We're a bit hooked on the Olympics and watched some horse eventing and swimming. It was the last day of the 3 day eventing, and the UK managed a bronze medal. Germany and Australia have been brilliant and took the gold and silver respectively. The individual award was finalised with a jumping course. We had 3 people in it and the highest placed girl, Tina, won bronze after a thrilling final round. It was wonderful stuff.
Took Buster for a walk to the lake today. It was so high that most of the 'beach' was under water! There is a gorgeous wood beside the lake and Buster loved it. It's the first time we've taken him there and we didn't take the camera. He hates water but we managed to get him to paddle a little by throwing in sticks! He was so funny, lifting his feet up and looking worried when he got wet! How can an English Foxhound not like water! There were some lovely fungi on the ground, bright yellow. Must take the camera next time. We also saw 3 grey herons take off and fly, a super sight. It's the first time we've seen them down by Loch Graney.
The wood smelt damp and musty and the moss is thick and lush. Nobody else was around so we had the walk to ourselves.
I've done a bit more parking area weeding late afternoon. It's a bit like painting Sydney harbour bridge, as soon as I've done one part, the bit I started with has re-grown! It rained on and off today, but we managed to dodge most of the showers.
Buster is curled up in his bed behind me with his chin on his toy caterpillar. How cute he looks.
Jim called me inside to watch Holby City, my 'must watch' of the week. All very exciting with conjoined twins born a couple of weeks ago. Now they're going to separate them at Holby. What a coup. As if.....
After Holby, a new programme called Maestro started. There are about 8 contestants, all well known people, actors, newsreaders, pop singers, etc, and they all have to learn to conduct an orchestra. Like many people, they didn't really know what a conductor actually does in front of an orchestra, apart from beat time! They each had a piece of music to listen to for 4 days and after that they had their first go at conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. It was absolutely hilarious. Having been brought up in a very musical family, my father having been with the Royal Opera House Orchestra for 25 years, I know quite a bit about the effect conductors can have. 'How do I make you go faster' said one, 'Wave your hands faster' came the giggling reply from a musician! There are also 4 judges, 2 conductors and 2 musicians. They were all in hysterics!
Each contestant is then given a tutor or mentor to teach them how to conduct. After a few weeks, they came back and conducted their own piece again. Mostly they were much improved, and one chap, Goldie, a fantastic black character who can't read music, was amazing! John Snow, the newsreader, was utterly hopeless and was voted out by the orchestra. He conducted The Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and it was dire. Jane Asher, the well known and still incredibly beautiful actress and cake maker, was excellent, and could go on to win. Oh, the prize is to conduct the orchestra at the last night of the Proms in the Park. I can't wait for next week.
When I was a teenager, my father took me with him to Edinburgh, as the Covent Garden Orchestra was playing there in the Festival, at the Usher Hall. We went from London by overnight train and had our own compartment. I thought it was all very grand. Daddy got me Sir John Pritchard's autograph, as he was on our train.
Guest conductor was Sir George Solti and they played The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky. I have always loved that piece ever since. My father rather rudely said they used to play it in spite of Solti's conducting!! I also watched Yehudi Menuhin play and went to all the rehearsals, of both concerts. It was great to watch the performers' rehearsal demeanour and then watch them put on all the airs and graces for the public. They 'performed' as much as any stage actor. I was so proud of my dear father. When Jim and I married, we had a small part of The Rite of Spring played. It was one of the things we discovered we had in common, we both loved it.
A few years after the trip to Edinburgh, I saw the ballet of The Rite of Spring, at The Royal Opera House. It was truly wonderful. I was a lucky girl to have been able to see many operas and ballets there.
For anyone interested, here's a piece written about The Rite and what happened at its first performance:
Morning Edition, March 21, 2008 - Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps) is often held up as a masterwork that changed modern music forever. Music commentator Miles Hoffman takes the distinction one step further.
"The Rite of Spring," Hoffman says, "represents one of the greatest creative leaps in not only the history of music, but in the history of the arts."
Stravinsky's music is famous for causing a riot at its premiere. It was a warm spring evening in Paris on May 29, 1913, and Hoffman says the well-heeled crowd at the Champs Élysées Theatre was not ready for jagged rhythms, crunching discord, and the strange jerking of the dancers on stage.
"The ballet was choreographed by the great Nijinsky," Hoffman says, "and the noise, fighting, and shouting in the audience got so loud, he had to shout out the numbers to the dancers so that they knew what they were supposed to do."
One shrewd musicologist wrote that "the pagans on stage made pagans of the audience."
Hoffman says that the idea of pagans is right on the mark.
"The subtitle of The Rite of Spring," Hoffman says, "is 'Pictures of Pagan Russia,' a celebration of pagan rituals that eventually leads to a sacrifice of a chosen young woman to propitiate the gods of spring. It's not what you call a happy tale."
Still Packing the 'Rite' Punch
The shock of the new, in 1913, quickly gave way to a warm embrace. More performances of The Rite of Spring followed close on the heels of that famous first night, and by the 1920s, it was played in the U.S. In the 1940s, the infamous piece gained a permanent place in pop culture when Walt Disney used part of it as the soundtrack to Fantasia. Today, The Rite of Spring remains a classic, but it also still packs a punch.
"It's a shocking piece," Hoffman says. "It's still startling to us today when we hear it, but it is not a confusing piece. It's compelling. We're hearing irregular rhythms, we're hearing instruments asked to go to the extremes of their capability, but we're also hearing patterns that we recognize, with pacing, contrast, fascinating harmonies, continuity — all the basic principles of what makes a piece of music work are all there. And that shows us the secret of Stravinsky's genius."
The Rite of Spring also opened doors to countless possibilities for future composers.
"It liberated many composers," Hoffman says, "and there were many imitators. I don't think you can listen to modern movie music without sooner or later hearing the influence of Stravinsky and the Rite.
"I like to think of this piece as a celebration of creativity, period. A new music is born, and sometimes births are violent."To have such talent. Sigh.
aims, thanks for your comments. I think I'll give the show a miss next year! There are plenty of others around here.
willow, I'm glad you liked my bull. It was quite amusing, as there were 2 bulls, each in a field, opposite one another. They seemed to be having a conversation. We pulled up in the car and I just literally grabbed my camera and took a couple of shots. The other one was looking a bit grumpy, so I rushed back to the safety of the car and we sped away.
I have just taken a photo of the magnificent coffee table that I won in the Gort Show Raffle:
Here is a photo of the pedlar lady that I put in the Gort Show. She didn't win a prize but did have rather a wobbly head, a bit like me!
A couple of bunches of the lavender hanging in our kitchen/diner
I took this photo of Jim before I cut the lavender, he is a bit hidden behind it! the bush is all bald now: