Just wanted to write a note and let you know that I haven't forgotten about you, and that I'll continue trying to update the blog.
I'll admit--there's not much to talk about. It's summertime, and that means that I'm working long hours at WSMC. It's a good job, and I like it, even if I go days without much, if any, human contact.
I've started reading a really good book, called "My Only Comfort," which combines portions of a Calvinist catechism with the texts used in a lot of Bach's music. I am anxious to listen to Furchte dich nicht [Be not afraid, BWV 228] now that I've had a chance to read and study the text. It's a really wonderfully inspiring piece.
I've been quickly finishing the Epic Bach Week, a project that's been dragging on for almost a year now. It had been going around my mind for several months before that. I interviewed several musical experts about different aspects of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
The first day, I focused on the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach. I snagged an interview with the eminent organist Ton Koopman, who also conducts the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Chorus. Together, they have recorded the complete Bach cantatas (which are amazing to listen to!).
The second day focuses on the church music career of Bach, and I talked to one of my own church music friends: Dr. J. Bruce Ashton. He has spent the last several decades teaching and as a church musician. Last semester I took his Music in the Christian Church class, and had my eyes and ears opened to wonderful truths about and in music.
The third day features an interview with Dr. Gennevieve Brown-Kibble on the topic of Bach: the Artist. Bach was wonderful at writing music that could paint the text that he was setting! Dr. Kibble tries to teach a musical interpretation that includes an understanding of the text. She is the perfect guest to have to talk about the vocal writing of Bach.
On Thursday I managed to get another interview with a famous Baroque interpreter. His name is Reinhard Goebel, and he was the leader of Musica Antiqua Koln. Before their disbanding, they recorded much of Bach's instrumental music, including the Orchestral Suites and Brandenburg Concertos. His knowledge was very enlightening.
Friday's program concludes the Epic Bach Week (of course), and my guest, Dr. Peter Cooper, wraps the week up wonderfully! We discussed Bach's influence on the compositional techniques of other composers. We learn about aspects of music theory that help us to see Bach's influence on later composers and compositions.
As of now, four of the five shows are completely done, and one more is a lot further along than anticipated. The tentative release date for the Epic Bach week is the first week in July. Be sure to tune into the Three B's that week! It begins at 11 am on Monday through Friday mornings.
Sunday, June 9, 2013, Collegedale, TN, 10:04 local time (EST)
Yesterday as we were flying home, I listened to Christian Berdahl sing some favorite hymns. One of them was As Water to the Thirsty. Several lines jumped out at me:
As water to the thirsty, As beauty to the eyes,
As strength that follows weakness, As truth instead of lies;
As songtime and springtime and summertime to be,
So is my Lord, my living Lord,
So is my Lord to me.
Like calm in place of clamor Like peace that follows pain,
Like meeting after parting, Like sunshine after rain;
Like moonlight and starlight and sunlight on the sea,
So is my Lord, my living Lord,
So is my Lord to me.
As sleep that follows fever, As gold instead of grey,
As freedom after bondage, As sunrise to the day;
As home to the trav’ler and all he longs to see,
So is my Lord, my living Lord,
So is my Lord to me.
I’ve learned so much on this trip, and I’ll cherish the memories forever, but I really missed being at home with all the people I love. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to travel, but I’m ready to be home for a while. The sweet peace of sleeping in my own bed last night was wonderful, and then I realized that it’s a dim reflection of what it’s like being with Jesus.
While we were in Scandinavia with the choir, we sang This Is My Song, a poem set to Finlandia by Jean Sibelius. I’ve been thinking of the words to it since I’ve been home, and I think it’s more appropriate for me to sing it here:
This is my song, oh God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, thou God of all the nations;
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
Zurich International Airport 12 noon local time/6am EST on June 8, 2013
We checked out of our Viennese hotel on Wednesday morning, and proceeded to the Ludwig van Beethoven apartment, where, at least allegedly, he wrote the Heiligenstadt Testament, which is one of the most important letters in all music history. We know that he spent that summer at Heiligenstadt, but we aren’t sure if Beethoven actually ever lived in that apartment. The apartment consisted of only two rooms, so it was nothing especially cool, but it was very important and worth it.
From there we drove a few hours to Salzburg, Austria and we checked into our hotel, a Snooze Inn. There was one big bed in the middle of the room, and it was hard to get in and out of. A couple of days earlier the shower nozzle got away from me, and that day’s dirty clothes got drenched. We looked for a laundry, and went all over looking for one, but never found one that was open. So while Dad took a walk around the town, I rinsed my mildewing T-shirt and underwear in the sink while watching Hogan’s Heroes.
Thursday we went into downtown Old Town Salzburg by about noon, and ate (big surprise) at an Italian Restaurant. It was really good, but really garlicky. Our Sound of Music tour started at 2:00 pm, so we took our time eating, and then wandered around looking for where we were supposed to meet. We ended up going to the Mirabel Gardens, where they filmed parts of the Do Re Mi song.
We got on the bus by about 1:45, and had a really corny tour guide who told jokes like Grandpa or William Guthrie would. We went all around Salzburg and enjoyed seeing all the sights. We drove to a town called Mondsee, where they shot the interior of the wedding scene. While there, we ate Apfelstrudel, and looked at cuckoo clocks in the gift shops.
During the tour, we were allowed to sing along with the soundtrack, and the lady sitting next to me kept saying that Dad and I sounded really good. Dad was hitting all the high notes that Maria hits in the movie.
After the tour, we drove back to the hotel by way of a grocery store for more bread. We watched a movie, then retired.
Friday morning we woke up and packed, and decided not to go to Berchtesgaden after all. So we drove and drove and drove to Zurich. We got to our hotel, and I started this entry.
Sabbath morning we got up and out fairly early. We returned our rental car and checked in. They thought that Dad and I were the same person, so we had to get that straightened out (so I didn’t have to sit on his lap). During that ordeal, Dad realized that he didn’t have his phone, so he left me to check the bags and he ran to get his phone.
Right now we are waiting to board for Amsterdam! See you soon!
5:45 pm local time/11:45 am EST on Friday, June 7, 2013. Zurich, Switzerland
This is the last night that I will spend in Europe (at least for this trip), and as much fun as I've had, I think I'm ready to get home.
Sorry that it's ben a week, folks--we've been all over the map, and just going and going. I'll see how much I can remember:
Friday afternoon we were in Wittenberg, still trying to go out and enjoy the city. We had already done everything, except get an ice cream cone. So we did. We each wanted a chocolate/vanilla twist, but we couldn't figure out how to ask for it. Luckily, the man in front of us in line ordered the same thing, so dad was able to ask (in German) for two of the same.
We kept walking as we ate, and passed a group of student from Koln (Cologne) who were singing sacred songs in German. The second time that we ran into them, dad started using his high school German with a girl about 10-12 years old. The sponsor came up and joined the conversation. He offered us a song, and handed us sheet music for the German version of "Tell it to Jesus." We thought they were going to sing it, but they never did.
It started thundering, so Dad and I started walking back to the hotel. when we got there, it started to storm quite badly. Dad stayed down in the lobby, and I went back up to the room. Dad came up and said there were games downstairs, so we played War for a while.
Friday night we opened our first can of Big Franks, and then we went to bed. Sabbath morning we woke up, I had a couple more hotdogs, and then we began our trip to Berlin. We got to the hostel too early to check inn, so we decided to go to the Zoo (okay, you can get off the floor now...). We hadn't gotten any more cash, so we only had enough for one ticket and parking, so while I enjoyed the animals, dad enjoyed a nap in the car.
We got back to the hostel and checked in, after driving around the block about 6 times looking for a parking place. We found that our room slept 8 people, when we were expecting that it would be just the two of us. I was annoyed and discouraged because all I wanted to do was take a nap and enjoy my Sabbath. That wasn't really an option, so I got on the Internet, and started a PowerPoint of my travels.
Towards sundown Dad and I took the bus into the city and found a Pizza Hut. We shared a pizza, and then wandered around for a while, crossing the line marking where the old Berlin wall was. We walked over to the Movie Theatre, and waited for over an hour for Star Trek Into Darkness to start.
It was about 1 o'clock Sunday morning when the movie ended, and we got back on public transportation and headed home. Unfortunately, Berlin's public transport stinks, and Dad and got lost. We ended up walking about a mile in the dar before we got to our hostel. It was about 3 am by the time we got there.
I fell asleep almost immediately, but dad woke up every time new people walked in. We were sure that we would be the last people in, but we were first. About every hour, a couple of people would come.
I woke up at about 9 o'clock, and we were out of the hotel by about 9:30. We went first to the Music Instrument Museum, but the museum itself was closed in favor of a wonderful concert of music for violin and harpsichord. I loved every minute of it, and was surprised to see Dad enjoy it, too. They were playing on instruments from the museum, and they were wonderful to hear.
From there we went to the Neues Museum, which has a wonderful collection of Egyptian artifacts. It was extremely interesting, and II really enjoyed it. During the war, they packed up a lot of the artifacts to keep the safe, but many were stolen by the Russians or destroyed by bombs.
At about 4 o'clock we left the museum after seeing the bust of Neffertiti. We made PB&J in the car on the way to Prague. It was our first meal of the day. Neither Dad nor I had been very thrilled with Berlin, so we decided to stay that night in the city of Prague.
A few minutes into the Czech Republic we were going through a fairly small town. As we were driving I was looking out the window, and I saw something that you would never see in the states: a showroom window full of prostitutes. Prostitution is legal in the Czech Republic, but it was still very odd.
A couple of hours later we were in Prague and were checking into our very nice hotel. It even had real blankets instead of those stupid duvets.
Monday night turned out to be quite wet and rainy, so after breakfast we went to old town to see the one thing that I wanted to see in Prague, the Charles Bridge. Unfortunately, due to all the rain, the Moldau was flooded and the bridge was closed.
While we were driving to the bridge, we managed to get going the wrong way down a one-way street. Unfortunately, we didn't realize it until about half-way down the mile long street. A truck came toward us about half way down, and told us that it was a one way, but Dad kept going anyway.
We found a place to park, and saw the Moldau and the Charles Bridge in the rain ("Yup, there it is..."). The thing was, though, that we needed to find some Czech crowns to pay for parking. So we continued to march around in the rain. We found an ATTM, and then stopped at Dvorak hall to dry off and browse the gift shop.
We got back into the car, and continued on our expedition to Austria. Our next stop was for Vienna. Wee drove and drove and drove some more. We went through several CDs on my iPod, and even finished watching Boy's Town.
By the time we finally got to Vienna it was about 6 o'clock. We checked into the night's hotel, and then we went to find some food. We, of course, found an Italian restaurant. I decided NOT to have spaghetti, but instead to have Linguine. The pasta was excellent, and was very hot, both in temperature and in spice. After supper we went back to the hotel, watched Hogan's Heroes, and went to bed.
Tuesday morning we got on the tran and went to Stephansplatz, which houses St. Stephan's Church, whose organist, Peter Planavsky, is a friend of Judy. We went into the church, but they ere celebrating Mass, so I couldn't meet him.
Before we went into the church, we were stopped by a man wearing a Mozart costume. He told us that there was a concert of Mozart and Strauss that evening, and that tickets were on sale. The short of it was that we bought 2 29E tickets.
After the church, we started to go to Mozart's house, but stopped first at a gift hop because they had a Mozart duck in the window.
We got to the Mozart house in a few minutes, and we were able to check our bags and take an audio guide. The museum was very interesting and enjoyable, even if they did have a modern art exhibit, too.
The next place we went was called Stadtpark, or state park. In the park are many statues of famous Viennese people, including Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert and Anton Bruckner. I took pictures of all of them.
From there we went to a really cool, interactive musical museum called Haus der Musik. The first floor was the history of the Vienna Phiharmonic, on the second we got to experience new sounds, and earn exactly what sound is and a sorts of cool stuff like that. On the third floor we got to learn again about all the Viennese composerrs, an also get to conduct a recording of the Vienna Phiharmonic. Dad and I even got to compose our own Viennese waltzes.
After we finished at that museum, Dad was looking for the Little Maestro's Room, and I gave a short piano concert in the atrium. After it was done, it was time for supper. We went down to the metro station and went back to the room for supper. We stopped first at the grocery store around the corner and bought bread and cheese! Yum!
In a little over an hour we were back on the train going to Stephansplatz for our concert. We couldn't find it and couldn't find it. Finally, after much frantic searching, we found it. we walked up to the grand hall, which turned out not to be so grand after all. It was nice, butt not even tiered slightly like Ackerman. We waited for quite a whhile, and then Dad decided to make friends. So he talked to the lady in front of us for a while. Finally, the lights dimmed and the performers came out on stage and gave us a wonderful and authentic performance of Mozart and Strauss, a lot of which would have been premiered in small spaces like that. After the concert we went home and went to bed.
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.