Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Concert Series at St. Paul’s Catholic Church

We had a delightful evening last night at St. Paul’s Catholic Church as several young people presented an evening of Baroque music. It started at seven, while the sky was still full of light, and you could see all the beauty of the renovation. Even though the renovation has been finished for months, it still smells new, and they must have use cedar extensively; it smells wonderful. The stained glass windows are beautiful with the end-of-day light streaming through. St. Paul’s windows are very Catholic; I especially liked the Mary-Queen-of-Heaven window, and the angels flanking the central altar.

As the light outside dwindled and darkened, the church’s interior lighting came more to notice, subtle and enhancing. The performing group also used candles, which contributed to a more intimate feeling in a very large church.

The music was lively, and played with passion and accuracy. Bach, Vivaldi, Rameau – it sparkled with life. They finished up with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto Number 3 in G Major, and left us all on a music high.

What I really liked, at this concert in a church not my own, is that the players are unashamedly evangelizing, but they keep it light and subtle. There was a really good crowd, as the announcer mentioned, not something that can be counted on in Pensacola on a hot summer evening. The performers participate regularly in the weekly Catholic masses, and gave a plug, but it wasn’t hard core, it was more presentation of an opportunity, a drawing in. I admire their technique, and their devotion. We enjoyed the venue, and the atmosphere, and the sincerity.

We will be going back for further concerts; they are planning one for July and one for August. They advertise frequently and well, in the Pensacola News Journal, which was how we heard about it. There was no charge for the concert, but a donation basket was available at the entry to the concert. 🙂

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Beauty, Community, Cultural, Living Conditions, Music, Pensacola, Public Art, Spiritual | 3 Comments

A Different Kind of Sadly Hilarious

I was just checking if there might be anything on TV tonight worth watching, and I got caught watching – in horror and fascination – Rock Pop and Do-Wop, on National Public Television.

Horrified – because these 60’s and 70’s bands are playing to full concert houses full of people who look OLD like my parents – oh wait – they look like me! Horrors! The music still makes me feel like a teenager! All these people in the audience are looking like true believers, singing along with the songs, getting up and dancing, like they can’t resist the music. No dignity! They are acting like teenagers! Horrors! I still know all the words, even to songs I don’t even remember any more, once they play the first few notes, I know all the words!

Hilarious, because these acts have to strain a little to hit all the notes, but most of them have had eye-lifts, and some of them can even still dance. They can still rock the songs, and they are totally wowing the audience. The hair styles – so awful they are almost cool again. It’s just wrong to have OLD people singing these young love songs.

Poison Ivy! One Fine Day! Blue Moon! I Only Have Eyes for You! Step-by-Step! This Magic Moment! Only You! Twilight Time! The Great Pretender! (Holy Smokes!The audience is going crazy!)

The costumes – oh my heavens. I remember when my high school BF was in a band and my father was horrified by his turquoise blue band jacket, and now . . . I can sort of see what he meant. Pretty awful, but oh – what fun. I remember the fights over whether we should be listening to this music, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the bad boys of rock. They all look so innocent a hundred years later.

There is a part of me that is still 12 years old, listening to this music, and there is a part of me watching me watch the program that is horrified at my fascination.

June 9, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Cultural, Entertainment, Generational, Music | , , , | 2 Comments

An Ad that is a Total WOW

At first you don’t know what is going on. Keep watching. This ad is a total WOW. Thank you, Kit-Kat, for sending.

May 22, 2011 Posted by | Beauty, Marketing, Music | 2 Comments

Holy Week Evensong at Christ Church, Pensacola

My favorite service of all, Evensong. Everything is just moving along, peacefully, penitentially, as we enter Holy Week, when all of a sudden, the choir is singing Gounod, the Jerusalem anthem from Gallia. Oh, WOW! Gounod makes me grin, and he moves me. Gounod . . . Gounod ROCKS!

And here you can here the anthem:

I was introduced to Gounod in Doha. Our priest, Ian Young, led a group called the Doha Singers, and he chose challenging music. We learned Gounod’s Mass for St. Cecelia, and the music is the kind that gets into your blood. I couldn’t get enough of it. I never get sick of it. Gounod is music with a sense of drama and a sense of humor about itself. I think it is his sense of timing, how you hold a note just a little longer than you would expect, and then rollick on to the next. I had never heard this piece before, but Gounod is so individual, so unique – it had to be Gounod.

It was a perfect evening, a lovely service, and the sun shone in through the cross as it set:

At the end, we sang one of my very favorite hymns, The Day Thou Gavest Lord, is Ended:

I admit it, I am pretty tough, but these words make me weak and weepy:

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

All in all, a lovely day. Our son joined us for the first episode of The Game of Thrones on HBO. He’s read all the books, I am on book 2, and AdventureMan is reading the first book, the one on which this series is based. Great way to begin our week. 🙂

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Easter, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Music, Pensacola, Spiritual | Leave a comment

Chamber Music Concerts at Old Christ Church

AdventureMan and I have discovered a concert series we really like. The University of West Florida Music Department has a chamber music series, giving students a chance to play publicly, and offering chamber music lovers (moi) a chance to see and hear them perform in a delightfully intimate setting, old Christ Church in downtown Pensacola. It’s so far downtown that it’s almost on the waterfront.

The concerts take place once a month, Wednesdays at noon, and are FREE. There is a donation container in the entry at Christ Church but there is no one shaking it or looking at you meaningfully. If you can’t make a donation, the donation police are not going to hunt you down.

Meanwhile, if you show up for these concerts, you are in for a treat. The Director of the chamber music program, Hedi Salanki-Rubardt, gives her students a lot of leeway, and a lot of inspiration, and you can see they truly love what they are doing, and enjoy being a part of the program.


Giustino Carrano – tuba


Matthew DeDowell – trombone


Allison Gilliard- soprano Marshall Corzette – baritone


Lynsey Boothe – steel drum

You don’t usually think of a steel drum as a traditional chamber music instrument, but Hedi Salanki played the harpsichord, and Lynsey Boothe played the steel drum and they rocked Vivaldi. It was a lot of fun.

March 8, 2011 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Music, Pensacola | 3 Comments

A Horse, A Helper, A Harp

This is one of our readings for today, from The Lectionary:

James 2:14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters,* if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

When I read it, I took it personally. In last night’s concert, several of the tunes were by an Irish composer, Turlough O’Carolan, considered the last great Irish harp composer. He came from a poor family, given work and help by a Mrs. MacDermottRoe, who educated Turlough and saw promise in him. He was blinded by smallpox at eighteen.

Imagine. 18 years old. Blind. It could embitter you for life.

Mrs. MacDermottRoe gave Turlough “a horse, a helper and a harp” and Turlough went out to make his living by composing tunes and setting poetry to them, earning his keep by composing for individual patrons and by performing at events like weddings and funerals.

What a wonderful, great act of faith! She didn’t say “Peace be with you and good luck!” She gave him a means to support himself and trusted that he would make use of it. He was a prolific composer, and his works are often played today. When I read today’s reading in James, it just reinforced the message. Mrs. MacDermottRoe put her faith into action, changed a young man’s life and gave a great gift to the world.

You can read more about Turlough O’Conner at Wikipedia: Turlough O’Carolan or at a biographical website, where you can hear one of his tunes while you read.

November 15, 2010 Posted by | Biography, Character, Charity, Entertainment, Music, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Sweet Prospect: Music At Christ Church

I remember when I lived in Qatar, and Kuwait, and then Qatar again, how I would read about something in the paper – the day after it happened. The things I did go to – and there were some spectacular events in Qatar – were mostly word of mouth, a personal invitation, very few cultural events were well advertised.

Not so in Pensacola. There is a wonderful Symphony, truly wonderful. There is an Opera, and several theatres, and even a Pensacola Ballet. And there is Music at Christ Church.

Yes, I am partial. We attend Christ Church, and I always love a concert where the surrounding is so beautiful. Tonight’s concert was irresistible – hammered dulcimers. Hammered dulcimers! Some of the earliest music in our country was hammered dulcimer. Lucky for me, AdventureMan loves music, and was as eager as I was to go to this concert.

So off to church in the morning, then meet up with our son and his wife – who ran the half marathon today, HOOOO-AHH! And of course, our darling little grandson, who wants nothing to do with me these days, not when there is AdventureMan, the original fun-guy. Famous Dave’s Barbeque, a wonderful meal with a truly great waiter, patient, kind, didn’t mind a baby and four dawdling adults – good fun, good conversation, good food, and then off to the concert.

The sun started setting around 3:30, and the concert began in the dimmed church around 4. It was sheer magic. The group, Sweet Prospect, is so talented, and their music is so lovingly performed. Melissa Allured plays the recorder as well as most of the melodies in the selections they played today, Sheryl Bragwell plays the hammered dulcimer and a bowed psaltery, and Gary Diamond backs them up with guitar. They played a wide variety of tunes; Scottish, Irish, early American, even a very Wyndham Hill sounding piece from a Lopez Island (Washington State) artist Gary Haggerty, called Coffee American, which was lively and quick.


(angel playing Psaltery)

I have a complaint. The concert was only an hour long. I could have listened longer. But oh, what a wonderful hour it was! I love the Music at Christ Church program. There is a suggested donation for the concert, but if you can’t afford the $10 donation, no one is standing there scowling if you want to come into the church and hear some great music. There is a bowl out for collecting the donation, people toss their donation in and sit down. The concerts are also sponsored by several levels of music lovers at Christ Church who are patrons of the arts, and contribute generously so that these opportunities are available to the Pensacola community. How cool is that?

The good news is that on the Sweet Prospects website you can also listen to some of their recordings, and you can buy their CD’s. THIS IS IMPORTANT, ADVENTUREMAN! The one I really really want is called Cold Frosty Morn. If you go to their website, it tells you how to order it, or you can find one of the bookstores in Pensacola that sells it. (hint hint) It is Christmas music. If you want to go listen to a tune or two by Sweet Prospects, click on the blue type above, and listen away. 🙂 If you live in Pensacola, and you want to learn to play the dulcimer – or several other early musical instruments – there is a group that welcomes you and will teach you how. Learn to play hammered dulcimer – in Pensacola. I am blown away.

It’s just been such a great day, full of church, family and culture. We are so glad to be in Pensacola.

I just wish Sweet Prospects would be picked up to be sent on a cultural tour to our embassies in the Middle East. I wish our friends there, who love music, and who know the early musical instruments of the Middle East, could hear this music, and see these instruments, which are so similar. As I enjoyed every minute of this concert, I was wishing my Arab Gulf friends could be hearing it, too. This music is so American, and yet, you can hear the early strains of the Irish, the Scottish, and yes, even the sounds of the Holy Lands, brought back to Europe by the early crusaders.

November 14, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Music | Leave a comment

Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus at Macys in Philadelphia

What a great way to start my day! Thank you, Momcat, for this wonderful new cultural random happening, this time at a large Macy’s in Philadelphia. Of course, this music is one I put on if I am feeling down; it lifts me right back up. 🙂

November 9, 2010 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Entertainment, Events, Friends & Friendship, Fund Raising, Living Conditions, Music, Shopping, Spiritual | 9 Comments

Flash Brindisi

Why? Why? Why am I never at these places when these Flash events take place??? This took place April 24, 2010 at the Reading Terminal Market in Pennsylvania.

Hope this brightens your day as it did mine. I just love watching the crowd reaction, and you can see the opera singers are just having a ball with the whole scene. 🙂

July 15, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Entertainment, Events, Marketing, Music | Leave a comment

Get Him to the Greek

AdventureMan and I saw the most hilarious movie, Get Him to the Greek.

I don’t think this movie will ever show in Kuwait or in Qatar. It contains violence, drugs, alcohol abuse, nudity, gross sexual content – it could be incredibly offensive. Somehow, it manages to be totally hilarious, reminiscent of the old classic This is Spinal Tap It also manages to have some serious moments, and a hint of redemption.

A lovable but nerdy employee at a record company is assigned to fly to London, meet and accompany an aging rock star to a come-back concert in Los Angeles. There are multiple opportunities for disaster and unpredictable moments. No one can tell you how sad and funny and pathetic and disgusting and . . . well, mostly funny – this movie is going to be. Even the music the rock star sings is hilarious and totally made up for this movie.

Trust me, this is not a family movie. It is, as our son said, raunchy. You do not want to be with teens or adult children. It would be squirmingly uncomfortable. We found it hilarious.

June 4, 2010 Posted by | Cultural, Entertainment, Music | Leave a comment