rep; students… well they just keep singing whatever they’re supposed to be singing. And then they sing a little more just to be safe. And then they decide last minute to switch pieces; therefore, more chaos ensues. Daily Master Classes are a big part of the program here, and they are a great way for singers to try out new repertoire as well as polish older pieces.…

The other two beasts that classically trained singers conquer

Posted on 29 July, 2011

This will be a short and sweet entry while I wait for the really heavy duty media files to finish uploading on the other entry (whew). So there are two other big components to being a classically trained singer. The first is Oratorio. Oratorio is a lot like opera–there is an orchestra; there are choruses; there are soloists. Even music-wise there are arias and recitative aplenty. However, while opera has a theatre element to it, oratorio does not. Oratorio content is generally religious and draws its inspiration from holy scripture. Thus when oratorio is performed, there is no staging; singers tend to be more upright and solemn in order to best present the work. Think you don’t know an oratorio? Think again. Handel was…

Salzburg: Yes, McDonald’s hamburgers do taste better here.

Posted on 19 July, 2011

One whole week in Salzburg feels a little too surreal.  Schedules, students, songs, and schnitzel are falling into place, and so now all that’s left is to sing, drink, and be merry.     Being on a bus to Salzburg with a bunch of singers was comparable to being on a bus with a bunch of teammates for an abnormally long period of time when everyone is tired, hungry, and trying to be polite without exhausting themselves further.  In other words, those of us who didn’t fall asleep with in the first ten minutes on the bus had just about had it after ten minutes.  Upon arriving in Oestereich (aka Austria), a petite, extremely enthusiastic woman ran up to me with open arms.  Of…