Friday, August 24, 2007
Yesterday (Thursday) we had a chance to meet the American Ambassador and his wife. They were in the next city, Liberec, and were invited (by the Mayor of Frydlant) to visit this town. The Ambassador told me that this was the first time an American Ambassador had visited Frydlant. We met him and his wife and were given a tour of Frydlany Castle. The castle was built around 800-900 years ago. But now it serves as a museum. We were treated to a nice reception with coffee, tea, and traditional Czech pastries in the castle's renovated kitchen. The picture is of Ambassador Richard Graber, his wife Alexandria, Skip, Gary and myself.
That evening, Gary and I led our student group at the students' concert. Eight bands played, and ours was very well received. Most of the bands play traditional jazz tunes, while some played Czech jazz tunes based on Czech folk tunes. It is very different from jazz workshops in America: most of the students drink alcohol (the concert is held in a bar/night club) and the drinking age is 18 (a law that is not strictly enforced). It creates quite a different environment.
It is also interesting to ask students to tell us their opinion of the US. One student felt that, generally, America is much more 'Puritanical' than Europe, especially compared to the Czech Republic. Generally, the feeling is that they like Americans, but are not enamored with the current administration in Washington. They ask me when the next election will be and who will be president. They are interested in the US and have met several students that have been to America through student exchange programs.
Tonight is the last student concert and concludes the 2007 Jazz Workshop in Frydlant. Tomorrow we drive back to Prague and play in another jazz club, Agharta jazz club in downtown Prague. Then Sunday we fly back to the US. This may be the last time I post an entry from Europe, but will definitely add one or two concluding entries--with pictures--very soon.