This temporary mural covers work. It certainly makes strolling through a pleasant experience.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
This temporary mural covers work. It certainly makes strolling through a pleasant experience.
Walking from the hotel to the ISTE conference (with a few detours), I passed some beautiful murals. Philadelphia is full of murals and other art work. I am always impressed by cities that value art. Public art is accessible to all. It speaks to the emotions and elicits laughter, a smile and even tears.
As Philadelphia is a very flat city, walking is easy, but benches are available for those who need a rest or just want to stop to admire the architecture.
There is quite a variety of architecture in Philadelphia, from the ornate to the stark modern structures. This is a detail from the entry way to the Masonic Temple (built in 1873). As you can see, each column is decorated differently. My hotel room featured a large print of a photograph of these columns.
This is the entry way - (photo taken a few days later).
There is no shortage of intriguing venues for concerts in Old Montreal and Susie finds them all. We went to a concert of music by Trabacci, played on viola da gambas and harp. It was held in the old Pump House, now part of the Archaeology Museum. A lovely concert with perfectly blended instruments and some truly beautiful solo harp pieces.
A delightful part of the festival is always the free concerts in the café. Young musicians share their talents as they have an opportunity to play for the public. It is wonderful to see the up and coming young musicians.
This year, the rain prevented outdoor concerts, so those also took place in the café. I only had a chance to hear a bit of Skarazula's concert. Their music, Middle Eastern and Eastern European, makes it hard to sit still. I hope to catch a concert of theirs in the future.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Each year the Montreal Baroque Festival astonishes and delights audiences with its originality, variety of concerts and, of course, with the fantastic music. This year's theme, The Seven Deadly Sins, features music by composers with unsavoury backgrounds (Forqueray who was known for his excessively unpleasant temperament, Gesualdo who murdered his wife and her lover, Rosenmuller who went after the young male singers in his charge...) as well as music which in one way or another portrays one or more of the sins.
Susie Napper, the director of the festival and creative force behind it opened the festival with a bite of the apple, a sin which may have sent people out of the garden of eden - but, in my opinion, into a garden of earthly delights!
Le Ballet Royal de L'impatience (music by Lully), was last performed at the court of Louis XIV in 1661. We were treated to a splendid and comic rendition featuring the choreography of Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière and the dancers of Les Jardins Chorégraphiques. Singing, instrumental interludes, dancing - a real feast which featured many of the deadly sins.
The first concert was held in the cafe - a young harpsichord player, Mélisande McNabney, who I have known since she was a young child at CAMMAC. She played music by Forqueray and Bach. A young artist, or extraordinary talent, she delighted the audience with her musicality and technique.
Concert #2 featured Mandragore, a medieval group. A lovely variety of music, beautifully presented. The voices blended and the variety of instruments provided interested colours.
Concert #3 was presented by the recorder consort: Flûte Alors! They played an astonishing number of notes at breakneck speed as they performed works by Matthias Maute and Vivaldi. I wrote about them recently when I attended another of their concerts.
Concert #4 was an interesting concept that worked beautifully. The late Bruce Haynes, a brilliant music historian, oboist and music philosopher constructed 6 new "Brandenburg Concerti" by using movements from Bach cantatas and concertos. This practice was not uncommon in the baroque era when composers reused movements from one piece in others and with copyright being quite different from now, they would even incorporate music from other composers into their own works. The new Brandenburgs were based loosely on the originals in terms of mood, but the instrumentation was based on players who were available in Montreal - another typical baroque practice. If you had a good oboist and harpsichordist, you would be likely to write more music for that composition of players. It was an emotional evening as Bruce died only a month ago; he never heard his extraordinary reworking of Bach's music. The musicians will be recording these new concertos - I can assure you I will be buying a copy.
Concert #5 brought both madrigals and some harpsichord pieces. The harpsichord pictured above is different from most harpsichords in that it is upright (like modern day upright pianos). It was played by Alex Weimann. The Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam were extraordinary. They performed madrigals (mainly by their namesake, Gesualdo). Their tuning, precision and overall musicality were magical.
Fatigue prevented a visit to the Cafe to hear more young musicians. More concerts to come...
Along Notre-Dame, we passed the Court of Appeal, once the Court House. It is imposing, with stairs leading up, tall columns and these large doors. Here is a detail of one of the panels.
Near Notre Dame Cathedral, we found a pedestrian area - a quiet oasis in the city, with benches and fountains and the songs of birds ricocheting off the stone facades of the buildings.
As to the festival - what a richness of concerts!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Summer brings out the buskers in Montreal. Different streets (in this case St-Laurent) become pedestrian only for a few days for sidewalk sales and other festivities. These Klezmer musicians had everyone's toes tapping as their energy was contagious.
Around the corner on Prince Arthur the South Americans held sway - their mountain melodies seducing those who were eating at the many outdoor tables. It was fun to see a very young child taken in by the music, smiling and waving her hands.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Rural areas celebrate their roots and their daily life. Here is an ad (in French) for a plowing contest. In Casselman the farm fields surround the town. Though Casselman is now partly a bedroom community for Ottawa, farming is a way of life for many in the area. For information...
Friday, June 17, 2011
Friday - sitting on the terrace of an Italian bistro, the wine has been consummed. I stare at the reflections in the glass. The sharp focus of the week dissolves into the reverie of the weekend, with time to enjoy conversation, good food and maybe, another glass of wine.
Would a cat sympathy basket go to my other cat - to help him over his loss? What would be in it?
Or should the basket go to me to comfort me (I hope not with the same ingredients)? Then again - my spouse, has only been in my life for almost 5 years, whereas my current cat has been with me for over 14 years - should the sympathy basket go to P for putting up with this housemate? It certainly is purr-plexing.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The Daily Shoot: The color of the day is orange. Make a photograph that is full of orange today.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
A free shuttle takes you from downtown to a ferry on which a three minute ride takes you to Toronto Island. No long lines as the planes are small and security, while thorough is not unpleasant. The lounge is comfortable, with free wi-fi, a "business centre" with computers for use by anyone and a cafe area provides free drinks, coffee, teas, cookies and other snacks. You feel like a person, not like cattle, which is more the case in larger airports.
Monday, June 13, 2011
I had originally thought of taking this photograph without the pigeon - I liked the reflections in the windows I was facing. Maybe the pigeon did too.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Trains pass industrial areas. Nearby this complex structure was a quarry. I guess they are processing the stone. Any other ideas?
As we stopped at a station I noticed this young man whose shirt proclaimed Freedom. I thought about train travel and how it has brought many people to new lives over the years.
I like train travel. It goes at a human pace - you can watch the world go by, peek into places you don't otherwise see and take time to sit, read, doze off and chat with people you would not otherwise have met.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
For the uninitiated, this may look like a cello but there are many differences. Like the better known violin family, viola da gambas come in different sizes. However, the shape is slightly different. All viola da gambas are played held on or between the legs (gamba - leg in Italian). They have frets which can be moved slightly to alter the tuning. They usually have 6 strings, though this is not always the case.. The one above has 6, the one below has 7 - an addition that was made to some French viols to add a lower note. Strings are made of gut, which require more frequent tuning as they are more prone to stretching and slipping than metal strings.
You can see that the bow is held underhanded. Many viola da gambas have beautifully carved heads. Here is a closeup of the head on the top gamba.
It represents Charles I of England (he who lost his head). It is a historic viol made by Barak Norman in the late 1600s. Learn more about the viola da gamba from the site of Les Voix Humaines.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Bicycling through the countryside, we passed farms with freshly planted rows of corn. The smell of manure wafted over the road as we passed newly fertilized fields. We city dwellers were conscious of odours. Perhaps the farmers are oblivious as we are to the smoggy smells of the city.
I love to see a bit of creative flair. These homes probably date from early in the last century. These brightly painted balconies give them each a little individuality - a bright spot on a city street.