Saturday, 21 April 2012

Berlin wrap-up

Having been so energetic about blogging during the first week and half of my trip through Europe, it behooves me to finish off the story a little.

My original purpose for being in Berlin, other than establishing and reaffirming relationships with various other researchers, was to attend the DSAL workshop, where I was coauthor of a paper with some collaborators from Germany and Luxembourg. That was done by Tuesday, so in theory at least, I was a little more at my leisure for the rest of the week. In practice, it changed little; I wasn't presenting the paper anyway, and we in fact spent more of the week working on a paper submitted the following week.

During the DSAL workshop, in one of the duller talks (yes, there are dull talks at academic workshops - a shocking revelation, I know), when I wasn't plotting running tracks, I discovered that there was a concert in town on Wednesday night by the Shai Maestro Trio.

Shai Maestro is a young Israeli pianist who played on a couple of albums by Avishai Cohen, who has in recent years been probably my favourite jazz performer. Maestro's playing had really impressed me, and I have been looking forward to his new album (now released, in fact), so I was pretty excited at the prospect of being able to see him live. The gig was at 10pm in town, necessitating a train a little after 9, and upon inspection, the conference social event, a boat cruise, was scheduled in the programme to finish at 9, right next to the train station, so I figured I was all good.

The boat cruise was pretty good, out on the lake around which I had run earlier in the week. The company was also good - as I had been for much of the week, I surrounded myself with French-speakers - Jacques, Max, Jean-Marc (who came along for the Wednesday and Thursday morning), Phillipe from Nice and Joerg from Montreal. We had some really interesting discussions, about French politics, Swiss ice-skating, and Dan Simmons novels, and the time passed quickly.

By around 8:45pm, though, I was getting antsy - the boat showed no sign of returning to port, and time was marching on. Time continued its march, and by around 9:30pm, still not ashore, I had resigned myself to missing not only the start of the gig, but most of it. We ended up getting back to shore a little after 10pm, and with a 15 minute wait for a train, I decided that the game was lost, and headed dejectedly back to my hotel.

I felt particularly guilty at missing the concert as I had boasted over Skype to Paul, another Avishai devotee and Shai Maestro admirer, about going to the gig, and telling him I had been in Berlin and still missed it was an unappealing prospect.

As much as I had a good time on the boat cruise, I'd still rather have seen the gig.

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