Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's been awhile...

Well, I've been slacking in the blog department recently. Have no fear, the rest will be a short summary for each day of the past week. I'll also be adding photos to the slideshow, so take a look.


Today we adventured to a neighborhood a little ways away. It seemed very unassuming, but houses the BBC recording studios. We had a good time listening to the BBC Singers rehearse again and then ate a wonderful (and inexpensive) lunch in the canteen. Afterwards, Josh, Jake, Phil, and I launched into our own adventure for the afternoon.

We first explored Fortnum and Mason’s. The 5-star grocery/department store just off Piccadilly Circus. So many good things. I bought a slice of cheesecake and three chocolates. The chocolates each cost £1, but they were worth it. I am just going to make sure that I don’t return and spend more money! (As a side note, the normal-sized-box of Lucky Charms costs £8!) I do think everyone should at least take a walk through the store to see all the amazing things and the staff dressed in coat and tails.

After our first exploration, we ventured over to the banking district to visit the Bank of England. They have a museum that is decent. The most enjoyable parts of the museum were the gold bar that you get to hold and the discussions of the modern currency. The gold bar weighs over 25 pounds and is worth just more than £327,000!


Today I woke up, still feeling a sore throat. However, I wasn’t going to let that cancel my part in the Canterbury adventure. I took some meds and felt quite well as we ran to catch the bus. The adventure of the morning was getting Jake to the bus. It turns out that due to the Queen’s opening of Parliament, a lot of streets were closed, including the place we were to meet the bus on the banks of the Thames. So we all met up outside the tube station and walked across the Westminster Bridge to an area behind Marriott. Jake wasn’t with us because he woke up later than he should’ve. We were in text contact with him while he was in the tube and we were crossing the bridge. He was stuck in the tube, not moving. We were able to redirect his path to hopefully meet up with us before the bus left. We started to think there was hope as the bus driver was opening the engine compartment to look at something. Jake called and we told him to run across the bridge to us. He made it! In time for us to call the trip off.

So, the bus was overheating, thus the looking “under the hood.” The driver said it would work out, but Dr. Staheli and Sister Hall decided they didn’t want to get stranded on the side of the freeway somewhere. The decision was made to go on the London Eye and see WarHorse in the evening. We wandered over to the Eye and ate lunch before catching our “flight.”

The flight was incredible. It was tons of fun and the view was great. Most of our pod was BYU people. We took many photos of each other and the various sights of London. It helped to get my own view and understanding of the geography from above.

When we finished our flight, we found out that there weren’t enough tickets for everyone to go to WarHorse, so they were turning us loose for the day. The decision was made that Steve, Emily, Jake, Phil, Nathan, Sister Hall, Oliver (Sister Hall’s son), and I would head to the Tower for the afternoon.

The Tower was incredible! The tour was a little lackluster, due to our Beefeater, but the experience was good. Hearing the historical stories again, this time where the events actually happened was memorable. After taking afternoon tea at the little cafe, we went to see the crown jewels. They were very impressive. Interestingly, a few things from the collection were missing with labels stating: In Use. That was a neat idea; the queen was officially opening Parliament and needed her state crown, the sword of state, and two maces for the event. The idea of a living museum was fun; both the fact that pieces are still used and the fact that pieces get created and made from time to time.

After we finished at the Tower, Jake, Phil, and I went to get our tickets for Mamma Mia! The show was so much fun! Especially after the seriousness of Les Mis, the laughter was most welcome. The costumes were fun and the sets were well-crafted. The stone patio flooring that became a disco floor was fun, as was the wooden walkway that could morph in various ways into a raised dock. The idea of having a sing-along at the end for encores is really innovative and fun, especially with everyone standing and dancing along.


Today was a bit hazy...I’ve been in recovery mode for most of the day. I woke up unsure if I wanted to do anything, but decided that I needed to be in our last day of class before the break. I was happy that my throat was mostly feeling better and the illness had moved on to the exhausted, achy phase. I was able to get ready just in time for class.

Class was hard to stay awake and aware through, but I managed somehow. That being said, I loved getting home and crawling into bed. I slept for a few hours until it was time to get ready for the concert. Once again, it was hard to get going, but I really wanted to hear the concert. Phil, Josh, and I made it to the concert just as it was about to start. The concert was great, but being sick made it hard for me to concentrate.


Today was decent, but not amazing. Most of the morning was lazy. We decided to go to the Indian place that Robert had recommended for dinner. It was incredible! The flavors were great and the cost was comparable to the prices we would find in Provo.

Watching The Lion King was a phenomenal experience! The opening scene was worth every penny I paid! (And the fact that our tickets were only £21 was a nice touch, too!) Seeing the animals and sets made the day worth living. Really, I would be content to sit down and watch the opening scene about five times in a row and go home. It is that good. I also liked the costumes were just right: not too crazy, but very innovative. I’m not surprised that it won all the Tony awards it did. That being said, I’m not surprised it didn’t win the Tony awards centering on music and acting, that isn’t the show’s goal.


The temple trip took all of the day, but was completely worth it. We left pretty much on time and caught our train at Victoria station with a bit of time to spare. It took us a minute or two to figure out how to reclaim the tickets we had purchased online, but things ran smoothly.

As we walked in, we grabbed our clothes from the rental desk. This turned into a humorous moment. I was the last to pay. Emily and Jake had used £10 notes to pay for their rental clothing. I only had £20 notes, so that was what I used. The woman apologized and said she would have to pay me in change. I was unsure of what that meant, but soon found out. I got a £5 note and the other £10+ came in the form of coinage!

What made this even funnier was the gelato experience last night. Jake paid for his with 3 £1 coins. I paid using a £5 note after him. Instead of giving me 2 £1 coins for change, the girl counted out a handful of coins to give me my change. The moral of the story: don’t follow Jake when paying for something with cash!

Anyway, the temple was fun. I’ve not been a patron for so long, it was good to be on the receiving end of the experience.

Walking out of the session into the celestial room was amazing! The room is very regal in its design, as it should be in England. After all, when I think of royalty, I think of England. The ceiling was a glorious blue sky with clouds throughout. The chairs were gold and there were huge mirrors. It was a great place.

After we finished in the temple, we walked around the grounds for a bit. They are gorgeous. I wish I could see the grounds as they were before the temple had been built; apparently the site was a prize-winning garden. We noticed that the stream, though, had backed itself up on the grate. It became the quest to clean it out and help the stagnant water disappear. Admittedly, Emilie and I just watched while Josh and Jake made it their quest.

The cab driver took us to the wrong station. We ended up hopping on the train anyway. Luckily, the conductor of the train was really friendly and let us ride the train; part of that had to do with the fact that we could’ve bought our tickets for half-price if we had purchased them as a block of four pass. Well, I was nice of him, because we weren’t in the mood to deal with problems.


Today was lots of fun! Phil and I adventured on Portobello Road. We walked down the road for quite a while. There were tons of things to see. It would be fun to be a collector and search the stalls for specific items. We wandered past lots of good foods, also. Eventually we found the bag stall that I had been told about. I found a bag that I purchased for £10. I’m happy to have my bag — my pockets are free of junk! The whole time we were walking, it was misting on and off. Well, shortly after getting the bag and doing more exploring, the rain began. We found our way to another tube stop and hopped on.

Our next stop was the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. We picked up tickets for Chicago. They were the most expensive tickets I’ve gotten so far, at £35, but I can’t really complain. They were for the sixth row and normally go for close to £60. After that we dashed over to Piccadilly Circus to stop in at Lilywhite’s. We picked up England polos for £5! I will probably go back and get an official soccer jacket in a few days. We were just running short on time.

We had to make it over to Westminster Abbey in time for the rehearsal. We made it just as the group was heading to enter the Abbey. Phil and I were pretty lucky. I enjoyed the rehearsal and evensong, especially since the hymns centered on the monarchy, with God Save the Queen and I Vow to Thee My Country. The best part, however, was when the Assistant Organist, James McVinnie, invited the organists in our group to see the organ before the service began. It is a marvelous instrument. Even better, though, was the invite he gave after evensong to come back whenever and to e-mail them so I could sit up in the loft and see the organ in action. I can’t wait to take advantage of that!

After we finished at the Abbey, Phil and I headed off for Covent Garden to get a bite to eat before the show. We had great salads at a little cafe and then went into the show. I enjoyed the show. The dancing and singing were likely the best we've seen since getting here.

Not too much happened today. Life is good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

new music

Friday was exciting and good, but not as I entirely expected it would be. The early morning did not equal fun. The group departing for a day off in Brighton, we had almost two days free, made every noise possible as they departed. We heard discussions of The Fantastic Mr. Fox and why people weren’t ready to depart in very loud tones, all before 7 AM.

The actual morning brought joy as I (with Emilie Gardner and Heather Faerber) met Ceri Benson (now in England on her world tour) and her sisters, Aubrey and Rachel, to have breakfast. We met up at the base of the Albert Memorial and then wandered towards the South Kensington tube stop to find a place to eat. I had a Belgian waffle with fruit on top that was really good; there was a sweet, grainy flavor about it that I’ve not had before. It was fun to see Ceri in London and to talk with Aubrey about school opportunities in the UK.

Afterwards, I headed home to regroup with Jake. We left for the Victoria and Albert Museum. The discoveries were good, but nothing earth-shattering. When it was about time, I headed back to the Hyde Park Chapel (it is right next door) to practice on the organ. But when I got there, it looked suspiciously like a wedding in the works. So, I found Sister Field and learned that was the case. I got rescheduled for Saturday. I can do that, but it wasn’t my plan; oh well.

I returned to the museum and eventually met back with Jake. He told me there was an incredible room that I had to see. We headed there on our way out. Boy, was he right; I walked into a room that had both Davids, Moses, two Captives, and Trajan’s Column! AMAZING! During the 19th century, the museum sent out crews and worked with foreign governments to obtain various casts of famous statues. These allowed artists to study from all the masters, while staying in London. It was an incredible sight. Another important and interesting bit of knowledge: since the casts were made, some of the original works have been destroyed, so the only copy is in the V&A.

Jake and I headed over to the West End for dinner and a show when we tired of walking around. We had fish and chips at a fun little cafe; nothing incredible, but a decent price and taste. I’d go back. We got to the box office, only to find out that we couldn’t get student concessions on the 8:30 PM performance. Obviously, by that time, we were too late to try for any other shows (most start at 7:30 PM). We wandered through a few movie theatres, thinking a movie might be a good alternative. We were mistaken. Well, perhaps not, but the prices chased us away. I do not feel that movies are worth £14. (And that is just in standard seats. Yes, there are different grades of movie theatre seats here.) After looking around Leicester Square, the decision was made to go home. Funny to be home before 9 PM on a Friday night, yes. But it was nice to be at home when it was quiet.

Yesterday morning I took my time. Nothing was scheduled until my organ practice, so I relaxed. It felt amazing to be almost free of a schedule. When I got to the church, I got the key and practiced for just over an hour. My hands were stiff, but it was very good to practice. I remembered the Brahms really well, so I’m guessing that my “tried and true” pieces will come back quickly. The Mendelssohn 4th movement was more of a challenge, since I’ve not finished learning, let alone polishing, it. In other words, it will likely be a struggle to finish learning it and the last bit of the Bach 3rd movement. It will all work out, though, it always does when I am willing to work hard.

Afterwards, Jake and I headed to the British Library. Everyone else discovered new plans, so we were the only ones. The exhibits were nice, but small. It felt good to have seen most everything the place had to offer in about 2 hours. Seeing the Magna Charta, Beatles manuscripts, Beethoven’s tuning fork, and Handel’s Messiah manuscript within the same room was incredible. We saw lots of people working on homework there, so we imagined that lots of London university students use the extensive national library to do big research projects. Not a bad idea.

We then dashed over to the British Museum for a bit before dinner. On the way we passed through King’s Cross Station and saw Platform 9 ¾. Touristy, yes, but essential. We mainly saw the Egyptian rooms once we got to the Museum. Of course, that meant we saw the Rosetta stone. It angered me to see everyone and their brother touching the artifacts, however. Apparently “No Touching” means something different here… Anyway, the worst part was getting kicked out of the rooms within 30 minutes of being there. Granted, we were still a few minutes late to dinner with Phil, but the map gave us museum hours that didn’t include which rooms close early. We found out the hard way that the Egyptian rooms are among them! I don’t know why they bother to stay open later if you can’t see any of the ancient civilization rooms. (And who knows how many others they close early…) Well, I’ll go back, that’s for sure. “Always leave them wanting more.”

We did get over to Sloane Square a bit late, but Phil was just arriving himself, due to all the weekend Tube delays. Dinner at the Trafalgar was wonderful, as usual. We then caught the bus back to Cadogen Hall for the evening’s concert. I don’t know where to begin with that concert of the Ealing Choral Society. The way they talked about themselves in the program, you would think they were the rising stars in community choral music. Far from the truth.

Their program was too much for them. They were singing difficult literature, very muddily. When the conductor tried to change tempi, the choir refused to move. That was likely due to all eyes being glued to scores. While that is not necessarily the key indicator of too difficult of a program, the fact that intonation was all over the place certainly indicates this.

Another difficulty arose from the number of singers. There were less 1st and 2nd tenors than 2nd altos. The tenors knew this, at least subconsciously, and sang with (too much) gusto; so much pushed sound. Also a major factor, vocalist age; a lot of the choir was old and had difficulty singing with the agility necessary to sing the pieces we heard.

As a funny side not from the concert, Jake pointed out a man seated below that looked like he wasn’t wearing any pants. It turns out that he was wearing shorts, but they were pretty short...

Today was wonderful in many ways. We heard some great music and saw amazing sights. I made it to the family ward meetings at 9 AM. The difficulty was the temperature in the chapel; they don’t believe in air conditioning here. Oh, the room was warm and I can’t imagine how warm it was by the afternoon meetings!

After sacrament meeting, I dashed by the flat and on to the tube to get to the St. Paul’s Cathedral service. I thought it was at 11 AM, and was unhappy that so much of the tube was shut down, making me late. It turns out that the service started at 11:30, so I made it with a few minutes to spare and found a seat up front next to other BYU folks that made it earlier. The room was incredible, and the way the sun shone through the windows was impressive. However, the music composed for the service was not good. It was a premiere of a new mass by a current British composer. I remember the discussion we had in Organ Pedagogy this past semester about what makes music “good.” We were very careful to not be narrow-minded and to set up general principles. One of those principles that I feel is 100% necessary is: does the piece fulfill its purpose? The mass did not fulfill its purpose. This mass was commissioned to be sung in a service, not a concert hall. Therefore, the audience will be standing for much of the singing due to Anglican service tradition. This means that a movement should not last forever, otherwise the audience is only thinking about how tired their feet are.

It didn’t help that the music sounded strange. That was not (specifically) a principle we discussed this past semester. (Though the good melody rule we established was probably broken…) However, I went into the service aware that it was a modern music premiere. With that knowledge and my “music world” background, I still felt confused and awkward. How did the audience member feel that walked in off of the street to experience a service at the cathedral as part of their touristy London experience? I’ll answer that for you. They thought it was rubbish.

I won’t go so far as to call it rubbish. There were forms and patterns. However, I do stand by my original stance that it was not good music. At least I got to participate in a service there.

After that, I headed home and enjoyed lunch and a nap. After the nap, I did some journaling until it was time to go to the 6:30 evensong service at St. Bartholomew-the-Great. The building was very old and they used incense for the service. It had a much older feel than any other services we’ve attended. At times, some of the men sang with a swallowed sound, but the choir sounded whole and unified. I loved their sound. It would be fun to go back sometime.

Emily and I rode back to the flats after the service ended and grabbed a bite to eat on the way. She took me to her favorite pancake place here — wow. WOW! I’ve never really had savoury pancakes, but I can’t wait to go back. A pancake with ham, bacon, peppers, mushrooms...delicious! And the dessert pancake with pears and cinnamon was divine. I’ve never seen such things in the US, but we should figure it out.

It looks like a few of us will be taking a temple trip this Friday. I hope it is able to go through. I really need to go, I miss it so much. There is no denying that returning to work at the temple in the fall will be a blessing. But in the meantime, a visit to the temple here when I can will have to suffice. All in all, life is good. Life is great.

Friday, May 21, 2010

my next home!

Yesterday was wonderful. In fact, very exciting! We took a trip out to Cambridge. But the getting there took a while. Someone had the bright idea of driving the coach through the heart of London at 10 AM. I’m still not sure why we didn’t head towards the outskirts of the city and then move towards Cambridge. At least we got to see the construction site for the 2012 Olympics. But I still can’t help but think how I could’ve gotten across town on the tube in half the time…

Anyway, I was able to sleep once the coach got rolling, which made the time pass quickly. When I woke up, we were in beautiful countryside. When we stopped, we were not in downtown Cambridge, but outside a cemetery. We were given 30 minutes to wander the American cemetery from WWII in Cambridge. Both the actual graves and memorials for those killed in the Atlantic, Battle of Britain, and North Africa are memorialized here. It was a very sacred place. I knew that there were memorial grounds on the Continent, but I was unaware of this one and the one south of London from WWI. (be sure to check out the new photos!)

I was sad to leave, but the drive into Cambridge was magical. To see the colleges from the Backs was a good first impression. Phil, Jake, and I grabbed a bite at a delightful place across from King’s and then explored the heart of town on foot. There were lots of interesting things, though the sight of a Disney Store was a little disappointing. The general consensus is that Cambridge is better than Oxford; we’ll see if I still feel that way after spending two months there. Hopefully I will.

After exploring for a bit, we wandered into the University Press Store. There were two books that I really wanted, but didn’t buy. But I’m fairly confident I’ll buy them when I go back to Cambridge. Especially since the store is right across from King’s. We also headed to a wonderful ice cream shop and enjoyed some very creamy ice cream.

After the fun day of exploring, we wandered over to Trinity College for the rehearsal and evensong. When we walked into the quadrangle, I jumped for joy; the sight was heavenly and it made me so happy to think that I would be in a similar place for so long. The most surprising thing about the chapel was the warm temperatures we found inside! Between that warmth and the generally warm (even hot?) day, I didn’t have much need for the jacket I hauled along. But such is life!

We attended both the rehearsal and performance of evensong at Trinity College, Cambridge. Overall, a wonderful experience. Their sound is much closer to the sound we are familiar with at BYU than anything else we have heard. It had a very similar feel to a BYU Singer’s rehearsal. Their sound was very free and full, but with only 30 singers. It was great to hear such a good balance along with female sopranos and altos.

The director was the same director from the Holst Singers. He is either very stand-offish or uncomfortable talking to strangers and groups. He didn’t acknowledge our presence at all, which made for an uncomfortable dynamic. I am much more appreciative of the time our directors at BYU take to acknowledge visitors at rehearsals; many barriers, mostly psychological, are overcome as a member of a choir when the simple identity of the previously “random” person is obtained.

I was also impressed with the amount of music the choir was covering in the term. It was not easy music and they were carrying stacks of it. The “bulletin’s” list of pieces in addition to standard service music was mind-boggling. Perhaps I’ll try to sing in their choir’s for hoping. From what Dr. Staheli and Sister Hall said, Trinity College Choir is the best mixed choir in Cambridge. It is a shame that they get upstaged by King’s Boys Choir. Though, I am excited to hear the boys choir in a few weeks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

don't forget to look at the pictures...

Yesterday was very busy, but productive. I tried to catch Peter Horton at the RCM library in the morning, but he wasn’t in yet. It felt so wonderful to be inside a school of music again. There were sounds of practice rooms and lessons floating through the halls and even into the library. It was disappointing to not catch Peter, but it was good to figure out where the library was and how accessible it was.

Steve, Emily, and I made our way to the BBC Singers rehearsal, but only left ourselves exactly enough time. When the bus came late, and the tube was running slow, we got there late. Luckily we had been told to arrive 15 minutes early and we didn’t get admitted until after we had showed up anyway. On the way we saw a van almost get run over by a bus. The driver of the van was not the wisest, instead of backing out of traffic, he tried to blindly pull into it — the terror!

The rehearsal was the best rehearsal we’ve attended since being here. I would like to sing with the BBC Singers, more than the other groups we’ve been involved with since arriving here. They are directed by Bob Chilcott. I was very impressed with their sound, but I think a lot of that came from the balance that was built into the choir. They had 24 singers with six voices on each voice part. They also used women for altos. This creates a sound much more in line with the traditional American choral sound.

They were incredibly adept at sight-reading music well. They did a great job of reading dynamics alongside text and pitches during a first read-through. The energy they sang with was also most impressive. They wanted to sing and as an “audience” member, I could feel that.

From what we have seen in many English choirs, this choir is very different and I like it. I’ve already said that I liked even voice parts and female altos, but the strong rehearsal ethic and striving towards perfection instead of just getting by are the most endearing characteristics of this choir. I wish we could hear one of their concerts while we are here. It isn’t on our schedule, but I’ll see what I can do during the Proms.

After the morning rehearsal, Jake, Phil, and I took off for Westminster Abbey to take the tour. That was likely the best £12 I’ve spent since I’ve been here. The Lady Chapel built by Henry VII was the most gorgeous room I’ve seen since I’ve been in London. The heraldic emblems and the most intricate ceiling were spellbinding. It was also interesting to learn some details about England’s history. The fact that Mary is buried under her sister Elizabeth in an Anglican chapel is an interesting twist of fate, and then having Mary Queen of Scots buried in similar splendor across the way is also interesting. English history is full of wonderful twists of fate. I LOVED standing in Poet’s Corner. To see either the graves or memorials to Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Keats, Handel, Tennyson, and Shakespeare, to name a few, filled my heart with such joy. It was also great to see the memorials to members of the armed forces and Muzio Clementi’s tombstone in the cloisters. Of course, the tomb of the unknown soldier was a thought-provoking sight, surrounded by poppies.

After we finished the tour (it took us over an hour and a half), I took the tube back to the RCM while Phil and Jake wandered around Westminster. I was able to catch Peter Horton and he showed me into the library proper. He gave me free access to the catalogue of manuscripts; interestingly, a lot of it is still accessed through card catalogue! They are slowly transferring over to computer...oh, musicians and traditions!

I met back up with Phil and Jake on the Westminster Abbey lawn for us to run to grab a bite to eat and head into the concert. We got to pick our seats in the quire, so we sat on the back row with the shields of the Commonwealth behind us. I was sitting in New Zealand. It was disappointing to not see the choir, but it was still a good experience.

Today I woke up at 7. I decided that I didn’t want to be awake, so I fell back to sleep for a bit, but it does seem that my body is getting on an appropriate schedule finally. And Josh talked of going running in the mornings, so that would certainly help some more. We’ll see how committed he is in the next few days.

We had class today that went fairly well, and turned out to be fairly interesting since we were talking about Bach and his genius for most of the time. Bach is so incredible; I love finding more evidences of this, and the motets are further evidence in my mind.

After organizing things, Jake, Josh, and I headed to the Science Museum. We spent almost all of our time in the exhibit on the Muslim scientific influence through the ages. There were some incredible inventions and discoveries that I’d never known about or thought about. The elephant clock and all of the medical knowledge and innovations truly impressed me. I also would love to see a full-size replica of the ancient Chinese (Muslim) boat that they had a small-scale model of. Apparently it was five times larger than the ships in Europe at a similar time.

We met up at the flat and ate a quick dinner. Then we dashed to the rehearsal for the evening. It was neat hearing the rehearsal in one of the churches featured in the Da Vinci Code. Tonight we attended the rehearsal of the Holst Singers, under the direction of Stephen Layton. Dr Staheli and Sister Hall were a little unsure of information about the choir, but I understand that they are an amateur choir that is auditioned. They have female sopranos and altos and are somewhat balanced in numbers between voice parts; it appeared that they had the fairly typical problem of more women than men, but it had been kept in check before getting too out of hand.

I really appreciated how Stephen Layton handled the choir; they were rehearsed, not just pushed through a run-through. He frequently stopped and would ask for differences in sound, pronunciation, and balance. He also used rehearsal techniques like having some sections hum their parts while others sang, singing quietly to check parts, and frequently used a cappella section run-throughs to emphasize correctness. To give an idea of how detail-oriented he was, it took over 45 minutes to run Motet VI, which is only about 170 measures long. I LOVED it! The only thing that would’ve made it better would’ve been to be in a seat where I could’ve heard his voice better or to have been singing in the group.

As far as the group goes, I was impressed. We had been prepared for mediocrity, but they had a very engaging sound. I enjoyed listening to them and am excited that we will hear the final product in concert next week. I liked their attention to detail; the conductor’s directions were not wasted. They sang “strong-weak”s and had diction that lined up decently. I also enjoyed their dynamics. The agility was quite good considering their level of training and rehearsal schedule.

A quick note on Stephen Layton’s conducting: irregular. He gave a beat, but it wasn’t always steady, even though they sang fairly steadily. I’m guessing his irregular time works because he has conducted these singers for so long and they are used to it. That being said, I want to know where he was trained and where he has worked since receiving that training; I’m curious if he is innovative or just from a different school than everyone else we’ve seen. I’m guessing that next week’s programme notes will elucidate the answers to a few of these questions.

Tomorrow we are heading to Cambridge. Who knows the adventures that await?!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oxford and Home Again

It drizzled as we drove out to Oxford on Sunday, but the weather didn’t bother us then, since we were headed into church. The meetings were nice, but I fell asleep for a few minutes during the first talks of the sacrament meeting (which was the third hour). The munch and mingle was enjoyable, afterwards; there was lots of good food and fun company.

After things were winding down, most of the company departed for downtown Oxford, but since our services were the latest, we spent some time practicing and relaxing at the chapel. Towards the end, the bishop visited with us for a few minutes about his single adult days with Sister Hall in London. The best story was how she spearheaded a production of Saturday’s Warrior. It is hard for me to see that — she puts on a good front!

The rain had died down by that point, so we made it to the bus stop without too much difficulty. However, when we were arriving at the center of town, the rain had picked up! So, our dash to Wadham was a little wet, but really quite fine. As long as the rain doesn’t keep up for the next few weeks straight! We got to the Chapel early, so we sat down and mostly journaled.

The rehearsal with the Wadham College Choir was ok, but I’m realizing that this choir isn’t the best. I wonder if there is a “ranking” of the choirs at the University. I understand that the purpose and general choral system are different than at BYU and most US universities, but there must be some sort of understood “ranking.” In rehearsal, we didn’t spend time fixing general concepts that could’ve applied across lots of moments in the music. And the students are not very invested, almost unexcited to participate.

My voice was tired, and just got tireder as we headed into the performance. In between the two, we went into the choir commons room and had biscuits. I think that is a fairly common tradition across England. It would be fun to start that in our intermissions in America. The service was somewhat unusual and long. But I enjoyed the experience and will be more prepared for when I return to the UK for school. Also, I learned that the colleges have very different attitudes and feelings about them, and researching that will be of vital importance to me as I make application choices. Wadham was very casual (no robes or dress standard for the choir) and too radical for me.

The performance went surprisingly well. However, I realized that it was missing the testimony of a BYU concert. I doubt that many of the students are Anglican or even religious, which is sad. I could feel the Spirit during the service when I was trying, but it was not ever-present like it frequently is at BYU concerts, even when singing secular texts.

Also, I still struggle with the organist as choir director. If they have good training and personal experience, I think it can work, but our director frequently sang flat when demonstrating and didn’t warm up the low end of our voices. She wasn’t a terribly director, but I could tell that she lacked some important training.

Afterwards, there were “drinks,” but I just anxiously waited to play the organ. Once people had headed over to dinner, I played my Buxtehude piece. It wasn’t perfect, but was pretty good considering how little I’ve practiced recently. Oh, to have an instrument like that available for daily practice…

Our dinner was really good. Eating in a Great Hall is fun — I can’t wait for Cambridge! Everything about Oxford just made me more excited for my time in Cambridge and made me want to come here for my education! We had to wolf down our food, since our Evensong was the last performance of the day (from 6:30 to 7:40) and the coach was leaving at 8:30. We had a serving place up at the front and then servers took our empty plates away. I wonder what level of service we will have in Cambridge. Apparently, the level of formality was different at different colleges.

All in all, yesterday turned out well. That really means something, considering the exhaustion I felt after being on the move all weekend. The weekend did a lot of good, but it made a lot of people tired, me included.

For the afternoon, Jake, Andrew, and I wandered over to the Science Museum and scoured another floor. I really enjoyed the space section. There were lots of artifacts and interesting details about our current start studies that I’ve never heard of. I’m glad we went.

The rehearsal with the Bach Choir of London was very interesting for me. This was the first large choir that we have observed during rehearsal and I was able to see some consistencies from the smaller ensembles.

The choir had a very funny balance. There were about ⅔ women in the choir, equally divided between sopranos and altos. The men, obviously, comprised the remaining ⅓, and were also equally divided. This trend towards heavy treble voices in England is not something I agree with. I like the BYU concept of firm foundations in the bass and alto sections. The human ear naturally hears the higher pitches, we don’t need as many people on those voice parts.

However, the tone was remarkably pure. Frequently, large choirs have a heavy vibrato that doesn’t match from voice to voice, or section to section. But the London Bach Choir did a great job.

Afterwards, we took the tube home, via Tesco. We don’t have class today, and the rehearsal we are attending isn’t until 11:15, so people stayed up late tonight talking and watching movies. I was in the talking group. The best news of tonight’s talking was visiting with Josh Pluim. It now looks like I will be traveling to the Netherlands with him after the study abroad is over. We would be staying with his family there. It would be an awesome experience and would save me a lot of money! I’m glad that some sort of plan is beginning to formulate for my two weeks of free time. I'll know more in a few days, but the prospect alone is exciting!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

More Oxford Delights!

Today was a good day in Oxford. We ran to catch the coach behind Royal Albert Hall, and I was one of the last people to make it aboard. However, no one was left today; the lesson was learned yesterday. I didn’t sleep on the coach today, I got some reading done in my Hubert Parry biography. It is good that I am gaining momentum in that, but I really need to gain momentum on the bibliography…

Once we got to Oxford, there was a lot of traffic; I was not happy sitting on the coach for forever. After alighting from the coach, Jake, Phil, and I ran to eat at the restaurant under the University Chapel. Ruth told me about it yesterday. It is all locally raised food at decent prices. I enjoyed the food greatly and would recommend it highly. One of the great parts about the restaurant was the business card that mentions “Elevenses.”

Phil didn’t want to go too far away, so he stayed near the center of town while Jake and I wandered out to the University Park. We watched the college teams playing lacrosse and walked through the rest of the park. It was nice and basically looked like Virginia. We had a few minutes on the way back to grab a quick snack and I picked up the book detailing all of the Proms. They start in about two month and run for two months. I can get £5 tickets to hear some of the best music in the world played by a sampling of the best musicians in the world, in London, at Royal Albert Hall, just meters away from my current front door. Of course, when they start, I will be in Cambridge, but it is totally doable to catch the train in for a night of fine music. Oh, the joys!

We made it back to the center of town in time for the tour around town that Ruth was giving. I wish we had walked farther, but we still heard about some amazing things. The neatest moment, as far as shock factor goes, was seeing where C.S. Lewis got his inspiration for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. As you walk out of the church, you see a door with a lion head on, with two Pan figures on either side. Then you look to the right and see a lone lamppost. That is just tradition, but it certainly is an interesting story. Hearing about all the traditions just made me want to have such traditions to be a part of; the schools here are old enough for traditions that go back to before America had been discovered!

After the tour, a group of us headed over to Magdalen College Chapel to hear the choir rehearse and then present Evensong. The room was incredibly cold! Of interesting note was the sepia-colored stained glass windows. The Chapel had the typical windows, as well, but the entryway windows were all in brownscale. Pretty cool.

They have a boy’s choir that sings the treble part. I enjoyed hearing the different texture that the boys bring into the choir. I was impressed with the balance that the college boys gave to the boys. The male altos and tenors did well.

Afterwards, we only had time to catch the bus and drive back to London. We grabbed a bite to eat at Pizza Hut and then have talked for a while. Now it is certainly time for bed, since we have to be on the bus to Oxford at 8:15 AM tomorrow morning. I haven’t been up and functioning before that time too frequently, so this could be a good adventure! But it will be a good day with lots of singing and good food!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Prime Time

Yesterday was fun, but nothing too earth-shattering. The day started fairly normally. I was up and functioning around 9 and we had good rehearsals at the chapel. Then we headed down to the pier to ride the ferry downriver to Greenwich. I don’t think I will ever be a big fan of boats! It was enjoyable, but I prefer land.

At Greenwich, we (Nathan, Steve, Emily, Jake, Allen, Phil, and I) ate lunch at a fabulous Italian restaurant. Then we headed up to the Royal Observatory/Prime Meridian location, running into Ruth Eldredge on the way. I’m glad that I know Ruth and will be seeing a lot of her over the summer, both on this trip and at Cambridge. Seeing the Prime Meridian was cool, but I liked the camera obscura better; the technological abilities that people had a long time ago are amazing! It was also fun to see most of the clocks that Harrison made to deal with the longitude issue. However, now I’m not sure which museum has the real H1…

Then we rushed down the hill to get to the rehearsal on time. They were actually starting later than we thought, so we got to visit with the director for a bit. Harry Christophers is an interesting and very gifted fellow. I liked the rehearsal, but I wish when the director had spoken, he had spoken louder for our benefit. I liked Harry Christophers’ rehearsal style. He knows his singers and allows for flexibility and fun, in moderation. The difference with his choir and most other choirs is the dependence he can have on their ability to resume focus very quickly. They would snap back into serious rehearsal mode at the drop of a hat and produce incredible sounds from the downbeat.

I also appreciated how he rehearsed the pieces. They would sing a few pages, or just measures, fix any problem (or just review) and then they were off to another section, pages ahead. Obviously, they were rehearsing music that they are incredibly familiar with, but this style during the polishing time was impressive. We do some of that at BYU, but I think we can’t do as much as they do because we don’t snap back into serious mode quickly enough.

After the rehearsal, we heard from Sally Dunkley, the group’s musicologist. All throughout the afternoon/evening we enjoyed the aid of Simon Berridge, a member of both the church and The Sixteen. He is a great man and will be helping us in a workshop and at Cambridge.

Phil, Jake, and I then explored Greenwich and found a small cafe for dinner. It was ok food, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else! After that, I grabbed some postcards, so those can start getting sent out soon! As we strolled back to the chapel, we walked past Trinity College, one of London’s conservatories. They have practice rooms with windows! There was someone practicing the violin and looking out an open window! I was a little jealous. I’ll have to look more into Trinity College, and not just because of the above-ground practice rooms!

Then we attended the official concert. I enjoyed it more than The Tallis Scholars. It was not for intonation, the Tallis Scholars had a little better pitch. But seriously, pitch complaints at tonight’s concert were only noticeable to musicians; they were incredibly in tune for the bulk of the performance. What did it for me was the great dynamic contrasts. This gave the concert a strong feeling of engagement. All of the performers really wanted to be there. My only wish was that I had gotten more sleep last night so I wouldn’t have been fighting sleep during the first half; I’ll admit that I fell asleep for about 5-10 minutes in a really long piece that we had heard during the rehearsal. Two nights ago was a late night! And as a side note, the chapel was gorgeous!

Today was interesting for a few reasons, but we will get to those as they arise in the day’s recounting. The morning was fairly typical, but we went to catch the coach behind Royal Albert Hall instead of going to the church.

When we got to Oxford, we wandered through town to meet at the Sheldonian Theatre. On the way, we passed the recital hall that seniors give their recitals at, where Haydn and Handel gave some premieres. Such history! Once we figured out the plan, I ran into the Bodleian Library Admissions Office and got things sorted out for using the collections to do my Hubert Parry research project. The lady who helped me was great and gave me my reader’s card. It is beyond cool to have official access to some of the oldest and largest collections in the world. After that was sorted out, Emily, Emilie, and I headed for lunch at McDonald’s. It was nice to have some true American food and sit in a familiar setting for a while.

We met up with Ruth Eldredge to head over to the Headington Girl’s School. We took a short bus ride and walked up to a gorgeous estate. We had a great time exploring the school’s new music building and attending classes with the girls. The building was finished within the last year and is immaculate. Their recording capabilities and the whole situation is great for educating young people about music. One of their great ideas was naming each room after a famous English composer and having it as a timeline, of sorts, from the department head’s office, all the way around the building. I was impressed with how eager the girls were to learn. I don’t think it likely for me to ever teach young people, but if I had to, it would be in such a situation. At the end of the afternoon, they had biscuits and drinks for us to enjoy and gave us two CDs. The English are so hospitable.

We had a little time before out rehearsal, so I went over to the special collections building and checked my plans with them. They copied my letter that has Dr. Bush’s signature on it and gave me instructions about officially requesting manuscripts when I’m about to arrive in a few weeks. Afterwards, I slipped into another room and used the internet. It was such a wonderful feeling to be sitting at a table in a university library again. And it was great to have a password that gave me access to their library system internet network. Taking such joy in these things reminds me why I have a goal of being a professor.

Jake, Scott, Ryceejo, Allen, Heather, and I met up for rehearsal with Wadham College at about 5:30. The chapel was very cold! We sang around the piano, underneath the organ. The organist wasn’t there. The rehearsal went well, but it was funny how loose the standards were. Not that the singers were bad, they are great sight readers and singers. They just had some texting going on and the policy about attendance is very lax. It was interesting to me that their director is from the US, near New York and Boston. It was fun to sing tenor. If I end up singing tenor in the fall, it will be good training for me to hear inner parts better.

After the rehearsal, the director allowed me to go up and see the organ. I played a short bit to feel the action and to hear the different ranks the organ had. The action was heavy and the sound was incredible. She said I can have a little bit of time on Sunday, so I will bring some music to actually play! (Another note: I got an e-mail from the neighboring college in Cambridge, Selwyn, saying that I can practice on their instrument while I am there for two months. Their organist will meet with me to iron things out, introduce me to the porters and give me keys! So many doors are opening for me!)

Jake and I wandered to find a bite to eat after rehearsal (I had my first Cornish pasty — so good!) and then we met the group to travel back to London. I’m actually typing this as we drive. Maybe this means I will get to sleep at a decent hour tonight! Now that I’ve gotten to watch the countryside, I’m realizing how much it looks like Virginia. Honestly, if the cows were replaced by sheep, Virginia could pull of the look. At least, for this region of the country.

Today really was great! I’ve seen English countryside, learned to love Oxford (and hoped that Cambridge has a similar feel), played an incredible organ, sung in an ancient chapel, gotten access to the Bodleian, and just had a great time all around! I’m so happy to be studying here for a summer, and can’t wait to be here for an even longer time!

As a side note, blogger is giving me troubles uploading pictures, so check out my new picassa album. It has all of my London pictures and I will keep uploading all of them, enjoy! To get to it, click on the picture slideshow to the right.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Afternoon Matinee?

Once again, we had an interesting day. I don’t know if there is any other option here in London!

The day started fairly normally and followed the basic schedule. I enjoyed Brother Wimmer’s discussion on the judiciary. Also, the rehearsal we had for Oxford went well. The Magnificat isn’t perfect, but we figured a lot of things out today. I feel much more prepared now.

After rehearsing, Jake and I rushed home to meet up with Phillip. We headed to the tube and rode down to see a show. The first on our list was Wicked and we were able to get AMAZING seats at student prices (£25). The timing just worked SO perfectly! We got to the theatre at about 2:05 and purchased our tickets by 2:10. We walked into the theatre and had the perfect amount of time to settle ourselves before the show started. The acting was great, and I liked being so close this time. It was hard for us to believe how close we were to the stage, considering our time frame and seat price. After all, we were in row N of the stalls (orchestra)!

When we got out of the show, we joked about seeing another one, but our jokes turned into serious discussion! We called up Emily to find out what was going on with them. We decided to meet up for dinner and figure things out. We met and found a pub, after multiple attempts, and had a delicious dinner. Nathan, Monica, and Emily joined us for dinner, as Steve had to run off.

After dinner, Phil, Jake, and I left to attend Phantom of the Opera. Everyone else had things to do. We flew through tube stations and the streets to get there in time. We got there, only to find out they don’t offer student concessions! That was no good. So we ran two blocks to see if Les Mis was an option. We got there, purchased our tickets, and then walked into the hall as the opening announcements were given. Wow! Too bad the actual performance left much to be desired… The ensemble sound was full and great, but the leads were not strong enough singers to carry the roles

Tomorrow should be a good day. And I’m really looking forward to the ferry ride on the Thames. Life is just full of adventures!

The Trafalgar

Yesterday was a great day! We learned a lot, had fun, and enjoyed a great concert. Our rehearsals went well, but it will be a lot of music to master. This will be a great experience in Oxford this weekend, on so many levels.

I particularly was appreciative that they let Brother Wimmer teach about the English governement for a bit yesterday. This is such a fascinating time to be here, with a hung Parliament. (However, it is not hung now. The Tories formed a successful coalition yesterday evening.)

For the afternoon, Phil, Jake, and I wandered through the edge of Kensington Gardens and saw the Albert Memorial. Amazing! Not the little stone that he requested of Victoria, that’s for sure. I loved the bison on the America corner and the frieze of famous/important men.

We then adventured to the Science Museum and explored the ground level in about 45 minutes. It will be fun to pop in a few more times and see the rest of the collections. The most interesting thing we saw today was the first clock created to measure a ship’s longitude at sea (H1) by John Harrison. I read the book about his life quite a few years ago, and was excited to his first go at the solution. He was dedicated, despite Parliament giving him difficulties.

We ended up getting to Cadogen Hall early last night, so we took the bus to find a place to eat. We found The Trafalgar. It is now my favorite pub. Maybe I’ll find another good one to replace it, but the food and atmosphere were great! The smell was right, but not overpowering. And there was space for lots of people at the same table — a real win for when you have lots of friends visiting together.

Of course, the concert was marvelous. Even though our seats were on the side of the balcony, I though they were perfect. In most concerts, I’d actually prefer the ability to see the music that the performers were playing, it makes it much more interesting for me. The concert last night was the Tallis Scholars at Cadogan Hall. They are as excellent as everyone claims they are. Of course, they aren’t perfect, but things locked so frequently; intonation was much better than pretty much any choir I’ve heard before.

In regards to the conductor, his style was unlike anything I’ve seen before. I wish I could’ve seen the music to know what time signatures (or lack thereof) he was conducting. I could not recognize his beats or indications, but his singers know his motions very well, and communicate very effectively.

After the concert we headed back to The Trafalgar, this time with a group, to get a bite (mostly dessert). The menu said they served food until 10 PM, but that was obviously untrue. At least last night it was. So we wandered on the tube back toward home, stopping at Tesco on the way.

While there, Jake, Phil, and I bought a chocolate truffle mousse thing. We ate it once we got home. It was divine! I still would’ve appreciated dessert at The Trafalgar, but it was a good substitute. We also discussed the musicals playing on the West End. It looks like we will be seeing Wicked this afternoon. I’m interested to see how cheaply we can get tickets. It might be under 20 pounds! Amazing! Oh, the joys of living in London as a student!

And for your viewing pleasure, the chapel where we have class:

Monday, May 10, 2010

The First Few Days

Saturday afternoon was wonderful. We got ready for the concert and took the 9 to Trafalgar Square. I just love the view from the steps in front of the Museum, overlooking the Square. You can see Parliament down the street and the architecture between you and Parliament is perfect. I took pictures. I think that will always be a special spot for me; yesterday, when we passed through there, I finally realized that I was in London. That view is now my favorite!

The performance on Saturday night was wonderful! Everything was not perfect, but it was enjoyable. We were at St Martin-in-the-Fields, with the Belmont Ensemble of London and the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields (along with soloists). They performed a Baroque and early Classical concert.

My favorite part of the concert was definitely the orchestra. This orchestra was created 20 years ago and is still directed by its founder. They are all recent graduates from the conservatories in the area (most with graduate degrees) and are beginning/looking for jobs with the major orchestras in the area. And their conductor made me SO happy. He is a famous Baroque expert, and it showed. His style was with enough feeling to get the performers to reflect it, but his rehearsals must be strict enough to get the nice Baroque sound they performed with. So many conductors have trouble creating feeling in Baroque music; it all sounds so “pecky.” I’m glad they’ve become the default orchestra for this magnificent building, nothing but good will come from this!

The choir was impressive, considering they were volunteers. However, they got off to a rough start. As the evening progressed into the Requiem Mass, they picked up speed. Their start of the piece drew me in. I felt the Spirit there, which was wonderful. It is an incredible, inspired piece, though I couldn’t help but think of the movie Amadeus as I was hearing the music.

A random artistic note: I wish they would’ve used “God save the queen,” instead of “God save the king” during the Coronation anthem. After all, Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for almost 60 years! I guess I can understand the desire to be performing the original number, but it distracted me. Which is a shame, because it is one of my favorite pieces of ALL time.

And the “concert hall” itself was wonderful. I really enjoyed the sound’s qualities in the room. Hopefully the other halls we will be in will be similar. I really enjoy the architecture, especially the new east window that has a “cross water reflection” depiction. It is a great picture of 1725 England.

Afterwards, we wandered until we found a place to eat, a 50’s style diner. The food was good, but not quite American. But we were cold and hungry, so it won out. We took the tube home, but we take the tube or buses everywhere. I LOVE the transportation system here.

Yesterday was interesting. For starters, I woke up late. Very late. Which was good (I got almost 7.5 hours of sleep) and bad (I woke up and had almost no time to get ready to fly out the door). My alarm went off on time, but I rolled over to catch a few more minutes of sleep. As can be guessed, a few minutes turned into over an hour. I only woke up because Steve walked in and I asked him what time it was. When he told me it was 9:50, I leaped out of bed and rushed to get ready. Everyone else in the flat woke up late, too, so it was chaos!

We ran onto the tube and made it to Westminster with a little time to spare and enjoy the magnificence as we walked in. I was grateful for that. I thoroughly loved the experience and want to go back before my time in London is done. Even if we don’t go as a group, if there is time, I will make it on my own. I also will be going back for the paid tour, because the edifice is inspiring and beyond description!

I loved hearing the boys singing the treble part of the music at Westminster Abbey. They weren’t as good as professionally trained women, but the sound had a very different timbre that I liked. And for their youth, they were incredible. (Though, from what I hear, they were making faces at each other across the aisles to try and get laughs to emerge from each other! Oh, the joys of youth!)

Afterwards, we visited and realized we would be late for church. So, as usual, we dashed! We made it with about 5 minutes to spare. It was nice to attend services I was familiar with, but I felt a little sad about the music. I guess that is to be expected, due to my current focus in life! Even so, I need to work on being less judgmental at church, perfect the concept of “church ears” and “professional ears.” Also, I was disappointed that we didn’t sing with the organ. The pianist wasn’t bad — she just wasn’t able to play loud enough to support the congregation. (Although, we did swell the ranks quite a bit!) I felt it was a shame that such a gorgeous organ couldn’t be put to use.

Today was a good day, all in all. For starters, I woke up on time! Yeah for having time to eat breakfast and get ready for the day. However, the blogging did not get done like I planned, so I am working on it late tonight.

We had our first class session today. I’m excited, because I truly learned a lot and will think differently about things because of the topics in this class. One thing that was said today during class made me think. It was tangental to a tangent, but it was important. Dr Staheli made the comment, “We judge ourselves on intent and others on behavior.” Wow. How true. Think on that for a while!

After class, we wandered over to the college that is across the street from the chapel. Apparently they have cheap food in the dining halls. It was fairly inexpensive, but I was able to get cheaper prepared food at Marks and Spencer. So we went there, instead! Oh, the tomato and basil soup was divine! Similar food experiences just don’t exist in the States. I’m really beginning to love England, more than the States. Oh, the future is exciting!

Phil, Jake, and I were the wanderers today. After M&S, we traveled to explore Westminster Square; lots of pictures were taken. The architecture on that block is beyond description. However, we did think the statue of Abraham Lincoln was a little out of place. I agree, he is a great guy, but being a great guy doesn’t mean your statue should be in the British government square!

Then, we took the tube to the Millennium Bridge area. The “Harry Potter” bridge was great. So many famous things have happened in London - we keep seeing and hearing things from the movies and our history textbooks in living color! I’m having a hard time getting over that.

We made it over to the Southwark Cathedral for evensong tonight. It had a very different beauty about it, but I like the homey feel it had. While Westminster Abbey feels divine, I think it is easier to connect in Southwark. Even though it was simpler, the art was still amazing. We just don’t have these things in America…

The music they sang was very contemporary, and I frequently dislike contemporary music. However, it was overall very nice. I enjoyed myself and felt the Spirit. And as far as the organist (come on, you thought I would make it through and entire entry without mentioning him?!), he was incredible. Especially considering his youth. I would place him at 25, certainly not over 30. The music he played was difficult, modern monstrosities. He has inspired me to pursue a degree here in London, where one of my roles would be as a church organist. What a great way to learn the craft. Oh, the cogs are turning in my brain with all the possibilities!

After the evensong, we headed to a pub that the guide book said was good. It must’ve been good, there wasn’t room enough for the three wanderers, Emily, and Steve to sit together. That canceled that plan. Maybe some other time. We wandered, both above and under ground, until we came to a nice pub near St. Paul’s Cathedral. The food was good, but a little too commercialized. I need to find a more ideal pub. I’ll be more knowledgeable in a bit, perhaps?

On our way home, we stopped by Tesco. They are my new favorite grocery store. I’m saving a special spot in my heart for M&S prepared food goodness, but for groceries, Tesco it is.

Life is good. I’m learning tons about me and music and the world and London and every good thing! Hope you enjoy the pictures!

And I'll close with some pictures to enjoy.

The protest camp in Westminster Square.

And one of their people leaving...