What a great couple of days filled with new experiences. From New York I boarded a plane with Kaoru and Teddy to Seoul where we met up with our Japanese musicians Miki Maruta and Tetsuro Naito then the five of us flew into Ulaanbaatar that night. My first day in Mongolia was spent in a daze induced by the 10607 mile trip and the lack of espresso. After months of skype sessions and emails it was great to finally meet our Mongolian hosts and musicians. Teserendorj, Shinetsog and Khongorzul are all amazing musicians. It’s one thing to hear them over a sporatic internet connection but to actually be in the same room and to hear their powerful voices has been amazing. We’ve also been extremely well taken care of, our Mongolian hosts have gone out of their way to arrange transportation, translate and feed us. Tonight we were treated to dinner at a fantastic vegetarian restaurant courtesy of one of our translators Nominjin, who is an great singer in her own right.
Today we went to MNB the Mongolian National Broadcasting Network to tape what I though was going to be one short piece and an interview. When we got there it ended up that the producers wanted a 20 minute performance and short interviews. The taiko I was planning on using has been held up at customs so I only had one small (but mighty) taiko to improvise three impromptu pieces on. In the afternoon we had another live radio interview with more improvised madness.
With any kind of cross cultural collaboration communication can be difficult and with three different languages it can be quite hilarious. One of our translators speaks Mongolian and Japanese the others speak Mongolian and English we have one person who can translate between Japanese and English and then there is me who understands only enough Japanese to misunderstand a situation perfectly. It’s so much easier to communicate through music.