Elly Winer (viola)
Yesterday, we spent most of the day in transit, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. There was some confusion upon arriving: the truck for the set didn't show up and our crew had to wait at the airport until 2:30am.
Today we were free until the bus departure at 3:30pm and most of us went on shopping excursions. Some went to the Cashmere Market, while I led a team to the Pearl Market. After some very heated haggling for pashmina and silk scarves, we headed upstairs to the pearl vendors, an oasis of calm in a frenzied city.
We all met up at 1:00 for a trip to a Chinese Muslim restaurant, guided by our Pipa player, Wen Zhao. Her family has been dining at this restaurant on special occasions for many years. The food was amazing. We had dish after dish of new flavours. Cumin Lamb Skewers, Sesame Duck Skin Skewers and many others.
We bussed out to the Beijing University Health Services Centre for an outreach concert. There was some confusion about the type and length of the program and Alison modified and lengthened it on the fly. The hall was unheated and freezing. Many of the musicians wore sweaters under their concert clothing.
After the rehearsal, we were treated to a meal at the campus restaurant by the presenters. The food was excellent as well as spicy, warming us all for the concert.
The concert went very well as Jonathan was very confortable with the Beijing audience, stirring them up into sustained applause.
After the show, Wen led the orchestra to a Beijing roast duck restaurant near our hotel. We had an wonderful feast there; the duck was crispy and smoky. Tomorrow the Forbidden City!
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