Happy New Year... oh wait, it's February already

Goodness. Time passes all too quickly. I feel like I need a cat's nine lives to accomplish everything (including maintaining a blog).

I should wrap up the Sweden experience a bit (looking back all the way to October). It does help to have more perspective on the trip. The organizers were wonderful and generous, and I am so grateful to them for arranging everything.

There is a kind of interesting cameraderie that can blossom between competitors. I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Hopefully I will get to take many of them up on their generous offers of hosting me in their respective countries.

I owe very belated thanks and acknowledgements to the following people (in no particular order):

- Dr. Annette Johannson, Swedish diction and translation coaching
- Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, conducting coaching
- Dr. Richard Sparks, research assistance
- Grant Gershon, conducting coaching
- Dr. William Dehning, research assistance
- Eva Wedin, Swedish Radio Choir
- Phillip Cheah, research assistance
- Ross Parker, French translation
- John Poole, French translation
- Herve Blanquart, French translation
- Akiko Ando, Japanese translation
- Dale Jurgenson, Laurendale Associates
- Marg Daly, Pro Coro Canada
- Matt Tresler, research assistance
- Andreas Johnsson, tour guide :)

There are probably many others I'm forgetting right now. It takes a village to raise a conductor, or at least this one.

I really hope to return soon, and I still have to think about cultural differences and stereotypes. My biggest lesson of the trip was to really take to heart that one person cannot completely or accurately represent a group to which they belong. Many people asked me about American politics, etc. as though I could answer for what every American was thinking. I also realized that there was a greater diversity of personalities in Sweden than I had foolishly assumed.

I also feel like one's nationality influenced the way they were perceived in the conducting competition. We cannot give our auditions behind a screen like an orchestral musician. Our physical appearance, our speaking voice, our personality, and many more components come together to creat the subjective sum of our conducting ability. It is such an ambiguous art.