Human Towers are very popular in the province of Catalonia. While I was in Barcelona, I lived in a family-oriented area called Gràcia. Every second Sunday, the people of Gràcia would gather to witness the building of a castell. The goal is to assemble and dissemble a tower without falling. Usually, a small child is sent to the top of the tower and raises four fingers to represent the flag of Catalonia. The castell originated at the end of the eighteenth century in the city of Valls, near the city of Tarragona.
In 1887, the Crystal Palace opened in Parque del Buen Retiro to exhibit plants from the Philippines. Today, it houses art exhibits.
by Sam McDonald
One of the many gardens in Parque del Buen Retiro
The Buen Retiro Park is a large (350 acres) public park in Madrid. It used to belong to the Royal Family until 1868. It features multiple gardens, statues, man-made lakes, and art exhibits.
One of many beautiful structures in Riga
The old city of Freistadt is nestled within the walls of the old Castle. Until now this is definitely the most picturesque town that we have visited, and the rainy, overcast conditions made for the perfect pre-cursor to our best concert yet in the Liebefrau Church, just outside the Caste walls. Our guest performer for the evening, Petra Wurz, played the Concerto Pastorale for two recorders with Professor Leenhouts and the ensemble, much to the delight of the local audience. The concert concluded with a fantastic reception organized by Bernhard Prammer, but we retired early since we have another big day of travelling and a performance in Baumgartenberg.
Untill next time,
What a sight! We arrived at the train station with a free day of exploring ahead of us, and once we settled in at our host (and guest performer) Karin Hagender´s appartment we took to the streets of Vienna, more specifically to the Schönbrunn Palace, where we spent the rest of the day walking around in the gardens.
It is the end of a really long last day in Passau, but all of us agree that it has been a perfect start to an amazing trip. This morning we performed a shortened program in a full St.Stephan´s Dom cathedral, which was received with applause, uncommon for a performance during mass. After a hearty lunch the string players and faculty left for final preparation for the recorder workshop concert. The soloists all played fantastically, and after the second successful concert of the day we had a farewell party close to the centre of the old town. Passau, we will miss you and the wonderfull friends we made here; our dampened mood is lifted though by the exciting prospect of leaving for Vienna tomorrow morning.
Until next time,
Fantasmi has arrived in Europe! What a wonderful opportunity for students of early music to experience the birthplace of our repertoire first hand, and also to perform it in the venues it was composed for. Our first stop is the beautiful town of Passau on the border between Germany and Austria. It is cradled by the three rivers meeting on the corner of the old city, at what is called in German “Drei Ecken Flüße” or three corner river. We are in Passau for almost a week, spending our time on final preparations for our first concert, while also acting as the orchestra for the international Recorder workshop held here annually by our director Professor Leenhouts, with the help of Inge Reinelt (also the guest performer at our first concert) and the Städtische Musikschule Passau. This workshop has become a mainstay in the Passau early music calendar, and the addition of an orchestra to accompany the eight international soloists took the workshop to a next level. The participants are from all over Europe, and although they are of varied technical levels, they are very well prepared and rehearsing with them is a pleasant experience. We have our first concert in the little town of Vornbach am Inn at the Maria Himmelfahrt Church. The acoustics are a lot wetter than we are used to (the church has a 14 second reverb!!), which makes a huge difference when you are playing with a smaller group. But since we are playing a program of works mainly composed in these areas by the composers who lived here, it should be easy to be inspired by the incredible architecture of our first venue…
I will post again soon to give an update on the workshop and also on our concert in the awe inspiring st. Stephan’s Dom.