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   can't kill an hour in Tivoli
Sunday, November 21 2010
Gretchen returned by train from the New York City today, so I was there waiting for her at the Rhinecliff train station. Normally the only thing that can get me to go to that side of the Hudson is the promise of dinner at the China Rose, but on this occasion our destination was actually Bard College, where we formed part of the audience watching various students compete for scarce soloist positions in the Bard Conservatory.
We parked outside the stainless-steel-bedecked Fisher Center (an example of Frank Gehry's Starchitecture). From behind the building, one can see that it's really just a drab concrete cube that has been ornamented with nonsensical metallic frills, though only in the front (a stylistic statement opposite the kind made by a mullet).
Most of the weaker competitors had already been eliminated on earlier days, and the showdown today was the final elimination. We came in late and weren't permitted into the concert hall until the applause marking the end of one of a competitor's performance. Interestingly, nearly everyone in the audience was much older than us; evidently these competition for soloist spots are not popular among Bard students.
We appreciated the more challenging pieces for strings, particularly a viola piece by Cecil Forsyth and a mind-blowingly difficult Shostakovich work for cello). The horn pieces were far less interesting for both of us. And while Gretchen liked a vocal performance of Hindu poems in French, I thought it was kind of meh[REDACTED].
Periodically the judges (which included the ubiquitous Leon Botstein) would halt the performers with fake applause and request them to skip ahead to some other part of the piece. This seemed vaguely disrespectful, though it seemed they were doing it due to time constraints. Nevertheless, the competition ended early.
We decided to go to Tivoli for dinner, mostly because I was interested in Mexican food (and I'd liked Santa Fe, the Tex-Mex restaurant there). But we arrived in Tivoli a full hour before Santa Fe was to open, and it was difficult to find a way to kill that much time there. We ducked into an artists' co-op for awhile and then walked the length of Broadway nearly to the Hudson and back (taking note of the poor state of repair of many of the houses, some of which are home to Bard students). It was too cold to be comfortably outside for that much time, so eventually we decided to dine at Luna 61, the vegetarian restaurant. I'd had mediocre experiences there in the past and hadn't wanted to go. But that was back when Luna 61 was in Red Hook. This new Tivoli location turned out to have a much better atmosphere. The place was unexpectedly crowded for a late Sunday afternoon; evidently others had decided to come here after finding all the other Tivoli restaurants closed. Our food and booze were a bit overpriced, but it was all plenty delicious. We ordered Thai-style noodle dishes, I drank an IPA, and Gretchen drank a hard cider that had been brewed in nearby Annandale (the infrahamlet where Bard College is located).

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