Monday, July 14, 2008


Last week I traveled to Vienna to visit recent Lawrence University Graduate and jazz trombonist James Hall. James lives in a neighborhood full of big, beautiful stone buildings.

His apartment is intended for musicians. Here, he can practice his trombone and hold practice with his jazz combo in his room. AND he gets a baby grand piano for 30 Euros a month!

On the evening I arrived, James was holding a rehearsal with his jazz combo. I got to listen for a while then play a few tunes with them. Then, James opened a bottle of champagne and his roommate baked fresh bread. I sat back, amazed at my luck to be treated to such luxury.

The next day I explored the center of Vienna, seeing baroque cathedrals, huge palaces and a small baroque church with a painting of cherubs playing trombones on the ceiling.

That night James took me to a Hueriger, a Viennese wine garden which serves this years wine. This is where the old Viennese people go to relax in the evening. I ate Wiener Schnitzel and drank the featured white wine mixed with fizzy water (apparently the style in Huerigers, I though it was very refreshing and a great summer drink).

Since the weather was chilly and I, having packed light, did not have anything warm to wear, James had generously given me a sweater, and had then proceeded to wear a matching sweater himself. We made quite the pair.

Thank you, James, and I hope you continue to find success in Vienna.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

RISE students in Heidelberg

This weekend I was in Heidelberg for a meeting of all the students (300 of us) participating in the DAAD RISE program this summer. The meeting featured visits to companies - I got to see a huge BASF chemical plant - and talks about opportunities for continuing study and work in Germany. In the evening, I spent my time exploring Heidelberg with new friends who I met at the meeting.

At the center of Heidelberg is a beautiful and mostly preserved medieval town, complete with cathedrals and Castle. I had a magical time climbing around and exploring the castle by day and night.

If you want to see more pictures of the castle, go to my picasa page:
You will see pairs of pictures taken of the same location by day and then by night.

Today, now back in my room in Darmstadt, I slept in then went to a big outdoor festival in the city center. I ate good German food and rode on a large Ferris wheel which was set in the marketplace and from which I could see all of Darmstadt. I saw red roofed buildings of modest height and occasionally a cathedral rising majestically above. Further from the city, I saw a few factories, many gentle hills covered in forest, and in the distance, the modern skyscrapers of Frankfurt rising sharply through the haze of the distance.

Tomorrow I take a train to Vienna to visit James Hall and, hopefully, to breathe in the great musical tradition of that city.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hello again.

I am having a fine time in Germany. I have taken a rest from traveling and have allowed myself to settle into my work and become acquainted to Darmstadt. The city is beautiful and the university campus is surrounded by fields and forest with wonderful running trails.

Tomorrow, the I begin traveling again. I will go first to Heidelberg for a meeting of all the students participating in the RISE program. Then I will travel all the way to Vienna to visit James Hall, a recent Lawrence University graduate who is living there and playing trombone. Both of these trips should be great. Following all this traveling I think I will sleep for a few days, which will be perhaps even better.

I have had few chances to play my trombone. I live in a student dorm where, of course, a trombone is much to loud. In fact, (and this was a surprise to me) buzzing on just the mouthpiece is too loud; my neighbor complained. This turned out all right though, because now I go to a nearby park to buzz on my mouthpiece. It is a very peaceful and pleasant way to practice.