This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Somewhere between poetry and insanity

wigmore

“Occupation is essential. And now with some pleasure I find that it’s seven; and I must cook dinner. Haddock and sausage meat. I think it is true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down”

(Virginia Woolf’s last diary entry before her suicide)

Somewhere between poetry and insanity tonight. Alice Coote sang Virginia Woolf’s diary entries, and letters from 19th century patients locked up at a mental illness asylum. “Strange Productions” was the aptly named title of the insanely poetic letters, commissioned by Wigmore Hall from Nico Muhly.

Wigmore Hall is a constant favorite. Not because of the (also insanely) beautiful venue, but because of the director and his creative team who commission modern classical pieces with a flair. Never bored here, although sometimes mindlessly enthralled.

(London, United Kingdom; January 2017)


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Interlude: above Russia

businessclassLovely ones, please rewind to mid-August with me. We are about 11 kilometers up in the air, flying over Nizhny Novgorod, skirting past thunder clouds scattered on both sides. Thunderbolts light up the dark above Russia. The time is 1.30 am. I am sipping a glass of ice wine and thinking about my flight out to Bali one year ago. I was in a low mood, pondering about pain and loss and the hardships of staying alive.

This year I indulged by upgrading to business class and stepping out in Singapore for a night. I am probably not going to need to mix melatonin with a martini like I did last year. And at least today I will not write about pain and losses and the hardships of living. Because life is so hard, I have become selfish. Because we all must put our own health and wellbeing first, we must also consider our own happiness first. There are few people in this world who put our own happiness first, so better not take the chance they are going to do it forever. longbarSo I do as I choose. I do as I please. I have been forced to trade off a huge chunk of my life, which definitely justifies some indulgence. And so I allow myself, without shame, to fly business to Bali to practise yoga, eat delicious raw food, spend time with myself and friends, and to be pampered by a luxurious spa in the jungle. And I will begin with having a Singapore Sling in the Raffles Long Bar with a couple of long-lost friends.

You should try it some time, too. longbar-2
(Above Russia and in Singapore; August 2016)


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Afternoon tea with Lady Georgiana Cavendish

afternoontea-2Lazy Sunday afternoon sunlight drizzled through a window and hit gold: her golden hair, golden violin strings, and golden decorations on the grand piano. There was lovely music in the air, and fluttering sleeves and rustling taffeta skirts. Lady Georgiana Cavendish was alive again just for this day – and she had brought her talented friends. And meringues. And tea cakes. And much humor.

Slowly sipping a fresh cup of darjeeling we enjoyed this parenthesis of a Sunday, an afternoon when time stood still. Where music and meringue towers were most important to all those present.afternoontea-1(Helsinki, Finland; October 2015)


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Interlude

halosenniemi-1It was sunlight of a tired day, still pushing through the old windows. It was words, and a cello. It was a bird on the roof, suddenly emerging through spoken letters and taking flight in the room. It was poetry and incredible voice artistry, the most unusual sounds from a cello, and a quirky violin.

Live today. Tomorrow you can’t anymore.halosenniemi-2(Halosenniemi, Tuusula, Finland; July 2015)


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Ready for tonight’s performance

Riga-4Red velvet, a huge crystal chandelier, and four kilograms of gold make worthy premises for tonight’s performance. How lovely it would be to sit up there on the first balcony when the first tunes for the Barber of Seville shoot into the air. But alas, it was not to be this time.

Upstairs was a gorgeous red room with high windows that was once used as the rehearsal room for the ballet. This time its walls heard the most soulful arias accompanied by a single piano. And this was no rehearsal but a lovely surprise. How lucky we were.

Riga-3(Latvian National Opera, Riga, Latvia; January 2015)


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Sibelius in the sunset

SibeliusWhen the September sun lay low over the wheat fields we drove into town for a moment of music. As the last light wandered across the window, the church filled with crisp snow falling, bears and wolves wandering in deep pine forests, Nordic mythical beings dancing, and always, always an ominous backdrop layered under a wistful allure.

Many composers painted feelings. Jean Sibelius covered the canvas with nature landscapes. Sitting in the church pew I wondered whether Sibelius was a painter or a composer. Perhaps he saw tones where painters saw colors. Perhaps he was the most skilled painter, able to do what canvas painters never could: a bear illustrated by sound will ultimately conjure an image of a live, moving bear in our minds.

While dusk overtook the sunset, the double basses unleashed the bear’s heavy walk in the woods, followed by the celloes that sketched a fox trotting over the grass. And then the creatures were gone, overtaken by the wind in the pine trees, and my contemplations of the sinister undertow and what the inner world of Sibelius must have contained.

(Loviisa, Finland; September 2014)


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Joining the Estonian madness

30secondstomarsShe only recently discovered them (“I’m slow to catch on” she admitted), and this experience junkie is always up for a good show and adventure. And so we chased 30 Seconds to Mars across the pond to Tallinn, Estonia. “Are you ready for a sing-along?” my sister asked. Yes, I was ready for some chanting of radio hits, but not this kind of sing-along. With mike or without mike. With band or with just a guitar. With fans on the stage and crazy giant balloon party in the audience.

30secondstomars-tourphoto

Tonight was not a concert from the band to the fans and audience. It was a concert with the band and fans and audience and an inspired, happy frenzy among Estonians, Finns, Russians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and a few other united nations gathered in Saku Suurhall.

The strangest thing happens when dark, moody lyrics are transformed by the spirit of a few thousand souls into a glowing ball of elated energy. It is a source of primeval core strength we rarely tap into in our sophisticated times. And colorful balloons are never wrong.

30secondstomars-1

(Saku Suurhall, Tallinn, Estonia; July 2014. Tour image courtesy of http://www.thirtysecondstomars.com)