Last week ended up being a bit more of a mixed bag, despite the positive start that Isabel described in our last blog entry. As the week went on, it emerged that our intention for each staff member to run at least one activity in their groups had not reached one of the teachers, and also three other staff members were off ill for at least part of the week. On the plus side, the two groups at the Parents Bridge day centre seem to have fallen well into place; as Isabel mentioned in the previous blog post, it has been a bit of a challenge to understand what would work in this particular context, but we seem to have now got two groups that are appropriate, enjoyable for all involved, and will be sustainable after the project. The week was tied up with a very positive and productive staff workshop, again with our translator, Eliso, present. The staff gave us some fantastic feedback, and we were again impressed by what they had observed in the sessions Ã¢â¬â they seemed to be noticing everything that I hoped they would notice, which is very encouraging!
The positive Friday feeling continued as we went to see not one, but two performances by different orchestras after school. The first was by the Para Orchestra, a group which rehearses twice a week at the Parents Bridge day centre where Isabel and I have been working. The orchestra comprises of a group of service users and two members of staff Ã¢â¬â Giorgi as conductor, and Aliona on piano. The service users play different parts on a variety of percussion instruments, while Aliona (who also works at the school, and is partaking in our training programme) plays a piano accompaniment. Their repertoire includes Mozart’s Turkish Rondo, a Tango, and various Georgian pieces. The service users seem to really relish playing in this group, and have been working hard towards the performance. They played each of their pieces twice on the steps of Tbilisi Concert Hall in glorious sunshine, and the thrill of performing was evident on the faces of many of the orchestra members. The Tango was a particular highlight, featuring two very talented soloists from the orchestra Ã¢â¬â one singing, one dancing.
From this performance, Isabel and I went on to the Djansug Kakhidze Tbilisi Centre for Music and Culture, via a cafÃÂ© where I cursed myself for not learning the Georgian word for 'help' as I managed to get locked in the Ladies. Thankfully I was released from my lavatorial prison fairly promptly, and we made it to the venue on time for a performance of the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra. The building was stunning inside, and our seats in the centre of the balcony were incredible given that they only cost us the equivalent of about ÃÂ£2.70! The programme consisted of two pieces by Shostakovich Ã¢â¬â Concerto for Violin and Symphony No. 5, with Roman Simovic as the soloist. By an interesting coincidence, he is currently the leader of the London Symphony Orchestra; Isabel works for their outreach department back in London. Now, time for a slightly shameful confession; in all my years as an orchestral musician, I had never actually gone to see a professional orchestra play before this evening. Why did no one ever tell me it would feel so good to do so?! The power of the music was palpable, tingling electricity in the air, and I left the hall on a total high and with an appetite for more.
The rest of the weekend passed quickly. Yesterday morning was our first group of this week, and Isabel and I were pleased to see that the two staff members had taken on most of our feedback from the previous week. This penultimate week is unfortunately slightly disrupted due to both the school and centre being closed for a national holiday today called Mtskhetoba - we haven’t really managed to get a straight answer from anyone about what happens, but it seems to be some sort of festival where the old capital of Georgia, Mtskheta, is celebrated. However, I am confident that despite this break in the week, we will continue to see progress in our work as Project Georgia 2014 approaches the ending stages.
Until next week,
Jenny and Isabel