Ink is the transcendent element. Ink as clefs, rests, dots and dynamic markings. Ink as crosshatched shading under a wild bloodshot eye on the page of a comic book.
The cult of “genre” transcends language and cultural heritage, and brings us here today, under a cottage-cheese-plaster ceiling, between four walls stuffed with chamber musicians.
This is the first rehearsal for Bear’s chamber music ensemble here in Malaga, Spain, (the original home of Antonio Banderas, apparently). It’s good to finally hear the music being played after watching him work on these arrangements for the last few months. Really I’m just happy we slept at all last night (our internal clocks are in bizarro land, after 15 hours in flight) and woke up for this with any kind of orientation.
The culture of Spain is one of late night comraderie. The weather is warm and breezy, very accommodating for the outdoor cafes, around every corner. Our hosts, a small group of upstart film music fans, would’ve talked and tipped the beer all night, had we not pleaded jet-lag and retired at 11pm (8am our time).
Even this morning, through the round port-hole windows in the doors behind Bear’s conducting stand, I can see the festival organizers pressing their faces to see in, like bunched up shirts behind the dryer glass. They’re so excited, they’re such fans, they’re so sincere, they’re such… nerds.
It hit me last night over dinner. We traveled thousands of miles to bring music to a foreign and historic land, an exotic land, the birthplace of Picasso, the home of stony austere Catholicism, yet here, in the stomping grounds of Cervantes, we found more fanboys.
Right to left: David, Juanva, David (De Barcelona), y Sergio
What began as a discussion of film music, quickly morphed into a “What’s your favorite movie?!” bro-down geek fest. As the tapas disappeared, the genre love crested in recurrent waves of laughter and dénouement. “’Aliens’ is your favorite? ‘Aliens’ is my favorite!” Squealed David, the festival president, across the table. It became our own mini Comic Con, played out in broken English.
It really didn’t sink in until we were discussing the Conan The Barbarian remake at dinner, across from an Iron Man T-shirt, a Nightmare Before Christmas T-shirt, and a Green Lantern T-shirt. Then this morning’s rehearsal brought a harp, a vibraphone, two violins, one viola, a clarinet, a flute, a piano, a double bass, a French horn, a Superman T-shirt, a Batman T-shirt, a Simpsons T-Shirt , a white Joker T-shirt, and a green Joker T-shirt. I called one of them aside .
David, the festival president, was wearing the early 80s looking Joker rendering, on a white backgound – complete with sparkly hair, and the criminal’s devine, maniacle revelry, in open-mouthed glee. It was a very cool shirt.
I got his attention,
“Me gusto su camiseta.” (I like your T-shirt)
“Oh, heh heh, gracias.”
“El Joker es mi otro esposo.”(The Joker is my other husband)
“Oh, me too, ha!”
I’m not sure my Spanish was correct, and even if it was, not sure my sense of humor translated. Even so, it was a moment of trans-cultural geek love. We took a picture of the Joker’s loopy eyes, peeking out over the top of a Walking Dead score.
Oscar y David (with fab T-shirt)
After this we’ll break for lunch until 5, no doubt we’ll drift back into the realm of our collective ink-stained imaginations, but right now the strings are holding dissonances with the willowy quiver of the undead, opening up to hopeful strains above the rumble of a bass drum. This is, after all, why we are really here.
Part II: “Un Poco Tarde”
After lunch: Walking into the first full orchestral rehearsal, two festival coordinators, David and Oscar greet us. Everyone seems refreshed. They ask us if we need water or coffee, we tell them we brought water, and we just had some coffee, so we decline. Then I thought again, I might want some coffee later if things go as late as they did last night. I rehearsed the Spanish in my mind, “Yo quiero café un poco tarde.” (I want coffee a little later) I think that’s it. I tried it out on David (Of The Sparkly Joker Shirt),
“Um…quiero café un poco tarde…es correcto?”
“No…si…I mean, es correcto?”(No…yes…I mean, is that correct?)
“Como se dice…en Espanol, ‘a little later?’” (how do you say…in Spanish, ‘a little later?’
“Oh, si ‘un poco tarde.’”
“ – en Espana, todo es ‘un poco tarde.’”
And we laughed, a joke! I got a joke in Spanish! He said “In Spain everything is ‘a little later.’” It’s true, even at this orchestral rehearsal players are just rolling in at the supposed start time, all in good humor, sandled, tan – but their playing is spot on, so maybe the Spanish are on to something. And later we’ll have dinner around 9:30 and probably finish by 11:30, I suppose, with beers. That’s Spain, alive in the moment – even if that moment stretches a little later, and later, and later….