Monday, February 21, 2011

Another multi-day post, London - music, Stanford le Hope and on to Ireland

Blog 2-21-11

More adventures from several days…

Thursday, February 17

I attended a Eucharist at St. Mary le Strand, where Jim Rosenthal was presiding.    Then we got to go to lunch and catch up.   Jim is a Chicagoan who went to work for the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury some years ago.  He knows everyone.    It was fun to catch up.


I found out Thursday morning that Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, who I have mentioned was staying with at Chez Solti as well, was performing with the Philharmonia Orchestra that evening (concert pianist).    They did not have comped tickets, but he invited me to come.    I purchased a ticket that morning.

So, I was heading out that evening ,towards the tube stop, and let everyone know where I was going.   Lady Solti suggested I wait and go with the Bavouzets who were about to leave by taxi (as Jean-Efflam was performing in the 2nd half)  

So, I rode in the taxi with Jean-Efflam and his wife Andrea.   They were going to try to arrange to get me a ticket with Andrea and Lady Solti (I bought one that was somewhere else)   So, I got to enter through the performer’s entrance at Royal Festival Hall and go backstage.   

I ended up seated with Andrea and Lady Solti for the performance.    The seats were a great view of the piano.

Carl Maria Von Weber: Overture, Oberon
Robert Schumann: Symphony No.3 in E flat (Rhenish), Op.97
Ludwig Van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 (Emperor)
Christoph von Dohnányi conductor (who, by the way is 82 years old)
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet piano
Jean-Efflam was astounding.   It was a great performance.

He is playing in Chicago, April 13, 2011 with the Orchestre National de France at Symphony Center.
I highly recommend seeing him!

I also was invited to go out with them afterwards.     That was great, I got to meet all kinds of people, including a record exec from Decca (Georg Solti and Chicago Symphony all have recorded under that label, though CSO now has their own – CSO Resound), I met a guy from Chandos records – the label Jean-Efflam records under.   There were a variety of others – local pianists from London, other Bavouzet entourage.  

The restaurant had a piano not far from where we were sitting. At the end of the evening, one of the pianists got up and started to play, joined by Jean-Efflam, then a 3rd, and then a 4th.  It was fantastic and the whole restaurant applauded at the end. (just total jam session with 4 pianists on one piano!)

Jean-Efflam is one of the most gracious people I have met.   He was so nice to fans who stopped him on the way out.   A class act all the way around.  I got to hear more about his favorite conductors to work with, just his thoughts on the performance etc.     It was cool.  He was so kind and gracious to me, and I’m certainly no big wig in the music world.  

I am so familiar with the world of classical music having grown up surrounded by it with my father’s music.   It was great to be surrounded for a brief time again!   (I surround myself as much as I can with CSO etc)  and this was the 4th Thursday in a row that I heard an Orchestra Concert (3 in a row in Chicago) and then London!


I had a wonderful weekend with the Hirst clan in Stanford le Hope (in Essex)!  I took the train from London.

Danny Hirst worked for our camp in 1998 (our very first year at Camp Algonquin).  We have kept up a friendship ever since.     Many of us have been to visit him and his mum, Maureen, a lovely woman, who considers many of us her other children (especially Jamian Knuth, who is son #3)

We just spent most of our time catching up (and eating!)  I got to see Danny’s brother Matthew, meet his wife Vicki , their 5 year old Caitlin (who is quite the dancer, she entertained us!) and their 15 year old teenage foster daughter, Courtney – who is just lovely.  Yes, of course I hit it off with the teenager, it’s what’ I do!

A weekend wasn’t quite enough time, but I hope to catch up with them on my 2nd trip through London this sabbatical!

Danny was fully informed of all of the camp news, and waited with me while I was awaiting word from Camp after the Friday meeting with the Conservation District.  He was also with me when I got the news.   It was good to be with a camp person when the news that arrived was not very pleasant!

Of course, some of my weekend was absorbed with dealing with the Camp Algonquin news, and getting a statement sent out before people heard any other way.  I felt (as did everyone else) that it was important that the news come from me directly, so that they knew it was getting immediate attention and that I support the efforts of the people working on solutions at home.

See our news release.

Our appeal to the McHenry County Conservation District did not work.    They are not willing to continue to run Camp Algonquin.

Lynda Fauser is still hopeful, but we are looking for a place to hold camp.   We WILL have camp in 2011, we just don’t know where.      I just don’t feel like we’re done with Camp Algonquin, or that I’m done with Camp Algonquin.  It holds a very special place in my heart!  

I was showing Danny and Maureen pictures of Camp that I have taken recently (in the fall, of the river, in the spring etc)  and it is an amazing place in so many ways!

We ask your prayers:
That we find a place to hold camp in 2011 and beyond
For all of the other groups displaced by this news
For the Camp Algonquin staff who have been so good to us and have worked to keep the place going.
For the off chance that there might still be a miracle and Camp Algonquin might still continue to operate!

February 21, 2011

I flew from London to Dublin today (of course the flight was delayed for an hour for really no reason, they just told us to sit, air traffic back up)    I got to Dublin almost an hour late.   I caught a bus from the airport to the train station (easy)   and took the train from Dublin to Cork (about an hour 42 minutes)

It was a lovely ride.   The Irish countryside is beautiful!   It’s very green here.   I saw hills that looked like small mountains, lots of sheep (Irish sheep), cows and horses.    The sun was out, the rolling hills were green.  It was beautiful.  I wish I could have stopped to take pictures.   It was beautiful!

I arrived in Cork just before 6 pm.    I got to the B & B (Fernroyd House – where Clare Nolan and Ted Long stayed when they visited Charlotte last semester when she was studying here)   It is lovely.   The room is beautiful (en suite)  They have been very helpful as to where to go to eat, things to do, suggestions, and just making sure I was settled and had what I needed!   I feel very at home.

I am planning to go to Blarney tomorrow morning (to the Castle) and probably will be in Cork in the afternoon (rain is predicted)   Later in the week I’m planning on Kinsall     Cobh (thanks Katie Graham).

I hope to get some good pictures here!

More soon!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

London - the first few days

I was planning to post all of these stories on different days, but that did not happen.  The later ones are actually more interesting.  Read on if you like…

I arrived in London on February 12, after an overnight flight from Chicago.   Apparently, Saturday is the day to fly into Heathrow.   It was empty.  There was no line/queue at Immigration or anywhere else for that matter.   It was an easy ride on the Heathrow Express and took me no time at all to get to Gabrielle & Frederic’s.

Entertaining Sue and the children at the same time…
So, the weekend started out as spending time with my friends Gabrielle, Frederic and their children George (aged 4) and Amelie (almost 2).

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum.  George LOVES planes and all to do with aviation.   He was very entertained and had a great time!   Amelie was also entertained for quite a while as well, which was a good thing. (pictures on facebook!) 

On Sunday morning, I attended church (St. John’s Wood Church) (Church of England/Anglican) with Gabrielle and the kids, which was nice.   It was the family service, but it is still hard for the children to sit still!   We had a lot of conversation about children and church.  Children’s formation programs, how to engage small children in the liturgy.  (Shawn Schreiner be prepared to share!)  There are programs for the children, but she is looking for something more hands on for the kids (probably something along the lines of Godly play or Catechesis)  As a general practice, children don’t receive communion here until about age 7.

I also got to meet some of Gabrielle and Frederic’s friends on Sunday, which was fun!

Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral
I went down to Canterbury on Monday, February 14 (there is now a high speed train between London and Canterbury), just missing a direct train by seconds, I watched it pull out of the St Pancras station) (I was delayed on a very slow Hammersmith & City tube line)  So, the next train required a change of trains, but still arrived earlier than the next direct train.   I had to ask staff about 3 times where I was to change trains, as it wasn’t clear to me and I was afraid I would end up in the wrong place.

When I asked a staff on board the train, he gave me the name again, but a University(College) student was sitting in the seat across from me.  She said she was also going to Canterbury, where she is a student, and to just follow her.   She also just missed the 9:37 train because the Hammersmith and city train was very slow.  

The student and I ended up talking.  She asked if I was going to the Cathedral, which, in fact I was.  She talked a lot about Canterbury Cathedral, specifically from an artistic point of view (and was thrilled I was going there to take pictures) Somehow got on to cell groups, and small churches, Cathedrals and then Emergent churches.   She has experience of them in London, and told me about that.   We also talked about programs for children in churches.

After having just attended church with Gabrielle and her 2 and 4 year old, all of this was fresh in my mind.    I am also going to visit some “Fresh Expressions”/”Emergent” churches both in England and Ireland, so for this random person on the train to start a conversation with me about them was remarkable!

I made my own pilgrimage to Canterbury, of sorts.   I really journeyed there be in that space and take pictures.   (hours of entertainment for me).  It combines my love of sacred spaces and my love for photography, that provides for a great experience!  I just love the space and the history of these Cathedrals and churches.  We just don’t have anything like that in the US.   We have such a short history. We don’t have Archbishops buried there from the 1300’s!

Solti experiences…

I am visiting with my friend Gabrielle Solti and her husband Frederic Dupas.  Their house is quite full with the children, so I am actually staying at the house next door, Gabrielle’s mum’s house, where there are lots of guest rooms.

I never know what to expect when I stay there.   Valerie (Lady Solti) is a fascinating person (wife of the late Maestro – Sir Georg Solti)  She knows lots of interesting people, entertains a lot, and I am almost certain to run into an interesting musician who is there at some point during my visit, learn something, or have an engaging conversation.

Monday back at Chez Solti…
So, then back at Chez Solti, Valerie arrived home. The evenings guests, also guests for the week,  included a French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and his wife Andrea, also a pianist.  They are fascinating people and I have learned a lot, and had many conversation with them and Lady Solti about music, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and all kinds of things.  

Jean-Efllam will be in Chicago April 13 touring with the Orchestre National de France, playing at Symphony Center.  I hope to be able to attend that concert that night.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valerie Solti suggested that I go down to Westminster Abbey to try to get early seating for the Dame Joan Sutherland Memorial service.  The music was bound to be spectacular, and the musicians rumored to be in attendance, no less than impressive!  I wasn’t sure that I would get a seat, Lady Solti had a reserved ticket for seating, and it sounded like it was reserve seating only. 

I was heading for the tube to go to central London – National Gallery and other attractions, when Valerie was heading out.  I realized that I was probably leaving too late to get a seat if it was even possible at Westminster.  She had someone to drive here to Westminster for the Joan Sutherland Memorial.  She told me to hop in the car, perhaps there was public seating.   Any sort of trip (or time) with Lady Solti is always an adventure.  She knows the most fascinating people and trips are bound to be interesting.

We got to drive through central London, down Baker Street, and past Buckingham Palace.  That was timed (coincidentally) at the time of the changing of the guards, so I got to see that from the car window.  (I have been there to see that in the past), and by happenstance, a Royal carriage was leaving Buckingham at that very moment, a horse drawn carriage, followed by the Queen’s car.  No Royals or official people seemed to be in the carriage or the car, perhaps it was a practice for the Royal Wedding??

We got to Westminster and I checked, there was no public seating at all.  Oh well.  I snapped a few photos of Westminster, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and the Thames and headed to Trafalgar Square.

More to follow…