Bill Murray and Classical Music?

I attended a unique concert that paired Bill Murray orating and singing American classics with three musicians performing classical and musical theater hits. I was intrigued and slightly skeptical going in and satisfied and elated going out.

The crew is touring for an album they released called New Worlds. Bill Murray reads and sometimes acts out excerpts of the writing of Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Billy Collins. In between his orations, Jan Vogler, Mira Wang, and Vanessa Perez perform excerpts of works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Schubert, and Maurice Ravel. I was impressed by the power of Bill’s singing voice. The man has pipes.

Bill was himself…comedic and goofy one minute, deadpan and apathetic the next. The musicians were superb and treated their instruments like living, breathing things. They got the audience involved by inviting us to sing along to such disparate songs as “It Ain’t Necessarily So” from Porgy and Bess and “Loch Lomond,” a traditional Scottish song.

On paper, it’s weird, but in reality, it works. If it comes to your town, go!

 

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A Cultural Smorgasbord

It was a happy accident that I experienced a cultural smorgasbord within a four-day timespan in March…

Every year, I like to try a new art form. This year, the Groupon gods sent me a water marbling (or ebru) class, which was taught at the Turkish Cultural Center. I’d never heard of water marbling. I invited my art partner in crime Mary along; this was our fourth birthday list art escapade.

Our teacher was Turkish and just lovely. She buys all of her art supplies from Turkey, including special paper, brushes, and paints. I can’t quite explain the process; it was like magic. There were about 10 of us in the class and we rotated among three work stations. We stood in front of a pan of water that was treated with something special for 24 hours. We then picked a few colors, dipped the brush into the paint, and kind of “flicked” the paint onto the water, circles of color floating in the water mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we decided that we were done, we gently laid a piece of paper on top of the pan of colored water, slid the paper off, and voila, the paint ended up on the paper!

We each made two pieces and I was pretty happy with the results…but I mistakenly left one in the classroom and I have misplaced the other one! Search online for “ebru painting” sometime and you will see what a beautiful art form it is.

A couple of days later, I went on a tour of a local mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, thanks to the organization of my friend Anya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walked into the mosque not knowing anything about Islam. Our tour guide was wonderful and spent more than the allotted time with us, telling us about the history of Islam and the history of the mosque. She explained the main tenets of the religion and answered our many questions. I left with the message that Muslims want the chance to explain their religion to others; they want to be a part of the community just as other religions are. I highly recommend taking a tour at your local mosque if you are like me and didn’t know anything about Islam.

A few hours after I left the mosque, I was attending a performance by Kodo, a group of Japanese taiko drummers. I’ve been interested in taiko drumming ever since I took a class last year.

I was expecting a few hours of loud, powerful (but beautiful) banging on gigantic drums. Silly me. It was a few hours of drumming on many different types of drums, plus bell ringing, plus beautiful and sometimes humorous choreography.

In the aftermath of this smorgasbord, I felt grateful to live in a city that offers so many opportunities to experience other cultures. For someone who loves to travel but can’t always afford it, I cherish the fact that I can have such experiences without leaving home.

Bargain Shopping and Beer

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than bargain shopping and drinking beer?

I grew up going to garage sales, flea markets, antique markets, you name it. So I was elated to finally make it to the Cambridge Antique Market.

Cambridge Antique Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allen and I spent a couple of hours perusing five floors of goodies. Vintage clothing, lots of china, old books and board games. Furniture and appliances. A little bit of everything.

We both walked away with one CD; he found a Death Cab for Cutie album for me, and I found a Patti Smith album for him.

Down the road is a craft brewery that we hadn’t been to yet = Somerville Brewing Company. I ordered a flight of its core beers, and Allen ordered a pint of the Trekker Trippel. I’ve tried a few of the beers before and they make me happy.

Slumbrew flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have about six weeks left until the birthday and nine things left to do. I got this.

Theater for All

When I came across reduced tickets to a production of Billy Elliot the Musical, I immediately bought them—not only because I love the film and musical, but also because it was being produced by a theater company that I hadn’t been acquainted with yet.

Wheelock Family Theatre is on the campus of Wheelock College. The company has been producing family-friendly theater since 1981. The night that my friend and I went, the large auditorium was almost full. It was great to see children in the audience as well as on the stage. I didn’t get involved with theater until I was in high school, but I danced and sang when I was a youngster, and both were wonderful experiences.

The performance was great. I’m sure that the young man who played the lead will be on Broadway someday. He acted, sang, and danced beautifully. I appreciated the nontraditional casting of some characters and the open captioning for audience members with hearing difficulties.

If you haven’t seen the film or musical, I highly recommend both. It’s a classic story of  love and strife among family members, overcoming obstacles, and following your dreams. I also highly recommend this theater company because of its honorable mission.

Lamplighter and Lilypad

I went to a new brewery and a new (to me) music venue the other day.

Lamplighter Brewing Company is a hip little spot in Cambridge. A small taproom is connected to its brewery. And there is a “cafe” within the taproom. Genius! You can get good coffee and good beer in the same place.

I was meeting a friend at the brewery before we headed to the aforementioned music venue, so I opted to try one beer vs. a flight. I enjoyed a lovely IPA called Lucid Nonsense and ate a breakfast sandwich that was prepared at the cafe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My friend and I walked 20 minutes to nearby Lilypad, a performance/community space that I have heard about for years but never stepped foot into. Our former colleague’s band, Steve Thomas and REAL INCOGNITO, was playing that day.

Lilypad, Cambridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilypad is a nice, intimate event space. We had a fun time grooving along to the band’s jazz/funk/reggae beat. A bonus was the sound engineer’s super-friendly dog who walked around and visited everyone during the concert.

Steve Thomas and REAL INCOGNITO

Steve Thomas and REAL INCOGNITO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up: I see a musical at a theater I’ve never been to!

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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