Friday, July 1, 2016
Canada Day today - a time to celebrate our country - so I thought I would top this post with a maple leaf.
I have reached 183 daily blog posts this year, each containing at least one photo from each day - half way along the journey of "A Photo A Day" in 2016. I walk this path with photography-sensitive eyes, always looking for a good shot and the story to go with it.
Summit Woods sits on one of the three summits of Mont-Royal. It is an oasis in the middle of the city - nothing but natural vegetation. The only man-made structures are a few garbage cans and a couple of boards depicting the flora and fauna of the forest. When trees fall, they remain lying there. You can see some quite decomposed with new plants growing on their surface. Others, like this one has fallen more recently - its strong roots having grown around a large rock dragged it up from the ground as the tree fell.
Patterns, swirls, - there is always something to see if you look.
Step back and you will see a new topknot of plants growing out of its once mighty trunk.
A flash of pink - a little surprise among all the green.
Looking back it has certainly been a full half year and now onto the next half.
Photos: June 30, 2016
It's the season of abundance when the market is filled with local produce. The asparagus season is slowly coming to an end, but local strawberries have appeared.
The Atwater Market is not a farmer's market. It is a permanent fixture, running all year. Outdoor stalls are dismantled in November and reappear in April, but some of the stalls move into an enclosed area. The stalls sell a mix of local and imported produce, but now is the season when you see more and more locally grown food, often identified with signs sporting little fleur-de-lys, the symbol of Quebec.
You can buy all kinds of things at the market from food to flowers. This seller was trying to entice buyers to celebrate Canada Day (July 1) with bouquets of red and white flowers.
Shopping at the market is about so much more than buying. It is about stopping to chat with the local seller of L'Itinéraire, a newspaper written and sold by itinerants - people who have had substance abuse issues, are underemployed or unemployed, and who gain a sense of self-worth and dignity through their writing. The fellow at the market has written some books and proudly shared that he was asked to write a two page spread about his neighbourhood for the bilingual paper. I bought a copy. Or exchanging with the woman who sells vegetables and berries, who is always there with a hello and a few words, even if I buy nothing. It is about relationships, about respect for the smaller merchants and valuing small producers.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Photo: June 29, 2016 - taken while the car was standing still!
Funny thing about my drive home from playing music with friends. The drive started in rain, at times very heavy, but I made good time - in ten minutes I was half way home. The skies cleared and the traffic stopped. Shouldn't it be the reverse? The next "half" of the trip home took me one hour and thirty five minutes! It's definitely a record long trip for a route I have taken many times.
Photo: June 28, 2016
Time to plan for our road trip. Escape the heat of summer and head further north. Our trip is not until later this summer, but the ferry is now booked as well as accommodation for our first part of the trip. Wait for those photos - not just the map!
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Photos: June 26, 2016
I started my day with a concert by Paolo Pandolfo, who played his own arrangements for viola da gamba of two of Bach's cello suites. He plays with passion, taking risks, exploring the music. Even if you don't agree with all he did, it is hard not to be moved by his playing. I particularly liked the slow movements.
An early afternoon concert with Alkemia was a delight. Gilles Cantagrel played Bach's brother with the four above playing four of Bach's children. They played and sang.
Then they were joined by "Papa" Bach, none other than Luc Beauséjour. The group even got the audience to sing two pieces in four part harmony. There were enough good singers there that those, like me, could find the notes and sing along.
The day was very hot. The Arts Building offered a little respite from the heat. My friends and I perched on the cool stone staircase waiting for the next concert. One advantage - we got to hear Lina Tur Bonet warm up for her concert as she checked out the acoustics.
More Bach for solo violin - quite a workout for the violinist!
The table was set for the final tea as we walked into Redpath Hall for the final tempestuous concert - three Bach cantatas.
The festival is the brainchild of Susie Napper, who for years was the sole artistic director. Now in its fourteenth year, the festival is direction is shared by her and Matthias Maute.
As is customary at the end of the festival, volunteers holding banners lead the musicians and audience out. We were treated to an instrumental rendition of the last chorale as we exited.
Thank you to all who organized (a special thanks to Susie Napper, Matthias Maute and Nicolas Fortin), who played and who participated in any way in the festival. It is always something I look forward to. But now.... I'm tired and can only imagine how you feel!
Monday, June 27, 2016
Photos: June 25, 2016
Another long day of concerts... We started the day in Redpath Museum, with a concert of nyckelharpa, a Scandinavian instrument. All the compositions were played by the composer, Jean-François Bélanger but were based on the Scandinavian style of music. The earliest references to this instrument date from the middle ages; images are found in artwork.
It is quite a complex instrument with strings that are bowed. The player presses on keys which then depress the strings allowing for changes in pitch much like a string player would depress a string with his/her finger. The sound is similar to a hurdy-gurdy which is in the same family of instruments.
Bélanger also had a tenorharpa (a lower pitch); it was easier to see the action of the keys on this instrument.
A concert by Vincent Lauzer was held in the Osler Library. It was definitely not baroque, though all the pieces by contemporary composers all by one of whom was in the room. Four of the six pieces were composed specifically for Vincent. It was a technical challenge for Vincent (but, as always, he was up to it) and an aural challenge for the audience who are more used to baroque sounds. He convinced me - I quite enjoyed the concert.
The head librarian of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine invited us to see the "old" part of the library, actually a recreation of the original Osler Library which was moved in the 1960's when the medical faculty moved to the McIntyre Building. It contains thousands of old volumes housed in beautiful wood cabinets. The ashes of Osler and his wife are also housed there so it is a mausoleum as well as a library.
It was back to the Redpath Museum and another concert under the dinosaur. I had not been in the museum since I was about ten, so it was fun to pass by items on my way up the stairs that triggered memories.
A concert of Spanish music from both baroque and renaissance times was pared to the essentials according to guitarist, David Jacques. Strip away the extraneous instruments and with just guitar and percussion you can hear the essence of this music. The museum was hot, perhaps fitting for music from Spain.
Ziya Tabassian, an extraordinary percussionist, uses all parts of his body to provide the rhythms and textures for the music.
This renaissance guitar, much smaller than a modern guitar and smaller than the baroque guitar can still fill a room with sound. It was hard to keep still to the Spanish rhythms with pulses changing from 3 beats to 2 beats. In my mind I could see dancers swaying, stamping, but with the dignity and elegance that Spanish dancers posses.
In the evening we were treated to a lot of dance, a co-production Le Nouvel Opéra and the Abbaye royale de Saint-Riquier with choreography by Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière, above, and Mickaël Bouffard. It was based around the fictional widow of Jean-Féry Rebel and all the music was his, played on two harpshichords.
Lively dancing, a script done in old French making it harder for me to understand. There were some delightful moments.
Four concerts... I just couldn't do the fifth. After all there is more to come.