Boston

CHRISTMAS AT THE POPS 2014

Of all the things we do in December, our trip to the Boston Pops for their Christmas concert is my favorite. First of all, what’s not to like?

It’s a great concert, fine orchestra, perfect symphony venue. Boston’s Symphony Hall was built in 1900. It’s a classic, both architecturally and acoustically.

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According to the BSO’s website, Symphony Hall opened on October 15, 1900 with an inaugural gala led by music director Wilhelm Gericke. The architects, McKim, Mead & White of New York, engaged Wallace Clement Sabine, a young assistant professor of physics at Harvard, as their acoustical consultant.

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Symphony Hall is widely regarded as one of the top concert halls in the world. The walls of the stage slope inward to help focus the sound. The side balconies are shallow so as not to trap any of the sound, and the recesses of the ceiling, along with the statue-filled niches along the three sides, help to distribute the sound throughout the hall.

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The 16 replicas of Greek and Roman statues are related in some way to music, art, or literature.

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They were placed in the niches as part of an appreciation of the frequently quoted words, “Boston, the Athens of America,” written by Bostonian William Tudor in the early 19th century.

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The concert organ at Boston’s Symphony Hall

The Symphony Hall organ — an Aeolian Skinner designed by G. Donald Harrison and installed in 1949 — is one of the finest concert hall organs in the world.

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A couple of interesting points for observant concert-goers: Beethoven is the only composer whose name was inscribed on one of the plaques that trim the stage and balconies; the other plaques were left empty since it was felt that only Beethoven’s popularity would remain unchanged.

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The initials “BMH” for “Boston Music Hall”, as the building was originally to have been called, appear on the stairwell banisters at the Huntington Avenue side, originally planned as the main entrance. The old Boston Music Hall was gutted only after the new building, Symphony Hall, was opened.

Four calling birds ...

Four calling birds … in “The 12 Days of Christmas

This year’s program was a bit different than previous year’s. Instead of the usual reading of “The Night Before Christmas,” there was a reading and music dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I (November 1914) and the spontaneous “Christmas Truce” of 24 December 1914.

The classic performance of "Sleigh Ride" brought the audience to its feet

The classic performance of “Sleigh Ride” brought the audience to its feet

There was less use of projected images, more orchestral music. But Santa Claus made his traditional appearance and “The 12 Days of Christmas” was as joyful and raucous as ever. The program was intentionally more inclusive. It was great hearing some songs I remember my mother singing in Yiddish played by this wonderful orchestra.

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Sometimes the question comes up whether it’s worth supporting orchestras and concert halls like this … and I think of how much we would lose without them. The shine in the eyes of my granddaughter the first time she saw Symphony Hall. For that matter, the shine in my eyes the first time I heard a concert in Carnegie Hall. These places are national treasures. We have so little of our past preserved. I am so grateful we have held onto these precious, beautiful places.

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And the music. Oh, the music.

NIGHT LIGHTS – BOSTON 2014

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I love our annual excursion to the Boston Pops Christmas concert. I love the music. I love symphony hall. I love the area, the architecture, the happy crowd … and that we always seem to get a great parking space. I take the parking space as a sign that the gods favor us. Next … a lottery win!

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The other big reason I love that excursion is my annual opportunity to shoot at night in Boston. I can shoot night scenes around here any day of the year, but our town isn’t exactly Metropolis. Urban landscape requires an urban setting.

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We always do these excursions in a family group … and I am always the only one who brings a camera. This time I just kept the tickets in my bag and told everyone when I was through taking pictures, they would get tickets … and not a moment sooner. That slowed them down!

After the show, I took a few more, but they decided to not leave me behind there on the streets of Boston, even though I couldn’t threaten them with tickets. Nice of them, don’t you think?

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This also responds to the Weekly Photo Challenge, TWINKLE -http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/twinkle/

BOSTON AT NIGHT IN BLACK AND WHITE

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Open Topic

One of the big pluses of our annual trip to the Boston Pops is my one and only chance to get some night shots of Boston.

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This area is called “symphony,” and is the musical center of the city. Berklee College of Music and Symphony Hall are here.

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The Tee stop is the Symphony stop. It’s an old and beautiful part of town.

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DOWNTOWN BOSTON – THEATER DISTRICT

The Wilbur Theater is on Tremont Street in Boston. Opened in 1914, the Wilbur was updated and (mostly) restored in 2008. It’s in the middle of Boston’s historic theater district. Boston’s theater district is small compared to bigger cities like New York, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. And convenience. It’s not […]

Prescience

Marilyn Armstrong:

Doobster says it better than I could.
There is no joy in Mudville.

Originally posted on Mindful Digressions:

Red Sox World Series ChampsBack on April 1st of this year I published a post, From first to worst. In that post I wrote:

This is an unmitigated disaster. It’s almost the end of the baseball season and my beloved Boston Red Sox are in last place.

Of course, if you know anything about baseball, you know that my post was tongue-in-cheek. After all, it wasn’t “almost the end of the baseball season.” In fact, it was the very beginning of the Major League Baseball season and the Red Sox had played just one regular season game, which they lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1.

The Sox won the World Series in 2013. That put them at baseball’s pinnacle — the top of the heap. They were the best team in professional baseball last season. So I was highly confident that, despite losing their opening game of the 2014 season, they would do…

View original 202 more words

NIGHT AND THE CITY

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: NIGHTTIME

JUDY COLLINS, AMAZING GRACE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Marilyn and I had been looking forward to the Judy Collins concert for months. Marilyn bought the tickets last January before her complicated heart surgery. At the time, I wondered if she was being extravagant given our tight budget. I was very wrong. Marilyn figured the concert would give us something to look forward to in the […]

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