Friday, November 30, 2012

Night of Knights

    It was a gloomy but mild November 29 eve as we drove toward the downtown theatre district. It was our concert night. We've been regular TSO enthusiasts since the early '70's.
    We always start our date night with a special dinner at one of the restaurants nearby. There are so many choices. After a leisurely meal we amble along King Street heading to Simcoe Street, to the Roy Thomson Hall's entrance. 
    Tonight we strolled past a gorgeous tall spruce tree, all lit up with white LED lights. They sparkled brightly and I smiled. I had a feeling tonight would be a fun evening musically. I would not be disappointed. By 19:50 we were seated in our designated places prepared to be uplifted by the sounds of music.
   The opening piece was Mendelssohn's overture to 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' with Sir Andrew Davis conducting. His guest appearance added to its splendour for me. My mind at times wandered as lovely familiar tones set me adrift. In this very hall, 30 years ago, having just given birth to our daughter, I sat and like a typical mom I hoped someday she would develop a passion for listening and playing all kinds of music. But Andrew knew how to draw me back into real time. Beautifully as he waved his baton the music flowed.
   The next presentation rocked my soul into a whole different place. A mere seventeen year old, Jan Lisieciki, opened the only Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor with a big bang! His performance was as breathtaking as the piece itself. I recall I smiled as I thought of Schumann's wife Clara who had opened this piece on New Year's Day in 1846. Then I found myself being ported off to imagine what influence George Sand had on this composition if any. The pianist, conductor and the music gracefully ported me back into real time. All three movements captivated my attention in different ways. Having studied and taught instrumental music, I listened as well as watched aspects of the conducting and the techniques of the players. I listen for the blending and the individual sounds of the instrumentation. And I marvelled at Sir Davis's interpretation. Each conductor adds his uniqueness. And I dared to day dream too. What fun!
   For me the greatest surprise came after the intermission. You have probably heard of the story of Don Quixote and Sancho. Perhaps you know the story line from the film 'Man Of La Mancha'? But have heard the Richard Strauss version? Can you imagine a composer depicting the madness of Don Quixote using a cello to portray him? Or Sancho being the viola and several different instruments depending on the situation between those two? Strauss's use of minor keys and lots of rhythmic and tonal modulations create a spectacular composition, even a playful piece. He depicted many scenes from the story including the windmill and the battle against the sheep musically. I was most amused and I enjoyed this complex side of Strauss's music. 
    Sir Davis displayed his own enjoyment! Prior to conducting the Strauss piece he gave us a short oral synopsis, something we could just as easily have read in the program notes. He was clearly amused about performing this piece though he hinted it was quite a challenging one for both conductors and musicians. 
    Holding his baton in the air after the last note was played, he managed to hold us in total silence almost like the fellow who forced Don Quixote back into reality. Then slowly he lowered his baton. Once his hands were completely lowered the thunderous applause was as wild as the piece. Sir Davis had us all paying attention and he was loving it. How fitting that a real knight was at the helm for this piece and playing with our minds!
    And I left the hall thrilled. The gloomy eve felt so much brighter while we drove home. Music has a power that can change our senses.
P.S. There is a full version of Don Quixote by a different conductor and orchestra on You Tube here if you wish to listen. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


We have begun to ready ourselves for the December festive times. A brand new tree sits in a box in the living room waiting for us to set it up for the first time but we have other business to complete first. Our progress is slow. We must pace ourselves to get all done in time. 
Buddy is smiling a lot these days. He just loves the mystery, the sounds and excitement that fills the air. Even hubby has expressed a keen interest in this season's upcoming events. He's stared humming carols.
One of the annoyances that are slowing us down is shown here.

Who knew that prepackaged baked goods could be so rancid smelling? The gingerbread house we had done up to this point is now recycled. We just hated how awful odour it gave off and gave up! 
A new one,still in the box and fresh, will be constructed tomorrow while many of you have your special Thanksgiving dinners to celebrate your occasion. 
We wish you a wonderful time. Feel blessed. 
Everyone deserves that feeling.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Way

In nature these trees are showing their need to survive along the water's edge. They appear to be reaching out to one another. And those that have lost their lives have spread across the stream thus creating an awesome photo moment.
Look carefully at those pictures. The water is totally unclean and no longer clear.
I wonder how any further industrialization attempts to increase the job opportunities will benefit the planet and all of life?
Is there no way to change our abusive ways?