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...


  1. So 7.5 hours of sleep with a wake-up time of 9:50am puts your bedtime around 2:20am...That's like 4 hours of scripture reading!!! Good job!

  2. I am so incredibly jealous! Living vicariously through your adventures? Yes.

  3. I have long been jealous of the London public transportation system. For now I'll have to make do with Provo's. :(

  4. Sounds like you're having way too much fun. I didn't know you were this musically oriented, and it's interesting reading from your point of view. :D

  5. I LOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE TESCO! Stop it, stop blogging right now, you're making me jealous and travel-sick! Just kidding, it's fun to read, but oh, to be in Europe right now. 10 more weeks, 10 more weeks...(until Asia, not Europe, but maybe soon thereafter)