I will have my first official concert this next week with my French orchestra. They are really a great group of musicians, and very different than many of the French people I have met. If I had been in this group when I first arrived, my impression of the French people would most likely be quite different. I have actually made friends from this group. This has been the most difficult challenge here, more difficult than the language. But I'm not sure if it's the music that brings us together, or the kind of people that play an instrument, specifically the cello, or if it's that they think I'm good and respect me (I'm sitting third chair!!!!!)???? At the first rehearsal my stand partner asked me if I was Russian. Russians are known for being virtostic and, well I did practice my part, was confident, and played quite strongly. But I wasn't sure of this compliment as I thought he was referring to my body odor. I sweat so badly when I'm nervous and it was a nerve racking day. I stunk so bad I didn't want to sit by me!
But as we have had several rehearsals together, I have had a chance to overcome my insecurity of talking with people and have had a few nice conversations. One cellist will be going to California this summer for three weeks. One guy had been to New York and Boston and someplace else on the East Coast. I think both of them speak English but I haven't heard them yet. Another girl is a fluent English speaker so we talk a mix of English and French. And my stand partner, I think he knows a little English, but we always talk in French. I think that he is nervous to speak English to me as I am nervous to speak French to him, but he is so nice and there is something about playing music together that you can get a sense of someone's soul. So we have made a convivial connection without many words. And ok, after last rehearsal, he is now my hero!
Just in the past few months they have started a new thing in Paris. The city provides bikes at certain locations, usually by metro stops. They are there to cut down on car/bus/metro usage and to promote an energy efficient mode of transport. And so you can rent a bike, though I think it's free if it's within a certain time, and ride from one location and drop it off at the next. Well, my stand partner did this - with a cello in a hard case ON HIS BACK while riding the bike!!!!! This is not easy as the cello itself is heavy, plus the weight of the hard case. And then on your back! The weight is tough, but also the coordination of it all. Though I guess he is pretty coordinated to play the cello, so guess this shouldn't be too big a deal. I don't know though. All analysis aside, it's still pretty cool. Now I need to find where my drop off location would be!