Wednesday, December 5, 2012
A friend of mine is a violinist for the State Philharmonic Orchestra, and he called me about a week ago to inform me of a concert for this past Tuesday. So this weekend I went to Congress Hall, the place to buy tickets for these events. (Contrary to what I'd initially thought, Congress Hall has nothing to do with government, it's a large venue for music as well as markets. Though it's usually popular music, so the music I listen to is never there, just the tickets.)
I'd learned from a music-loving friend that Congress Hall is where you go not only to buy tickets, but to find out about events. They have posters saying what's coming up. Well, I couldn't see any posters for this event.
So I went to the cashier and tried my best to ask, "Is there a concert on 4th December?" But she didn't understand my question.
So I went home and checked my email--I'm on their email list--and although I had an email with December events, this particular concert was not on it. I also double-checked their web site, which hadn't been updated since August or September. Then I asked a friend to call Congress Hall, they said it was sold out. I remembered that I'd seen a sign for some concert at Congress Hall on that date, they probably meant that one. (How can something that's not been advertised be sold out?) So I texted my friend, who responded that it was not sold out, please come!
I realized that I hadn't clarified where this concert would be, I'd just been assuming it would be in the Organ Hall at the National Music Academy, but there are other venues for classical music concerts. So Tuesday morning my friend called the National Music Academy and they gave her another number to call, and the lady there said she didn't know. What? How can you not know if there is or isn't a concert?!
Well... I was lucky enough to find a friend who was willing to go to this mysterious concert with me and was quite able to be content should it turn out that it did not exist.
We arrived there on time, there was almost nobody there, but we were informed that there was indeed a concert, and it was free.
My friend and a pianist were the only two performing, stars of the show!
But there were only about 12 people in the entire audience.
The music was absolutely fantastic, and I enjoyed every second of it. It was truly a shame that nobody was there because nobody had heard about it!!!
Also, it started at 6 pm, and this is a country where most people don't get off work until 6 pm. I had a few other friends who'd wanted to come, but couldn't, due to work.
Afterwards, an older lady who seemed to be in charge apologised for the lack of people, giving some excuse as to her water pipes breaking so she couldn't put out the advertisements in time. Hmm...
On the plus side, we went out afterwards to tea--my co-worker, the violinist, a Kazakh woman, and a Brazilian from the Brazilian Embassy. I was the only non-Russian speaker in group, and two of them (the violinist and the Kazakh) didn't speak English, so the language of conversation was Russian. The Brazilian, being not a native speaker, spoke slowly and clearly, and my co-worker excels at repeating what's being said, slowly and in simple language, and so I was able to follow along most of the conversation. I wasn't able to say much more than "da" (yes), but still, I was quite proud of myself!
For me, it was an excellent evening. But how frustrating for the musicians!!!
I talked today to a co-worker, who said that our music teacher, who frequents these kinds of events, says that that happens a lot. That the events just are poorly advertised, and few people show up. How frustrating to be a musician in Astana!