Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jeanette in Europe

Recently, while I was overseas, I had two of those experiences common to Kiwis abroad, of running into people you know in completely unexpected places. Jim and I were sitting in Auckland airport waiting for our flight to the USA when I noticed Folole Togiatama (a sop. from the CDC) who was waiting for her flight to England. We both agreed that it was quite a coincidence that we'd actually been in the same place on the same day at the same time.

However, stranger things were to happen as, several weeks later, when I was walking past Clifford's Tower in York with some friends, I happened to glance at a group of people who were passing in the opposite direction and there was Jane Edwards!! Of course there were shrieks of astonishment and hugs and then we had to take a photo to prove it had happened. It was really amazing because Jane had been traveling around Europe and Britain for several months and we both found it hard to believe that we would both be in York at the same time on the same day. Not such a big world after all!!Jeanette McQuilland and Jane Edwards with companions.
Jim and I spent a few days in Vienna on our travels and were lucky enough to enjoy a couple of musical experiences which I thought might fill a few lines in the newsletter!!

Friends booked us tickets to a Mozart/Strauss evening and I must admit that both Jim and I were rather ho hum about it as the Strauss component consisted of polkas and waltzes. "A concert for tourists," we sniffed "and SO expensive at 52 euros per person." However, the performance was of such a high standard that it proved to be one of the highlights of our trip. I loved the Mozart arias performed by a variety of young singers from the Hofburg Opera Company. The large hall which had been part of the Hofburg Imperial Palace (The Hofburg Redoutensaal) was packed with tourists, different languages being spoken all around us, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and I thought it was a wonderful example of how music can bring different cultures together. The Hofburg Palace in Vienna.We felt privileged to be sitting in a place where Beethoven's "8th Symphony" and Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" had been premiered. The young Mozart had played there in 1783.

Our second night in Vienna was an open air experience. We sat among several thousand people on free seats set out in front of the Rathaus (isn't that a great name for a Town Hall!!) and watched an hour long movie of a Barcelona concert given by Cecilia Bartoli.The Rathaus in Vienna.

It was a warm, still evening. On our knees we had our dinner (bought from one of the many food stalls set up to cater for the thousands of tourists who thronged in the area every night) and our beer was under our seats. Even Jim managed to cope with an hour of opera and didn't nod off once!

So now we are back home with new experiences to mull over and hopefully we're a bit more informed about some other cultures and the things that they value. It's certainly true that music unites diverse cultures in a unique way. What a pity that our so called "leaders" don't utilize it rather than resorting to weapons to make their impact on the world.

Jeanette McQuillan, Soprano

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