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From Emma – Tales from the Tour – Musical Festival Musical Chairs

September 19, 2018

DSC04310bIt’s impossible to pick out a favorite part of an experience as massive and eclectic as our trip to Poland for Teatr Brama’s Human Mosaic Festival, but if I had to try and narrow it down, I’d say it was probably the music.

And boy, was there a lot of music. Music of all shapes and sizes and genres, solo voices to four part harmonies, a capella to orchestra and rock band backed. There was traditional folk music, classic rock, heavy metal, twangy, clangy, harmonic, dissonant, melodic, percussive, anything you could possibly look for in a soundscape. Here’s the speed tour of some of the music that Touchstone helped make while we were over in Goleniów.DSC04893

The festival kicked off with an insanely epic production of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Besides the staging (which seriously, if you get a chance, check out the video of the whole performance – video won’t do the experience justice, but it’ll give you a sense of how utterly bananas the production values were), I was struck by the strength of the music and the musicians, a mix of students and professionals, international artists and hometown talent. I had the pleasure of playing flute in the orchestra, which had me right next to the band and right behind some of the singers – a great place to enjoy some classic tunes and really killer guitar work. Jp, Jason, and I got to jump in for some vocal solos (Christopher, Jason, and Mary also performed as actors for “In the Flesh” and “Run Like Hell”). I’d been passingly familiar with The Wall before, but somehow, it took a trip halfway around the world before I really met the music. DSC06966

Our debut as the Touchstone Cowpokes was also a favorite musical memory. Ahead of the trip, we’d been informed that we’d be able to share something for “America Night” – each of the countries with a substantial number of representative artists was invited to take the stage for a cultural exchange, most of which manifested through song and dance. We broke out something approximating cowboy costumes (the sequined cowboy hat that Christopher wore was a particular favorite) and serenaded the group with American country classics from Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and John Denver. By the end of the night, we had a mob of audience members line dancing to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “American Pie,” and we genuinely felt like rock stars. DSC08067

One round of international night wasn’t enough, of course! On Italian Night, Jason and I got to jump in with our good friends of Teatro Potlach (you might remember them from when they came to Touchstone in 2015 with The Last 100 Years of Edith Piaf; we visited them with Bhudoo the following summer for their international festival, FLIPT) to play accompaniment on some Italian classics from the early 20th century; and Jp and Christopher helped close out Spanish Night with an unforgettable, rousing chorus of “Bésame Mucho”. Very serious business. DSC08300

The original performance entitled Freedom that Touchstone directed for the festival, created in collaboration with a number of Goleniów community groups, was saturated with music— beautiful music of protest, revolution, peace, love, and rock ’n roll. We shared the stage with the Night Crawlers, a fantastic local band that we got to work with for the weeks leading up to the festival. And we got to hear our beautiful cast belting out the chorus of “Keep On Rocking in the Free World” with the kind of enthusiasm and joy that is impossible to fake. DSC03097

And this is just a highlights reel – I’ve not even mentioned singing out the tunes of Dictators 4 Dummies in its international debut; or our new favorite post-pop rap-rock fusion lady duo Two Times Twice; or the aliens music jam (yes, for real); or headbanging to the Night Crawlers’ penultimate-night-of-the-festival concert; or the beautiful voices of the Corsican throat singers; or the great big “Ciao Bella” singalong by all the Italians at the festival (there were about a zillion of them); or the effortlessly gorgeous vocal harmonies that everyone in the Teatr Brama company seemed to be able to produce at the drop of a hat.

There was so, so much more music. And it was wonderful to be able to add our voices to this big international symphony.

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