Saturday, July 30, 2011

BBC Proms #20

Before I launch into tonight's Proms review, a few queries from my Texas pals as to "How did the BBC Proms get their name?"

Well, the Proms began in 1895 when the founder-conductor Henry Wood decided to hold a series of concerts each year at a host of venues, including the Royal Albert Hall, to introduce the best of classical music to the widest possile audience in the UK. These concerts were named "The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts" and were presented by the BBC; the name was shortened through the years to BBC Proms.

Additionally, "prom" is short for promenade concert, a term which originally referred to outdoor concerts in London's pleasure gardens, where the audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra was playing. Promming now refers to the use of the standing areas inside the hall (the arena and gallery) for which ticket prices are much lower than for the reserved seating). Yep...that is where we are for each concert.

That said, tonight's concert was FAB!!!!! Program as follows:

* Don Juan, Op. 20 - Richard Strauss
* Violin Concerto - William Walton
* Alexander Nevsky - Cantata, Op. 78 - Sergey Prokofiev
* Salome, Op. 54 - Dance of the Seven Veils - Richard Strauss

Not only was the program well performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, but the highlight of the program was the guest violinist, Midori! Such tenderness in her playing. A solid program all way 'round.

Friday, July 29, 2011

BBC Proms #19

I sorta suspected that it might turn out this way, but as the concert started, less than half the seats were full. A light, and perhaps less than mainstream, program at tonight's BBC Proms was probably the culprit:

* Pacific 231 - Honegger
* Pastoral d'ete - Honneger
* There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook - Bridge
* Der Wein - Berg
* Inverno in-ver - Castiglioni
* La Mer - Debussy

Surprisingly, my musical knowledge did not extend to Honegger; it was a pleasant surprise. Sadly, not so for the other selections...and a long night in the cheap seats.

Had Debussy's La Mer not been last on the program, we'd been outta there. Need something meaty for this later this weekend...perhaps Sunday night's Rachmaninov?

Friday, July 22, 2011

BBC Proms #10

Two nights in a row...kinda like wearing the yellow jersey (Tour de France reference)...and we were headed back to the Royal Albert Hall for Proms #10.

First, the program....let's just say, it was interesting but did not light my fire tonight, although I am personally a Debussy and Ravel fan.

* Images - Gigues - Debussy
* Rapsodie Espagnole - Ravel
* Images - Rondes de Printemps - Debussy
* Alborada del Gracioso - Ravel
* Nights in the Gardens of Spain - Falla
* Images - Iberia - Debussy

Secondly, I am a quick learner. Following last evening's gallery seating (or standing as is the case), I fell into the BBC Proms Season Ticket Holder routine quite nicely. Into the RAH I walked tonight with my stadium seating pads (i.e. Wimbledon branded, I might add), my munchies for the concert picked up enroute to the concert at my local Pret, and into the queue I assembled. "Early bird catches the worm pays off" as I had front and center standing spots at the gallery railing. Yes!

Only one small process improvement: pack the opera glasses for the next performance.

Tower of London Ceremony of the Keys

A little known event, known as the Ceremony of the Keys happens every day at the Tower of London, come rain or shine, in peace time or periods of war...

The Ceremony of the Keys is the traditional locking up of the Tower of London and has taken place on each and every night, without fail, for at least 700 years. The importance of securing this fortress for the night is still very relevant because, although the Monarch no longer resides at this royal palace, the Crown Jewels and many other valuables still do!


Thus, on one evening earlier this summer, the Budman and I, along with about 100 other Londoners (yes, I can myself as one of them now) walked alongside our Beefeater Yeoman Warder and observed the pomp and ceremony of this nightly ritual, including the same questions asked for centuries...


Guard 1: "Who goes there"?

Guard 2: "The keys."

Guard 1: "Whose keys?"

Guard 2: "The Queen's Keys."


If you ever get a chance to attend, the ceremony lasts about 45 minutes and is quite iinteresting.


BBC Proms 2011

Decided to acquire the Proms Season Tickets again this year, but thus far, have only been able to get to the first one of the season, Prom 9.  Lovely program of composers I was not well acquainted with - a summer evening well spent:

Scenes Historiques - Suite No. 2  - Sibelius
Symphony No. 7 in C Major - Sibelius
Piano Concerto No. 3 - Bartok
Sinfonietta - Janacek

BBC Proms 2011

Besides the lovely program, two ah-ha moments.

(1) I clearly purchased the wrong season tickets this does one intend to buy floor seats and end up with gallery standing only seats? No clue, but I did.

(2)  Once I climbed the 5 levels to the top of the Royal Albert Hall, I realized that I was with a different caliber of folk.  Not good or bad...just different.  Apparently, these people were packing for either hiking to Base Camp Level 1 or intended to overnight it at the RAH for tomorrow's BBC Prom #10.  These folks had brought air mattresses, rugs, blankets, pillows, coolers, food and wine, etc.  Many reclined in full horizontal position, shoes off, eyes closed...

it was downright odd.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Business travel...never would've thunk it... you think my business travel destinations are glamorous?  Try Ivory Coast and Nigeria on for size!

Yea, that is what I thought....!

Monday, July 11, 2011

March Trip: Lisbon's Castelo de Sao Jorge

I is a nice problem to have.  We are travelling so much, I can't keep up with downloading of the photos from the camera, uploading to them flickr, and posting updates to the blog. 

That said, March's trip took us to Lisbon for a very temperate weekend in this lovely city in Portugal.  Great time all round; although we took a slightly more leisurely pace that the Budman and Hachie Gal are apt to do and did not make it to Sentra.

So, the sights of Lisbon...first up, the Castelo de Sao Jorge, including the battlements, castle, the cobbled streets of Santa Cruz, and the wonderful views of Lisbon from the observation terrace.

Lisbon HY Day 1 062

A little history might be in order. Following the recapture of Lisbon from the Moors in 1147, King Alfsonso Henriques transformed the hilltop citadel into the residence for the Portuguese kings. A more lavish palace was built in 1511 but an earthquake in 1755 (apparently a really big one b/c there are references to almost total destruction to Lisbon and its buildings everywhere in the city) caused the palace to lay in ruins for almost 200 years. Restoration began in 1938 and voila!

Lisbon HY Day 1 025

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Next round of Olympic Ticket Purchase

Technically, it has been round 2 and 3 of the London Olympic 2012 ticket purchase.  Sadly, because I received a "single" pair of gymnastics tickets in Round 1, I was not eligible for the "first come, first serve" Round 2 ticket purchase.  Not complaining, too loudly any way, as I know there were many people who did not receive a single thing in the first round.

So, as Round 3 opens today, only tickets to Football (soccer for you Yanks), volleyball, and wrestling events remain.  Think I need to take a pass and hope something comes available in the "friends and family" category, as I scored an additional 2 pairs of tickets through that route.

So, let the games year.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

12 in 12 in 12


I figured I needed to put it out there...into make it real for me, although I think I have already bought it into it, both literally and mentally.

Next year's running goal is defined:

12 marathons in 12 months in 2012.

The selected race list is as follows:

*  January - Marrakesh, Morocco
*  February - Seville, Spain
*  March - Rome, Italy
*  April  - London or Vienna,Austria
*  May - Prague, Czech Republic
*  June - Midnight Sun Marathon, Tromso, Norway
*  July - Koenig's Marathon, Fussen, Germany
*  August - Reykjavik, Iceland
*  September - Berlin, Germany
*  October - Amsterdam, NL or Dublin, Ireland
*  November - Athens, Greece (home of the original marathon) or French Riviera Marathon (Nice to Cannes)
*  December - Lisbon, Portugal

I know, I know, I know.  Already heard it. 

Reason:  (1) because they're there, (2)  I'm a fan of destination running and (3) have a huge charity fundraising goal mapped out/

Can I count on your support?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Happy 4th

There was no day of, no Texas style BBQ or cookout (although the two Texas Gals, Cyn and Hachie Gal, did share a meal of Spanish tapas), but we did at least get out "Old Glory" at the London house....well, little Old Glory that is.

July 4th decorating in London

Was with ya'll in spirit!

Another Wimbledon come and gone

One of the things I have loved about living in London is being "in town" when Wimbledon takes place.  Not only can I watch the matches real-time on TV, albeit not as frequently as I would like (that pesky work thing gets in the way), but I have been able to visit the site of  "THE" most famous tennis tournament in the world.

Entrance to Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis Club.






Center court.














Sidenote: I kinda feel like a parent who takes alot of photos of the "first born" and then not as many of the second child.  Downloaded my photos and found I had far more of Nadal than Djokovic.





One more thing off the bucket one of interest, see the Tour de France.

enough of Pippa

I get that she is the new Duchess of Cambridge's sister.  She is cute enough, pleasant enough.  Unlike the rest of the world, I was not gob-smacked by the bridesmaid's dress although the green formal dress was a lovely color and looked good on her. 

But really...I am already drowning in a sea of "Pippa overdose".  I realize part of it is most of it is not her fault but everywhere I turn in the UK, I see "Pippa".  I understand it is worse in the US.

And if it hasn't gotten crazy enough, Pippa has even been offered a slot on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing (the UK version of Dancing with the Stars).  Apparently, the term "celebrity" is defined quite broadly now.