FMT On Tour

FMT On Tour

FMT On Tour 2014

Between 21 June - 12 July the Musicspectra T Society and Dunja Percussion Duo will be on tour in Europe. Follow the journey through Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Day 22

DiaryPosted by Anders Flodin Sat, July 12, 2014 14:35:14

Saturday 12 July 2014

A nice summer day, cruising through the northern ends of the Stockholm archipelago. What to say? I’m not sure I want to step ashore in this land. Can we please turn around and keep going on this journey instead? Since leaving Örebro three weeks ago we’ve been travelling 3500 kilometres, driving through eight different countries (Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) and also been to a ninth (Austria).

Thank you so much for these wonderful weeks, ever since I joined the group in Bratislava. Thank you Beata and Josef and Roman, Maria and her sons and the other teachers in Pribylina, the wonderful big group of Roma children and adults in Pribylina, to Ausra, her mother Regina, her grandmother and aunt in Ramygala. And it has been a joy to travel with the FMT group; Simon, Emelie, Robert, Sepp-Raymond (the spell check gives Seth-Reino as an alternative spelling though) and our fearless leader, lektor Anders, organiser, travel guide. I’m still pondering upon the words of wisdom from Anders a morning a few days ago and still wonder what it really means. ”Det gäller att se ljuset från den mörka sidan.” (It’s all about seeing the light from the dark side.) That question might be solved at a forthcoming journey.

Day 21

DiaryPosted by Anders Flodin Fri, July 11, 2014 10:47:05

Friday 11 July 2014

Sorry for repeating myself, but it was another glorious morning. I went for a morning run and started by running up the stairs of the old Russian cultural house, just next to the hotel. This must be one of the most brutal ruins or houses you can imagine. It’s lovely in its bombastic concrete way. Amazing. A mix of an Egyptian pyramid and a Mayan temple, done in slowly cracking concrete, at the very western end of the old Soviet Empire. Now all empty with a great view over the Finnish Bay, the eastern part of Baltic Sea. I ran over it, down the cracked steps with shrubs coming through the cracks. Then I kept on following the harbour side west and came upon endless old Soviet ruins, overgrown rubble, steel watch towers and a very fascinating part of the history of Tallinn. Big factories and ruins, then old apartment blocks and old wooden buildings. I ran through Kopli-kolmistu park, up among more old houses towards the old customs area. Then back along a long sandy beach, very pretty and enjoyable. Up along more parks with twisted pines, along streets with very nice old houses, often unpainted or with flaking paint, up to below the imposing old town walls. The Old Town is very extensive and for a while I got a bit lost up on the western end and found myself on a hig viewing point, overlooking this fascinating city.

The spa and pool area of the hotel was another planet twenty minutes later.

Day 20

DiaryPosted by Anders Flodin Fri, July 11, 2014 10:46:35

Thursday 10 July 2014

A wide open window and a hot morning, next to a major highway with a never ending stream of trucks. I wonder if they still are working on re-locating Finland to a more southern position. This bed and breakfast is right on the highway by the town of Uliunai. The room numbering is unique in this new building, starting with number 0 (zero). It’s room number 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 up here.

”Welcome. You will stay in room number zero.”


Everything is new, but they haven’t yet decided if they are building a B & B business or an amusement park. Behind the dorm building there are small wooden cabins, playground, wooden sculptures, a dam, a swing with a big sledge, like it’s been hijacked when Santa Claus stayed here. It was strange to find that thy didn’t have any breakfast, only the evening menu all day. The breakfast – or morning dinner – would be more expensive than the bed when you stayed here. We couldn’t face the idea of a main course for breakfast, but headed off north instead. Up the road we came to the town of Panevezys and bought breakfast to go in the local big supermarket and had it in a park, overlooking a lake. A perfect spot for breakfast and to plan the day.

The day turned into a Baltic odyssey, driving through the remaining part of Lithuania, through all of Latvia and then up through Estonia to Tallinn. We by-passed Riga, crossing a big river on a big dam wall west of Riga, then up along the coast without seeing Baltic Sea at all. We crossed into Estonia and the whole road trip has turned into a slow journey into landscapes, faces, houses and clothes that more and more resembles Sweden. That is not to say it’s becoming nicer, but actually more the opposite, as it’s reminding us about the modern world, the global madness, the fixation of the internet. We pondered upon the wild thought of turning east into the unknown and forgetting about Estonia and the ferry towards Sweden. The monotonous landscape, the dark forest crawling in and blocking all view of whatever was behind it, made the road rather boring. The most interesting part came when we tried to find a hotel in Tallinn, without a map, and relying on Anders’ mental maps from previous visits. His maps very perfect, the only problem being modern road works and road blocks and detours and too much traffic in too small a space. We did find rooms at the Tallink hotel, near the ferry terminals right in town though.

Then we headed for dinner in the Old Town. Emelie and Robert picked an Indian restaurant and later reported that the vegetarian dishes very really nice, extremely spicy and hot, but perfect. Simon, Anders and I headed for the Olde Hansa restaurant, an institution in itself. Made to look medieval, perfectly done in every detail, but also a tourist trap and an Estonian Disneyland. It didn’t matter as it is a marvellous place, great atmosphere, wonderful home made medieval type food, spiced beer in one litre ceramic jugs, and a constant low playing of medieval crum horns in the loudspeakers. Most lighting is by candle and I fell in love with the place almost before stepping inside.

Through the evening, the beer, the warm schnapps called Monk’s Bride, we were joined later by Simon’s old student friend Oliver, Emelie and Robert and then by Anders’ old friend Helen. Helen is a pianist, whose father is a composer. Oliver and Helen were both good company and we shared many thoughts and laughs during the evening.

Later in the evening I wondered if it would be alright if the customers – me – would stay the night and curl up on a wooden bench to sleep.

Day 19

DiaryPosted by Anders Flodin Thu, July 10, 2014 18:27:30

Wednesday 9 July

”Det gäller att se ljuset från den mörka sidan.” (It’s all about seeing the light from the dark side.) Senior Lecturer Anders Flodin held a short lecture as he woke up. He is not sure what it really means, but we are would be as excited as himself to find out. Germany had crushed Brazil by 7 to 1 in the World Soccer quarter final late last night.

As I didn’t watch the game I wa sup earlier than the others and went for a morning run. The Old Town and central part of Kaunas is circumflowed by the two rivers Neris (north) and Nemunas (south). I ran up the hill to the north as I was going to find Christ’s Resurrection Church. It was high on the escarpment, but the Zaliakalnis Funicular, the railway, up there didn’t work. Just below the church on the southern side was some dilapidated buildings and the closed up train station. The church was used as a weapons depot by the Nazis and then as a communication centre by the Soviets. I followed a street down the hill in a narrow valley and came to the river. The Neris was like other rivers I’ve seen here, a green belt and sandy beaches, thick greenery resembling a jungle and people fishing and swimming. I river right in the heart of Kaunas was to be in the heart of Congo. The cracked concrete gave way to a new bike trail under a big steel bridge.

I came to the Old Town and the fortress with its restored walls. Below it there was river flats and I loved the part where the river smet. I went to the sandy spit of land between them, open and sandy. A ”labas rytas” to a couple of ladies out on their morning walk. Something down stream made me think of the Congo River and Heart of Darkness. I was following, or searching for, Mr Kurtz and the Station, just like the novel by Joseph Conrad (who was Polish). My little morning run had turned into a run through time and space and into foreign worlds. Running as a drug and it takes a little while to find the way into foreign worlds. Next I found myself in the Latin Quarter of New Orleans, just befor the Mardi Gras. It looked like it along the main street in the Old Town, with two storey buildings, low lamp posts and cracked balconies draped in flowering geraniums. The low houses, the cracked plaster and the flaking paint coming off just as the geranium petals swirling in the warm morning air. A couple of churches in the heart of the Old Town. I criss crossed a few times, met a priest in a wall archway byt the St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral. To cross a major road and get to the Nemunas River I found a small underpass, thick with incense. Ahh, from New Orleans to India!

We all met up for breakfast at the Ibis Hotel, before we left at 10 am for the drive to Ramygala. Concert day. We did some car sightseeing on our way out of Kaunas, before getting to the freeway. It’s a big city, with big shopping centres and new housing estates on the northern side along the freeway. The landscape was flat farming land all the way to Ramygala.

Ramygala, a very big church in a small town. We stopped by a few small shops next to the church and waited for Ausra, Anders’ colleague from the Music Department at the University of Vilnius. The rest of the day consisted of two very good things: a Dunja concert and Lithuanian hospitality. That’s all you need to fill a most memorable day. Ausra took us to her Mother’s house. Regina, her mother, lived there with her mother and her sister. They served up a lunch that could last us for the rest of the day. A big serving of mashed potato (grown in their own garden of course) and cold beetroot and onion soup (tasted like Swedish midsummer) for entrée, followed by a bigger serving of mashed potato with a big schnitzel and chanterelle gravy.

We got a guided tour of the church and its history after lunch. The friendly priest quickly rang the assistant organist who played us a private concert. The red brick church was about 100 years old and had replaced an older wooden church in the same spot. More food followed – tea and coffee, piroges and cakes and more cakes and fruit – and we felt very ready for a nap in the garden. However, it was time to go to the Cultural Centre to set up for Emelie and Robert’s concert.

What’s this? A building site? A building that’s being restored, with rubble everywhere and someone mopping a corner of the dirty hall floor? It didn’t seem very promising, but half an hour later it seemed the opposite and perfect. Or ”super”, as they always said in Slovakia. Floor mopped, Emelie and Robert on their way to set up their set, and chairs placed on the hall floor below the stage. A percussion concert certainly wasn’t something that happened often in the village. About 34 people came and the concert was a complete success. A very good programme based around new compositions written for Dunja Duo by Simon, Emelie and others. The audience was most happy and many of them came up on stage afterwards, eager to try out the different percussion instruments.

”This was probably the most enjoyable concert I’ve ever done,” Robert said.

Packing up the instrument and loading the car was much more peaceful in Ramygala then in Pribylina with a big portion of the gypsy ghetto children being helpful.

More food to round the day off. More piroges, more cakes, more fruit, plus ”A very nice vodka,” as Simon called it. No more mashed potato though. Upon trying to leave, Ausra’s grandmother quickly offered us to take some potatoes and she went to dig some up. She gave us a big bag of potatoes to make sure we would be able to enjoy proper Lithuanian mashed potato with many meals in the forthcoming weeks.

Thank you, dear Lithuanian friends and dear Swedish FMT group for another memorable day.

Typed up in a lovely bed and breakfast, 15 kilometres north of Ramygala.

Day 18

DiaryPosted by Anders Flodin Thu, July 10, 2014 18:26:46

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Labas rytas (good morning), Marijampole. A warm, slightly muggy, tropical morning in south Lithuania. The town square next to Mercure hotel is new, fresh, open and pleasant. I woke up at early and went outside in the morning sunshine for a morning run. I tried to follow Sesupe River upstream or south. First everything was new, then I came to a dam wall with a building on the city side. Cracked concrete, asbestos sheets, blocked windows. I think the words cracked concrete can be used to summarise the former East Bloc. The Communist East lasted as long as the concrete, or one generation. I crossed the dam wall, ran up a street with cracked concrete, up to a series of concrete apartment blocks with cracked concrete. Later on I came to some memorial with Hebrew writing, slightly overgrown down by the river.

Overgrown tracks, a crcked concrete wall and rubble and cracked concrete buildings behind, probably from old military barracks. The footpaths are cracked, overgrown and it’s a culture – or ideology - that has ceased to be and walked out through the back door of history. Maybe the same is happening in Sweden? The million apartment housing programme badly needs to be restord, streets cracking, shops disappearing, trains not working well, and new mega malls are being built. A constant leaving of ruins and rubble piles behind, be it communist or the market economy that was – before the new global market economy.

While driving through Poland and Lithuania it was still obvious that the small towns still kept on going. I wonder though, ir ideologies are as short lived as the cracking communist concrete? Leninism, Stalinism, the Swedish ”folkhemmet”, all abandoned and left among other cracked ideologies. The global market economy, held together by the internet web, is that just another fad?

I only know that I have enjoyed this road trip through Europe, from Bratislava in Slovakia, right on the Austria / Hungary border, up through Poland and now in Lithuania.

On the train from Kaunas to Vilnius now. Next to the Zasliai train station a couple of goats are enjoying the greenery along the tracks. The signal before the announcements of stations is in the form of two tones from a church bell or deep, old, grandmother’s clock in a giant ballroom with deer antlers above every doorway.

It was terrific seeing Vilnius again. It’s such a lovely city and I understand Anders now when he’s saying that he could live here. A hot 30 degrees the whole day, but a short shower with very big drops falling, making me take shelter by the Town Square in Vilnius Old Town.

Back to Kaunas and a late evening walk to the enormous Akropolis shopping mall to buy some food. Simon had spent the day in Kaunas working, Emelie and Robert were back and Anders was still in Vilnius. My legs were tired and I was astounded at all the very attractive women in Vilnius and Kaunas. They look friendly, natural and good hearted and very few sport strange hair cuts or tattoos. I think I’ll stay here instead of continuing the tour north.

Day 17

DiaryPosted by Anders Flodin Mon, July 07, 2014 23:10:10

Monday 7 July

Do you know where Kafiristan is? It’s Christian Europe, meaning ”Land of the infidels”. The description comes from a travel book by Evliya Celebi, a 17th century Ottoman traveller. Our travels today were Warsaw – Ostrow Mazowiecka – Lowza – Stawiski – Szczuczyn – Grajewo – Augustow – Suwalki – Marijampole. All of it in Poland, except Marijampole, which is in Lithuania. That’s where we are right now, at 11pm, and darkness is falling, because we’ve also adjusted our watches by one hour forward. Another good day, starting in Warsaw, finishing warm and balmy at the outdoor restaurant in Marijampole in Lithuania.

Birds kept following us as we spent the afternoon counting trucks. But before that we had the whole morning in Warsaw. And before that we had breakfast. We sat there eating scrambled eggs and sausages, talking Swedish. Next to us three Chinese sat by their table having their breakfast. It was parents and an adult daughter I think. We talked about something and then the older woman said ”Världen är liten” (The world is small) in perfect Swedish. They were from Stockholm and this was their third driving holiday in Poland. A short while later they realised they couldn’t get anywhere as their car battery was flat, due to the lights hadn’t been switched off. We push started them and they could be on their way. They were to fly home tomorrow Tuesday and then go to Riga, Latvia. ”See you in Riga,” we called out as they headed off.

Bus to the City centre, across the Vistula river. We first went to the Old Town, which is both old and new. After World War II Warsaw was nothing but piles of rubble and the whole city centre has been rebuilt from zero. They found old city plans archived in America, which assisted them. It’s a wonderful place with a very enjoyable atmosphere. The old city walls, churches everywhere and to top Warsaw off, is the Cultural Palace, Stalin’s gift to Poland. Well, Poland had to supply materials and help, but the building, modelled on the Stalin skyscrapers in Moscow is huge. A whole section of Warsaw had to be bulldozed to give room for the 80 million bricks and the 30 storeys. The architectural term ”brutalism” is very appropriate. Anders and I took the elevator (with a lady working as elevator assistant or button pusher) to the viewing platform. A really good spt for a birds’ eye view of the city.

At 1.45 pm we headed north east. Warsaw kept on going for quite some time before giving way to forests and fields. Yesterday I’d seen some storks on top of power poles, but first thought they were plastic decoys being put there (don’t know why though, to look nice maybe). They kept on coming today and suddenly a stork was moving on one of these nests. They were real. Then they kept on coming all through the day, on electricity poles and also in the fields. They were real all through Poland and into Lithuania, all the way until we sat at the restaurant at Mercure Hotel in Marijampole to have a very late dinner. Then we had swallows jazzing around the square in the evening light. I don’t know if swallows jazz, but the restaurant was called Pizza Jazz and thought somehow the swallows jazzing gave the restaurant its name. Hmm, I don’t think so, really.

Otherwise the them was trucks, trucks, trucks, a never ending flow of trucks from the north. I’ve never seen so many trucks. Mostly narrow roads made for dangerous driving byt motorists wanting the overtake all these trucks. We speculated if maybe they were carting all of Finland away, bit by bit. ”Look, that’s a part of the parliament house in Helsinki.” ”Look, the Tampere train station.” ”And there goes Kekkonen’s sauna.”

Luckily the weather was good – and we had the guidance of Sofia Rotaru singing the same songs over and over again. What more do you need?

Day 16

DiaryPosted by Anders Flodin Sun, July 06, 2014 21:20:08
Sunday 6 July

We all woke up at 5am and travelled all day long with the car. At Chopin airport in Warsaw Seth-Reino left the group and took the plane back to Gothenburg. After one hour of searching a hotel we found Hotel Arkadia at ul. Radzyminska 182. Delicious food at the restaurant and then an evening chat together. All are very tired but happy after yesterday's performance.

Day 15

DiaryPosted by Anders Flodin Sun, July 06, 2014 18:48:08

Saturday 5 July

The day of the Romodrom concert. The day the government man came to experience and see how his money had been spent. The day that Maria, her two sons and the teachers did wonders to get the children and the Gypsy band organised. And the day started sunny and clear, with the excellent view towards Kirvan.

Emelie and Robert have had exercise sessions at the Cultural Centre during these days and they were the ones to perform and should be the ones being nervous this morning. The children had rehearsals most of the day and then everyone was involved in rehearsals in the afternoon. At 4 pm the Cultural Centre was almost full and it seemed like everyone from the ghetto were there. After initial speeches by Maria and the government representative, the concert started with Emelie and Robert, who did 20 minutes of percussion. They did it really well and it was very well received by everyone. Apparently about half their concert was improvised right there, something that I certainly couldn’t pick.

Then a blonde woman was singing to pre-recorded music. She had been to our concert in Bratislava last weekend too. From the response of the audience it was obvious that many of the songs she did were really well known by everyone and during a few songs all the children were up dancing too. After that the Gypsy Band took the stage and it took about two seconds until everyone was up dancing. The Roma children did the pieces they had rehearsed with the Gypsy Band. They did it very well and when everything turned into a dance party the children got all the Swedes on their feet too.

What to say? Amazing. A day never to be forgotten. A unique opportunity to spend a few days working with and being with a group of children from a very different culture. Thank you everyone. Well done Maria, Beata, Josef, Anders, Simon, Emelie, Robert, Zhet-Rejno and everyone else.

The Romodrom people put on a buffet party afterwards for everyone involved, including all the children of course. This has all been for them.

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