Category Archives: Music

Our New York Trip

Husband and I returned last Monday from a week long trip to New York  City. We were there with four other members of our church handbell choir to participate in a massed handbell choir of 275 ringers. We were the opening act before a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall.

Everything that could go right on the trip did, and there were no disasters. We slipped past three major snow storms in our travels.  All our rental bells were there as ordered, hotel reservations were good, and our names were in the program. What more could a person ask for?

In addition to the Dec. 1 Carnegie Hall gig, we had the options of playing in Central Park on Saturday afternoon, and with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall at various times during the weekend. Here are the players at the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park.

The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular featured the Rockettes in numbers like “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”, during which the dancers collapsed on one another like dominoes. They also did a number called “Sleigh Ride” in which the dancers were featured as precision-stepping reindeer. In between the dance numbers were high tech visual effects and bell numbers. It ended with a tableau of the nativity complete with three live camels, a donkey, and a sheep. All the animals had been blessed by Cardinal Dolan at the start of the season. No unsanctioned animals in this production! I haven’t any photos. Photos were prohibited. This will give you an idea.

The Carnegie  Hall concert was really fun.  We entered the hall through the stage door, just like all performers do. There were a few ringers on stage with the conductor, and the rest of us were in the boxes on Tiers one and two on either side of the Hall.  The following photos were taken during dress rehearsal.

 

 

We played  well. The acoustics were good, but we had to be as precise as possible given how many of us there were.  Given the size of the hall, we couldn’t use our ears to make sure were were together. We had to watch the conductor as much as possible for the timing. The conductor was so excited as they used “the Bernstein podium” for him.

The Messiah performance was wonderful. The two male soloists were on loan from the Metropolitan Opera, and there were more than 300 singers in the chorus. Half of them sang from the boxes we had played in.  We had to vacate to the nosebleed seats in the balcony during the oratorio.

So many things could have gone wrong, but nothing did. We were all so grateful for this opportunity.

 

Tell about your best and worst vacations and trips.

I Love a Parade

Last Thursday morning at 6:00,  Husband and I and four of our travelling companions  left our hotel on Times Square, walked down 49th St, crossed  Broadway, and made our way over to 6th Ave where we found a nice open space of sidewalk right across from Simon and Schuster Publishing  House to claim as ours for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Prime areas near the corner were cordoned off, reserved for widows and orphans of police and fire fighters.

The curbside was already claimed by some intrepid souls who got there at 5:00. It was cold, but we felt warm gusts of air from the subway through grates in the sidewalk.  The teenager in our group promptly laid down on the metal grates and went to sleep until the parade started.  I kept pretty warm in my lined jacket, but it really helped when a Netflix representative handed out Green Eggs and Ham earmuffs to everyone around us.

 Police patrolled on foot and bicycle, and were blocking off side streets with metal barriers. The people nearby us were from Arizona, Minnesota, and Connecticut as well as City residents.  We shared stories and took turns getting coffee and pastries as the sun rose.

The parade began many blocks north in Central Park, and got to us at about 9:30.  There had been much anxiety if the balloons would fly, as it was pretty windy, but fly they did, although closer to the ground than was typical. The were loads of clowns in charming costumes, dancers of all ages, lots of stilt walkers,  and lovely floats. Many of the participant were school aged children who looked  so happy and proud to be in the parade. I really liked the Christmas trees on stilts.

The marching bands were from all over the country.  Their chaperones and parents marched right along behind them. We had fun judging the straightness of their rows and columns.  (“Guide right!”) The biggest group was The Second Time Around Marching Band comprised of dozens of quite aged baton twirlers, pom pom wavers, and musicians in natty uniforms  who looked ecstatic to be marching again. The floats were elaborate and featured singers, TV personalities, and actors. I wasn’t very familiar with most of them, but our teenager assured me they were  quite famous

Astronaut Snoopy was the first balloon, with the Grinch and his dog, Max the last.

The parade ended for us at 11:30 with Santa on his float.  The side streets were still blocked to motor traffic, and it was fun to meander with hordes of New Yorkers  in the lanes normally full of honking cabs and cars and buses.  We all trooped back to the hotel and took naps. It had been a long, cold wait, but well worth it.

Tell some parade stories. What would you like to do in a parade?

Mind Games

Jacque mentioned yesterday that she thought Husband’s challenge for imaginary dinner guests was the result of filling time during Great Plains travel. She wasn’t far off.  Travel out here is tedious. People at the conference I attended were somewhat surprised to hear that we drove to Minneapolis, since it was “only” 500 miles from our home.

I listen to classical music on the radio, either streamed from MPR at home or at work, or else the Symphony Hall station on our car radio. I challenge myself to identify the composer and/or the name of the piece before the announcer says them.  I pretend I am in a competition. I listen to music whenever I can, so I do the challenge quite a lot. I have  a really good auditory memory, and I recognize pieces quite quickly. (I can always tell if it is the Concordia Choir on the MPR Choral Stream just by the sound.)  It is coming up with the name of the piece and the composer that is tricky. I find that the more pieces I recognize, the harder it is to sort out exactly what the name of the piece is. My brain is getting too full.  I am pretty good at recognizing pieces by Brahms or Schumann. They have distinctive patterns of harmonies and rhythms. Mendelssohn and Schubert can sometimes confuse me.  I always know Stravinsky and Prokofiev, but sometimes  late Prokofiev sounds like Shostakovitch

As I was in a wind band in college, I can identify Vaughan Williams and Holst and Grainger very easily, but distinguishing Molly on the Shore from Handel in the Strand is sometimes hard.   I am  somewhat embarrassed to say that I  can always identify the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper and also know the name of the composer. It is so distinctive.

I know that Baboons have various areas of interest. Mine is classical music. I hope that my classical habit helps keep my mind alert and healthy.

What are you doing that keeps your mind active and healthy. How are you at identifying the names of musical pieces and their composers?

Dinner Guests

Husband challenged me-what composer, visual artist, and writer would you invite to dinner?  I am still thinking. I know the composers would be either Brahms, because I love his harmonies, Bartok, because I want to know if he is really on the Autism Spectrum, or Stravinsky, because I think he would be a good conversationalist.  Visual artists, well that would be Vermeer, and for the writer, either Dorothy Sayers, because she is both a theologian as well as a mystery writer, or C.S. Lewis, for sort of the same reasons.

What composer, visual artist, and writer would you invite to dinner? What would you serve?

Remembrance of Things Past

Today’s post comes from Ben:

I came home and said hello to the dogs. Went out another door and said “Hi” to the dogs again, and then, as one does with dogs, said “Hi Hi Hi”

And then, from the depths of my mind, out of nowhere, sang  “Ayi Yi Yi Yi, I am the Frito Bandito”.
Wow.
I said to myself “Where did that come from??”
Forgotten anything lately? 
Remembered anything lately? 

On Your Toes

Today in 1581, the first ballet was performed in Paris. It had been commissioned by Catherine De Medici  and was called “Ballet Comique de la Reine”.  I love ballet, and so do our children. Both studied dance for many years.

The only ballets that  I have seen in live performance were by the Winnipeg Ballet, which is a very fine company.  We saw them perform Giselle and The Firebird.  We sometimes saw dancers from the company wandering the halls of our psychology department as they went to appointments to manage their eating disorders with one of our professors, an unfortunate side effect for some dancers.

What is your favorite ballet? Tell about your experiences with dance.

 

 

The Stuffed Headboard

Whenever I am out and about and see someone with a massively full baby stroller, I wonder why some folks feel the need to bring every single thing they might possibly need along with them every time they leave the house.

Then I get home to my bedroom. When I bought my bedframe many years ago, I got one with bookshelves because… well, you know why.  Books.  As soon as YA and I had it put together I installed a few books and a box of tissues and figured I was all done.  There was plenty of room.

Fast forward to today. Now I have a bucket of pens/pencils, ibuprofen, a hand mirror, my blood pressure monitor, my Walkman, my laptop, my journal and sticker box, my allergy meds, the land line phone, a cell phone holder, lotion, fingernail polish, some photos, a candle, finger nail clippers, two little notepads, a couple of magazine, a pig bank and a bucket w/ various things like chapstick, Neosporin, a few band-aids, aloe vera gel and Benadryl gel.  And, of course, way more books.

Whenever I try to straighten all this up, I end up leaving most of it there so it’s “handy” if I need it. Guess now know exactly what all those strollers are so full!

What’s essential in your trip kit?