Monday, April 14, 2014

Bangor Symphony, why must you be so awesome?!

This will be my final post as a college or university student: the next time I write, I will be home cuddling cats, hanging out with my parents and healing from a brutal final year. This blog will continue, though I have yet to figure out what sort of form it will take.

Also, I can never pass up an opportunity to gush about the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Brace yourself.

Monday: This was one of those field-trip classes: we met at the Dalhousie Art Gallery to view that part of Beat Nation, which is a show that has been toured around, having originated in Vancouver. It's so big that it's normal for the show to be split between two galleries--in this case, the Dal Art Gallery and the Saint Mary's University Art Gallery. The show is about First Nations peoples and hip-hop, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That day was so warm that I took my coat off on the walk back to NSCAD--and treated myself to a gelato at Humani-T Café (they have some of the best gelato that I've had outside of Italy).

Tuesday: Exam Day for Twentieth Century Art. To quote an email to Lynn, "I wrote more than last time (not writing enough was one of the things that led to me getting a D on the midterm), I tried to make my definitions as thorough as possible (another thing that set me back last time), and overall I'm happy. I've done my best. Since my appointment with Joan, I haven't done much that would qualify as work [...]--and nothing that would qualify as schoolwork (I plan to do some work on my independent project this evening, as it needs attention and most of the time I enjoy editing photos), which feels weird. Though both Kathryn--a family friend who lives in England--and Mom said in comments on Facebook to take a break."

Wednesday: I took that day slowly as well, but managed to do some work on my independent project.

Thursday: Being able to sleep in that morning felt weird (I can sleep in? Great! But are you sure about that? Positive?). During the afternoon class I found out that that was my penultimate university class: with the exception of the last Contemporary Indigenous Arts class, there's nothing this coming week--all we have to do for Topics in Modern Canadian Art is drop off our finals to Ken Rice's office, which is a minute or less from the Photo Dept.

Friday: I spent the day working on my final for Contemporary Indigenous Arts and checked out Reel Injun from the Visual Resources Collection, as I'm doing one of my final papers for that class on the film that had the deepest impact on me, and that one was the first that came to mind.

Saturday: I got a very late start to the day--and I wasn't thrilled about that, as I had finals to write for Monday. However, I did get a fair amount of stuff done, including finishing the gallery review and starting work on the paper about Reel Injun. Bonus: I got to watch the movie while I wrote (I had to pause it every now and then to write things down as they occurred to me)!

I didn't realize that the BSO had a concert coming up on Sunday until I saw this photo. Go violins! Even better: the orchestra would be playing to a full house--exactly what the BSO deserves, especially when performing Carmina Burana, which is a very powerful, knock-your-socks-off piece. Mozart's thirty-fifth symphony (the Haffner) was also on the program (it was the first half of said concert), a fact that I'd completely forgotten. But is it any wonder, given how much of a show-stopper Carmina is?

I love how the audience erupts in applause at the end. And who can blame them? They've been holding it in for just over an hour!

Sunday: Carmina Burana Day. I listened to part of it as I walked to school, and, for the first time ever, zeroed in on the violin part. Usually I take the orchestration for that work as a whole, not focusing on a specific instrument--but because I knew a couple of people (Lynn and Trond) who would be playing it about two hours after said walk to school, I focused on what they would be playing. Verdict: the violin part alone is impressive. July sixteenth, when that concert will be broadcast on MPBN radio, can't come soon enough. After finishing Reel Injun, I listened to the Mozart, which, at about twenty minutes, is incredibly short for a symphony. It's the exact opposite of the Orff in that it's very tame. As I wrote in a Facebook status update, the Haffner "[allows] the Bangor Symphony Orchestra to give it their all in knocking the audience's socks off with the Orff. Brilliant. To whoever chose the music for today's concert, well done!" How I wish I could've gone to the concert--if I were going to school in the Bangor/Orono area, I definitely would've gone, especially if I were a student at the University of Maine (the orchestra's home, the Collins Center for the Arts, is on the UMaine campus). Blow off studying for finals for two hours and get my socks knocked off by the BSO in the process--wonderful (double that when you add in the strong violin part in the Orff and the BSO's violin section's habit of taking an awesome violin part up a few notches). Bonus: student tickets (you have to be a full-time student) are USD$13, including the $3 processing fee that's applied to all tickets--and, unlike regular-priced tickets, student tickets are the same price no matter where you sit. Wonderful! I'm so jealous of students in the Bangor/Orono area right now. How I wish I could've gone. Bangor Symphony, why must you do this to me? Why?!

Okay, I think that's enough gushing about the BSO. **scoffs jokingly** Typical favourite orchestras and violinists. Bangor Symphony Orchestra, I love you--and I can't wait to hear today's concert on MPBN on July sixteenth (START THE COUNTDOWN!). Go violins!

In the midst of all this BSO-induced excitement (which is all in a day's work for me), I wrote my final essays for Contemporary Indigenous Arts.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

finals and my favourite opera

So my last post seems to have taken on a life of its own: as of this evening, it has sixty-two views. Normally, a post will get somewhere between twenty and thirty views in a week and only hit the higher numbers (anything above thirty) in the second week. However, I'm not surprised: it was a fairly dramatic post, and we humans seem drawn to that kind of thing (why do you think we have tabloids like the National Enquirer?). I myself love a good, dramatic opera--even better if it ends tragically (see: Carman, La Bohème--which I will talk about later--La Traviata, etc.)

Monday: The End is definitely in sight, after an intense semester (that's what happens when you study anything to do with Indigenous peoples, given how much white settlers have put them through since Contact in 1492). Carla praised our writing, as we've all written strong papers. I wanted to applaud, and I told her so after class.

Tuesday: This week's meeting with Joan was extremely emotional on my part and I cried several times. We discussed what I've been going through and how I could deal with it--some of Joan's suggestions overlapped quite a bit with Lynn's, and I told her so. I also shared with her the part of Lynn's email that makes me cry (you know which part I'm talking about, Lynn), which I'd written on a Post-It note--and this time I had to put my head on my arms facedown and sob, I was so moved by Lynn's words and thankful for her support. A few minutes after reading the excerpt to Joan, I put it in my wallet, behind my drivers' license, which is always in front of my other cards. It will remain there for the rest of my time in Halifax.

Wednesday: What is it with me taking on personal projects during finals that end up taking over my life??? This time it's an art project (the blog book is still happening, though: I'm going to dive into finishing it once I'm home, and I want to have it sent off to Blurb by the end of May at the latest), but I can't say much more than that because it's a surprise for one of my friends/readers (not saying who). I will say that it's in a medium that I haven't worked with since graduating from NBCCD. I've been doing some preliminary work, but the bulk of the project won't happen until I'm home. I might do a post about it once it's in said friend's hands (I plan to keep writing here after I'm done school, as I'm now officially hooked on blog writing and writing in general).

Thursday: Exam Review Day (the exam for 20th Century Art is on Tuesday). This time I somehow managed to not end up with writers' cramp. Hmmm... Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the review started about half an hour after class officially started, due to the need to fill out course evaluation forms.

That evening I went to a show opening at ViewPoint Gallery--and I finally met one of the guys who skyped with Peter's class during my first semester as a Photog: Eric Boutilier-Brown, who photographs nudes. Like me, Eric went to both NBCCD and NSCAD.

Friday: As per usual, I spent the day studying. In this case, I finished copying my notes from the review into a Word document. I'm not going to worry about the other two exams (both of which are take-homes) until after the one for 20th Century Art is done.

Saturday: La Bohème Day. During the intermission between acts three and four, Margaret and Ira talked about how the bohemians of the opera are not the same people in the fourth act that they were in the first: they've experienced so much. Boy, do I know what that feels like. Since really getting into that opera a few years ago, I've found that I really identify with it, and now more than ever: I'm a poor art student (however, they just had to worry about making rent--not paying back a student loan) and I've been through a difficult year. At its heart, Bohème is about life and its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows, which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. Bohème could happen in real life--and probably has.

I spent the day copying my exam notes back into my notebook, which Ken Rice (the administrative assistant in the history and critical studies department) had suggested as a way of making sure the info's in my head.

And yes, I sobbed like my heart was breaking during the fourth act--which it was (as Ben Heppner said during the intermission between the third and fourth acts, "ready, set... Cry." La Bohème in a nutshell.).

The woman who played Mimí that day was filling in for the woman who was supposed to sing the role, as that woman is sick with the flu. The replacement had just sung the title role in Madama Butterfly the night before and was running on about two hours of sleep. And, gee, I sometimes struggle to get through those days when I get less than eight hours of sleep--and I don't have to sing a whole (emotionally demanding) opera. Although the performance was simulcast and I wanted to go (I'd seriously considered it), I couldn't due to the need to study. When I go to the Met--and I will someday--La Bohème will be one of the possibilities. I just hope they're still doing the current production (by Franco Zefferelli, the guy who directed my favourite Romeo & Juliet): it's been at the Met since '81, and the company has started to retire some of the older productions. The predecessor to the Met's current Ring production, which was by Otto Schenk, opened in '87 and was retired at the end of the '08 - '09 season (the current production by Robert Lepage--a Canuck!--opened two seasons later).

As the opera hadn't been broadcast since '10, when I was a stressed-out FVA student, I had a few moments early on where I thought, "I'm listening to my favourite opera!" While I have other favourites (Carmen, Doctor Atomic, La Damnation de Faust, The Nose and La Traviata), La Bohème holds a special place in my heart, and if I had to whittle my favourites down to just one opera, Bohème would be it. And I'll admit that I lip-synched parts of it, especially O soave fanciulla (see video below), and smiled as I heard familiar tune after familiar tune, each one feeling like an old friend that I hadn't seen in forever (I deduced that La Bohème is the opera equivalent of The Nutcracker, in terms of how much I love it in relation to other works in its art form--though I came to Bohème probably about five to ten years after falling in love with Nutcracker).

Sunday: I had a mild run-in with the person with whom I'm not getting along today, and, although it was mild, the incident coloured my entire day. Let's face it: I'm extremely worn down emotionally, and everything has the potential to make my entire day either a good one or a bad one (note to Mom and Tom: when I come home, be extremely gentle with me. You are already good, kind parents, but I'm extremely fragile right now, as this year has been traumatic.). I spent the day prepping for the Twentieth Century Art exam, which is on Tuesday--and found out that I have to fill in some gaps in my notes in the definitions section, which will happen tomorrow (**gulp**). Wish me luck! It's only after that exam is over that I'll even think about the other two exams.