Milan Stick Seminar
March, 2001

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    What do you get when you put about 30 Stick players together?

A lot of fun, as it turns out.
This four day seminar for the Chapman Stick, in Milan Italy, had perhaps the largest group of Stick players assembled in Europe, with daily classes and nightly concerts, some dinners, and a whole lot of learning, by all involved, about what others are doing in the instrument.

The seminar was organized by Virna Splendore, an excellent Stick player from Rome. Teaching classes were well known players (could I call them "stick figures"?) Bob Culbertson, Greg Howard, and Jim Lampi. (And me, Tony Levin, giving a talk about my experiences with the Stick.) There were concerts at various clubs by each of the instructors, as well as by Virna's group "Splendore"(which features three Stick players, one triggering drums from his instrument),and Casey Arrillaga's group, "Third Door Down". Mix in a few dinners, jams at the shows, and performances by various groups of the students, and you had the city of Milan pretty aware that there were some unusual instrumentalists in town this week!

    Below: Jim Lampi's performance, Bob Culbertson and Greg Howard jam. On right: Third Door Down, and .. hey that's me.

    A high point for me: receiving a gift from the students - a small coffee maker - the kind Italians use at home - perfect for making my own single cups at home or on the road. Then another gift arrived, this one sent to the hotel from Michele Russotto, my good friend, and bass tech from the Gabriel and Crimson tours. He lives in Palermo, and sent up a package of the coffee beans he knows are my favorites since he first introduced me to them. (They're from Sicily and called Tonaca di Monaco, which I think refers to the color of Monks' tunics!)
I call it a package, but it may be closer to a truckload! The size package usually used for dry dog food for a large dog! This was a LOT of coffee and I guess, when I get home and start using the bean and the new machine, I'll be a happy puppy!

All in all, even aside from the presents, this was a very productive and close knit few days and Virna Splendore and her assistant, Daniela Dibitonto, deserve the deep gratitude of all who were involved. As I mentioned in my little speech, this seems to be a great time to be playing the Stick - with many talented players from all over the world, delving new directions for the instrument and sharing inspiration from each other. This seminar was just one example of what a positive community of players the Stick world has become.

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