Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Observing people in a city is fascinating to me but I don’t want to be too obtrusive when taking photos. I appreciate those who don’t mind. I once had a woman ask me if I wanted her to walk by again so I could get a better shot (and no, it wasn’t in a sarcastic tone).

People Woman and bikesBikes are very popular in Ljubljana People watching atPreseren Statue in Ljubljana Slovenia II
Resting at the Preseren Statue near the Triple Bridge

People two women and vespaI always say “if you work hard for a rockin body, then by all means show it off” People Smoking
So pretty but wish she’d lose the cigarettes. Smoking is prevalent at the outdoor bars/cafes

People Hare KrishnaHare Krishna group chanting along the river People First date
I’m thinking first date ~

People alone at the cafeAlone at an outdoor cafe People 4 walking
Too much concentration going on

People Music drum and hornsWe came across Brass Against The Machine while walking around Ljubljana. Very entertaining. If you ever get a chance to see them play, go! People Music Festival II
Brass Against the Machine entertaining the crowd. High energy!

Only thing better than people watching is: DOG WATCHING. Ljubljana is very dog friendly.

Dog saying hi to hot dog in bike basket Ljubljana SloveniaDog in Bike Basket Ljubljana Slovenia
“Hot” dog in a bike basket

People two men and a dogTwo men and their well-coiffed pup People Ice cream eating dog
Ice cream eating dog

People Dog waiting for owner
Waiting on pizza

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Twice a year, Mount Vernon Estates (the home of George Washington) becomes the site of the Wine Festival and Sunset Tours. It’s become a tradition for John and I to go whenever we’re in town. It’s a great was to spend a relaxing evening on the lawn overlooking the beautiful Potomac and listening to the jazz band.  And, better yet, we go with friends ~ makes for wonderful

Mount Vernon Estate

Friday night was our 4th visit. We’ve got it down to a science now: Get there early, stake out a good spot on the lawn (not too close to the band) and then hit the wine tasting as soon as possible. Elbowing people out of the way is essential ~ some set up station and continue drinking without a thought about the people behind them waiting for a sip. Once we find the wine we like, we buy a bottle (or three) and head back to the chairs to relax.  The Dixie Power Trio (there are really 4 members) played toe-tapping New Orleans-style jazz, zydeco, Cajun sounds. Loved their rendition of  “When The Saints Come Marching In” as festival-goers formed a conga line and danced around the lawn. 

Mount Vernon Estates is located in Alexandria, Virginia on the banks of the Potomac River.  It’s one of the country’s most popular historic estate and welcomes over 1 million visitors every year.  There’s the plantation house, many out-buildings and gorgeous grounds which include flower and vegetable gardens. I visit Mount Vernon as often as I can but the wine festival is definitely a highlight.

Wine Festival II

This year there were 16 Virginia Wineries represented. I enjoyed “Dog and Oyster” and “Sunset Hills” wines but we ended up choosing “Trump Winery” as our bottle(s) of choice (a tasty Merlot).

Wine Festival Glass Collection

If you decide to go, purchasing your tickets in advance is essential. The festival usually sells out on Friday and Saturday nights. They’ve added Sunday evening due to the popularity of the event. I’m tempted to go back tonight just to listen to the band. The fall Wine Festival is scheduled for October 3,4 and 5, 2014. Tickets go on sale August 25, 2014.

Helpful Hints:

  • Bring a folding chair and blanket for the lawn
  • Have valid photo identification
  • Outside food & beverage not allowed. There are concessions under the tasting tent.
  • There’s Wine Valet services if you decide to buy several bottles/case. The wine will be waiting for you at the exit.
  • The festival goes on rain or shine so be prepared if there are any clouds in the sky
  • There are plenty of cabs waiting outside in case you’ve imbibed too much.

Click here for more information about Mount Vernon Estates and the Wine Festival.

Don’t forget to get a photo with George and Martha Washington:

Wine Festival with George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon
Spring Wine Festival 2011

Mount Vernon with Geroge and Martha Washington
Fall Wine Festival 2012

Wine Festivalwith George and Martha
Spring Wine Festival 2014

I realize there’s a photo missing ~ seems we neglected to take photos at one of the festivals. Guess we were too busy enjoying the evening! At least that’s the story I’m sticking with…

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If music be the food of love, play on.” William Shakespeare

I wasn’t exposed to musical instruments as a child. OK, maybe I strummed a Ukulele once or twice as a little kid but none of the schools I attended in Hawaii or Puerto Rico offered music classes.  But not having learned to play an instrument makes me no less inspired and in awe of those who can.

Having moved 20 times, or on the average of every 2.5 years, I’ve learned to hit the ground running. Logan’s London school doesn’t have an orchestra and I didn’t want her viola skills to get rusty. Within the first week in London, I started my search for a viola tutor. I didn’t know any one in the area yet, so I used (gasp) Google. The Tutor Pages website popped up with lists of tutors and their information. I was impressed with Maja Wegrzynowska’s information and made an appointment to meet with her the next week.

Since safety is my first priority, I did a basic background search (again Google) and made sure John was aware of where we were going. Can’t be too careful these days ( for all I knew it could have been a bogus listing) but any worries I had were set aside when I met Maja. She’s been a fabulous tutor for Logan. Because she is a performing artist, the practice schedule is fluid ~ we make arrangements each week. Works out well for her and for Logan. We’re thrilled she makes time to tutor when she has such a busy schedule performing.

For the last few months, I’ve wanted to take Logan to see Maja in concert. I’m a firm believer that you can learn a lot by watching the experts live. Until now, we’ve had conflicting schedules but finally, this past Wednesday, we were able to attend Maja’s performance at the 35th Anniversary Concert of Live Music Now. It took place in Hall One at Kings Place (near Kings Cross Station) and featured performances by current musicians and distinguished alumni. Maja has worked with them in the past.

Live Music Now is a UK-based charity. Over the last three decades, it has conducted 50,000 participatory performances thus reaching over two million people with disabilities, the elderly and children with special needs. The charity hires young professional musicians out of music school, pays them a salary (one they can live on) and teaches them to use their talents for the benefit of those who are otherwise excluded from access to experiencing live music. In the states, I’ve heard of volunteers who do similar events but this charity takes it to another level with PAID professionals. We saw a short film showing the musicians in a classroom setting and one in an elderly home. It was heartwarming to see the smiles brought about by the fabulous music brought to their lives ~ even for a short while.

The concert was FABULOUS. It began and ended with the toe tapping harmonica/banjo duo of “Walsh and Pound” and all kinds of wonderful music in between. There was jazz, Spanish guitar, an opera singer, etc. Maja played in a trio called “La Mer Trio” ~ it consists of the viola, harp and flute. An interesting combination and they sounded so beautiful together.

La Mer Trio (Maja Wegrzynowska (Viola), Renate Sokolovska (Flute) and Hannah Stone (Harp)  Photographer: Grzegorz Golebiowski.

La Mer Trio: Maja Wegrzynowska (Viola), Renate Sokolovska (Flute) and Hannah Stone (Harp) (Photographer: Grzegorz Golebiowski)

Hall One at Kings Place (Photo Courtesy of Kings Place)

Hall One at Kings Place (Photo Courtesy of Kings Place)

Hall One at Kings Place was a pleasant surprise. I was a little worried since our seats were towards the back but there’s not a bad seat in the hall and the acoustics are wonderful. It’s attending events such as this remind me that I’m going to miss the heck out of London. If you get a chance to go to the 36th Anniversary concert next year, do so. It only cost £14.50 which was so worth it!

If you want to see La Mer Trio in concert, click here.

For more info on:

Kings Place upcoming events, click here.

Live Music Now charity, click here.

The Tutor Pages, click here. 

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Wigmore Hall

We attended a concert at Wigmore Hall last night.

It featured Rosalind Ventris (Viola) and Lara-Dodds Eden (Piano).  Just the two of them.  They played a new work  from Edwin Roxburgh and last night was the world premiere.  Personally, I thought it sounded like a soundtrack to a scary 60’s thriller ~ it was very edgy with lots of high-pitched, dark (dare I say creepy) notes on the viola and pounding of the keys on the piano. Logan loved it!  As a viola player herself, her perspective is a lot different from mine. She appreciates the technical aspect of the music.  The other three pieces were Schumann (Marchenbilder Op 113), Hindemith (Viola Sonata Op 11 No.4 and Rachmaninov (Cello Sonata in G Minor Op. 19 arr. Vadim Borisovsky).  All traditional and soothing to my senses.

Wigmore Hall was built in 1901, in Renaissance style (using alabaster and marble for the walls, flooring and stairway). The original owners were the German Piano company Bechstein. It was next door to their piano showrooms and was built for recitals. During WWI, and with hostility toward German companies, the entire Bechstein company was sold to Debenhams for a song (pun intended).

Today, there are concerts daily ~ some in the evening but also ones in the mornings and afternoons. I’ve been pouring over the October and November schedules to see which ones I’d like to attend next.  Logan has already picked out the Bach Cello Suites concert. If you go, there is a bar and restaurant so it’s a nice place to meet up with friends and have a drink or a bite to eat prior to the concert.

They also have learning events which reach out to young children with interactive music workshops such as the “Toddler Bop” for 1 -2 year olds, family days for 6+ year olds and “For Crying Out Loud” for up to one year olds. How fun is that…wish I’d had something like this to take Logan to when she was so young.  I did play classical music for her as much as possible. At first, I didn’t think it made a difference but then I noticed she cried whenever I played Tchaikovsky but was happy as could be with Bach and Beethoven.  That’s when I was convinced babies truly are sponges and everything in their environment affects them.

This gem of a place, located in Marylebone near the Bond Street tube station, is about four blocks from our flat. Have I mentioned how much I love the location of our new home?!  If you’re a chamber music fan, check out the schedule of upcoming concerts, you won’t be disappointed!

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