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Posts tagged ‘music’

A Concert in the Beautiful Hungarian State Opera House

It’s nice to tour gorgeous, historic music venues, but it’s even more enjoyable to appreciate the interior while taking in a concert!  The Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest is a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece from the late 19th century (like many other architectural wonders in the city).  With nearly nightly performances and very reasonable ticket prices, the Opera is a great way to spend an evening.  Just make sure you leave plenty of time before and after the show to wander the elegant lobbies and corridors.

Hungarian State Opera House interior

Empty seats and dimmed house lights in the Hungarian State Opera House after the concert.

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A Song to the Shepherds in Bethlehem

Not all the churches in the Holy Lands are old.  The Church of the Shepherds’ Fields in Bethlehem was  constructed in 1954 over some small caves on the outskirts of the city.  Traditional holds that these caves were used by Shepherds even in ancient times hence the connection of this site to the Nativity story.  The Church has a simple, contemporary ascetic, but by far has the best impromptu choir I’ve ever heard.

Exterior angel from the Church of the Shepherds' Fields

Exterior angel from the Church of the Shepherds’ Fields

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Exploring China and Kenya at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

It’s not every day that you can walk from Kenya to China, but that’s what I did this Saturday.  Every summer for two weeks, the National Mall is DC is transformed into a center for global culture when it hosts the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  Over 100 artisans, musicians, performers, and chefs take up residence and share their national traditions with Washington DC.  The rich cultures of Kenya and China were presented this year and I had a wonderful time exploring the festivities!

Folklife Chinese gate

The Flower Plaque gate made of bamboo, paper, and plastic welcomes visitors into the Chinese section of the Festival.

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“Visiting” Hungary at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

As if the 4th of July weren’t exciting enough in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian host the annual Folklife Festival that week on the National Mall.  Bringing together international musicians, storytellers and craftspeople, the Festival celebrates culture and the preservation of traditional arts throughout the world.  Every year, three themes are selected for the festival and usually include a country, region, or collective community experience.  This year the themes were 1) Hungary, 2) Endangered Languages and 3) African-American fashion.

The Hungarian Village section of the festival sought to celebrate traditional music, dance and crafts as well as the people who are revitalizing that culture today.  There were informative museum-like exhibits, artisan demonstrations and lots of concerts.  Ever the international traveler, I was so excited to explore the Hungarian portion of the festival!

Hungarian tower

The Peacock Tower designed by Transylvanian architect Gyule Szilegyi stood at the center of the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

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Boston Harborfest: Tall Ships and Fifes and Drums

USS Constitution, Boston

The USS Constitution “Old Ironsides” will be celebrating the bicentennial of several famous naval victories this year

Boston really does know how to do the 4th of July.  The week long Harborfest brings together lots of American history, colonial revolutionaries and roving bands of Redcoats, tall ships, good food, great music and a firework spectacular.  I met some folks from Florida last night during the festivities who were there checking Harborfest off their Bucket List.  I’ve been in DC for several Independence Day celebrations and I have to admit that Boston is more fun.

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