Posted at 8:24 AM on July 29, 2011
by Brett Baldwin
We're taking a European vacation. Starting Monday, we'll highlight pieces that have been ascribed cities, (like Haydn's "London" Symphony and Mozart's "Prague" Symphony) on our 10 a.m. Morning Glories. It needn't stop there, though we also want to share your musical experiences abroad. Whether it's a professional orchestra, or a serendipitous encounter with an ensemble performing in public, we'd love to hear your favorite stories of music and beauty in far-flung lands.
Share your comments below, or on our Facebook page.
In the summer of 2000, my sister worked in Barcelona for a 6-week book conservation project. My mother and I went to visit, we rented a car, and traveled from Barcelona to A Coruña; via the north coast... or at least we tried. It was a long drive, and we ran out of time and needed to turn back before reaching our intended destination.
We went back toward Barcelona via the overland route, and stopped in some of the bigger cities along the way; one of them being Burgos. It was early, and we were looking for Breakfast (we joked: perhaps a Burgos King croissan'wich?). We were walking around the Plaza Cathedral and ran into three gentlemen, arms around each other, serenading some lucky soul in the apartments above.
They were probably drunk, but they sounded amazing. None of us could identify the music, so I snapped a photo, and shortly thereafter we found some coffee and pastries and we talked about how you just never see that sort of thing in the U.S. (or at least in the midwest).
My husband and I were in London last fall. After a visit to the National Gallery, we wandered into the Church of St. Martin in the Field, where a choir rehearsal was taking place. They were singing plainchant, and the acoustics made the music magical and even slightly eerie, as if we had been transported back in time. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Eleven years ago, my husband Richard and I had only just met on a choir tour to England. We went on a “date” for church at St. Paul’s in London. The choir was just lovely. After the service, they gave a sort of postlude mini-concert as many people were walking out, so I popped closer up front to get a better listen. Richard was following me and a gentleman stopped him and said “Your lady is an enthusiast!” I don’t think Richard quite knew yet that I was his “lady,” but that comment has cracked us up to this day.
When I was 14 I went on a trip with my family through France and into Spain. I remember Paris especially on that trip, and the endless walking that we did. On one lovely, sunny walk, which I remember being at Montmartre, we happened upon a brass quartet performing what I later learned to be Rennaisnace motets. There were a few people there listening, and others strolling through, but the music was absolutely lovely. They had cassette tapes for sale, which we bought, and would listen to for years as a memory of that quiet, lovely chamber concert that we stumbled upon in Paris.
When traveling in a new city, we like to go hear the orchestra if we can. Last November we were in Madrid, and went on a Friday night to the National Symphony Orchestra of Spain. (OCNE)
We had tried to hear some flamenco music all week, but had no luck. One place was closed on night we went. Another started so late we had to pack it in; we were too tired after midnight. Another time, we went by a place, and it looked like the cast was all outside the club on a smoke break. One of the group said to us "no more music." Real hit or miss.
So we went to this orchestral concert, where there was a pair of new Spanish pieces, and El Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla. The soloist was the real star.... Estrella Morente. Little did we know she is a star in Spain, and from from a celebrated Flamenco family. She sang this new suite of Spanish songs by Joan Albert Amargos; songs that everyone in the audience must have known cause they got such an emotional response. They were composed/arranged in this big cinematic style, and her earthy and ethereal voice floated above the rich, colorful orchestral texture.
She is the REAL deal, and a justly celebrated as a big deal in Spain. Gorgeous, dramatic, earthy and so strong. I can still see her presence on stage and hear that powerful voice. She was great and appropriately dramatic in Falla, too.
She's all over You Tube.
Sometimes you take a chance on a concert, and absolutely luck out. Just another Friday night in Madrid.
Italy is so gorgeous, I feel I should always be hearing beautiful music there.
In 2005, in Venice, I was astounded to hear Vivaldi's Four Seasons coming from somewhere as I walked from Piazza San Marco to the Academia Galleries. I came to a campo and followed the sounds to what looked like a church. Inside, there were display cases of period string instruments. The church was now a museum. In Italy, everything is recycled!
In 2010, in Assisi, as I passed a restuarant, there were Oriental gentleman topping off their lunch by singing opera. They had grand voices. Only in Italy!