It’s difficult to believe that the first week has already drawn to a close. So much has happened that boarding the flight from JFK feels like a month ago, but if someone were to ask me to my face what I have accomplished so far during my time here, I’d probably stare at them blankly. Adjustment has been manageable in all the ways that I thought it would be, and I have struggled where I thought I would (primarily with regard to the language). I haven’t quite learned to think in the new language yet – I’m still translating the language internally, which is not something I can process fast enough to maintain a full conversation most of the time. I always start with Italian, but I cannot help but feel disheartened when the recipient switches to English instead to accommodate me.
The bulk of my experiences so far, however, have been quite wonderful. The food has been incredible, and often makes me wonder why things aren’t done the same way stateside. Or maybe they are, and I was never aware of it, which seems equally plausible. Either way, I’m in love with the trees here, too. Apart from landmarks, it would be easier to forget I’m so far from home if not for these majestic Roman pines. I think I understand better why Respighi felt the need to write an entire tone poem about them.
But speaking of landmarks… I’ve got to say something about those. One day has already been devoted to seeing as many famous landmarks as could be walked to continuously, and I was taken by how much I saw that I wasn’t expecting to see. I mean, everyone knows to visit the Colosseum and the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps, but around every corner in between, there’s a breathtaking little church or quaint alleyway or just something that’s architecturally noteworthy. You can take a fantastic picture of something from virtually any vantage point in some parts of this city.
Even though orientation has run its course (in name only – I’m sure I’ll still be “getting oriented” by the time I’m set to leave), I’ve already begun lessons with my composition instructor, Mr. Richard Trythall at the St. Stephen’s International School. The first was mostly spent becoming acquainted with each other and my music. In doing so, I realized I still haven’t quite figured out what I want to write while I’m here. The one piece I had been working on most lately was a piece for string orchestra, a suite with two movements out of a planned six completed yet. However, it was conceived in a very Americana style. I’m not sure how I feel about returning to the States and replying to “So, what did you write while in Italy?” with “Oh, I wrote these great Appalachian folk melodies.”
I do plan on immersing myself in as much of the music scene within Rome as I can (not going to the opera at least once would be a waste), and I’ll be on the lookout for local music with which to supplant my personal library for a time. When time allows, I’d like to see other parts of the country outside of Rome as well. As my music tends to be very pictorial, or “Impressionist,” if you will, I anticipate more landscapes will influence the direction of my musical sketches–so my compositional project is yet to be determined for now. Updates will follow in time!