Friday, 2 December 2011

A storm in the Mediterranean

Watch this before you book your next Mediterranean cruise:

Sergei Lemeshev - "a voice from Heaven!"

Just tell her that her admirer is lost in dreams and imagination and always thinks of her ....
(Lemeshev´s version of the popular Italian song Dicitencello vuie)
Sergei Lemeshev (1902-1977) was one of the most beloved opera singers of his time in Russia. He became a leading tenor at the Bolshoi in 1931 and continued to sing there for 34 years.

Lemeshev´s voice has been described as "a voice from Heaven!", with "beauty of timbre, musicality, effortlessness of vocal production, expressiveness, and very clear diction" as its central characteristics.

Lemeshev´s signature role was Lensky in Tchaikovsky´s Eugene Onegin. He performed it more than 500 times.

Russian romances and folk songs were, of course, also an essential part of Lemeshev´s repertoire:

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

An official state arrival ceremony on the White House South Lawn in 1976

The President and the First Lady proceeding to greet the visitors

Official state visits to the United States often begin with a formal state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.

The carefully orchestrated arrival ceremonies, often showed on television, were first conceived by President John F. Kennedy, who wanted to use the imposing setting of the White House for official welcomes.

During my first longer stay in Washington D.C. in 1976, I had a chance to observe one such imposing arrival ceremony from a close distance.

Mr. X chatting amiably with President Ford

President and Mrs. Ford looked great on that beautiful day, but I just cannot remember who the rather tall visiting head of state was! If you recognise him, I would appreciate if you let me know.

If you look closely, you maybe able to recognise Henry Kissinger greeting the visiting head of state

During the playing of the two national anthems, a 21-gun salute is fired for the foreign head of state by the Presidential Salute Guns Battery of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard"

A photo opportunity on the White House Balcony

A sign in London´s Montpelier Square

The other day, when I was browsing my old photo albums, I found a photo of this interesting sign, which I must have shot during a visit to London in 1975:

I was in London recently, but did not have a chance to check whether the sign is still there. I hope it is.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is probably the most famous Church in England, and not without reason. Few historic buildings can rival it in majestetic beauty and sheer size (the length is 157 m and the tower is 72 m high).

The history of the cathedral dates back to the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine, who arrived Kent in 597 AD in order to convert to locals to Christianity.

Augustine´s original building now lies beneath the floor of the nave. The church was extensively rebuilt and enlarged by the Saxons and in 1077 the archbishop Lanfranc had it completely rebuilt as a Norman church. Over the last 900 years there have been numerous additions to the church, but parts of the quire and some of the windows and their stained glass date from the 12th century.

 The Cathedral´s history page tells us about the sad fate of Archbishop Becket:

The best known event in the Cathedral's history was the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170. Canterbury, always on the medieval pilgrim route to Rome, became an end in itself, as thousands came to worship at Becket's tomb, especially after his canonization in 1173. Geoffrey Chaucer's pilgrims in his poem, The Canterbury Tales, were by no means unique. They represented the hundreds of thousands who travelled to the Cathedral to pray, repent or be healed at his shrine.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The first Day of Advent concert from the Frauenkirche in Dresden

Baritone Thomas Hampson singing in the choir

"Jauchzet, frohlocket! auf, preiset die Tage,
Rühmet, was heute der Höchste getan!
Lasset das Zagen, verbannet die Klage,
Stimmet voll Jauchzen und Fröhlichkeit an! Dienet dem Höchsten mit herrlichen Chören, Laßt uns den Namen des Herrschers verehren!"

The first Sunday of Advent traditionally opens the festive season of music on European television channels. The season opener - at least for me - is always the "Adventliche Festmusik aus Dresden" from the beautifully rebuilt Frauenkirche. This was the first Adventliche Festmusik with the soon to be chief conductor Christian Thielemann leading the Staatskapelle Dresden. One could see and hear that the combination Thielemann and Staatskapelle has all it needs for a great future.

Christian Thielemann, and ideal conductor for the Staatskapelle Dresden

Thielemann had chosen wellknown works by Vivaldi, Telemann and Bach for the concert. It all both sounded and looked great in the HD broadcast by German ZDF. The final number was "Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage" from Bach´s Christmas oratorio. It was a very nice idea to make the renowned soloists, mezzo soprano Sophie Koch and baritone Thomas Hampson join the choir in this, one of the most beautiful and moving choral pieces ever composed.

Mezzo Sophie Koch also joined the choir

The beautifully rebuilt Fraueenkirche is a fine setting for the Adventliche Festmusik

Hopefully the forthcoming televised Christmas and New Year´s concerts will be as good and enjoyable as this one!


You can watch and listen to the concert here: