By Gail Lange - Guelph, Ontario
Suzuki teachers do enjoy their community! So when two Suzuki teachers met in unusual circumstances - a music cruise on the Rhine—there was an instant bond. Let me set the stage.
During the past year, two Canadian music festivals – The Parry Sound Music Festival and the Ottawa Chamberfest – sponsored an amazing music cruise on the Rhine river in early October. The program was coordinated by George Zukerman, impresario and Director of Music for Special Travel International of Vancouver, in collaboration with STI Tourist Services of Vancouver. The cruise was preceded by two days of concerts in Amsterdam and followed up by two days of music events in Zurich, including a ballet in the Zurich Opera House.
Diana Nuttall, a Suzuki cello teacher from Edmonton, and Gail Lange, a Suzuki piano teacher from Guelph, noticed each other’s names on the passenger list sent to participants before the cruise. So we were watching out for each other at the first welcome dinner. Subsequently, we sought out other opportunities to share perspectives on Suzuki teaching and Suzuki in Canada – not to mention politics in Alberta and Ontario! Strangely, our husbands happily found other things to do during these conversations!
The tour was truly a highlight for musicians and lovers of music. The artistic director of the Ottawa Chamberfest is Roman Borys, cellist in the Gryphon Trio. So, a Hamburg Steinway was on board, ready for the Trio’s performances. Also, because the Artistic Director of the Parry Sound Festival is clarinettist James Campbell, we were treated to works for cello, clarinet and piano along with other combinations of instruments. Last but not least, jazz guitarist and composer Graham Campbell sometimes led late evening jazz jam sessions in the lounge. On our last day on the ship, Graham and the others all performed the “Rhine Rhapsody”, a piece he had composed for the occasion.
What could be more idyllic than cruising up the Rhine listening to Mozart in a lounge with wide windows suitable for viewing the enchanting scenery on both sides of the river? Each day passengers had excursions to nearby cities such as Heidelberg and Strasbourg. The most notable one, however, was the stop in Bonn, where our musicians performed a concert in a recital hall adjoining Beethoven’s birthplace. Bonn is making big preparations for Ludwig’s 250th birthday in 2020, but we were fortunate to be there early! Of course, Diana and I each had our pictures taken in front of Beethoven’s statue in the main square.
A side note: in Zurich, our post-cruise stop, Diana and I found an amazing music store, “MusikHug”, where there was a full floor of cellos, and another one of pianos and harps. Too bad nothing would fit in our suitcases!
Just in case anyone is interested, the Gryphon Trio will do a music cruise on the Danube with Ama Waterways’ Ama Viola next September. We will be watching for it!