Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The City of Dreaming Spires

Hello from Oxford!

I feel that everyone, upon moving to a new country, should have a week, if possible, to wander around lost and confused. Well, I have been in England for a week, and although my term doesn't officially start until Monday, I feel I should start moving in the direction of work. (Though I would like to note that the University, Department, College, and Graduate Common Room have all been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I may be overwhelmed, but I am not appreciably lost or confused.)

Although I have yet to meet my supervisor (an email for tomorrow!), I had department orientation, known here as induction, on Monday, and met the other first year graduate students. It seems like a really nice mix of people, doing really interesting things. I'm the only MPhil in Music History, but there are quite a few MSt Music History students, and our degrees are the same for the first year. So I will have some company! The department's in a nice building, with a Graduate Center (full of coffee, tea, and computers) out back and some practice rooms. We also had a library orientation, and got to see the Bate Musical Instrument Collection. The library's a nice space, with good resources only marred by the fact that there are two cataloging systems running side by side. Well, that and the fact that only 20-30% of the sheet music and scores are cataloged online. The rest are only found in the physical card catalog. Nevertheless, it's a nice library.

The Bate Collection is somewhat less helpful for my research, but incredibly exciting. As a student, I can play nearly any instrument in the collection, within reason. Of course, "within reason" means, for me, all the oboes. Such as the 18th century oboes, the 19th c. Viennese oboe, the Brod or Triebert or 19th c. Loree oboes, not to mention the English horns! I'm incredibly excited to take my reeds down there some day and see how the instruments are doing.

However, the Faculty Library isn't my only library resource. I also have the main Bodleian library. Normally the music reading room is in the New Bodleian. However, that's just been closed for extensive renovations, so we've been relocated to the Duke Humfrey Reading Room in the Old Bodleian. A hint: if you've ever been on a tour of the library, it's that room.

I'm incredibly excited to start the term. I'll be taking a language, having meetings with my supervisor, attending a two lecture series and a discussion series, and hopefully playing in at least one large ensemble as well as a quintet. 

Now to finish organizing my room...

Oh, well, before I go. I'll have my orchestra audition this weekend; I'll find out more tomorrow at the activities fair. I'll be playing some combination of Bach and orchestra excerpts, as yet to be decided exactly. Wish me luck! The first orchestra concert is Tchaik 5 and Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, so I'm crossing my fingers that the audition goes well. (A side note for those who have trouble visualizing the size of spools: having just bought three exciting new thread colors from Forrests, I can say that they sell absolutely gigantic spools of thread. It makes it a fairly good buy, but be forewarned!) I hear that my college will be putting on Barber of Seville next term, so I hope to be playing for that as well.