Events

Alexandra Fits in concert in Medias

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending a concert given by Alexandra Fits in Medias, as part of the seventh edition of the annual Medieval Festival. Alexandra sang French songs, in a style reminiscent of Edith Piaf and Georges Moustaki. We were thrilled to hear and see how good she was, especially since we’d never heard of her before.

If you do a search for her on the internet, only a few hits come up. In an interview with Mircea Hodarnau (from Radio Ring) after the concert, she admitted she needs to work on her internet presence, but knows little about how to do that. She has a MySpace page, where a few of her songs are posted, and there are a few videos on YouTube as well.

Thanks to a collaboration between Mircea Hodarnau and the nice folks at Nova TV, I’m thrilled to let you watch what we heard the night of the concert. They’ve posted the full length concert on YouTube, and I think you’ll agree that Alexandra Fits has a talent for music that more people ought to hear.

Let’s hope we see and hear more of her! I for one would love to buy a CD of her music, but she hasn’t yet published one.

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Events

Charity Christmas concert at Sala Traube, Medias

Yesterday, the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Medias gave a charity Christmas concert at Sala Traube. The entry was free, but a call for donations was made halfway through the concert. All proceeds went to U.A.M.S. (Unitatea de Asistenta Medico-Sociala), a charitable institution run by City Hall, which provides medical and living assistance to the poor and the needy.

A large, 54-person choir, in which my wife participated, sang Christmas carols accompanied by piano and violin. The repertoire was as follows:

  • O, ce veste minunata
  • Crestini din toata zarea
  • Noaptea de vis
  • Spre Betleem treceau pastori
  • O, Betleem din tinutul Iuda
  • Intr-o iesle colo jos
  • Dinspre stele
  • Niste soapte
  • Pentru noi veni
  • O, Betleem
  • Musical Bells
  • Azi avem Mantuitor
  • S-a nascut azi Domnul Sfant
  • Cantati-I popoarelor
  • Tatal nostru

I am happy to announce that over 200 people were in attendance, and over 5,000 RON were raised for UAMS. (That’s about $1,700 USD at the current exchange rate.) That’s a really good sum considering it was raised in a small city, and in Romania.

You can watch the entire concert below, on blip.tv, or on YouTube in five parts (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5). Merry Christmas!

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Events

Ecumenical Christmas concert at Margarethenkirche, Medias

This past week, churches of several religious denominations from the city of Medias got together and gave a wonderful Christmas concert, as they’ve done every year since 1989, at Margarethenkirche (Church of St. Margaret). It took place on Wednesday evening, December 16, 2009. I recorded video sequences from the concert, which you can see below. While I couldn’t record it in its entirety, I know a professional video team was on site with two cameras, and they’ll make their edited video available to the public in the near future, possibly even this week.

I need to apologize for the quality of the video… At the time, I had a cold, and was literally shivering up there in the drafty upper level, trying to hold the camera steady. It didn’t work very well, so the video sequences are quite shaky. I had to leave early, too, as I felt a fever coming on and didn’t want to make things worse. At least I stuck around until the choir in which my wife participated sang their carols (Seventh-day Adventist Church of Medias).

http://blip.tv/file/2997380
Watch this video on blip.tv

At the end of the concert, selected choristers from each church choir sang together in a unified, ecumenical choir. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around for that, but my wife sang in that choir, and she said it sounded heavenly. By the way, in the video, my wife is the very pretty, curly-headed girl on whom I kept focusing my camera. 🙂

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Events

Paula Seling in concert, Medias

Paula Seling, a very well-known Romanian pop star, gave a Christmas concert yesterday evening, December 14, at Sala Traube, a venue in Medias, Romania. We were in attendance, and I recorded most of the songs she sang on my cameraphone. You can watch the video below.

Paula is my wife’s favorite singer. Ligia has followed her progress from the start of her solo career, and has always told me that Paula is the most talented singer in Romania. After tonight’s performance, I agree.

The concert began with a few Christmas carols, after which Paula launched into a great mix of new and old music, including a few songs from her newest album, “Believe“, which came out earlier this year. The show was great. Paula’s performance was consistent, and she established a wonderful rapport with the audience. She got a standing ovation at the end, and she sang a beautiful song for an encore — I’ll let you watch it for yourselves in the videos.

Watch the videos on YouTube in five parts (part 1part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5)

If you’d like more information about Paula Seling, then her website is definitely the place to go. She has both English and Romanian versions of her site, each loaded with tons of goodies. In a move I found unusual but very welcome, she has posted her entire discography online, and each song is recorded in both English and Romanian. In other words, you can listen to samples from each of her songs in both languages. That must have taken a significant, sustained long-term effort, and I applaud her for that.

Paula also deserves applause for being so gracious and welcoming after the show. My wife wanted to meet her and give her one of her quilling pieces, as a way of saying thank you for her wonderful music. Adrian Matei facilitated the meeting, and we are very grateful to him for doing so. Paula agreed, and was thrilled when she saw what Ligia had prepared for her. I took this photo of the two of them together as we said our goodbyes and wished her the best for the future.

Ligia and Paula Seling, on December 14, 2009, Sala Traube, Medias, Romania.
Ligia and Paula Seling, on December 14, 2009, Sala Traube, Medias, Romania.
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Events

Acapella at Margarethenkirche, Medias

Acapella, a Romanian choral group, gave a Christmas concert at Margarethenkirche (St. Margaret’s Church) in Medias, Romania, on December 12, 2009. They were accompanied on the organ by Remus Henning, an organist of international renown.

I recorded most of the songs on my cameraphone and embedded the video below.

You can also watch this video on YouTube in three parts (part 1, part 2, part 3).

The songs/carol selections were as follows:

  • Ave Maria
  • Vestea Nasterii
  • O, Ce Veste Minunata
  • Stille Nacht
  • Joy to the World
  • Steaua Sus Rasare
  • Noi in Seara de Craciun
  • Mos Craciun
  • Panis Angelicus
  • Trei Crai de la Rasarit
  • Sus Boieri
  • O, Tannenbaum
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • Cantec Bavarez
  • Colo-n Susu
  • Deck the Halls
  • O, Du Froliche
  • Adeste Fideles

Other concerts I attended at St. Margaret’s church this year were:

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Events

Brasov Opera Orchestra concert at Sighisoara

We attended a wonderful concert last night, given by the Brasov Opera Orchestra in Sighisoara (Schassburg), at Casa de Cultura Mihai Eminescu, an old venue at the foot of the Sighisoara Castle. Sighisoara is a medieval city in the province of Transilvania, Romania.

There were two soloists: Cristian Braica, a wonderful Romanian contrabassist now based in Frankfurt, and Felicia Filip, a famous Romanian soprano of international renown. As the Opera Director aptly put it, the concert was an early Christmas celebration. The pieces were fantastic — classical hits imbued with solid rhythm, practiced to perfection. We were strongly impressed with the quality of the performance. In my opinion, this is a world class orchestra.

I recorded highlights of the 1 ½ hour concert with my N95 and uploaded the edited video clips (in two parts) to my SmugMug video log. They’re also available on YouTube in twoparts, and on blip.tv. Enjoy.

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Events

Organ concert at Biserica Sf. Margareta

All summer long, the city of Medias sponsored weekly organ concerts at the oldest church in town, Biserica Sf. Margareta (Margarethenkirche). Medias is a medieval city in the province of Transilvania, Romania.

The concerts were held every Monday night at 7 pm. We attended one of them on September 7, 2009. A wide selection of music was played for 1 ½ hours, from medieval pieces to Bach, and all the way to a modern piece written in the 1940s. I lost the program note, so I can’t go into the details, but overall, the concert was good, and some pieces were great. I’m definitely looking forward to attending more of these recitals next summer.

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Events

The Gipsy Kings in concert at Wolf Trap

We just got back from the Gipsy Kings concert at Wolf Trap. It was as fun as we expected it to be, and more! I’d never seen them in concert before, and neither had my wife, so nothing prepared us for the ebullient barrage of seven guitars playing in unison. It’s a unique experience, one that you must see to understand. You just don’t get the same effect when you listen to them on a CD. Trust me on this.

The weather was perfect and the venue was great. If you have a chance to see the Gipsy Kings at Wolf Trap, go, today (as I write this, it’s just past midnight). They’re having another concert this evening (Friday), and if you can get seats, go. These are some of the most inexpensive tickets you can buy to go see them on their US tour this summer. While tickets sell for up to $2,000 at other venues, we were able to get orchestra seats for $40 per person at Wolf Trap. That’s a bargain!

I recorded video sequences of the concert, only to have my camera play games with me. First it kept telling me that my freshly charged battery was empty, then it corrupted a few of the video clips I recorded… At least I managed to salvage enough video clips to put together the video you see below. Trust me, the video doesn’t do them justice. They had us dancing on our feet most of the time. People were yelling and whistling and dancing and clapping like there was no tomorrow. My palms are still sore from all that clapping.

Download Gipsy Kings in Concert (M4V, 720×540, 1:28) or view at YouTube or Vimeo

I apologize for not being able to keep the video camera steady. It’s hard to do it while dancing. Enjoy! 🙂

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Events

BSO's Annual Donor Thank You Concert

Tuning up

Ligia and I attended the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra‘s 2007 Annual Donor Thank You Concert last night. It was held at Strathmore Concert Hall. Pete & Nicole, thank you for the tickets! It was simply amazing.

I realized two things during the concert:

  1. The older I get, the more I appreciate classical music.
  2. The BSO is very good.

Ligia and I both grew up listening to classical music. Ligia studied at music schools since the age of 6, and she finished the conservatory in 2004, after having studied voice and piano. Her appreciation runs much deeper than mine. She actually gets goose bumps while she listens to good music. It’s kind of funny. I can always tell when a piece of music is great by looking at her skin. If she’s got goose bumps, it’s gotta be good. Well, last night she practically broke out in goose bumps…

There was always a huge (and growing) stack of classical music records by our pickup player during my childhood. If I wanted music, I got Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Paganini, Tchaikovsky, Haydn, Handel, Strauss, Brahm, Vivaldi, Verdi, Rossini, Pacabel, Enescu, Porumbescu, Bizet — well, you get the point. I’ve always liked good classical music. But the older I get, the more I relate to it. It speaks to me. It resonates within my body, my soul, and my mind. I appreciate it on more levels. Never did I realize this more poignantly than last night.

We spent the first half on one of the upper levels, and we snuck down to the orchestra seats during the intermission. We felt a little guilty, but after all, it was general seating, and those seats weren’t being used. No point in letting great seats go to waste, right?

Orchestra seats

The BSO played Tchaikovsky. They started with the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, then continued with Variations on a Rococo Theme, opus 33, and after the intermission, finished with Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, opus 64.

At Strathmore, photography isn’t allowed during performances. I was good and obeyed the rules. But before the show and during the intermission, I took out my 5D and 24mm prime lens, and took photos of the hall and of the public. Strathmore is quite beautiful. It’s got a modern design, quite different from traditional concert halls, and they’ve had to add floating, adjustable acoustic panels to the ceiling to make sure sound travels properly. They’ve done a good job with that, and the sound quality is pretty consistent between the upper and lower levels. I love the warm colors of the wood floor and panels. That, coupled with the open feel of the place, gives it a really nice atmosphere.

Polite conversation

A highly unusual thing happened during the performance. Because of the severe rainstorm outside, the power went out for a few seconds right in the middle of the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony. The entire concert hall was pitch black, save for the red, glowing Exit signs. Do you know what the BSO did? They kept on playing right through the power outage as if everything was alright! They did not miss a beat! Now that’s professionalism! This also underscores one of the advantages of using acoustic instruments. No power outage can put them out!

You know what they say, right? Start strong, finish strong. Well, the BSO most certainly did that. We were on our feet by the end, giving the orchestra a standing ovation, along with everyone else. During the performance, Ligia and I kept looking at each other and smiling. Normally, my obsessive-compulsive mind keeps its manic wheels turning all the time. Even when I dream, I have parallel dreams, and I find myself half awake in the early hours of the morning, trying to force my brain to skip back to the more interesting dream… When I’m supposedly relaxed, tons of thoughts run through and I can’t keep still. Even when I want to think about nothing, I can’t. I’m telling you all of this because I managed to find clarity during the concert. There were long moments when the music passed right through me, clearing my mind. I could focus on just one thing at a time — on enjoying the music — and that was really something. I tell you, those moments are rare for me! What a concert! What a fantastic performance, especially during the symphony!

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