With a view of the fireworks in the bays of Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Reñaca and Concon and a half bottle champagne poured over my head by some crazy, I started the new year here in Chile. Coming home later that day, I was invited to Limache, where we finished the day with a nice “asado” (BBQ). While lying at the pool, once more I was undecided whether I would prefer a hot Christmas and New Year or the cold one I was used to in Luxembourg. My general conclusion is that the first time celebrating Christmas and the New Year in this very different setting felt a little strange.
The start of the new year also meant that I had exactly 15 days left to submit my application for university. I did not think that writing 48 lines and being happy with it would be so difficult. Laurent Peckels, a good friend and fellow musician from Luxembourg, arrived just in time in Chile to give me some great feedback. While exploring the surroundings of San Pedro de Atacama, we found here and there some time to make this personal statement a winner. You don’t need somebody to do the work for you, but rather someone who challenges you to go beyond your own thinking. Not only Laurent, but my family and a bunch of friends did a great job at this. And indeed my statement was a winner, more than I ever could have imagined. I got 4 offers out of 5 choices, which left me in a dilemma at the end, but also with the feeling that my work and my decisions paid off. My place at Manchester University is now confirmed and I think the coming years will be full of great people, inspiration and new ideas. Although I’m really looking forward to it, it will not make my leave in July any easier.
Laurent did not just come down to Chile to give me hand with my personal statement, we also travelled together and we did a 3-days workshop in the EPA. When I told Laurent I would go to Chile, he immediately said he would come visit me and he kept his promise. We flew together to the Atacama Desert and explored its marvellous landscapes. Surrounded by desert, the town of San Pedro de Atacama is the starting point for some unbelievable exploration into Chile’s natural diversity. On our first day, we went sandboarding on the dunes of the “Valle de la Muerte”, a martian-like valley. It was quite fun despite both of my crashes where I swallowed at least a kilo of sand. Laurent was simply not fast enough to crash! We witnessed the sunset in the “Valle de la Luna” and couple other amazing sceneries (cf pictures). Our full-day tour to the altiplanic lagoons with a stop at the Atacama Salt Flats among others was one of the highlights too. Laurent reintroduced me to the restaurants culture, which I almost had forgotten living in the “población”. Here and there I sometimes pickup some more exceptional food, but going to a restaurant was something I hadn’t done in a long time. Eating out is something for really special occasions only, mainly because, and I agree on that, a good BBQ is a lot cheaper and it is A LOT. When you are used to household portions here in Chile, you might leave hungry in a standard restaurant.
Back at the EPA, we started preparing a three-days workshop on Ableton Live, a music software. I want to give a huge THANK YOU to Laurent, who did an extraordinary job and furthermore donated 4 MIDI Keyboards to the EPA! I’m now using the software and the devices in a music creation and harmony course with the most advanced students.
Through Laurent and a still secret filming project, we were also able to welcome Lance Duehrfard, an american filmmaker. At the end, he was so generous to not only film scenes for his project with Laurent, but also some for a short clip about the EPA. Thank you very much, Lance! By clicking the following link you can read a note published by the EPA about the stay of both artist.
All this happened within the summer school program of EPA. Those four weeks stuffed with workshops, ensemble rehearsal and activities were incredibly intense, but never before I had seen a music school so filled with life and energy. I had seven marimba students, who wanted to try out the EPA’s newest acquisition. After just four individual lessons, we presented together some little pieces – pieces I played almost 15 years ago when my musical journey started. Opening that xylophone book, my first teacher Boris gave me so long ago, let me slip into some nostalgia. The handwritten dates on the pages, the filled circle meaning “left hand” and the empty one meaning “right hand”, woke up some memories of the time where I had to step on a wooden box to even reach the xylophone.
Well, that was what I more or less did in January. February comes next and it was an entirely distinct vibe. The details on that will be in my next post!