Una Ciudad de Colores. Our first stop and my first impressions of Chile. Originally built as the port of Santiago, Valparaiso is bold, hip, and colourful. The houses lining up the hills shine in all different colours – probably because the fishermen wanted their houses to be the same colour as their boats, or they just used the remaining paint. Another theory claims that they needed their houses to be different colours so they would find their home after a drunk night out. But Valpo is not just colourful because of that, thousands of murals are decorating the city. This street art is not just random graffiti but made by well-known artists who don’t fear to criticise society.
Una Ciudad de Furniculares. If you plan to see the murals, carry home your groceries, or if you play a concert at the university, there is a unique and fun way to get up the hills: You take one of the historical furniculars for which Valpo is famous. For my first rehearsal with Roberta Lazo Valenzuela, however, I took the local trolley bus to Concón, passing by massive sand dunes we would climb later that day. Roberta is from Chile, but I first met her in Austria where she lives. When I told her about my project, she immediately agreed to write a piece for me and to connect with her contacts in Chile. Moreover, she invited Hanne Rekdal, a flutist from Norway, and she organised concerts in Valparaíso and Santiago. In Concón the three of us finally met for the first time. I rehearsed Roberta’s piece with her after a few meetings and recordings in Austria. At some point, I asked her what her intention was with a specific rhythm she had written as I was not sure whether she wanted it as strict as possible or just to create a wobbly feeling. To my surprise she answered that she wanted to notate the same rhythm I played when I first demonstrated her some techniques! (Whoops, maybe the next time I try to play more in time…)
Una Ciudad de Cerros. My first concert in Chile was taking place at Pontificia Universidad Católica on Cerro Concepcion. Hanne and I both played solo pieces by Roberta as well as pieces by Norwegian and Austrian composers. We got asked a lot of questions before the concert as the audience primarily consisted of the composition class. Their professor especially wanted to show and encourage her students what female artists can achieve and how they keep creating music while becoming mothers.
Santiago de Chile. 7 million people surrounded by the snowy Andes. Hot and dry like a desert. Skyscrapers are raising up in the busy capital of Chile. Having visited quite a few South American metropoles, we are moving naturally in between the crowded streets and places. I didn’t even notice the donkey eating the leftover vegetables at a market if it hadn’t been for our son who made me stop and have a look. My program in Santiago was dense. Two concerts and an album recording with Roberta’s piece. We started with the recording, which was probably the most unusual one I ever had. At the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH), we recorded in the big concert hall. While frequent interruptions are common during recordings, they usually are remarks from the sound engineer or the producer. In this case, however, I was interrupted because of all sorts of noise such as planes, passers-by, opening or closing doors etc. Moreover, a radio playing somewhere gave me a hard time concentrating on my own music. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the result and I am curious how the recording turned out. In the evening, Hanne and I performed at USACH to promote Roberta’s album.
The final concert of our little tour together was taking place at the Norwegian embassy in Santiago as a collaboration between Austria and Norway. We had the pleasure to perform contemporary music in front of the ambassadors and their teams as well as the invited guests. I’m always happy if there is a possibility to do that, so I can give something back for all their generous support. Thank you Stephan Vavrik and Vicky Bown!