Joey Alexander is eleven years old in this lovely recording....enjoy.
Joey Alexander is eleven years old in this lovely recording....enjoy.
I willingly suspended disbelief at a really memorable theatre experience last night in Glasgow's Theatre Royal -a wonderful production - Debussy's music, the orchestra, the voices, the sets (by the designer of War Horse), the lighting, the venue - all in perfect harmony and balance, and so very moving.
It has had many great reviews, eg here, and here, and can be heard on Radio 3 on March 25 but live in this production can't be beaten I am sure.
The Bach Christmas Oratorio in the Berliner Dom was thrilling.
A dusting of snow on the hills at home today...and here is a poem for the solstice.
I enjoyed the sell-out reading by author, poet and Makar (Scottish poet laureate) Jackie Kay in the lovely venue of the restored Victorian Pier in Dunoon today. Wonderfully moving and very, very funny
Next the Film Festival. There is a lot going on in this wee town these days!
(If you can get BBC Iplayer here is a link to Jackie Kay on Desert Island Discs recently.)
Apart from BBC Radio 3 (sanity in a mad world!) I've been listening to Hans Rosling on How Not To Be Ignorant In The World, Seth Godin on the subject of Cable news and Elizabeth Gilbert's Thoughts On Writing.
Have you any recommendations of people/websites/blogs/magazines/books/programmes with something interesting to say?
And that you trust?
A short stay with dear friends, some good sleep and some glorious weather have combined to refresh me somewhat, and I am taken up with a delightful bird watching experience.
A skylark has nested just by our path to the shore. In sixteen years here we have not heard or seen skylarks. Sitting on the shore last week I thought I heard one faintly, but said to myself No, it can't be, we don't get them here. But then I spotted one and patiently observed it and found the nest with two speckled eggs. They should hatch any day now.
I am being very quiet around it (and will probably be very quiet on the blog for a bit too).
Perhaps you will enjoy the sound of the skylark on this page , and the sound of Nicola Benedetti playing The Lark Ascending.
Are there any birds nesting near you?
A packed Glasgow Cathedral was the setting for a concert by London Concertante - a birthday gift from my daughter. Mellow acoustics, virtuosic playing, and a classical programme with the odd surprise like this new-to-me piece.
Thank you Laura!
Are you in need of a pep-talk?
This may be it. Living Well Is More Than Organic Fruit from Everyday Hygge.
It worked for me.
I got up and did something immediately.
Every day for 30 days I will do this exercise routine.
Today is the first of June and I'm taking up Leo Babauta's challenge (see here)
And reminding myself that this means doing it every day even when I really don't want to!
I shall observe carefully (journaling as Babauta suggests) and see if I feel different after 30 days, and although she knows what an exercise wimp I am I know that Angela will be cheering me on.
If you were to take up his 30 day challenge to learn something new what would it be?
I'm afloat on pink and a cloud of Puccini. I listened to Opera on 3 tonight O Mio Babbino Caro - pretty wonderful. I listened to all the you tube versions and chose Angela Gheorghiu - pretty wonderful too (it will be in your head all day tomorrow!)
I was very surprised to find a very plump very bright yellow canary in the garden a couple of days ago. We made some enquiries and put a notice on the village noticeboard - apparently the three year old grandson of someone who lives up the glen let them out (there are two) by mistake about two weeks ago. They appear to be enjoying their freedom and hanging out with the chaffinches and singing their lovely song, but various plans are afoot to recapture them....there are a lot of birds of prey around here.
While I take a brief blog break, I leave you with the Canary Training Song Part Two Who knew!!
NB the link above to Canary Training Song Part Two is now working - so sorry! Be warned it is 20 minutes and 11 seconds long.....fine, if you're a canary. Sorry, I'm (t)wittering. Will shut up now!
I'm on an organising roll!
A comment from Elaine led to a refinement in my CD organisation (see yesterday's post). For the occasions when I don't have time - or can't be bothered - to put a CD back in it's right place, I have a space on the bottom shelf to stack them horizontally until such time as I get around to it.
I found inspiration on this site Declutter Your Home in 15 Minutes a Day, it says, and do you know, you could. Gone are my days of the all or nothing approach, of exhausting myself by blitzing huge tasks. Since I began doing things slowly, taking baby steps, and 5 or 15 minutes at a time, life is definitely easier.
Less mess, less stress.
Do browse Simply Routine and Simply Organise if you have time....
All week the beautiful voice of The Queen Of The Night has been floating over the village as the opera company Aria Alba - Opera For All have rehearsed The Magic Flute in the nearby adventure centre, in preparation for their Fringe perfomance at the Edinburgh Festival. In this production the setting is a hospital ward in the 1950's and Sarastro is the consultant psychiatrist! They put on a dress rehearsal in a local village hall - it was wonderful. It is rather like attending a masterclass - you get insights you don't get from a regular performance.
I came home with my head full of Mozart and was frustrated that I couldn't easily find the Mozart CD's I know I have, so what better way to spend a wet Sunday (yes, it's raining) than organise our collection.
Found some Mozart, put it on very loud, and set to....
Where to start? Gathered together all CD's.
Then I found a few tips -
Tip one. Make tabs with the letters of the alphabet. I used post it notes for now.
I decided to organise by composer mainly..
But also for example C is for Chopin, but I made another tab for Compilations, and another for Christmas. I will also have E for Elgar and for Early Music, J for Janacek and a tab for Jazz and so on. You need to work out what will work for you...
We have a tall CD shelving unit (Ikea - brilliant) in the study and Tip two is to leave a couple of spaces on each shelf for new additions otherwise you have to move everything when you buy a new CD or find some in the car, and, although I'm enjoying doing this task, I don't want to do it again anytime soon.
Current favourites are on this little holder, which my husband made for me, which sits in the sitting room.
Tip three is if you want to think something through properly - decide to write a blog post about it! I have done a much better job of this than I would have had I not been writing about it - an incentive to get it right. But not perfect. Tip four is don't aim for perfect - this is about making finding the music I want simpler and quicker! When it's good enough I'm stopping.
Meanwhile I've found CD's I'd forgotten I had and listened to some great music.
Playing now? The Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Listen here. Hope you like..
For a little break from a month's intensive gardening and a change of scene we went across Scotland to the East Neuk Festival for the first time. The main attraction for us was Quatuor Ebene playing two of the late Beethoven quartets. Despite a late start (they missed their flight from Paris!) their performance was stunningly good. The next day they played Mozart and Ravel and gave as an encore their variation on a Beatles number - I hadn't realised quite how versatile these brilliant musicians are. For an introduction if you don't know them, see here.
This part of Fife with it's fishing villages and the lovely town of St Andrews is very picturesque....
....to Gregorian chant overlaid with jazz saxophone.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery was the magnificent setting for Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble's performance of Officium Novum on Friday evening.
The accoustics were superb and at one point when the singers and the saxophonist were walking on the outer edges of the hall and through the arches it was like being immersed in liquid sound.
You can hear some of it here..
The tickets were my Christmas present to my husband - he loved it!
..No, not of things to say. (No-one is more amazed than I am that I have so much to say!)
I ran out of flowers. None to pick in the garden and I'm a long way from the shops, and this shelf looks so bare without something in a vase.
Don't you find that it's when you think you have nothing in the house that you make the best meals? Running out of anything makes you use your imagination. I found these branches lying by the side of the road.. I don't know what kind of tree they are from.
Until the leaves open this looks a little bare too, so I added the little battery lights, then after dinner sat back (actually I stretched out on the rug) and listened to this new CD. Read, and listen, here.
Woodsmoke and cello. Blissed out for a whole hour.
Thank you for reading. i hope you managed to find an hour or so to relax....
I'm remembering that winter is an excuse to listen to music more, and to read and browse on the internet - why ever not?
The story of how Philip Glass (see yesterday's post) came to write the Songs and Poems for Solo Cello for cellist Wendy Sutter is a romantic one. She calls them 'love letters' and said that when they first met to talk about the music she did not realise that he had any romantic feeling for her. They became a couple for five years. Read more about this brilliant duo here. I had always viewed the work of Glass as an adjunct or background to something, and would not have called myself a fan but these works stand alone and have such authority and beauty that I could (and will - have just sent for the CD) listen to them for hours.
UCTV University of California Television have an amazing series of lectures, documentaries, interviews (one with Wendy Sutter), symposia and performances, all available online. Fantastic.
And to really make my day - this article, Demolishing Three Myths About World Poverty, by Bill and Melinda Gates from the Wall Street Journal - is the most hopeful and positive thing I have read in any newspaper for a long time. Don't miss it if you are in need of some good news!
If you like the cello that is....
It is my favourite instrument and I've had a lovely few days listening to Philip Glass' Songs and Poems for Solo Cello - new to me - and wonderful! I heard and watched charismatic cellist Paul Tortelier on i player (BBC 4), and read an enigmatic short story called Cellists in Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Happiness is when three things you love all come together out of the blue.
In the foyer of City Hall I met Tom Binns who is part of a fun project begun by streetpianos in 2009. There are now more than 1000 pianos installed in public places in cities throughout the world for anyone to play.
Tom did invite me to write my name on the piano!
Another opportunity to play was on Open Lids Day when you could play the Steinway grand!
Oh, I wish I could play the piano! Do you play? And would you play if there was one in your city?
See more about Glasgow Play Me, I'm Yours here, and watch a 3 minute video of a street piano in Boston here....A brilliant idea.
Last night's concert was wonderful. Glasgow Hospitals Christmas Carol Concert in aid of CLIC Sargent for children with cancer. The very first line of the very first song thrilled as the warm, harmonious sound filled the auditorium of the Royal Concert Hall. Soprano Colleen Nicoll and baritone Andrew McTaggart sang In The Bleak Midwinter - my favourite carol. BBC Young Musician of The Year Yuanfan yang was stunning, playing his own compositions, Chopin, Beethoven and Liszt. He is fifteen years old. The children's choir brought a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye.
Don't you love to hear children making music?
December is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Water features largely in our lives here, living by a sea loch on the west coast of Scotland.
I noticed the dew.. (it could have been early rain) on this poppy as I went out the back door this quiet glorious morning....the water droplets silently evaporating in the sunshine..
..to a brilliant concert this afternoon. Swedish conductor Stefan Solyom (wonderful to watch his workout on the podium) drew the very best from the Scottish Symphony Orchestra who were on top form, and Russian born violinist Alexandra Soumm had us spellbound. Liszt, Bruch and Dvorak.
I am in awe of musicians and conductors who give so much, intellectually, emotionally and physically.
It makes painting, and writing, seem very tame!
(Talking of which 5,301 words to go....)
Driving through rural Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire on a sunny winter morning I see a wooded, hedged and farmed landscape, with manor houses, ancient churches and cottages, jays and kites flying overhead.
It has its problems. Too many people! Not enough rain! But it is very beautiful and I love it.
About yesterday's post and self talk....Do you listen when you talk to yourself?
Our lives, says Tim Parks, are all in the head at the expense of our bodies, or as he even more dramatically puts it We have become cerebral vampires preying on our own life blood.
Would you agree?
One of the best things about a holiday is spending a whole day just reading.
I'm riveted, repelled, and very amused by Tim Parks Teach Us To Sit Still . He let's us in on his 'self talk' - that voice in our heads which is often, when we take the time to really listen to it, talking utter nonsense (which we too often believe to be true)....Susan Jeffers in Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway calls it the 'chatterbox'. Byron Katie in Loving What Is suggests you ask yourself what stories you are telling yourself, and Park's guru says 'Always ask yourselves In what way am I contributing to my own suffering?'
A surprisingly good read.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)