Although “world” is hyperbole, we did slog many a mile to perform in countries east and west. I decided beforehand to keep a diary which given the length the tour, became two diaries. I purchased one in Tokyo called “UNIVERSAL TAPE OF UNIVERSAL” a typical example of 1984 contemporary Japanese advert-speak.
The first part of the tour included Beijing and Shanghai China, Seoul, Korea and Tokyo,Japan.
When my wife decided to type these diaries for my web site, she convinced me to leave the entries as I had originally written them. I wrote the diaries before lap top computers in cursive script and ball point pens, late at night or very early in the morning. The entries were often spur of the moment jottings by a jet lagged stranger in a strange land who was trying to get things down before memories fled. Thus there are errors in grammar, tense, punctuation, etc. Never-the-less, their lack of literary distinction contains a certain frisson and immediacy. Further posts will be made as the remaining 270 pages are typed.
NEXUS World Tour May – July 1984
Nexus members: Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robin Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, John Wyre.
And two fellow travellers, Jean Donelson and Joanne Todd.
May 4, 1984 Toronto to Beijing via Japan 3:30 AM
Bill and I sat together for 14 1/2 hours discussing politics of financing symphony orchestras and personnel problems. He is concerned that the Rochester Philharmonic will lose Zinman and be unable to replace him with quality talent. He is concerned that this will be the end of any potential worthwhile musical experience for him and he is wondering what he will do when this way of musical life becomes a reality for him. (P. S. The R.P.O. has lost Zinman.)
Narita is a welcome change to Haneda. Is Japan more American now than it was 10 years ago? Lots of English on TV ads. Crowds more demonstrative, The Narita Prince is an American style hotel–big rooms. My feet, from midsole to my toes were swollen like blowfish. They looked like overweight fatty women. They were hot and itchy. It took hours for the swelling to subside. This is the 1st time this has happened. I went to bed and slept at 6:30 PM Tokyo time–woke up at 3:30AM. Swelling down. I will have to stand and walk more when faced with hours of confinement.
I ordered coffee 40 minutes ago. Should I call again? I am in a foreign country. I called–he sounded slightly alarmed. I think he forgot. Just as I placed the period at the end of ” forgot” the coffee arrived–less than 1 min. from my call. ¥495. In Vancouver I got ¥176 for one Canadian dollar. No I think one US dollar. I found my receipt. I received ¥16,000 for $94.70 Canadian. Is that ¥160 per Canadian dollar? Or $3.10 roughly for 2 cups of room service coffee?
Well, in a few hours we take Japan Airlines to Beijing. We arrive at 11:55 AM. Tonight in Beijing, a banquet. Russ asked if I would wear my new suit to the banquet. I expressed some concern about that. I’ll probably be eating food in unfamiliar ways and might spill something on it. He laughed and mentioned the extra care one always takes with the new automobile.
When I arrived at my room the first thing I did was turn on the TV. I was looking for the baseball game that was being shown in the Narita airport when we arrived. No game. Saw some volleyball between Fuji film team and another team with only Japanese characters on their shirts. The latter team won. During the closing ceremonies I heard Olympics mentioned. Perhaps this tournament was to pick Japan’s Olympic team and the audience cheered in rhythm to a big drum when points were scored. Lots of young girls giggling over certain players. Switched channels and found a golf tournament – somewhere beside the ocean. Watched some fairly decent swings – many not so balanced. Then Isao Aoki came on. Saw him make par after a rather poor bunker shot – dropped a 40 foot putt. Seemed like an interesting course. Not tight, but very hilly. Not green and overly landscaped like some of our Architectural Digest’s courses but lovely, high above the ocean. The Japanese are crazy for golf. I wonder how many actually get to leave the massive practice ranges in urban centers for a round of golf on a real course.
Read a chapter in ‘The World of Golf BBC” about William St. Clair of Roslin. I knew he was a grand master Mason from reading about the Holy Grail but I was astounded to learn he was a four-time winner of the Silver Club presented by the city of Edinburgh – the 1st golf trophy, and was Captain of the Royal Company of Edinburgh golfers during the 1760s. One of my favorite pieces of music is the “Roslin Castle Dead March”. His connection with the Masons led to a contemporary belief that he gained his skill at golf from witchcraft. Bill believed that Mozart was criticized by the Masons for divulging its secrets in the “Magic Flute” but could not give me a synopsis of the story. I’ll have to look that up when I get home. Scottish mysticism–masonry–golf–Magic Flute–Debussy –the holy Grail–Rosicrucians–Crusades–Roslin Castle–Japan–China–South Korea–currency exchange, a niblick to the forehead!
May 4 3:00PM Beijing
I noticed this morning that Narita airport is an armed camp. Chain like fences topped with barbed wire, armed guards standing at intervals of 200 or 300 yards on the side of the approach roads behind riot shields that extend upwards from the ground to a height of the Japanese man’s navel. The highways that cross over the airport grounds also have fences. * (The farmers rioted when they learned so much land was being used for the airport,
I saw one woman in a kimono but everyone else in Western dress. Perhaps Narita caters to a more worldly group of travelers. With pleasure I inspected the windows of restaurants with their plastic representations of cuisine offered.
My daughter, Dorothy had asked me to price Nikon cameras and the Nikon F3T with 36–70 mm lens was ¥300,000. Perhaps the days of bargaining camera prices for the tourists are over.
We had a very fine flight of 4 hours to Beijing on JAL. Boned breast of chicken and mushroom sauce–tiny pea pods with the peas still inside–soba noodles with shrimp – sushi–a bottle of barely good Bordeaux red–coffee and custard pudding. Guy St. Jacques from the Canadian Embassy met us at the airport. Young, handsome, polite, brief and to the point. Suit and leather briefcase. After immigration, met our stage manager Mr. Wa. I liked him immediately – my height–broad build–clear gaze. A man used to work and confident. He is most important to us and it is fortunate I like him. (And he likes us!)
Our translator is a young girl with a smile. (Kwang Chao) I must pause here to say that I had the television set on in my room while writing–a math class, in Chinese of course. The program has just ended and the music played while the test pattern is showing is Suppe’s “LIght Cavalry Overture”. Now they are playing an excerpt from “Hansel and Gretel” by Humperdinck.
The drive to our hotel was about 40 minutes. Interesting experience. The world’s largest square. When I get the names right I’llget back to those points. We have tours arranged for the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, the Ming tombs and Forbidden City. Our hotel is funky but not as bad as anticipated. There is a banquet tonight at another hotel and John has memorized a short speech in Chinese. He tried it out on us at lunch and even with our breakups he did a noble job. John has been here for 2 days and has eaten all his meals alone. He asked our translator if she would join him but she said she could not. Our lunch was very good–fish in black bean sauce–Chinese pieces in honey garlic–spicy clear soup with greens. Pieces of pork with tiny mushrooms and 2 varieties of beer, both very smooth and light. Most of the group has gone for a walk. I stayed in my room to write and rest. I want to bath and put on clean clothes for the welcoming banquet.
August 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm
wow! Great history of Nexus! Thank you for sharing us! Love,MIKA
August 24, 2013 at 9:34 am
Robin, This is wonderful. So glad you are are sharing. When I was in Japan in 1982 with my girlfriend she bought a T-shirt. On the front was “A Taste Of Summer Beach.”
Looking forward to the coming chapters….