Thursday, January 19, 2012

Where Do You Want To Perform Next?

We had just returned from the "adventure of a lifetime"--a trip to Sri Lanka where we performed at the American Ambassador's residence, for Radio Sri Lanka, and had toured that exotic country from the palace of the footprint of Buddha in Kandy to the elephant orphanage outside Colombo--when a friend simply asked, "Where do you want to perform next?"  My answer--Africa!

Now Africa is a continent--a very, very large continent at that, so I had not been overly exact in my pronouncement or pinpointed my desire of a performance location too precisely, but performing in Africa was my goal.  This friend, knowing my desire to experience the world and get acquainted with its people (and see some amazing animals in the process)--and in the meantime, play some interesting concerts on interesting organ--wasn't all that surprised. 

As it turned out, he had been to Africa, Zimbabwe in particular, not too many years prior and still had a few connections.  Armed with his "connections," I started the process of booking concerts in a nation that at that time I knew nothing about.  Discovery begins for me with a place name and a map--there it was--Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia, was near the southern tip of the continent.

In the time before the advent of the internet and all the wonders it affords, making contact with my friend's connections was challenging.  Calling half a world away at the time was also prohibitive, but the handwritten letter and--wonder of wonders--the fax were available.  Letters and an occasional fax flew slowly around the world for sixteen months.  Libraries and bookshops were visited so I could learn as much as possible about the Africa I was about to visit.

Finally, a rudely constructed building along a rather isolated and seemingly short runway came into view.  Our plane landed, the stairs were lowered, and I walked into Africa and all the wonders and amazement of a place to be experienced filled my soul.

Where do you want to travel next?

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