Bond – Classical Crossover

If you love hot music and beautiful women, or possibly beautiful music and hot women, Bond may be right up your alley. It certainly is mine. They are an Australian/British string quartet that specializes in classical crossover music.

The group consists of Tania Davis (first violin, formerly viola, from Sydney, Australia), Eos Chater (second violin, from Cardiff, Wales), Elspeth Hanson (viola, from Upper Basildon, England)[4] and Gay-Yee Westerhoff (cello, from Hull, England). Hanson replaced original band member Haylie Ecker (formerly first violin), who left in 2008 to have a child.

Wikipedia says, Their debut album Born was removed from the UK classical chart, apparently owing to its “sounding too much like pop music”. Born later rose to the #1 position on 21 different charts around the world. Shine, their second album, went gold in six countries. Remixed, their third release, featured remixes from their first two hit albums as well as three new unreleased pieces. Their third studio album Classified was a popular and successful release: Classified went double platinum in Australia, reaching the number one spot on both the classical and pop charts. Explosive: The Best of Bond, their latest release, is a “best of” collection that includes three previously unreleased pieces. They also participated at the Miss World 2000 pageant in London.

The classical violinist Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra performed live on New Year’s Eve in Vienna in a set that includes many Strauss favorites, as well as an appearance from Bond performing “Victory”.

Bond-Play

More recently, Bond also performed “I Am the Walrus” alongside Russell Brand at the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony.

Tony

… In the Eye of the Beholder

When I started writing this blog I said that I would be writing about and showing you things I consider to be beautiful. Yesterday when I was riding my bike, I thought about how beautiful the path I was rolling across was to me, then I laughed. You see, yesterday it was blowing snow here in Chicago and there was a lot of snow and ice on the places where I normally ride. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I want to show you a couple of photos. The first is the lovely Riverwalk along the Chicago River. Tourists come here and enjoy the view every day.

This is the riverwalk where I ride every day. Obviously there is no bike riding across this very pretty landscape.

This is the riverwalk where I ride every day. Obviously there is no bike riding across this very pretty landscape.

For a bike ride, however, this is treacherous terrain and not to be trifled with. Below is a photo of Lower Wacker Drive. It happens to be adjacent to the lovely Riverwalk, but as you can see it appears rather unseemly. It looks dark because it is ‘underground.’ The street lights are necessary during the day, too. Not very appealing compared with the pristine beauty of the Riverwalk. To this bike rider, however, Lower Wacker Drive is a thing of beauty. I can ride my bike there in any kind of weather and feel protected from snow and ice on the ground, falling rain and wind gusts that could blow me off my bike.

This is Lower Wacker Drive, not very pretty, but very protected from the elements

This is Lower Wacker Drive, not very pretty, but very protected from the elements. Absolutely beautiful!

If you use your imagination, you can see how beautiful Lower Wacker Drive is to this bike rider.

This is Lower Wacker adjacent to the Chicago Auto Pound, the fence on the right.

This is Lower Wacker adjacent to the Chicago Auto Pound, the fence on the right.

Tony

Frigid February Morning

This is what sub-zero looks like. It was just below zero Fahrenheit this morning when I shot these.

The sun was just beginning to creep over the horizon at this point

The sun was just beginning to creep over the horizon at this point

Up over the horizon, but blocked by clouds…

Over the horizon, but not quite visible...

Over the horizon, but not quite visible…

Peeking through the clouds …

Brightening, but still chill ...

Brightening, but still chill …

Here the sun has risen and illuminates the ‘steam’ coming up from the surface waters which is really ice crystals.

Lovely reflection off Lake Michigan's surface ...

Lovely reflection off Lake Michigan’s surface …

This is just a clearer shot of the lake’s surface.

Last, but not least more surface detail.

Last, but not least more surface detail.

One of the things worth mentioning is that these were shot looking almost exactly due east, so you can see how much the sun has returned from its wintry trip down south. It is almost dead even on the horizon as it moves back north through spring and summer.

These photos were shot today, February first. Since the first of the year, we have added 13 minutes of daylight in the morning and 35 minutes in the afternoon, so we have a total of 48 more minutes of sunlight now than we did when the year started. Things are looking up.

Tony

Another January Morning

Here is another January morning sunrise. I wondered if the weather had anything to do with it.

Chicago has been suffering from the arrival of winter. “Chicago’s coldest blast of air in 2 years is easing—but slowly. By midnight Tuesday, the area moved into a 55th consecutive hour of sub-20-degree thermometer readings and 46 hours with wind chills below zero. Tuesday’s 11-degree high and 1-below morning low put the day into the record books as the city’s coldest of the past two years,” according to the blog of Tom Skilling, the awesome local meteorologist.

tues

In this frigid weather, what looks like steam coming up off the surface of the lake is actually ice crystals.

Tony

January Morning

I don’t know what it is about January, but it seems to generate some of the more dramatic sunrises of the year. This was earlier in the current week.

IMG_1808

This reminds me of paintings I have seen and loved, dramatic, powerful, enlightening, uplifting.

Ice Mosaic

The normal high temperature in Chicago in January is around 32 F. Last week we had several days where temps ranged up into the 50’s. As a result the usually frozen solid surface of Lake Michigan yielded.

I think the resulting ice mosaic is kind of cool.

ice mosaic

The sun  had risen an hour or so earlier, but was hiding in the clouds. I saw this on my morning bike ride.

Carmen Fantasy – Doc Severinsen

Carmen was the first opera I ever attended and it remains my favorite. I wish there were some fascinating video to go along with this music, but I consider myself lucky to have found it. I first heard this piece by Doc Severinsen on an airplane on my way to Las Vegas years ago. It took me over a week to track down the CD. Trumpet Spectacular has Doc doing only selections like this from operas.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the opera.

Carmen is an opera in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, on 3 March 1875, and was not at first particularly successful; its initial run extended to 36 performances. Before this run was concluded, Bizet died suddenly, and thus knew nothing of the opera’s later celebrity. Bizet died on his sixth wedding anniversary, exactly three months after Carmen’s first performance

The opera, written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue, tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naive soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen’s love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality and lawlessness, and the tragic outcome in which the main character dies on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial. After the premiere most reviews were critical, and the French public was generally indifferent. Carmen initially gained its reputation through a series of productions outside France, and was not revived in Paris until 1883; thereafter it rapidly acquired celebrity at home and abroad, and continues to be one of the most frequently performed operas; the “toreador’s song” from act 2 is among the best known of all operatic arias. Later commentators have asserted that Carmen forms the bridge between the tradition of opéra comique and the realism or verismo that characterised late 19th-century Italian opera.

Wikipedia continues, “The music of Carmen has been widely acclaimed for its brilliance of melody, harmony, atmosphere and orchestration, and for the skill with which Bizet represented musically the emotions and suffering of his characters. After the composer’s death the score was subject to significant amendment, including the introduction of recitative in place of the original dialogue; there is no standard edition of the opera, and differences of view exist as to what versions best express Bizet’s intentions. The opera has been recorded many times since the first acoustical recording in 1908, and the story has been the subject of a large number of screen and stage adaptions.”

I think every man has encountered at least one version of Carmen in his life. I know I did and it took me years to get over her. She is an archetypal character brought to life in this powerful opera.

Tony

Saint Preux – Concert Pour une Voix – Some Really Beautiful Music

I was introduced to Saint Preux’s Concert Pour Une Voix years ago by my then girlfriend, Joanne. I never new if Saint Preux was the artist, singer or composer. I only knew I had never heard anything as beautiful in my life. If you love it, there is an album by the same name.

Wikipedia says, “Saint-Preux (born 1950) is a French composer of contemporary classical music which also combines elements from popular music and electronic music.By 1968 he had already released several 45 rpm recordings of his compositions, including Une étrange musique (A Strange Music) which reached #71 on the French charts that year. In August 1969, he took part in Poland’s Sopot International Song Festival with his first major composition La valse de l’enfance (The Waltz of Youth). The song was Luxembourg’s entry in the festival and was sung by Henri Seroka with Saint-Preux conducting the symphony orchestra. The song won the Grand Prix de la Presse award at the festival and was released in that same year on Seroka (Festival FX 1583) and as a single on the EMI/Odeon label.[6][7] While in Poland he composed what was to become his biggest hit, Concerto pour une Voix (Concerto for One Voice).

When Saint-Preux returned to France, René Boyer, head of the music publishers Fantasia, took him under his wing and arranged to have Concerto pour une Voix recorded. Although originally written as a purely instrumental work for trumpet and strings, Saint-Preux heard the French singer, Danielle Licari rehearsing in another studio and decided to record it with her voice taking the part of the trumpet using a vocalise technique (similar to scat singing in jazz). The song, released on the Disc’AZ label in 1969, made both her career and his. In a few months it had sold over 3,000,000 copies in France alone, and gained recognition outside of France as well. In the week of August 22, 1970 it entered the charts in Mexico at #10 and Japan at #20, eventually winning a Gold disc and a Japanese “Oscar” for the best original music.

What do you think?

Tony

January Sunrise

After a series of unpicturesque mornings, January fifth offered a dramatic contrast.

 

Just before cracking the horizon

Just before cracking the horizon

This was several minutes later:
sun

Good morning, sun.

Worth the wait

Worth the wait

I wonder what it is about January that brings about such dramatic displays.

Tony

Oldies but Goodies

I was just doing some year end housecleaning and ran across these two photos that I had previously sent to friends. Thought they looked good enough to share with you.

The first was a spectucular December morning.

Awesome array of colors

Awesome array of colors

The second was a photo I took one morning walking the dog. The sun hadn’t quite risen yet and there was one of those magical morning lights going on.

This is in Lakeshore East Park looking west

This is in Lakeshore East Park looking west around sunrise. The sun is coming up behind me.

Happy holidays, all!

Tony