Saturday, March 19, 2011

1.1. Introduction to this series; Arrival in Almaty

Daniel and Eugene
Timur the young Octoberist

The following posts, for the week leading up to March 25, are being written by Eugene Moon (CalArts, BFA 3, School of Art). Sandra Powers (CalArts alum, Film / Video) took the photographs. They're part of the U.S. delegation to oversee, document, and participate in the March 25 Almaty premiere of my new work, "The Silent Steppe Cantata," along with Timur Bekbosunov, tenor, producer, and administrator, and Daniel Corral, assistant to the composer. Sandra, our filmmaker, is creating an art / documentary, "The Normad's Song," and Eugene Moon serves as production coordinator. They arrived in Kazakhstan yesterday, after their looooonnng flight from Los Angeles.

We were greeted in the morning with a nice breakfast from the Rixos Hotel's restaurant/buffet. The food did not literally greet us but it is one way to put it since we can eat breakfast for free because the sponsor paid for it. They have Western food, like waffles, scrambled eggs, croissants, etc. The best is boiled horse meat. Very delicious! Really good texture. It tastes like Turkey ham but better. After we ate, we all walked to the copy store, which is a few blocks from the hotel. The air was cold and it burned our faces, freezing our noses and ears. It is spring at this time of year around the world but here it seemed to be just past the middle of winter. Snow is still present everywhere. One can see icicles hanging off from roofs. After business at the store, we went to a currency exchange to replace our dollars with Tenge. One dollar is about 146 T.

Our first foray into Kazakhstan was to the Tien Shan (Heaven) mountain range. To see the powdery snow glitter and glisten in the sun was beautiful. The sky was bright and blue, a strong contrast to the sky in Almaty, which was foggy and gray. We went to Medeo first, a skating rink, where we recorded families skating with the children while Kazakh and American pop music blared and music videos were playing on the large mega screen. We left Medeo and headed on up to the peak of the mountain. Because it was foggy in the city, the horizon where the city of Almaty should be was blocked by gray haze and we could hardly see the city at all.

We drove down back to the city, which got brighter and a little warmer. We stopped by to take a look at a conservatory once called Palace of Pioneers, an art and entertainment hall for Soviet youths. (Timur attended as a young Octoberist, a level younger than Pioneer.) We drove on to the circus. The city is filled with many advertisements with local products as well as Western merchandise. So much of the architecture looks simple and Soviet-like while new buildings, like skyscrapers, stand out. The whole environment and mood of the city is simple and humble but at the same time, quite high tech and advanced.

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