On Xmas Eve, Bill, Black Jack and I walked downtown amid the hustle and bustle of last minute shoppers, happy that our mission wasn't gift related. When we returned to my building, we set the camera up for a group shot in the lobby.
A late but heartfelt "Merry Xmas" to my much appreciated blog readers!
It was a relaxed walk with time to look around..
Although we saw many places with beautiful decorations, there were also large buildings like this with lights in only a few of the windows, and Bill remarked that overall, condo and home owners in Vancouver are decorating less than in years past.
After supper, Bill and I settled for some quiet time. Black Jack is always confident that "her" Bill would never turn down the opportunity to offer the place of honour on his stomach.
On Xmas morning, I thought it was time that Black Jack got into the spirit of the season. I am being kind in showing her "intelligent" look first.
Black Jack says "Merry Christmas" too!
Bill lay down for a five-minute nap after our walk and Black Jack yawned..
as if to say, "Great idea, Bill. I was feeling a bit tired myself."
Then we were off to The Chan Centre at UBC for the annual Festive Cantata Concert. I enjoyed looking through the windows at the forest, and at the "X" reflections in the window.
The branches outside the window criss-crossed rather nicely as well.
Below, you can see the skylight with the "X" bars that reflected so nicely.
From our seats, and before the musicians arrived on stage, I took a picture of the Oboe da caccia, a period instrument that looks very different from the typical oboe played today. In fact, I had never seen one like it, and later, I looked on line for some information about it. The picture on the right was taken from this site. The oboe da caccia was played by renowned Baroque oboist, Washington McClain. I found this fascinating description of a master class given by Mr. McClean at Wilfrid Laurier University. Written by Esther Wheaton, a composer and oboist, it is a fascinating read if you are interested in oboes or in early music.
Bach wrote approximately 300 cantatas in his life-time. Although about two fifths of those have been lost, Early Music Vancouver will still have to give many more concerts (this was the 13th year with four on each program) in order to come close to performing all of the others. During the years that Bach was writing one cantata a week, he was living in Leipzig, employed as cantor at St. Thomas school. He lived at the school with his wife and four children. He had had a total of 20 children, 7 with his first wife, and when she died suddenly, 13 more with his second wife. Out of all those children, only four survived to adulthood. I will put a small quote here from this excellent site:
"The Cantor's duties were to organize the music in the four principal churches of Leipzig, and to form choirs for these churches from the pupils of the Thomasschule. He was also to instruct the more musically talented scholars in instrument playing so that they might be available for the church orchestra, and to teach the pupils Latin (which Bach quickly delegated to a junior colleague). Out of the 54 boys at Bach's disposal for use in the different choirs, he stated, '17 are competent, 20 not yet fully, and 17 incapable'. The best singers were selected to form the choir which sang the Sunday cantata; one week at the Thomaskirche, the other week at the Nikolaikirche. A 'second' choir, of the same size but less ability, would sing at the church without the cantata. The 'third' choir of even less ability at the Petrikirche, the 'fourth' at the Neuekirche."
Looking to the upper balconies at the back of The Chan Centre
What I think about as I read about Bach's life is his genius, for sure, but also, his fortitude. His first wife died while he was away on a music-related journey, though he had left her in perfect health. He returned home, shocked to find that she had already been buried, and four children (three others had died in infancy) were now motherless. In all, he buried 16 children, while composing, performing (he was declared the top organist in the land), and training choirs for weekly performances. I have been playing and listening to Bach's music since a small child, and have known many facts about his life, but he has come alive in my mind more vividly than ever before as I write this post. A time so different, it is hard to fathom.
One final picture to show the Chan at intermission
The cormorants were gathered for a town meeting..
led by this important member of the council, obviously announcing important news.
Poor focus, but had to show this. This one flew right by my camera, so close I felt I could have reached out and touched his/her wing.
This Hooded Merganser was working very hard for his breakfast. Is it just me, or do you also see a horrified expression on his victim's face?
I am only showing a few of many pictures, but when I say he worked hard, I really mean it. Over and over again, I thought the fish (?) had given up, only to watch it try again to escape.
This was the end of the struggle. As much as I hate to see anything killed..
I had to admit the merganser had fully earned the right to his meal.
He did seem to me to look a bit guilty, though, for not sharing with Mrs. Merganser, who, in my eyes, seemed to have a slightly accusing expression.
Black Jack and I spent a few minutes working on recalls before we returned home.
She was doing really well with her "sit" and "stay" commands, and I even managed to leash..
her before she went into full "chase" mode on sighting this cat. Phew!
As you can see, she was sorely tempted. Good dog, Black Jack!
Kosovar-Albanian contemporary artist, Sislej Xhafa, now based in New York, is a new-to-me artist for the letter "X" and, as this site states, "is known for his controversial and provocative artistic works and interventions that he himself likes to label as 'actions'."
You can see many more of his works by checking out this page. For now, I will just post..
these two works that caught my attention. The one above deals with "a religious theme and therefore a very delicate matter. The fulcrum of the controversy lies in the similarity that the gigantic face of Padre Pio would have with an extra-terrestrial.." (That quote and more information can be found at this site.) As for the burning bicycle, it is called Beh-rang, and as the same site explains, "the violent act of burning and the purifying symbolism of fire overlap in the image of the burning bicycle."
For a musical connection, I come back to the Xmas season with "O Holy Night." It is sung with emotion and enormous power by Luke Edgemon. I'm not sure that he will still have a voice in ten years, but hope I'm mistaken about that. I chose this song because my dad loved it, and because my sister sang it so beautifully.
The final "X" new-to-me music is by the Xavante Indians. The music recorded was a rare opportunity for an anthropologist to witness a traditional dance. This link will take you to some interesting comments about that encounter.
That's it for this week's ABC - "X" post. Try out that link to find lots of other interpretations of "X". Thanks so much, everyone, for stopping by.