The day after teaching ended, Tanya took me to the Music College, the place I taught in 1992-93 and 1995, to see if I could get a practice room to prepare for the concert on the weekend in Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky. NOTE: it is now the “Arts College” with the inclusion of graphics, design and photography. In Russia, “College” is the term for what we might call a Vocational-Technical School–students have transferred out of the last two grades of high school to colleges such as this, and they typically extend two years beyond high school.
For permission we met with the Deputy Director who recognized my name from the research she was working on for their 60th Anniversary next year. Yes, I had performed with the College’s folk instrument orchestra in 1991, and yes, I would look for photos from that time when I got home (a dreaded task as all the print photos of that time are massed unsorted in a big moving box in the basement.) Then she brought me in to see the Director, who was in that very orchestra and I vaguely remembered her cheerful face and blond hair in the domra section–I think she was sitting right near me in the orchestra.
She invited me to play at their graduation the very next day! I agreed and at 2pm Friday before the Saturday trek to Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky, I played a movement of a Beethoven sonata and gave a short speech at the beginning of the ceremonies, and then, the Director handed out the diplomas. She cited any honors, and then handed a letter of thanks to parents or other family representative present. I like that! Then the star student, a very tall clarinetist, played a gypsy-style slow dance, and the voice graduates sang. Then there were speeches. First, by a teacher, a poet, who’d been there 55 years. She was followed by the head of folk instruments, clearly a favorite as the students were chuckling a lot, then a grandfather, who choked up a little glancing over at his granddaughter. I recorded these speeches and hope to use them as fodder for my Russian lessons. After it was over, a composer (and father of the ace clarinetist, and husband of the accompanist,
in fact, both faculty) gave me a CD of some of his music and will give me more in a week. I’m looking forward to checking it out!