"We won't fit that chair in..." announced the airport assistant. I watched four burly men pull, push and drag my legs into the hold under the plane, with Jackie trying in vain to distract me. Once everyone was settled we flew off to Norway, with a very blond, very gay air-host(ess). The hospitality of the Norwegians was amazing; nothing was too much trouble, they always wanted to help.
On our first semi-dark day we went to Tromsø University where the Culture school was based and we met the three music gurus: Elin, Einar and Johann. All the lecturers who we met welcomed us, as well as the few students who we met. A large room with a stage and lighting appeared in front of us; this was apparently where I was going to do my presentation! Doug promptly fell into technical talk.
Inhaling fresh air was bizarre, piercingly cold, heavy but revitalising, until your nose felt like it was going to freeze off! Our regular chauffeur drove us up and down solid ice roads past pure-white mountains and fairy tale houses covered in un-even snow.
Having only ever done one presentation before I knew the idea of talking to a group of strangers was daunting to say the least! As we sat there, more and more students kept slouching in... Something one of my favourite teachers told me popped into my mind, "never admit to ignorance, pretend you know everything." I changed this to "never admit to fear!" The students were very responsive compared to the academics, this surprised me!
I had composed three pieces of music prior to entering Norway; that was my pass into the country. The music was for the Tromsø Festival to welcome the sun back, after six months of dusk and dark. The opening concert was a special occasion. The dancers were performing on snow sculptures, their obvious enjoyment radiated towards the audience. When my compositions came on, I didn't know what to expect or feel, my feelings were confused and they still are! I enjoyed one specific part; when the boy was born. This piece of music was completely opposite to all the rest.
As well as working we also had some unreal experiences. Flying around the fjords above snow covered mountains and floating above the water was surreal. Words will never describe it. Un-disturbed snow hiding glaciers, the sun attempting to rise and clear-sky-perfection.
On our last day Jackie and I went on a husky sledge ride. The dogs took us for an hour around bleak white fields, up and down mountains giving us a clear view of Tromsø Island and Whale Island. The dogs bounded through the snow with ease, I bounded around the sledge with ease as well!
Our week was packed from morning till night; meeting beautiful people, working with students, exploring the local area and watching citizens perform their chosen art form. The experiences that I had from this freezing trip were exceptional... I will never forget them.
If you haven't done so already, view Doug's post below for links to pictures and music