Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Embassy Elevator Welcomes You

I’d mentioned to the Master and Suave a while back that I wanted to attend more events at Embassy’s. Nothing sounds or feels more DC, right?

My first event was courtesy of Suave at the Australian Embassy. It was an after work luau back in August. Drinking on a work night seemed fitting for the Australian Embassy… not to stereotype, but my summer fling while backpacking Europe was an Australian Fire Fighter, and that boy could drink like Foster's was the last liquid on Earth.

Last night, the Master took us to the Israeli Embassy’s Cultural Affair Departments’ 2006-2007 season opening concert. The note on the back of the program (“A Note from the Cultural Attaché” was the headline. How cool to introduce yourself in DC as a member of the Israeli Embassy’s Cultural Attache!).

If you've ever wondered why people who work at the Israeli Embassy only wear flats and clunky shoes (not that I know this to be a fact), it is because of the horrible uneven brick walkway from the Van Ness Metro stop. The Master about ruined her fashionable new Via Spiga's.

"Why is everyone working on that building next to the Israel Embassy tiny and Asian?" I asked.
"Oh, that's where the new Chinese Embassy is being built," the Master responded.
"The Embassy is going to be huge!"
"It's a big country."


We waited in line for about 30 minutes. The Cultural Affair Officer checked our photo ids against a list containing our name, birthdates, and Social Security Numbers, as provided in the RSVP. Then we ran our bags through a serious x-ray machine and stepped through a metal detector. Once, we'd finally made it inside, we were seated in a room with carpeting designed with a Star of David pattern. The program announced the Pianist and Cellist for the evening.

When you become a serious musician, you apparently gain the title of "The." We saw THE Ofra Yitzhaki and THE Amir Eldan. Well, funny enough, the "THE" was supposed to carry onto both names, I think, but it appeared to look like

The Embassy of Israel Cultural Affair Department presents the Ofra Yitzhaki and Amir Eldan.

Poor Amir, besides being super petite, he also is stuff playing with the Ofra when he's purely Amir.

The average age of the attendees was probably 60, and that's an understatement, I'm sure. In a crowd of people at a Pianist and Cellist concert at an Embassy, the one Korean man and one African-American woman stick out like Nicole Richie's collarbone.

Personally, I usually find these sorts of concerts to be akin to hanging out in an Elevator for 3 hours. The process is so formal and the musicians so dull. There were about 50 people max and the room we were seated in looked like a reformed synagogue. Yet, after each piece, the musicians paused for applause. After the third selection, they exited the stage and walked towards the bathroom. In the program, an Encore was already listed. So, after we clapped, they returned to the stage for the last piece we know they were planning on playing. Then, after the final piece, they exited the stage and awaited the demise of our applause only to return back to stage and bow. Concert musicians are always so ridiculously formal even in an informal setting.

As you can imagine, my mind wanders throughout the whole time. This time around, I decided to record my thoughts for the blog. Here they are in no particular order for your enjoyment:

The Master and I played a game of hangman around piece number 3. The word she chose was "hymn." I don’t know why that came to her mind.

How come the room has a 2 signs per wall (4 signs total) instructing us not to smoke? Is this a problem in the Embassy?

The Master: "Could they have picked any slower songs? Look Suave's falling asleep!"

Suave: "I never know when to clap." They tricked us by slowing down within an already slow song over and over again.

"Poor Robert Schumann died when he was 46," I whispered to the Master. "It was the 1800s."

Do Cellists have issues with Carpal Tunnel? If they can invent jelly pads for our wrists when we type, I'm sure there's something for Cellists to use when they play.

Ofra explained that she played Josef Bardanashvili's Metamorphoses for cello and piano from 1998 for Josef. The song takes the same melody and changes it throughout the song. We were supposed to hear influences of Israeli Folk Music within the song. I was way too distracted by Ofra standing while playing the song with a really angry look on her face. When the Pianist looks angry, you only listed to how angry the song is.

Is the aspiration of any concert musician to eventually compose their own music? It would get frustrating to constantly have to play stuff that you don't like.

Ofra was really quite pretty, though I wonder if she gets enough Vitamin D. She was in a stunning black dress, but her skin was remarkably pale. I guess her work is really in doors only.

How annoying for Ofra and Amir that their jobs require them to dress formal every day. I though Business Casual with a ban on denim was bad enough.

If a Cellist and Pianist developed sexual chemistry, would they be more into one another's looks or one another's talent?

Finally, they played Ernest Block's Three melodies from Jewish Life. One was named Supplication. I wanted to look that word up. It means humble prayer. The selections were labeled: Supplication, Jewish Song, Prayer. Apparently, Ernest Block thought Jews prayed a whole lot and did little else. I guess Eating Kugel wouldn't make such a wonderful title.

We were told that a nice group of ladies from the largest Sephardic synagogue in DC baked food for the reception. We hadn't eaten dinner so I definitely worked up calories nibbling on the delicious food. I don't understand plastic wine glasses though. I find them difficult to carry and sort of useless. What's wrong with nice, clear, punch glasses instead? I shouldn't complain, free wine in an Embassy could be handed to me in a trough and I'd probably enjoy it all the same.

We exited through the most complicated security system and were told by the Master's hot friend who works there that the next event would be much younger. I'd go back just to see him, hubba hubba Bubb…y?


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