Friday, September 16, 2016

More Festivals

With four years based in Switzerland, it's getting harder, but not impossible, to find Swiss festivals we've never seen. Luzern is the location for an annual classical music festival. Zurich Insurance (Tom's employer) is one of the sponsors and offers discounted tickets to employees, but the timing has never worked for us. Often one or both of us is in the US in early September. This year, Tom was invited by another company and they included me in the invitation! I arranged my flight back to Switzerland to take advantage of the opportunity. Perhaps Deutsche Bank was sponsoring this evening because the Berlin Philharmonic would be performing. 
art museum houses concert hall

excellent seats: front row of first balcony

Keine Pause = no pause, in other words, don't clap between movements

The program was only two pieces. The first was about 15 minutes long and the other over an hour. The Boulez had a very unusual instrumentation. I was going to try to describe it, but this does a much better job:
 Eclat has a great instrumentation — a glittery mass of plucked strings and percussion, plus a small group of winds, brass and strings who sit there silently almost the entire time ..... It starts off with a bangy, virtuosic piano solo that wouldn’t seem out of place in a later Messiaen piece.  Then the sustaining instruments enter, playing pppp trills, and they gradually drop out as the conductor cues them.  The bulk of the piece consists of big, unmetered blocks of time, demarcated by brief, rapid figures played by the shiny instruments.  Finally, the sustaining instruments come back to play some aggressive music in rhythmic unison, which only lasts about a minute before the piece ends.  

I would love to see the score. 
15 musicians performed the Boulez

Sir Simon Rattle takes a bow

For Mahler, a much larger orchestra is required. Besides the usual large string section (which I think was even larger than normal), the wind section included more of each than is typical and nearly every instrument variety that exists! For instance, there were three "normal" clarinets, but also a soprano and bass clarinet. People were not doubling instruments; this required five musicians. 

8 basses - part of a huge string section

not quite everyone fits in the photo!

congratulating the tenor horn soloist

another bow - Bravo!!
I'm glad we finally got to one of the concerts and it was especially nice because it was free!

For something completely different, the next day I met friends at the main station in Zurich and we hopped on the train to Rorhschach, home of the annual sand sculpture festival. It takes place on the Swiss side of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) which is between Switzerland and Germany. Although the outing was my idea, I gave full disclosure. I'd never been there before and had no idea what to expect. 

Lake Constance does not have a sandy beach. All the sand used had to be brought in by truck. Realizing that, it makes sense that this festival was quite small. There were only about 10-12 large displays. Although it was not ever spelled out, we guessed the theme of the year had to do with imagination.

 Either sides of the same sculpture.

The figure in the center is faceless and surrounded by four faces expressing very different, but clear emotions.

the only photo I took that shows a larger expanse of the displays

I think the baby on the left looks like Buddha! 

The girl below is sitting reading under a whale's tail (tale under a tail?) while the water dripping off is blocks with letters. A form must have been used to make the blocks. 
looking up at a paper boat

two sided heads

We chose this sculpture to pose with because it was one of the biggest. Still a challenge not to block it all.
Lisa, Lynn, Donna and yours truly

This sculpture reminded me of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Others thought it looked like a turtle with the brain being the shell. Below is the back of the brain that Gollum is carrying - it has feathers!


This one was my favorite. It was called "Still Life". There are apples and pears displayed, but each has been eaten with the remaining core carved into a face. All famous people, but I sure couldn't name them all. Very cool. 


one of a few simple sculptures

boats on Lake Constance

There were lots of pretty gardens around Rorschach, but I did not find an inkblot museum!

a "badi" or bath house
We have examples of "badis" all around Lake Zurich. This one is actually sitting in Lake Constance. The building would have facilities for changing clothes and a more secluded spot for swimming. 

Will there be any more visits to Swiss festivals before our move?  Place your bets and the answer will become clear in future posts.