Greetings from Porto, the beautiful capital of the North or Portugal. For those of you around the clarinet world who are not attending ClarinetFest 2009, I been have asked to provide a bit of information and, perhaps, a few personal asides from this annual gatherings of clarinetists and friends of the clarinet from throughout the world. Thus far I have spoken with clarinetists from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, France, and the United States. More of the world will soon appear as events unfold.
My time in Porto thus far has been dedicated to getting here, getting adjusted to a new time zone and doing some city touring. Porto is located North of Lisbon at the confluence of the Douro River and the Atlantic Ocean, and boasts a population of more than a quarter of a million residents with a metropolitan area of about one million. The city is filled with hills, shops, restaurants, churches, museums, concert halls and as welcoming a population as you will find anywhere. Walking here is not for the “faint of foot.” It’s all easy for half the time. Down is good; up is a challenge. Gravity always wins. Buy a good pair of shoes and learn the Metro or hail a taxi. It’s worth it!
Registration takes place this afternoon and the first event of this conference is scheduled for this evening. The remainder of the week includes concerts, recitals, competitions and lectures related to the clarinet. Often fests focus on some specific topics, style period or genre. This year is no exception with the great tradition of wind bands in Portugal and Spain providing the centerpiece of the week.
I’ll keep you posted. Oh, did I mention that Porto, specifically the Vila Nova de Gaia across the river via the Ponte Dom Luis I designed by G. Eiffel, is where the world’s port wine comes to mature?
The weather here is wonderful, highs in the low 80’s and lows in the 60’s. For those of us from Texas, could this paradise?
John Scott, Monday August 10, 2009