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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sydney Opera House Review

This post is for you Aunt Neva!!! Love you!!!



Symphony at the Sydney Opera House
TCHAIKOVSKY’S FIRST PIANO CONCERTO

Wednesday, October 20th 2010 | 6:30pm

Richard Gill |Conductor (Stanhope and Piano Concerto)
Thomas Ades |Conductor (Ades and Nutcracker)
Maxwell Foster| Piano
Sydney Sinfonia – Side-by-Side with the Sydney Symphony (Ades and Nutcarcker)


Situated on Bennelong Point and overlooking Sydney Harbor, the Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.  The architecture is expressionist and people have said it is meant to appear like sails on a boat or sea shells from the sea. At the furthest point of the building surrounded on three sides by the harbor is a smaller “sea shell” fa├žade called the Northern Foyer. This is where Paul Stanhope held the pre-concert talk among breathtaking views including that of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
The pre-concert talk was given to a fairly large group of people, over one-hundred. The audience mainly consisted of a school group who were all wearing their school uniform and sitting on the purple carpet steps opposite the large glass window facing the harbor. Stanhope gave a brief history of Tchaikovsky’s influence in choosing instruments in his suite, noting the influences came from France. I found the composer’s attire as interesting as his discussion. He was dressed in a green graphic t-shirt worn under a black coat and pants suit. He played a few seconds of the sugar plum fairy section thru a stereo over the loud speaker and spoke about the instruments and celestial tones. He then played the Chinese dance section with mostly high sounds and asked the audience if they could recognize the main instruments being played. Many people guessed but the correct answer was the piccolo.
Stanhope discussed the sounds and influences found in his Fantasia on a Theme of Vaughn Williams (listed first on the playbill) and those found in Asyla (performed after the interval). He described Fantasia as a “contemporary odyssey piece that is a single movement played without pause but with six recognizable sections”. He described Asyla with “the shrill flavor of club music and reference to techno styles” coupled together. It refers to forms of popular music in several sections, decreeing the song polystylistic. To better understand the influence we listened to the sounds of refuge and madness from Stravinsky’s Asyla or “asylum”. The resonance and echoes made one feel creepy and empty then the music turned to soft and graceful, hence the naming of Asyla.
As I sat in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall I took note of the magenta seats and the weird circle things floating from the ceiling I assumed was for better acoustics. Musicians of all ages from late twenties to early sixties were tuning their instruments. The concert was introduced by Andrew Ford, an award winning composer, writer, and broadcaster who is also the presenter of The Music Show on ABC Radio National.
The evening began with a crazy explosion of sound from the trumpet and French horn sections and then into smooth flute and violin melodies with low tones coming from the cello and double bass. The melody of Fantasia was difficult for me to discover because of the random cow bell and hand drums that were played with a drumstick. Finally I heard the melody coming together with the sound of the trumpets. I feel the atmosphere created with the sound was simple and peasant like, very organic. An interesting side note was when a foot long heavy silver chain was slowly dropped on top of a large hand drum to create an interesting urban sound. The next clear section was the double bass and symbols. When paired they create a smooth jazzy note with melodies laden with the xylophone and trumpet. The section finished with violin and into the next section with the flute and loud trumpet. As the concert was playing I tried to hear the club references. I did not think any sound was particularly obvious but I could comment on the intense drum beats that sounded like a good club song. The final sound was that of the thick chain falling on a drum.
The next piece of the evening was Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concert No. 1 in B flat minor, Op.23 with Maxwell Foster as the piano soloist. The melody in the beginning was beautiful and recognizable to many. I kept waiting to hear the melody reappear later in one of the later sections but it never returned. The entire time I just kept staring at the keys, watching Foster’s hands move up and down fast and fluidly dancing. It was as if they were floating on the surface just barley tickling the keys and the piano was giggling with sounds of harmony. I lost track of time or which movement we were in, for a moment there was no piano, only the flute and drum. When the piano tones reentered, my eyes literally watered and I felt as though I had a lump in my throat. The music was absolutely beautiful. The violin and piano complement each other well in this piece and mimicked each other’s sounds gracefully. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece as it was my favorite of the evening.
Following a short interval the Sinfonia joined the Symphony and the stage was overflowing with musicians and their instruments. The first piece played was Thomas Ades’ Asyla. The beginning sounded like a theme for a haunted house followed by sweet sounds and back to crazy. About this time in the performance I began to notice the conductor. He is much more fluid, involved and animated than the first conductor was. The second movement began on a much happier note followed by what I describe as dreamlike with sounds one would hear swimming at the bottom of a lake inside a cave.
I felt like the transition between movements was rather abrupt and came to a full stop. The sound was not so much club music but more likely in the house beat genre. However, I agree both are acceptable. The main element that exemplified the so called club music influence would have to have been the drum beats. Take the drums out and the sound would be creepy with a lot of loud noise rather than music. The next movement was transformed into a big band sort of tone. Such as the music found in the streets of New Orleans with drums, trumpet, and double bass. The final sounds of piano sounded pop-like and in the finale a bag of a ten-piece silverware set was dropped on a drum.
The final piece of the evening and the most exciting part of the night was Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker: Suite No. 1. The suite began the same way as it would for the ballet. A feeling of nostalgia swept over me at the sound of the first few bars. I could imagine dancers on the crowded stage. The second movement may very well be my favorite until I heard and remembered the third and so on. The sweet rhythms and melodies of the Nutcracker suite were dreamlike and sweet as my mind wandered into thoughts of sugar plum fairies.
The acoustics within the Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House were so great that even the clapping at the end of the show sounded fabulous. I loved the set for the show as I felt they fit well together. I was very happy with the evening and was already planning my return.





Friday, November 12, 2010

Holiday Recipe Exchange

So I am so excited! This seems really cool. My friend Beth sent me this e-mail today:

Hi friends! Holidays are here and I'm sure we can all use some great new recipes! :) 
You are invited to be a part of a recipe exchange. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 below (even if you don't know them). The recipe should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now. Don't agonize over it, it is the one you make when you are short of time. 
After you've sent your recipe to the person in position 1 below and ONLY TO THAT PERSON, copy this letter into a new email, move my name to the top and put your name in position 2. Only mine and your name should show when you send your email. Send to 20 friends BCC (blind copy). 
If you cannot do this within 5 days, let me know so it will be fair to those participating. You should receive 36 recipes. It's fun to see where they come from! Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas! 
The turnaround is fast, as there are only 2 names on the list you only have to do this once.

I love cooking and I love recipes! I am so excited to do an exchange! This is the recipe I sent:

(I hope my BFF Molly doesn't send a baked Feta recipe too because it is she who gave me the idea!)

Spicy Baked Feta with French Baguette

One block Feta (Greek, American, Persian, or French will all be fine) 
1/3 cup Olive Oil (EVOO or herbed flavour is fine too)
1/2 tsp Chili Flakes
Dried Oregano (Dried Basil or Italian Seasoning is fine too, whatever you have on hand)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt 
1/4 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper

Preheat Oven to 350F
Place feta in oven safe dish, preferably a glass loaf pan with a lid.
Drizzle with Olive Oil and sprinkle with all the seasoning.Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until feta is soft (check with a fork). Serve with baguette. 

Toasted French Bread
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Slice baguette at an angle and drizzle slices lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt.
Place slices on cookie sheet and place in oven with feta for 7-10 minutes until toasty.

Enjoy!
Sheri 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nail Polish or Nail Lacquer

According to Harpers Bazaar (my favorite mag) it is fashionable this spring to not be matchy matchy with your nail polish but rather have two colors that compliment making sure the pedi is a darker color than the mani.

Brisbane139.jpg picture by SheriLand


All over Brisbane the electrical boxes were painted fabulously:

Brisbane144.jpg picture by SheriLandBrisbane152.jpg picture by SheriLandBrisbane199.jpg picture by SheriLand
Brisbane276.jpg image by SheriLand

Also saw the coolest trees in Brissy

Brisbane180.jpg picture by SheriLand

Brisbane263.jpg picture by SheriLand

Brisbane267.jpg picture by SheriLand

Brisbane275.jpg picture by SheriLand

And the coolest flowers!

Brisbane221.jpg picture by SheriLand

Brisbane220.jpg Flowers in my hair picture by SheriLand


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Master Calum

South Bank
Introducing Master Blaster, a.k.a. Calum James Glass-Swaim
age 10 months
His birthday is Christmas Eve!

Brisbane026.jpg giggles! picture by SheriLand

We are just chillin at South Bank, enjoying the day.

Brisbane020.jpg at Southbank picture by SheriLand

Brisbane029.jpg picture by SheriLand

I brought my swim suit just in case! This picture is taken at Streets Beach. It is a man made beach in South Bank along the Brisbane River. The esplanade that follows along the river is just past the "beach".

Brisbane034.jpg And the river and city in the background picture by SheriLand

All along South Bank is a windy sidewalk that has this fabulous Arbour "made up of 443 curling, tendril-like columns of steel, each covered with a train of vibrant magenta bougainvillea plants"(http://www.visitsouthbank.com.au/attractions/arbour).

Brisbane018.jpg

Confucius

Brisbane019.jpg Confucious picture by SheriLand

South Bank has several parks for playing, swinging, climbing or sliding. Grassy areas for picnics or playing ball and you can ride bikes, roller blade, and skateboard so that's pretty cool and they have free barbecues anyone can use.

Brisbane017.jpg At Southbank picture by SheriLand

After swimming at the beach and walking around a bit we grabbed some lunch at The Plough Inn. We had a yummy dip entree with delicious bread, some hot chips, and Hoegarden. Yum. Then when we were leaving it started pissing down rain so we went back for another Hoegarden.

Brisbane038.jpg The Plough Inn picture by SheriLand

Nepalese Pagoda
"The Nepal Peace Pagoda was entirely handcrafted in Nepal of cut and felled Terai Forest timber from the southern jungles of Nepal - over two years of meticulous work by over 160 Nepalese village families - and was shipped to Brisbane for Expo"
in 1988 for the World Expo - UN  International Year of Peace
http://www.foundationexpo88.org/pavilions/international/nepalpavilionandpeacepagoda.html

Brisbane124.jpg picture by SheriLand

Brisbane128.jpg picture by SheriLand

Brisbane134.jpg picture by SheriLand

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Brissy

I had a fabulous time with Jon Swaimy in Brisbane! I got to meet his partner Aneta who is originally from Poland (they met while they were both living in London) and their cute little baby Calum who is 10 mo.
(more later)

I went to GoMa (Gallery of Modern Art) (saw the Valentino exhibit but a post on that later) and The Queensland Art Gallery that had a fabulous collection of Australian artists. Some of my favorites are

     James Gleeson


Brisbane228.jpg picture by SheriLandBrisbane229.jpg picture by SheriLand

I love the brush  strokes, color, and texture of paint found in Grace Cossington Smith's paintings. 

Brisbane232.jpg picture by SheriLand

Brisbane233.jpg picture by SheriLand

Brisbane240.jpg picture by SheriLand

I love the purple flower trees! They were all over Swaimy's neighborhood and throughout the city.
I like that real flowers at the bottom of the painting. 

Brisbane241.jpg picture by SheriLand

A delicious chocolate and coconut muffin with mocha I had after viewing the museum at the museum's cafe on the river. I love chocolate. 

Brisbane246.jpg picture by SheriLand

View of the purple flower trees from Swaimy's front door.

Brisbane207.jpg picture by SheriLand

More stories and pictures later!

But if you are curious now, I uploaded all the pix to photobucket but I must warn you there are many random pictures of trees and flowers!