Afternoon Jazz and the Return to Greece

Posted on February 3rd, 2016 by

Blog written by Eric Hanson ’16.

After a successful concert at the Bitola opera last night, we were up and at it early again this morning. Following a 6am wakeup call and a quick breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road around 7:30. Our destination was Ohrid, a small city in the mountains on the shore of a lake called by the same name. Following a windy drive up and down the mountain, we made it in time for a brief walking tour.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Ohrid’s waters are beautifully clear, and the weather was perfect for enjoying the scenery. Ohrid is also home to an extremely well preserved Byzantine fortress and a historic old town. After the walking tour, the Jazz Cats (aka the members of the Lab Band) headed to the opera to set up for our matinee performance while members of the symphony orchestra had time to explore the city.

It was not hard to notice that the opera house wasn’t very warm when we arrived. One might even say it was quite cold. Nevertheless, after an impressively efficient setup and brief soundcheck, it was time to open the doors. A few audience members trickled in while the band holed up by the heaters, trying to keep our instruments (and hands) as warm as possible. 11 o’clock rolled around, and the house was still quite empty. Fortunately, once Balkan 11 o’clock rolled around 20 minutes later, we had a much larger audience (less than half of which consisted of GSO members!).

Despite the cold and the late start, the band played a fantastic concert. Everybody was extremely energetic and the solo work was some of the best (if not the best) of the entire tour. Our efforts did not go unnoticed, and the audience clearly enjoyed the Sunday morning gig, occasionally clapping along, dancing, and rewarding our efforts with a pair of standing ovations.

Unfortunately, there was not much time to celebrate our performance, as a quick tear down was followed by an even quicker lunch break before it was time to get back on the bus and head to Thessaloniki. The buses backtracked to Bitola before crossing the border back into Greece. The border crossing was uneventful, yet exciting for those in our group who call Greece home. Greece greeted us with a lovely sunset (or Orange Colored Sky, as our vocalist might say) over the mountains and a farmers’ demonstration which lead to a bunch of tractors being left in the middle of the road. Despite the hour plus delay, we still made it to Thessaloniki in time for a late, yet delicious, dinner. It was another busy, exciting, and insanely fun day of tour.


One Comment

  1. Christy Pearson says:

    Great to hear about this day – thank you!