November 2007


This past Saturday we had seats for a symphony concert at the Orpheum Theatre. It’s quite a while since we had season’s tickets, now instead we prefer to buy them occasionally, depending on the program. On this particular occasion, the tickets had been a birthday present to the “old scientist” from a friend so we didn’t really pay any attention to the soloist or the program, just the date.

Since we usually dine leisurely, at Italian time, between 7.30 and 8 pm, it was a bit of rush to have dinner early, change and leave for the theatre. I thought I had left plenty of time for driving there, parking the car and arriving in adequate time to peruse the program before the beginning of the concert.

But everywhere you go now in Vancouver you come across road works and two lanes become one with trucks, equipment and crew in what was formerly the second lane. Even downtown on Saturday night, it seems. All getting ready for the Winter Olympics in 2010. I guess they must have finally plumbed the depths of the treasury of upper levels of government for we have been complaining about the state of the roads here for ages. So the journey downtown was a trifle slow.

Needless to say, we rushed into the foyer as the gong was sounding and fell into our seats just as the concert master entered the stage. Hurriedly perusing the program in the half dark I found to my delight that the main offering was Pictures at an Exhibition, by Modest Mussorgsky. The very piece I had mentioned in my post Pieces of Eight, earlier in the week. One I could listen to over and over.

So I settled in to the first half of the concert. Richard Strauss’s Don Juan followed by Gustav Mahler’s Blumine. Oh, no! The “old scientist” doesn’t like much written after 1800. But both were very enjoyable. Then the soloist, a Canadian mezzo-soprano, Anita Krause, with a gorgeous voice, when you could hear her over the orchestra, performed Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder. Less successful unfortunately, due to the singer being drowned out on occasion and frankly I find Lieder rather boring. Intermission followed and we were happy to sit in our seats and peruse the program notes.

Suddenly an army of stagehands appeared and started removing chairs from the stage. Then the piano was wheeled off. What the heck? Pictures at an Exhibition was written as a piano suite and then arranged for the orchestra most famously by Ravel, amongst others. There is always a piano. Suddenly all became clear. Elgar Howarth, English conductor, composer, former professional trumpeter and the conductor of the evening’s performance, had arranged the suite for brass and percussion and this was the concert’s main offering.

After the shakedown on the stage, with the addition of a wide range of percussion instruments including xylophone, seventeen brass players were assembled around the conductor with two percussionists across the rear. With very good orchestra seats we had an excellent view of the French horn players, with the one female, a very good looking young one at that, closest to us.

I must say that it was extremely interesting, watching them hastily exchange the various mutes and frequently empty the spittle out of the horns. Normally, the audience does not see these behind the scenes activities since brass players are usually seated at the back of the orchestra.

But did this arrangement work, you ask? Yes it did. We both enjoyed it very much, along with the rest of the audience who gave them such resounding applause that they played several encores. A very pleasant surprise indeed. I think the whole performance must have been delightful for the brass players who were very busy indeed, especially the percussionists. It’s not often that they get an opportunity to shine so and the trumpet player was outstanding as he switched between several different instruments.

I don’t think I’m rushing out to buy the CD of this arrangement. But I still love Ravel’s orchestration of the suite and can listen to it again and again. Perhaps you might like to hear the first of four parts of this performance conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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This past Saturday we had seats for a symphony concert at the Orpheum Theatre. It’s quite a while since we had season’s tickets, now instead we prefer to buy them occasionally, depending on the program. On this particular occasion, the tickets had been a birthday present to the “old scientist” from a friend so we didn’t really pay any attention to the soloist or the program, just the date.

Since we usually dine leisurely, at Italian time, between 7.30 and 8 pm, it was a bit of rush to have dinner early, change and leave for the theatre. I thought I had left plenty of time for driving there, parking the car and arriving in adequate time to peruse the program before the beginning of the concert.

But everywhere you go now in Vancouver you come across road works and two lanes become one with trucks, equipment and crew in what was formerly the second lane. Even downtown on Saturday night, it seems. All getting ready for the Winter Olympics in 2010. I guess they must have finally plumbed the depths of the treasury of upper levels of government for we have been complaining about the state of the roads here for ages. So the journey downtown was a trifle slow.

Needless to say, we rushed into the foyer as the gong was sounding and fell into our seats just as the concert master entered the stage. Hurriedly perusing the program in the half dark I found to my delight that the main offering was Pictures at an Exhibition, by Modest Mussorgsky. The very piece I had mentioned in my post Pieces of Eight, earlier in the week. One I could listen to over and over.

So I settled in to the first half of the concert. Richard Strauss’s Don Juan followed by Gustav Mahler’s Blumine. Oh, no! The “old scientist” doesn’t like much written after 1800. But both were very enjoyable. Then the soloist, a Canadian mezzo-soprano, Anita Krause, with a gorgeous voice, when you could hear her over the orchestra, performed Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder. Less successful unfortunately, due to the singer being drowned out on occasion and frankly I find Lieder rather boring. Intermission followed and we were happy to sit in our seats and peruse the program notes.

Suddenly an army of stagehands appeared and started removing chairs from the stage. Then the piano was wheeled off. What the heck? Pictures at an Exhibition was written as a piano suite and then arranged for the orchestra most famously by Ravel, amongst others. There is always a piano. Suddenly all became clear. Elgar Howarth, English conductor, composer, former professional trumpeter and the conductor of the evening’s performance, had arranged the suite for brass and percussion and this was the concert’s main offering.

After the shakedown on the stage, with the addition of a wide range of percussion instruments including xylophone, seventeen brass players were assembled around the conductor with two percussionists across the rear. With very good orchestra seats we had an excellent view of the French horn players, with the one female, a very good looking young one at that, closest to us.

I must say that it was extremely interesting, watching them hastily exchange the various mutes and frequently empty the spittle out of the horns. Normally, the audience does not see these behind the scenes activities since brass players are usually seated at the back of the orchestra.

But did this arrangement work, you ask? Yes it did. We both enjoyed it very much, along with the rest of the audience who gave them such resounding applause that they played several encores. A very pleasant surprise indeed. I think the whole performance must have been delightful for the brass players who were very busy indeed, especially the percussionists. It’s not often that they get an opportunity to shine so and the trumpet player was outstanding as he switched between several different instruments.

I don’t think I’m rushing out to buy the CD of this arrangement. But I still love Ravel’s orchestration of the suite and can listen to it again and again. Perhaps you might like to hear the first of four parts of this performance conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I’m quite fond of food actually, as you would imagine if you saw me in real life, rounder than I would like in these latter years. But on the whole I think of it as fuel to keep me going. I do try to choose food that is healthy and which I like. Most things I can take or leave, but there is one thing that I cannot leave if it is in my house and that is Chocolate.

I have to confess that I am addicted to chocolate. Just thinking about it and writing about it conjures its taste in my mouth. Preferably dark and of good quality. So strong is my addiction that I cannot have it in the house because I consume it until it is all gone. Do I succumb sometimes? Well of course I do.

My daughter also loves chocolate and she has one Lady Godiva chocolate after dinner every night. Only the best for her too. But is this truly my child? How can she stop at one? Her father doesn’t particularly like chocolate but somehow my addicted to chocolate gene and his take it or leave it chocolate gene have combined in her to create the chocolate in moderation gene. Why can’t I have that gene?

Someone randomly passed by my blog yesterday, stopped to read the Photo Hunt post with the chocolate covered ice cream and left a comment and a link about how chocolate was banned in Switzerland at one time. My eyes popped open at that and I decided to follow the link.

While we all know that Switzerland is renowned for the production of very fine chocolate it is a relatively recent introduction. Brought to Zurich at the end of the 17th Century, it was consumed as a drink at various feasts of the guilds until banned in 1722 by the Zurich Council, which considered it an aphrodisiac and unsuitable for the citizens’ consumption. Did you know that Casanova consumed chocolate before bedding his conquests because of that belief?

Several wandering Italian cioccolatieri reintroduced it into Switzerland in 1750 and slowly it became accepted with the first chocolate shop opening in Berne in 1792. Rather than reproduce the development of chocolate from drink to what we consume today, you can explore this Swiss site, where I wasted an inordinate amount of time chasing the links, as is my wont.
A particular favourite of mine, dark chocolate with hazelnuts,
food from the gods

Now studies show that dark chocolate is good for your health. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants per gram than other foods laden with the substances, like red wine and green tea and berry fruits according to researchers which suggests that the beneficial effects of chocolate lie in its antioxidant properties. I can easily be convinced of this. More claims and chocolate facts abound at this site where I found this little gem.

Coincidentally or otherwise, many of the worlds oldest supercentenarians, e.g. Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) were passionately fond of chocolate. Jeanne Calment habitually ate two pounds of chocolate per week until her physician induced her to give up sweets at the age of 119 – three years before her death aged 122.


But I need to know the bad effects of consuming chocolate, not the good things about it. However these are fast being denounced. No longer is chocolate considered a cause of acne, although I am long past the age of worrying about acne. Connections between migraines and chocolate are suggested by some but I don’t suffer from migraines, thank goodness. It’s toxic to animals, especially to dogs, but I’m not a dog. Well it is definitely high in calories and saturated fat and sugar in some types and I guess that will have to be deterrent enough for me.

The month of December is going to be very hard for me in this regard. It seems that chocolate is one of the first things that spring to mind as a gift at this time of year. I’m guilty myself for I always put chocolate in everyone’s Christmas stocking at our house. One giant dark Toblerone bar, one dark Terry’s Chocolate Orange, along with assorted other dark chocolate favourites have been included in the Christmas stockings here for many, many years. Yes, I used to put them in my own, but no more. Somehow I have to get through this period without eating chocolate, when it’s all around me, even in my own house. So wish me luck.

Hello, I’m JMB and I’m a chocoholic.

Update: My good friend Eurodog, of Belgium, has reminded me that her homeland is also a producer of very fine chocolate and she sent me this link which I share with you. All there is to know about Belgian chocolate. Enjoy. The link and chocolate too if you are not a chocoholic.

I’m quite fond of food actually, as you would imagine if you saw me in real life, rounder than I would like in these latter years. But on the whole I think of it as fuel to keep me going. I do try to choose food that is healthy and which I like. Most things I can take or leave, but there is one thing that I cannot leave if it is in my house and that is Chocolate.

I have to confess that I am addicted to chocolate. Just thinking about it and writing about it conjures its taste in my mouth. Preferably dark and of good quality. So strong is my addiction that I cannot have it in the house because I consume it until it is all gone. Do I succumb sometimes? Well of course I do.

My daughter also loves chocolate and she has one Lady Godiva chocolate after dinner every night. Only the best for her too. But is this truly my child? How can she stop at one? Her father doesn’t particularly like chocolate but somehow my addicted to chocolate gene and his take it or leave it chocolate gene have combined in her to create the chocolate in moderation gene. Why can’t I have that gene?

Someone randomly passed by my blog yesterday, stopped to read the Photo Hunt post with the chocolate covered ice cream and left a comment and a link about how chocolate was banned in Switzerland at one time. My eyes popped open at that and I decided to follow the link.

While we all know that Switzerland is renowned for the production of very fine chocolate it is a relatively recent introduction. Brought to Zurich at the end of the 17th Century, it was consumed as a drink at various feasts of the guilds until banned in 1722 by the Zurich Council, which considered it an aphrodisiac and unsuitable for the citizens’ consumption. Did you know that Casanova consumed chocolate before bedding his conquests because of that belief?

Several wandering Italian cioccolatieri reintroduced it into Switzerland in 1750 and slowly it became accepted with the first chocolate shop opening in Berne in 1792. Rather than reproduce the development of chocolate from drink to what we consume today, you can explore this Swiss site, where I wasted an inordinate amount of time chasing the links, as is my wont.
A particular favourite of mine, dark chocolate with hazelnuts,
food from the gods

Now studies show that dark chocolate is good for your health. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants per gram than other foods laden with the substances, like red wine and green tea and berry fruits according to researchers which suggests that the beneficial effects of chocolate lie in its antioxidant properties. I can easily be convinced of this. More claims and chocolate facts abound at this site where I found this little gem.

Coincidentally or otherwise, many of the worlds oldest supercentenarians, e.g. Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) were passionately fond of chocolate. Jeanne Calment habitually ate two pounds of chocolate per week until her physician induced her to give up sweets at the age of 119 – three years before her death aged 122.


But I need to know the bad effects of consuming chocolate, not the good things about it. However these are fast being denounced. No longer is chocolate considered a cause of acne, although I am long past the age of worrying about acne. Connections between migraines and chocolate are suggested by some but I don’t suffer from migraines, thank goodness. It’s toxic to animals, especially to dogs, but I’m not a dog. Well it is definitely high in calories and saturated fat and sugar in some types and I guess that will have to be deterrent enough for me.

The month of December is going to be very hard for me in this regard. It seems that chocolate is one of the first things that spring to mind as a gift at this time of year. I’m guilty myself for I always put chocolate in everyone’s Christmas stocking at our house. One giant dark Toblerone bar, one dark Terry’s Chocolate Orange, along with assorted other dark chocolate favourites have been included in the Christmas stockings here for many, many years. Yes, I used to put them in my own, but no more. Somehow I have to get through this period without eating chocolate, when it’s all around me, even in my own house. So wish me luck.

Hello, I’m JMB and I’m a chocoholic.

Update: My good friend Eurodog, of Belgium, has reminded me that her homeland is also a producer of very fine chocolate and she sent me this link which I share with you. All there is to know about Belgian chocolate. Enjoy. The link and chocolate too if you are not a chocoholic.

HOT

When we were visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I happened to notice from the window this hot air balloon travelling over the green parkland.


What could be better on a hot day than an ice cream and here you see my granddaughter indulging in a chocolate coated one


Slim pickings in the archives this week and I was under the weather for most of it. Better now. Next week Red, my favourite colour.

HAVE A HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE

HOT

When we were visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I happened to notice from the window this hot air balloon travelling over the green parkland.


What could be better on a hot day than an ice cream and here you see my granddaughter indulging in a chocolate coated one


Slim pickings in the archives this week and I was under the weather for most of it. Better now. Next week Red, my favourite colour.

HAVE A HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE

This meme was passed to me from Lady Mac and she sent it to Welshcakes too. Both answered it brilliantly so I don’t think I can compete with them. But I’ll give it my best shot.

8 things I’m passionate about

1. My family, especially my one and only granddaughter
2. Animals, preferring dogs to others
3. Women having equal rights and opportunities and naturally equal pay for work of equal value. Sorry James.
4. Books, books, books
5. Museums, all kinds
6. Zoos. I could watch animals for hours and I would have made a very good animal behaviourist.
7.
Keeping my mind active, learning something new every day
8. Good food, preferably cooked by someone else, and good quality dark chocolate

That list doesn’t seem very altruistic, does it? I must be gettin
g old.

8 things to do before I die

1. Go on safari, as if you haven’t heard that one before.
2. Read all the books on my TBR pile, a very unlikely event since they keep multiplying like bacteria.
3. Go back to study in Italy.
4. Become truly, truly fluent in Italian.
5. Finish a huge queen sized quilt that I’ve been making for ten years, at least. It only has to be quilted.
6. Finish putting all my books into a data base so I don’t buy the same one twice, which I’ve been known to do.
7. Go on safari. Did I mention that already?

Yes I know there are only 7 here but I can’t think of another thing. Well until I hit publish and then something will occur to me, in which case I’ll update it.
I’ve always hated goal setting when I’ve been forced to do it for some reason, in some course I was taking or whatever. You also have to remember that I have less time to achieve these goals than many.

8 things I say often

1. What the hell is going on ( I have to change it to “what the heck” around my granddaughter).
2. Hi (somehow it has changed from hello over the years), always accompanied by a big smile I’m told.
3. Tell me…
4. What are you reading?
5. Thank you, no. Or Yes, please. It depends.
6. Let’s stop pussyfooting around and get on with it.
7.
Where are my glasses? (It seems Welshcakes and I share this problem)
8.
Bugger, bugger, bitch, bitch!

8 books I’ve read recently

1. The Bookseller of Kabul –Asne Seierstad
2. The PianistWladyslaw Szpilman
3. Peony in Love — Linda See
4. The Water’s Lovely — Ruth Rendell
5. A Russian Diary — Anna Politkovskaya
6. The Tipping Point — Malcolm Gladwell
7. Body Surfing — Anita Shreve
8. Still Summer — Jacqueline Mitchard

I must say that this blogging business has seriously cut into my reading time! Well book reading, since obviously I read a lot of blogs.

8 song I could listen to over and over

1. Nessun’ dorma Luciano Pavarotti or Ben Heppner
2. Send in the Clowns Judy Collins
3. Con te partirĂ³ Andrea Bocelli
4. Dancing in the Streets David Bowie and Mick Jagger
5. Home to Stay Josh Groban
6. O Holy Night Luciano Pavarotti
7.
Clouds Joni Mitchell
8. Amazing Grace, Joan Baez, Judy Collins or just about anybody, a cappella or on the bagpipes

This meme said songs but really I’d like to have put Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto or Pictures at an Exhibition or Elgar’s Cello Concerto or some other classical pieces.

8 qualities I look for in a best friend

1. Empathy
2. Ability to listen
3. Sense of humour
4. Curious about things
5. Fun to be with
6. Dependable
7. Forgiving
8. Compassionate

Can I say that this is a mighty strange collection of eights? Especially the last set. But there you have it. Not the best meme I’ve ever done. If you are interested in doing it, knock yourself out.

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