Thursday, November 03, 2005

Day 1 Activities

It's now 25 minutes past mid-night, and the corridor of the 3rd floor of our hotel is very much alive. In his room, the writer could hear clearly voices of maybe 10 people and the sound of playing harmonica. People are busy practising, busy planning for the next day.

Breakfast was taken in the hotel restaurant. Everybody was quite happy with the food, the bread was especially fresh with crispy skin and yet soft inside. We can eat all we could, and service was good. "But in a few days you'll be bored 'cause the same food is served every day," warned Louisa.

We set off to visit the Hohner Harmonica Factory at 9:30. The entire team was divided into two groups, with one group visiting from one end of the path, and the other visiting in the opposite direction. Especially for the harmonica players, we were very fascinated by the manufacturing process, some of which is fully automatic, some semi-automatic, and some manual. Each reed had to be placed strictl aligned with the slot, otherwise the reed would not be able to vibrate freely. we sawa tuner machine that was specially designed for the harmonica, and that was quite interesting. We saw an assembly line for assembling a harmonica, like screwing together the comb, reed plates and cover. Eventually, when a harmonica is finished production, it would be testing by a worker, and guess what, the worker would play the harp and listen to it. If there was problem, the harp would be repaired. So every harp you buy has been played before.

Beore noon, we arrived at the Konzerthaus to complete the registration process. A room was set up for repairing harmonica by two experts. The price of replacing a reed was 15 Euros, which was pretty expensive.

There was a small cafeteria serving some simple food, and quite a large area of tables and seats. Many people gathered at the tables to chat, and some of them played the harp, some were showing off their talents, while others just to enjoy do it with other harp lovers whom they knew or had never met before.

At 1pm, many of us had to go back to the hotel to pick up our harps for practicing the orchestra competition pieces. In the afternoon, we were divided into 3 groups. A small group of 4 people would to go visit a nearby town. A second group would visit the harmonica museum, and the third group went to the music conservatory for practicing.

At 7pm, we all met at the Konzerthaus for the Opening Ceremony. Speeches were delivered by the organizer, the mayor of Trossingen, and the boss of Hohner company, in both German and English. In between the speeches, the Hohner band played music. The band consisted of about 26 players, with 10 chromatic players, 9 accordion players, 1 double bass harp, 1 chord harp, 2 keboard, 1 bass guitar, and 3 percussion. This was the first time for most of us to see so many accordion players in a band. The ceremony ended at about 8:30, and food was served. Then there was an area where guest harpists would perform. It was a much casual show. People could come and go as they liked, eating and watching the performers at the same time. A few of the audience would be dancing with the music.

Some of us came back to the hotel before the scheduled time bus pick-up time, and about 15 of us stayed on to enjoy the show. By the time all of us came back, it was about 11:00pm.


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