Tuesday 11 September 2018

(March 19, 2018) On to Gjirokaster

Rehearsing my piece "Equinox", with Music Progressive Quartet

I'm sitting in the lobby of Hotel Çajupi, waiting for the bus to take us to our first concert of the tour!  We left Tirana yesterday morning, and enjoyed lunch near a monastery in the mountains, en route to Bujar's village of Antigone.

View from Gjirokaster

Jim & Marissa on the patio

Six years ago, on our first WCSO tour, we had donated a few musical instruments to help start a music school in the village.  Last night, we enjoyed a concert by some students of the new school.  It was really special.  We were treated to performances by some young violinists, flautists, clarinettists, as well as some traditional Albanian singers.

Music room dedicated to Jim DeFina
(West Coast Symphony clarinettist, who passed away shortly after our first WCSO tour, in 2012)
Maestro Bujar, with some young music students
Albanian singers

Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious feast of local food (and raki!), and mingled with the people from Antigone-- very generous and friendly hosts.  This morning, we woke up to a rainstorm.  Despite the weather, a small group of us hiked up the hill to explore the castle.  We were completely rain-soaked by the time we hiked back down to our hotel, but got some beautiful photos-- even in the wind and rain.

Outside the castle in Gjirokaster

Julia and Ken, exploring near the castle 

David and Elizabeth
Marianne and Julia

Exploring the castle grounds

After changing into dry clothes, a couple of us enjoyed a delicious lunch at a small cafe, followed by some raki!  We also checked out a couple of the small local shops selling handmade souvenirs.  I picked up a beautiful wooden hand-carved bird, and a tiny antique silver coffee urn.

Outside one of the shops in town

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