SOUNZ supported composition for ERUPT 2010

(written for, and published at ERUPT Festival blog, 22 December 2009 - image courtesy of www.taupofest.co.nz)

The SOUNZ Community Commission (www.sounz.org.nz) is supporting a new piece from me for the 2010 ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival. This is a fantastic project which I am very happy to be involved with. The piece is written for the community and they will perform it. It also involves text written by those in the community.

The piece is currently being written and although I don't want to give much away ... it will certainly be a celebration of Taupo. I have always loved Taupo and have stayed there many times. Recently when I visited Taupo to meet many of the musical groups there, I was completely blown away by the amount of musical activity. This alone is reason to celebrate.

The lake and the river will help to characterise the work, which will involve numerous groups from the community, who will be announced publicly later.

I have been involved with several projects writing for community groups and so I have enjoyed hitting this one with full force. Writing music is what I do full-time - as well as copying and arranging other peoples music. I also conduct several groups in Auckland. For any more info, or for my blog, see www.ryanyouens.com.

I look forward to this project evolving further, and for it to explode into ERUPT 2010!

Leg Three - Colonia to Iguazu

Day  Fifteen - Colonia to Rosario Today was a big travelling day. Caught the ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires around mid-morning. Once we got to BA, we headed straight to the bus station. Huge bus station - room for 75 buses and probably around 50 bus company offices. Got our tickets to Rosario and stocked up on snacks for the trip.

It was a five-hour trip. Went pretty quickly. Once we arrived we booked our tickets to Posadas for two days' time.

Our hostel is OK. Really friendly staff, but room isn't that great. Ate an apalling pizza for dinner at a restaurant nearby. Long day!

Observations...

  • So many toll stations on the roads.
  • Customs sometimes just doesn´t exist!
  • Air conditioning is just wonderful.
  • Today´s taxi driver was absolutely insane-o. Had his hand on the horn almost the whole way from the bus station to the hostel. We thought we were going to die several times, and he nearly caused multiple accidents.
  • A thin sheet of paper is NOT a napkin.
  • Was that chicken on our pizza or catfood?
  • Why do insects keep landing in Ryan´s drink?
  • Lots of people sell flowers here, and they´re pretty darn fresh.

Day Sixteen -  Rosario

Sightseeing day today. It was pouring with rain, which was a nice change from blazing sunshine.

First we went to visit the Monumento Nacional a la Bandera, which is a huge monument to the Argentine flag, which was designed in Rosario. It's a very impressive monument! Couldn't go up the tower because of the rain.

Walked along the river and got attacked by giant mosquitos. Saw the modern art musuem.

We were dying for vegetables after eating so much meat, so we asked a guy that worked at our hostel where we should go for dinner and he suggested a Chinese restaurant nearby. It was sooo good - just what we needed. And it was so cheap - about NZ$12 for two big meals plus drinks.

Observations...

  • Don´t go near the river. The mosquitos will get you.
  • McDonald´s staff here are dressed in full denim - hat, shirt, pants. Nice.
  • No one will let us into their shops with our small backpack. Do we look like shoplifters?

Day Seventeen -  Rosario to Posadas

Checked out of our hostel, then headed off to see the Circulo Theatre. We missed the only tour of the day by half an hour! It's a huge majestic looking theatre. Pretty disappointed we didn't get to go in. Went down to the Comedia theatre, but that wasn't open either.

Had a nice lunch at a pub/restaurant. Went back to the monument for the flag, and since it was a fine day, we were able to go up the tower. Great view of the city from the top.

Headed to the bus station to catch our bus to Posadas. It was an overnight bus and took 15 hours. We were served a snack and dinner and watched a couple of movies. We had seats up the top (double-decker bus) at the very front. Before it got dark we had a great view. Really interesting to see all the villages. On the outskirts of the cities, there are hundreds of makeshift shacks. Lots of kids and dogs running around.

During the night on the bus, people were getting on and off at stops, and some really noisy guys got on and woke everyone up. After a while, Ryan said, "Chicos, shhh!" That told them!

Observations...

  • Why does there need to be three men in the toilets to sell toilet paper?
  • Novus would have a heart attack at the state of some windscreens here.
  • Ryan was quite offended when someone told him he didn´t have a NZ accent.

Day Eighteen -  Posadas

The bus arrived at Posadas at 8am. We bought our tickets for the next day, then headed into town. Checked into our hotel. Yes, hotel. Couldn't find a decent hostel there, so decided to splash out. Quite nice.

We walked through the town, which was cometely dead. Decided it must be because it's Sunday. Walked along the waterfront, where a huge stage and tents were being set up for some kind of tourism event.

We went back there in the evening,and it was buzzing - people everywhere! We hung out down there for a few hours and checked out the tents and the bands playing. Watched a pretty impressive fireworks display.

Observations...

  • Our clothes are smaller than when we took them to the laundromat.
  • Sundays are really "everything is shut and no one goes out of their home" days.
  • The supermarkets smell awful.

Day Nineteen  - Posadas to Puerto Iguazu

Caught our bus to Puerto Iguazu first thing. We sat in the very front up the top again, so had great views again.

Our hostel was very conveniently just across the road from the bus station. It's a really nice hostel - very bamboo safari. We did some trip rearranging here and decided to stay longer in Puerto Iguazu and go to Sāo Paulo from here, so we booked our tickets to Sāo Paulo. It will be another long trip, but it will be coche cama, which is basically a bus full of la-z-boy armchairs!

We also sorted out what we were going to do at the falls the next day.

After a light dinner near our hostel, we had an early night. Really really hot in Puerto Iguazu - very tropical.

Observations...

  • The dirt here is very red.
  • Siestas are for a reason. Everything shuts between 1pm and 5pm here.
  • Food here is either very salty or very sweet.

Day Twenty  - Iguazu Falls

Headed off to the falls, known as Cataratas here, bright and early. It was already very very hot and the day had only just begun!

After paying our entry fee, we visited the largest falls first, called Garganta del Diablo, or Devil's Throat. It was so impressive. Amazing! Got a bit wet from the spray, but considering the temperature, we didn't mind at all!

Next we walked around the upper circuit, which takes you past lots of very impressive falls.

Next we walked the lower circuit. At one of the viewing platforms, you get completely soaked. Next was the boat trip. We went on a jetboat that takes you right under the falls. It goes very fast and you get absolutely saturated. It was awesome!

If you ever visit South America, you have got to visit Iguazu. Definitely a trip highlight.

Observations...

  • We drank 3.5L of water today.
  • 32 degrees here.
  • Took 300 photos. Later culled to 200.

Day Twenty One - Iguazu Falls

We headed back to the falls again today. Another very hot day! Went back to Diablo, and we almost had the platform to ourselves - it had been packed the day before.

We wandered through the walks and saw some great wildlife - lizards, colourful birds, monster ants.

Bought a few souvenirs, then headed back to the hostel in the late afternoon. Nice to spend some time in an air-conditioned room!

We went to a restaurant down the road for dinner. There's a guy that stands outside and shouts the specials at potential customers. To be honest, I think he scares away more people than he attracts! We had very interesting rockmelon juice with our dinner.

Observations...

  • It was 32 degrees and people still carry around their thermos.
  • Guys, that was hand sanitiser, not insect repellant. Your body is now very clean.
  • We have never had cold showers so regularly.

Day Twenty Two - Puerto Iguazu

We were a bit exhausted after all the sun and walking in the last couple of days, so it was a rest day for our last day in Iguazu. We wandered through the town, did some shopping, caught up on the travel blog, did some reading and sitting by the pool. Very relaxing!

Big bus trip tomorrow to Sāo Paulo.

Leg Two - Buenos Aires to Uruguay

Day Eight - Buenos Aires Today was our first sightseeing day in Buenos Aires. We headed out in the morning and walked down Av de Florida, which is the main shopping street. So many shops and so many people! We visited Galeria Pacifica, which is a big fancy shopping mall with a really ornate roof with classic paintings. So beautiful, but kind of weird that it´s a mall!

Walked down to Av 9 de Julio, which is a 16-lane road. Pretty crazy! We walked down to the Obelisco,which is a really big tall monument to commemmorate the founding of the city.

We went to Plaza Dorrego for a fancy dinner. The restaurant had a tango show. It was very dramatic. After the dancers had finished, they collected tips from the diners. We´re getting very good at handing out tips! We also learnt that if you give nearly the right amount of money when you pay the dinner bill, you don´t get change. Apparently it´s a tip...

Observations...

  • Saw the first Mac for the trip today. There´s hope for the future.
  • Why is the toilet water level so high?

Day Nine - Buenos Aires

Today was another big sightseeing day in BA. Caught the subway to Plaza de Mayo first thing and visited the historical buildings there - Museo de Cabildo, an 18th C building; Catedral Metropolitana, which has the tomb of liberator Jose de San Martin; Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace (pink? yes!). It was weird to see the tomb at the cathedral and think that there was a 150-year-old body inside there!

We walked down to Puerto Madero, which is an up and coming area on the wharf. Saw an old navy ship there.

Back on the subway. This time to Palermo, which is an upmarket leafy suburb just out of the central BA area. We went to the zoo - Jardin Zoologico. Saw lots of animals we hadn´t seen before - bears, a condor, antelopes. They all seemed pretty well cared for, but felt a bit sorry for the condor, which was in a smallish cage. We had lunch at the zoo, and Ryan waited for the food at the counter and said yes to all the lady´s questions because he didn´t know what she was saying - we ended up with heaps of different condiments!

Next we headed off to visit the apartment our friends Amanda and David are moving to in February. Really nice area, apartment looks good. Snapped some photos there. Then stopped off at Persicco, an ice-cream boutique, for a snack. This was a recommended stop from Amanda. Definitely worth it!

Since we were nearby, we headed to the Evita Peron musuem, which, unlike many musuems we´ve been in, has an English translation of all the text on the walls! Really interesting visit there.

Caught the subway back to San Telmo, where we were staying. It was peak hour, so the subway was packed. It´s pretty up close and personal in there! Stopped off and picked up the laundry we dropped off that morning at the laundromat - it was all clean, neatly pressed and folded, and it only cost $12 pesos, which is around NZ$4.50.

Observations...

  • White lab coats are school uniforms here. What?
  • How come hardly anyone speaks English, but all the music, movies and TV programmes are in English? Odd.
  • Subways are great, but not so good at peak time.

Day Ten - Buenos Aires

Had a sleep in this morning after our busy day the day before! Took the subway to Recoleta, which is near Palermo. This was the first rainy day of our trip. Quite nice for a change!

Wandered through Recoleta Cemetary, then decided we were getting too wet, so headed out to find an umbrella and some lunch. Went to supermarket and bought some food for lunch. Recoleta is a very posh neighbourhood - lots of botoxed women and flashy men. All the shoppers were carrying Christian Dior and Mont Blanc bags. We looked a little scruffy eating our supermarket lunch on a park bench!

Back to Recoleta Cemetary for a proper look. Bought an umbrella from some guy on the street. There is always a guy on the street selling what you need!

The cemetary was  really interesting. It is full of big tombs with whole families inside. In some of them, there are 25+ bodies inside! And what´s really weird is that you can see the coffins through the windows of the tombs. They´re all just stacked up on shelves inside. The tombs go down below the ground and most are about 4-6m above the ground. We visited Evita´s tomb. Heaps of tourists there.

We went to our first Lonely Planet recommended restaurant - La Rotisseria. We had schnitzel. It was very cheap and tasted all right.

Observations...

  • All the money machine gives us is $100 peso notes, but no one wants to accept them.
  • They´re big on supermarket deliveries here.
  • We´re learning to eat the stale bread which is given to you before every meal.
  • Still lots of people doing jobs that don´t really need to be done.
  • Shop owners here enjoy standing at the front door and scaring away potential customers.
  • People know of the All Blacks here. Ryan tells them we always beat the Pumas.

Day Eleven - Buenos Aires

Wendy´s sinus infection returned today, so we took it pretty easy. Went back to Av de Florida and wandered through the shops. Things really quieten down on Sundays here. There were so many men on the street yelling out "Cambio, cambio", which means "change, change". Not sure why there are so many money change places around. Wouldn´t most travellers just use ATMs?

Headed back to hostel and then down to Plaza Dorrego to check out the famous antiques fair that happens down there on Sundays. We thought it would just be a little fair in the plaza area, but turns it out the plaza area has the little antiques fair and then a handcraft market spills out from there that is literally a couple of kilometres long. Bought a bunch of souvenirs. There were heaps of street performers, which were great to watch - experimental orchestras, dancers, solo musicians, theatre perf0rmers, mimes.

Had our first exprimida de naranja - freshy squeezed orange juice. There are people on every street corner with a manual juicer and a big bucket of oranges. For $5 pesos (NZ$2), you get a cup of juice. Tastes so good! After walking through the fair for miles, we were starving, so bought these huge empanadas - bread turnovers filled with tomato and cheese. We bought them from a bakery man riding a bike with a huge basket of empanadas on the front.

Observations...

  • Sugar cereal for breakfast and caramel to spread on your toast? No thanks.
  • Cash, cash, cash. No Eftpos.
  • The ants here are huge.
  • We got waited on in McDonalds. What?!

Day Twelve - Buenos Aires to Colonia, Uruguay

We caught the ferry from BA to Colonia today. After we checked in, we headed through immigration, which was a man and a lady in a little booth. The man stamped us out of Argentina and the lady stamped us into Uruguay. Very efficient!

When we arrived in Colonia, customs again was almost non-existent. Walked from the ferry terminal to our hostel. Really nice room there - quite cosy. Much nicer than the rooms we have had. Had a walk through the town centre - very quaint, and everyone rides motorbikes or scooters. Went out for pizza for dinner - weirdest pizza ever! Ryan loved it; Wendy hated it. It was covered in thousand-island sauce and had palm hearts, green olives and mozzarella on it.

After dinner we went down to the beach and had ice cream while we watched the sun set. When we got back to the hostel, we saw a little sign that said "Uruguay is an hour ahead of Argentina". Glad we found that out sooner rather than later!

Observations...

  • Motorbikes, minivans, mini trucks and 4wd bikes galore.
  • Inflatable toilet seat. But, hey, it works.
  • Pedestrian crossings work in Colonia (unlike in Argentina!)
  • First caravan sighting.

Day Thirteen - Colonia, Uruguay

We started the day with a walking tour of the barrio historico in Colonia, which is the main attraction. The Portuguese built there in the late 18th C. Lots of little brick houses and cobbled streets.

Walked down to the shopping mall. It´s nothing compared to Albany Westfield, but I guess it´s pretty fancy for a small seaside town in Uruguay!

Headed out for an early dinner and came across a big police parade. Not exactly sure what they were all doing, but it looked impressive! We went to La Drugstore for dinner and ate in a vintage car on the road. Very quirky! Lots of people laughed when they walked past us! We paid for dinner with our US dollars, which are very widely accepted in Colonia. You can pay with US dollars, Argentine pesos or Uruguayan pesos.

Observations...

  • People queue up at the banks. Like, 80 people were queued there.
  • People don´t like giving you change here.
  • Most things you buy are made in the country you´re in.
  • We had a cutlery charge for dinner. What?!

Day Fourteen - Colonia, Uruguay

A very hot day in Colonia today. We headed down to Thrifty rentals and hired two bicycles for the day. The bikes were a bit rickety, but not too bad. No helmets - no one wears helmets in Colonia!

We biked out along the coast to Plaze de Torres, which is an old bullring. It´s pretty huge!

Biked back along the coast and stopped at a restaurant for lunch - we were the only people there.

On our bike ride back through town, we passed the lighthouse we had seen the day before, and this time it was open, so we went up and saw the great view from the top.

We had a barbecue at our hostel for dinner. Huge slabs of meat, chorizos and salads. Met a few other travellers from the hostel - notably an Austrian guy who seemed to be travelling aimlessly for eight months and all we´d seen him do was watch sports on TV at the hostel!

Observations...

  • They watch soccer 24-7.
  • There are so many bugs in Colonia.
  • There doesn´t seem to be any road rules. Hey, suits us... on our bikes!
  • Police here look very friendly, but can´t say we´ve made conversation...

Leg One - Chile to Argentina

Welcome to our travel blog. This is post one, and we´ve just finished the first leg of our trip. Enjoy! Day One - flight from Auckland to Santiago, Chile.

Flight was long, and we watched movies and slept the whole way. Were pretty glad to arrive in Santiago! Going through customs was a bit of a joke - they hardly even looked at us. We could have had anything with us! As soon as we got out into the terminal, the taxi hecklers were after us and our money! One guy followed us right down the terminal. We bargained him down to a reasonable price (from 26,000 pesos to 16,000) and set off for our hostel.

We stayed at Bellavista Hostel in Barrio Bellavista. Hostel was really nice - clean, big room. After we had a bit of a rest, we headed out to expl0re. We had three aims for our walk - get our bearings, buy tissues and buy a plug adaptor - our SA adaptor apparently doesn´t work in Chile. We got a bit lost and ended up walking for around 2.5 hours, but we got everything we needed. We walked through a huge political parade for a presidential candidate - Frei. Everyone was singing and dancing and waving flags (not us, though!).

Went out for a late dinner at a place near our hostel. Had this huge platter of assorted meats. Quite good, but way too much to eat!

Observations...

  • PDAs galore
  • Lots of men in uniform doing nothing
  • Tons of farmacais (pharmacies)
  • A gazillion stray dogs
  • It´s dirty
  • Nobody seems all that happy
  • Traffic lights and traffic police directing the traffic - overkill?
  • Parking wardens are insane and seem to work 24-7

Day Two - Santiago

Had a great breakfast at our hostel - buns and fruit and cereal. (We later learnt this was the best breakfast we´ll probably get in SA). We headed to Parque Metropolitanas de Chile, which is a huge park complex just down from our hostel. It´s got a zoo, gardens, a big hill and some statues. We took a cable car (or teleferiko) up to the top of the hill, San Cristobal, where there´s a big religious statue and an ampitheatre. It was really hot up there. Took lots of photos of the city - great view.

After a break back at the hostel, we headed out for a sightseeing afternoon. Walked to Plaza de Armas to see all the historical buildings there - presidential buildings, huge church with paintings inside. Went to Palacia de la Moneda, which is a huge govt building, where I think the President lives (at least, that´s what Lonely Planet says). As with everywhere in Chile, there were heaps of police outside looking very serious!

We were pretty tired from walking, so decided to try out the subway. Was actually remarkably easy to navigate and buy a ticket. Got off just near our hostel, then stopped off for some frozen yoghurt (which was a nightmare to order in our mix of Espanol and English!) After a quick break, we headed to Teatro de Universidad to see the Symphony Orchestra of Chile play.

Stopped off for crepes at Patio Bellavista on our way home - not very Chilean, but nevermind!

Observations...

  • Everyone wears pants and heavy shoes. We look odd in jandals and shorts, but maybe it´s just Ryan´s skinny ankles!
  • We were happy to find a NZ $5 note in a gift shop.
  • Apart from the two cellphone companies, there is no advertising in Chile.
  • Everything - grass, trees, streets - gets watered constantly.
  • Everyone wants your money.
  • Don´t take a photo of a police armoured vehicle/tank - they will point the big gun on top at you and will say something in Spanish that you don´t understand.

Day Three - Santiago to Valparaiso

Checked out of hostel, then took the subway to the bus station. It took some gesturing, nodding and pointing, but we managed to purchase our bus tickets to Valparaiso. We didn´t know which bus bay to go to, so we wandered around and asked some bus drivers, but they kept sending us completely wrong! Eventually we found the right bay, but the bus had left! Argh! A nice security man sorted out our tickets so we could catch the next bus. Phew!

When we got to Valparaiso, things got even more confusing - we had to buy our tickets to Mendoza, Argentina and back, but no one spoke English, and there weren´t any buses going to Mendoza on Sunday. Eventually we worked out we could go back to Santiago and then to Mendoza on the day we wanted. Confusing, but finally worked it out!

Got to our hostel - Hostel Girasoles - which was more like a bed and breakfast. The guy who runs it used to live in Auckland. He gave us some good ideas of places we should see in Valpo. We walked around the neighbourhood where we were staying - lots of crazy dirt roads and brightly painted old buildings. Valparaiso is a port town, and there´s definitely a real harbour trade feel to it. Then we caught a bus to Vina del Mar, the next town over. The bus got to Vina del Mar, then seemed to head in completely the wrong direction, so after an indecisive few minutes, we got off - about 5km from where we wanted to be! Long walk back to the beach. Wandered along the beach boulevard - lots of stalls, confectionary sellers and heaps of people sunbathing on the beach. No restaurants along the beach, which is unusual.

Back to Valpo. Walked through the town, then back to the hostel. Went out for dinner and had chorillana, which is basically french fries with egg and onion on top and steak pieces, bacon and sausage on top of that. It´s a real specialty in Valparaiso, apparently! Surprisingly tasty.

Observations...

  • You can get sunburnt in Chile.
  • Chilean people don´t really like you.
  • There are many many many soccer fields in Chile.
  • Subways are better than buses.
  • Crazy men walk onto the buses while stopped at lights or bus stops and try to sell food and ice cream and then jump off while moving. They also walk up and down in traffic on busy roads.
  • You can buy big, yum meals for very cheap prices.

Day Four - Valparaiso to Santiago to Mendoza

A bus day today. Left the hostel and walked to the bus terminal, where we caught our bus back to Santiago. Stopped at a supermarket on the way to buy some food for the bus trip - peanuts and dry bread rolls. Apparently spreads aren´t big in Chile.

Got to Santiago and found our bus bay for our trip to Mendoza. Realised that if announcements were made about our bus, we would have no idea, cos they´re all in Spanish! Checked we were in the right place by asking a bus man. We were quite early, so we bought some lunch - empanadas chicos, which are basically little deepfried cheese turnovers.

Our bus arrived and we lined up to get on. Our first international bus trip! Handed the driver our passports and got really confused when he asked for our visas. Turns out that flimsy piece of paper you get at the airport is actually a visa! Lucky we had them handy.

The bus trip through the Andes to Mendoza was spectacular - snow capped peaks, terrifyingly windy roads. It even snowed as we were driving through!

The border crossing was this huge formiddable building that the bus drives into. Had to stand in a line at a little booth, where a lady took our Chilean visas. Then we went to another booth, where we were issued our Argentina visas. Next a scary looking man looked in our backpacks. Pretty scary place. Not exactly a warm welcome into the country!

Arrived in Mendoza just before 9pm and set off to walk to our hostel. Realised after a few blocks that we really didn´t know where we were going, so caught a taxi from the bus station. Turns out he didn´t really know where he was going either, but we eventually got to our hostel!

Our hostel was really nice. As soon as we arrived, we were shown around. So nice to be there! We booked some activities for the next day. Since we were so close to the Andes, it was only appropriate we should do some adventure activities there! We booked a half day of horse riding and a half day of rafting.

Observations...

  • Think Chilean police are scary? Wait for Argentina!
  • You have to give "tips" to the border officials.
  • So that´s what a visa is! Thanks, bus driver, for freaking us out!
  • Finding other English speakers is nice, very nice.
  • What´s with all the guns? World peace?
  • Trust a good Kiwi boy to be in shorts, t-shirt and jandals at the top of the Andes while it´s snowing.

Day Five - Mendoza, Argentina

Our tour company picked us up and drove us for about an hour into the foothills of the Andes. We were dropped at a cafe to wait for the horses. Our guide and the horses turned up, and we set off for our trek. Great views, lovely ride, great guide.

Back to the cafe for lunch - hambourgesa and coke. Much cheaper than Chilean food.

Our next transfer to the rafting turned up, but there weren´t enough people to fill the boat, so we couldn´t go. Bit of a shame, but it was a Monday, so not exactly peak sightseeing day! Headed back to the hostel.

A guy from our hostel gave us a map and some really good directions. We headed off to walk through the town of Mendoza. Really nice town - wide, open boulevards and pedestrians. Stopped off for some helados (ice cream).

Back to the hostel for an authentic Argentinian asado (BBQ) and wine from Mendoza. Had huge steaks, chorizo, chicken, salads. Met heaps of other travellers there.

Observations...

  • Drivers are not quite as horn-happy as Chile.
  • No one seems to care about emergency vehicles. They drive at normal speed and stop at traffic lights with lights and sirens on.
  • No road markings.
  • Play dodgem with the cars. Go on...
  • Too many people smoke, including children. Don´t they know it´s bad for you?
  • Argentinian people are much nicer than Chilean.
  • NZ plugs work here. Cool.
  • People are obssessed with what sort of cars they have and with cleaning them.
  • A cone or bottle on top of a car means it´s for sale. Weird.

Day Six - Mendoza to Santiago

Walked to the bus station. Didn't know where to go (again!) so headed for the first Tur Bus (company our ticket was with) that we saw. Right one on the first try - there's a first time for everything! This time we had our visas all ready, unlike a guy in front of us - betcha he didn't realise just how important that flimsy piece of paper was either!

First half of bus trip was uneventful. Wendy got pretty sick. Looked up symptoms in Lonely Planet and decided it was altitude sickness. Pretty gross. Got to Los Libertadores, where the border crossing is. Had a three hour wait to get through. That did not help the altitude sickness.

Finally got to Santiago around 7pm. Caught subway to centro. Was absolutely jam packed. Ew. Checked in at Bellavista Hostel. Got an even nicer room this time. Went for a walk and bought some souvenirs. Then had dinner at a very bright green Mexican restaurant. Back to hostel after an early night!

Observations...

  • Bus drivers pass like drunks on a police chase, but it works.
  • The Andes gets better each time.
  • The Andes has cellphone reception all the way. That´s impressive.
  • Things dry so quickly here.
  • 1st December and wow, it´s Christmas time - decorations and music everywhere!
  • Feliz Navidad - every time we say it, we want to break into song.

Day Seven - Santiago to Buenos Aires

Headed straight to Santiago International Airport after breakfast. After a bit of wandering around, we found the LAN check-in counter. Went through security and into the international departures area. Very nice. We´ve got a nine-hour wait here on our way home, so glad to see we won´t starve and there are plenty of shops to look at.

A nice old lady from Buenos Aires told us a few places we should visit and gave us a few travel tips - maybe we looked like we needed them!

Boarded our flight. Had crap seats in the middle, so no views of the Andes as we flew over. Flight was around an hour. Had to wait for an hour in a line to get through immigration. On the flipside, we walked straight through customs and they didn´t even scan our bags - um, hello, we could bring anything through!

Got a taxi to our hostel in San Telmo. You prepay for your taxi at the airport, and then you wait for the next free taxi. Pretty good service.

Nice hostel, pretty good location. Went for a walk to explore after we settled in at the hostel. Walked through a massive protest on the main avenue of the central city. People had tents set up, and they were all waving huge banners, banging drums and shouting. There were riot police surrounding it all. We asked at our hostel when we got back, and apparently that happens all the time!

We walked along Av de Mayo, which is one of the main streets, but there wasn´t much happening, aside from the protest, of course. We saw Plaza de Mayo, where there are some historical buildings. We´ll be going back there in the daytime to see them properly later on.

Observations...

  • Cool luggage-wrapping machines at airport.
  • The car horns are back.
  • The pedestrian crossings mean find a gap and run!
  • I though we learnt the lesson of walking aimlessly around town - sore feet and no real idea of where we are!

So, that´s the end of leg one of our trip. We´ve travelled from Chile to Argentina (twice!), and now we´re slowing down a little in Buenos Aires before travelling north to Brazil. Stay tuned for our next blog!

Ryano and Wendo (these aren´t authentic, but we though we´d change our names so we blend in a little more!)

Pen to paper

... or rather, finger to keyboard! Here is an update on three pieces I am currently writing. Wild Daisies

This is a piece for the award winning choir, Euphony, from Kristin School. After a lot of hunting I found the wonderful poem "Wild Daisies" by NZ poet Bub Bridger. It was hard to find something suitable for school-aged students, something on a happier rather than sad note, and something that would allow lots of musical additions ... perhaps I'm just not well acustomed to hunting down texts. Anyway this is going to be a fantastic piece for unaccompanied choir.

Tiraki

There is a flute player I want to write for, a viola player has been begging for a piece, and I have been wanting to write a piece for tuba for a long time. So, this is it. A suite of solo pieces, one for each of these instruments. I'm trying to get some of the movements done before the trip to Brazil, as then I can workshop the pieces with the players there.

I was thinking how to tie these three pieces together and had a great idea about clouds as they are categorised into high, mid and low clouds. So the three pieces are based on:

  1. Cirrus - flute (high)
  2. Altocumulus - viola (middle)
  3. Cumulus - tuba (low)

The title, Tiraki, means to clear the sky or lift away the clouds.

Taupo

Don't worry, that's not the actual title - I'm still deciding. This piece for wind orchestra and choir is well underway and will open the 2010 ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival. This project is possible thanks to the very generous funding by SOUNZ (The Centre for NZ Music) and their SOUNZ Community Commission.

We put a call out for texts to use and so they are flowing in. Have started drafting some ideas and have got a good idea of how it's going to turn out. It's going to be a 15 minute, or thereabouts, piece but it is going to be able to be performed as a 5-6 minute piece later in it's lifetime. This, along with the fact that it is suitable for younger players means hopefully it will have a healthy future. As soon as I get back from South America I will be full on writing this piece.

The winds recede

Sunday's concert, "North Winds, South Winds", was a success. Thanks very much to all those who came and supported - it was a very impressive, receptive and appreciative audience. It was a challenge putting on such a demanding programme, but the orchestra definitely rose to the occasion and did a fantastic job. It is horrifying to realise that the time signature changes totaled around 160, and the tempo changes also added up to something drastic. Looking back, I thought it was a shame that we didn't get to run the pieces more during the rehearsal period and hear them in their entirety, as some certainly aren't done justice until done so. But I guess, we always have the best intentions.

North Winds, South Winds 2

It was very refreshing seeing so much New Zealand music being performed, AND with five of the eight composers being present. It was great having the older works which have been widely performed, alongside two premieres, and other works by younger composers. I had a few comments saying that NZ music is in very safe hands ... which it is ... of course. Judging from feedback, it seems the audience had a great time. I think they really enjoyed the balance in the programme, the top standard and of course the intros (thanks Harold).

It was a joy working with the wind orchestra. They have a wonderful committee which seem to take care of absolutely everything. The standard is excellent and I hope that I can work with them again sometime in the future.

North Winds, South Winds 1

My piece, Guardians of the North, went well. I placed it at the end of the programme, which could have been trouble after the workload before it, but it sounded great. I had made several revisions since its premiere in 2007, including a new ending, which I was very happy about. It now seems to sit more comfortably with the players, which is definitely a good thing.

The "North Winds, South Winds" have definitely receded, but what a breath of fresh air! Another concert down, more New Zealand music is in the mix - that makes me happy.

Blogs - read, write, sing, play

I have a routine: every morning I wake up, lean over and pick up my iPhone, I check the news, then I read all of the latest feeds from my favourite blogs. The blogs are music ones of course, and for years I have been filtering through them and the ones I like are the ones that stay. I use the term of "blog" rather loosely - some of these are actual blogs, some are more updates and news, but all just as interesting and worthwhile. Just a note, the links are to the actual RSS feed, not to the website, so they will open in your RSS reader.

  • Sibelius Blog: A must if you're a Sibelius user. News, interviews, the latest movies to be scored on Sibelius, tips and more. Run by Daniel Spreadbury, Sibelius’s Senior Product Manager.
  • The Electric Semiquaver: All about writing with music notation software. The first line of his latest blog sums it up very well: "How music notation software can both assist, and completely destroy, musical texture."
  • CompositionToday: Nice updates, news and resources about and for classical composers.
  • Musical Perceptions: "Perceptions about music, perceptions that affect music, perceptions colored by music, perceptions expressed by music".
  • Echoes: They are disc manufacturers for independent artists but it's a really nice blog of "insights for independent artists".
  • New Music Strategies: Self explanatory.
  • Professional Orchestration: Nice feed on all topics related to orchestration.
  • Scoring Sessions: The feed from what I think you all know is one of my favourite websites.
  • Soundtrack.net: Feed of reviews and news of film soundtracks by Dan Goldwasser.
  • Sequenza21/: Great feed of news and reviews from this contemporary classical music community.
  • The Naxos Blog: Sounds a bit heavy - it's not. Got great blogs and news articles.
  • Apple Creative Professionals: If you're a mac lover you'll have to have this one.
  • ryanyouens.com | blog: Am I allowed to put this on here?

While you're at it, these are two well updated and completely essential news feeds:

Well, enjoy. If you have your own favourites, or any in particular that you can't live without ... let me know.

"North Winds, South Winds"

A concert of New Zealand wind music by the Auckland Wind Orchestra, conducted by Ryan Youens. Don't miss this wonderful event featuring selections from New Zealand's finest wind music.

Auckland Wind Orchestra

  • Aue! - Christopher Marshall
  • The Ballad of Settler McGee - Philip Norman
  • Earthbound Wings - Yvette Audain
  • Far Star - Matthew Crawford
  • Forest Sketches - David Woodcock
  • Guardians of the North - Ryan Youens

Including two premieres:

  • The Pensieve - Zyia-Li Teh
  • Rotorua - Phillip Anderson

3pm, Sunday 18th October

Aotea Chapel, Auckland Methodist Mission, 370 Queen Street, Auckland (opposite Town Hall)

$15 waged, $10 unwaged (door sales only)

www.awo.co.nz

The word goes out

Well we are on the hunt for text about Taupo, by the people of Taupo to be part of the 2010 ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival community commission. This is a wonderful idea that came from the community and will bring together poems from those in Taupo to be used in this new work. Below is the brief released this week to schools and local newspapers: Calling all writers, poets and songwriters

The ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival has commissioned New Zealand composer Ryan Youens to write a work to open next year's festival, involving many of the local school and community ensembles and choirs. This commission is made possible by SOUNZ (The Centre for New Zealand Music) and their SOUNZ Community Commission.

He needs YOUR help and is asking for poems about the lake or river that he will set to music and use in this new work. Have ideas? Want to write something? Do you have something suitable already? Don't miss out on this very special opportunity.

Details:

  • Entries may be in either English or Māori.
  • Length and format is up to you, just remember it will be set to music.
  • Entries must be emailed to ryan@ryanyouens.com by Friday 23rd October.
  • Entries must be accompanied with your name, email and school (if applicable).
  • Numerous entries will be used and both successful and non-successful applicants will be notified soon after the closing date.
  • By entering, you agree for your text to be used in this work, and you will be acknowledged in the programme, score and in all other appropriate places.
  • If any further questions, feel free to make contact via the email above.

28 hours in Taupo

With thanks to the SOUNZ Community Commission, I have been commissioned to write a piece to open the 2010 ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival. The first part of this project was to head down there and see what exactly is available for me to work with, visit the venue and meet the people. So I arrived on Tuesday 15th and left on Wednesday 16th. I had a superb time and huge thanks to the Festival Director Drew James who organised the jam-packed trip. It was quite amazing to see just how much quality musical activity is happening in Taupo. Rather exciting. So now the next step is to confirm what resources I will actually use and start thinking about the music.

Here's an overview of the trip:

5pm venue visit - First stop was to check out the venue, and what a venue it is. An amphitheater with capacity of about 5000 backing on to the Waikato River:

Erupt Trip 11Erupt Trip 8

7pm Taupo Concert Band rehearsal - After a visit to the pub with Drew, first stop was the Taupo Concert Band. These guys sounded superb:

Erupt Trip 1

830am Tauhara College Choir rehearsal - First thing on day two was the Tauhara College Choir rehearsal. We were horrified to discover it was "tight and bright" mufti day. If I had known maybe I would have worn something to blend in a little. Anyway, they sounded great:

Erupt Trip 2

10am Library - During the trip I was also on the hunt for ideas of text to use from local poets or writers. So I visited the library - the ladies were very helpful.

11am Met with Tauhara College music HOD Justin Gibbs - I met with Justin Gibbs who is a very busy music figure in Taupo, and who I hope will have a key involvement in this project:

Erupt Trip 3

1130am Composition tutorial - Had fun taking a composition tutorial with the year 13 composition students at Tauhara College.

1230pm Tuwharetoa Schools Kapa Haka Festival - Popped in to the Kapa Haka Festival - gosh there were a lot of people there:

Erupt Trip 4

2pm Met with writer and poet Rowley Habib - On the continued hunt for what might be good text to use, I was lucky to meet Rowley Habib at his home and we went through a lot of his work.

4pm Taupo Wind Band rehearsal

Erupt Trip 5

430pm Interview for the local paper - I talked and talked and talked, then smiled for a photo.

5pm Met with Taupo Nui Atia College HOD Winsome Wensley - Another key music figure in Taupo. Had several great ideas for the project.

7pm "Fang" musical rehearsal - The musical was two weeks out from opening night. The director, Sharon Shanks, kindly showcased all their key singers for us:

Erupt Trip 6

8pm Taupo Choral Society rehearsal - We popped in to see the ladies (and girls ... in fact) of the Taupo Choral Society. They were wonderfully led by Stephen Cowley:

Erupt Trip 7

So a fantastic trip. Look forward to getting into the project. Look forward to spending some more time in Taupo!!

Erupt Trip 12

Sounds of Celebration

I conducted the Kristin Symphonia today in their Sounds of Celebration combined music concert. Despite slightly diminished numbers, they performed superbly. On the programme was:

  • Farandole from L'Arlesienne Suite No.2 by Bizet
  • Awakino Pastorale by M.C.W. Bell
  • The Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at a Exhibition by Mussorgsky
  • Scherzo from Symphony No.9 by Beethoven

Sounds of Celebration 1

Sounds of Celebration 2

Sounds of Celebration 3