Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Concert in Perm

It was finally the day of the concert. After setting up all our gear and a sound check / run-through with Huun Huur Tu, Carmen, Loren and I realized there was not much left to do to prep for the show, so we went back to the hotel, worked on booking travel for the US tour dates, and then chilled out with a cappuccino at our fave local spot, Kafe You. We had a late lunch at 3 pm, and at 5 pm the string players showed up and we sound checked 3 songs with them.

The shuttle van - the sign reads "Famous American Musicians" - kidnappers take note

Final rehearsal for me

Carmen at sound-check

Final runthrough with strings

Suddenly there was a rush of media, and after sound check, Carmen and I were interviewed by 3 newspapers before we rushed back to the hotel to change clothes.  Arriving back at the theater about 20 minutes later, we were amazed to realize that the throngs of people  that we had mistaken for rush hour commuters were actually all headed for our show. in scenes that reminded me of a "Hard Days Night", we were mobbed by people wanting us to sign posters and CDs, had to run around to the back entrance, and then were pulled backstage to do a final TV interview.  The TV crew also interviewed the string players, and they were thrilled and a little bewildered by al the attention.

The band just before the show

Last minute formal attire - hope that collar was better during the show:)

String Quartet being interviewed before the show

Carmen joins the papparzzi
The hall was completely full, and there were many people standing in aisles and in the back of the theater - a fire marshall in LA would have had a fit.  The estimate was 1200 people in a theater that seats 1000. Backstage, Huun Huur Tu had donned their traditional garb, the string players in their opera house dresses, and Carmen and seemed casually dressed in comparison.  I put on my heavy woolen suitcoat to look not too casual, abandoning my original idea of just a bright shirt., hoping I would not pass out under the stage lights.

The audience from backstage - 1200 people in a 1000 seat theater

String players with Kaigoglo and Radik - ready to go on

At Carmen's request, Sasha came onstage and gave an introduction.  In the morning, Sayan had warned that Sasha never talks for just a short time, and this evening was no exception.  According to the translator, his speech started with "When I was a little boy in Moscow, and told the story of his life leading up to this date."  After 10 minutes, with Huun Huur Tu and the rest of us trying hard to suppress giggles (even though the speech was in Russian and we did not understand a word), Sasha finished, and Huun Hr Tu took the stage for their two solo opening numbers. They were amazing, and then the rest of us joined them onstage, and the show began.  The performances were flawless - the weeks of rehearsal had paid off, and everything went as it should.  The improvisations were the best we ever did, and the crowd was often transfixed.  I had no stage nervousness at all - the mood was that of a love-in.  We finished our set, and the crowd was clapping and cheering, and HHT, the strings and I came back for an encore piece.  Then everyone returned to the stage, and we received a standing ovation that lasted a very long time.

Huun Huur Tu performs their solo songs

Lots of hugs and smiles backstage and then Carmen, Loren and I had to break down our gear, so we missed the scene in the lobby.  Quite a few people came onstage while we were breaking things down (luckily no security to stop them) and asked us to sign CDs and posters.  Quite a few of the younger people spoke some English, and a number of musicians came to ask us about our setups.  It was a particular thrill for me when Martynov, the composer of the orchestral HHT piece came up to me and shook my hand and said "thank you".

Backstage after the show

Just as we had arrived at the theater, we found out that the after show party at which Carmen was supposed to DJ had been cancelled, due to some issues with the management of the Russian rapper superstar who was also on the bill. So the video crew, Carmen, Loren, the 2 translators and I made our own party back at the local sushi / hookah place, later joined by Sayan, Kaigolo and Vladimir. We were also joined by a local filmmaker and musician. As Carmen said, you always meet interesting people the night before you leave town.

Chad, Celeste and Joe - the video team

Valeria translates a text message for Loren

A local musician and filmmaker from Perm

Kaigolo, Vladimir and Sayan debating in Russian

Carmen & Tatiana

The "Eternal" team (except for me) afterparty

A night I will always remember.  (Since the video crew were all manning cameras, there are no still photos of the actual concert, but back in LA, they will be able to create some from the RED camera footage.  Till then, the soundcheck is what we have to show).


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