The Diamond Jubilee

As many of you probably already know, Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year!

When she was only 26, Elizabeth was crowned queen. At birth, she had been third in line of secession and it was extremely doubtful that she would ever gain this position. As chance would have it, however, on February 6, 1952 Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne and one year later (On June 2) she was crowned.

Today kicked off the celebrations with a visit to the Epsom Derby. Surprisingly, the Queen has attended all races here since here coronation in 1952. She even attended one only four days after she was crowned!

The Queen records an annual Christmas Broadcast at Buckingham Palace ©PA

In addition to this, numerous celebrations throughout the weekend will celebrate this rare event. On Monday, the BBC will host a concert at Buckingham Palace. On Tuesday all of the celebrations will result in the largest event yet – a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London and two following luncheons…not to mention all of the smaller celebrations taking place all around the world.

It is so exciting to be able to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event and an honor to take part in celebrating it.

-C

Source for information and pictures:

http://www.thediamondjubilee.org/

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5 Stunning Gothic Cathedrals

Cathedral of Santa Maria, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Palma de Mallorca Catedral de Santa María
This sandstone Cathedral is both the pinnacle of Majorcan architecture and an orchestra demonstrating the glory of religious handiwork. It appears like a fortress on the hillside, absolutely glowing with Spanish sun. It was built on the foundations of a Moorish mezquita (mosque) and sports massive external buttresses. The support system’s elegance and practicality lend historians to believe that Catalan master mason Berenguer de Montagut (known to have worked on the Catedral de Manresa and at Santa María del Mar in Barcelona) was summoned for this island cathedral’s construction.

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral, England

This Cathedral, built ca. 1337-60, was presumably built by the royal master mason Thomas of Canterbury. It was formally a Benedictine abbey church and the Benedictines residing there were interested in keeping as much of the original building as possible. The master mason used lattice work with vertical and horizontal lines to satisfy the abbey’s wishes, and is, in fact, a continuation of the Decorative style. However, what makes the Gloucester Cathedral special out of Decorative Gothic architecture, is that the motifs were entirely standardised. This style was continued well throughout the 14th century in England because of the architectural possibilities.

Marienkirche LübeckMarienkirche, Lübeck, Germany

Unlike other parts of Europe, the Gothic architecture of Northern Europe, including the Germanic regions, is often structurally more simple, yet colossal. The Marienkirche is no exception. It has bright turquoise towers, menacing in their almost minimalist lack of decoration. The spires are incredibly steep, and the entire floorplan of the building is surprisingly wide. A gorgeous Cathedral with much gold plating, the interior is spectacular, yet without ostentatious architectural decoration.

Milan CathedralMilan Cathedral, Italy

As we all know (pfft!), Milan was the seat of the Lombardi rulers during the Gothic architectural period, and as connoisseurs of the arts, the Lombardis funded the building of gorgeous structures such as the Milan Cathedral. It was built in the late 14th century, around 1387, and sports a double aisle structure that allows for a wider floorplan and the aesthetic depth of multiple rows of columns. There were severe issues in building this Cathedral because of the dimensions and weight distribution necessary for it to be as tall as it was wide. While it was completed in construction in 1572, the final additions of decorations were added in the 19th century. While you can’t see it well from the pictures I provide, I urge you to look at the windows of this structure, especially along the choir and transept. They have organic, Elven-esque patterns that are stunning, even in photographs.

Albi Cathedral

Albi Cathedral, France

Formally known as the Cathedral of Ste.-Cécile, this gorgeous Cathedral (shown above) was built in 1287, and it doesn’t look like much but a large sandy block from the outside. But when you walk inside, one notices the immense amount of handiwork, not to mention architectural splendor of this magnificent construction. While it appears much like a keep from the outside, almost bulky and clumsy, the interior has vast, breathtaking painting and gold lining.

If you’re interested in any of these Gothic pieces, I urge you to go visit them yourself! Of course, not all of us can enjoy this luxury, so consider investing in the book Gothic, by Könemann, for an in-depth look into Gothic architecture, sculpture, and painting. Almost all of the structural information I’ve noted here has been from this book, and it contains breathtaking photographs that cannot be found on the internet.

-A.

 

Photos Courtesy of:

Music for a Classical Atmosphere

Hello everyone! Sorry that this is a day late; the system seemed to think we had compromising material on our blog and shut down our posting abilities until we could be reviewed by staff. I hope this lives up to how much you missed out!

Ok, so this is the first time I’ve ever tried to do this. I’m going to talk to you about music, something I will not even pretend to be an expert about! So, for all of you music buffs, this isn’t a classical playlist as much as it is music with a classical feel. Music that brings you back to the 1300s, the 1700s, etc. I was jumping between writing about the best of the 1920s-1940s and this, but I think that this might bring to light some interesting groups you didn’t think of! So turn your scopes back pretty far, retroverts, because we’re taking a jump into the real past.

Francisco de la Torre

Francisco de la Torre
You can find pieces of Francisco de la Torre on Youtube, thankfully, and if you want to jump back to real Spanish mediaeval music, this fellow is the way to go. He’s a mediaeval composer who was most likely from Sevilla. His work has a jumpy, lilting feel that is very typical of mediaeval tunes. Check out a few of these videos:

Mediaeval Baebes

These ladies have been a favourite of mine for several years, and are a staple of the ancient-loving in music. You can find their website online, where they have a few samples of songs. I don’t recall if you can buy them on iTunes (I ripped their CDs onto my iTunes), but it’s certainly worth a try. They sing in Middle English, Latin, Italian, and I believe, at times, in modern English as well.
Mediaeval Baebes

Some of my favourites of theirs include:

  • Gaudete
  • Ecce Munde Gaudium
  • Return of the Birds
  • Undrentide
  • Cittern Segue
  • Scarborough Fayre

They have a lovely authentic sound and their songs are of fantastic quality. I can safely say that I’ve been listening to their songs for as long as I can remember, really, and they never get old. Though, I do wish they’d change their name; it’s a bit embarrassing to refer someone to “baebes,” especially someone academic.

The Waverly Consort
I actually had no idea that this group was online until I sat down and wrote this. They also have a website where you can purchase some of their CDs, but I have to say, my favourite wasn’t there.

Mappa Mundi
What you’re listening to is a song called Mappa Mundi from the Waverly Consort’s CD 1492: Music from the Age of Discovery. This copy in my hand is from 1992. I can, through sheer repetition, sing along to the mediaeval Italian because it was such an integral part of my childhood. There is something pure and enchanting about their works, especially the ones from this CD. If you enjoy the Youtube video, be sure to check them out and consider purchasing more of their work.

Broadside Band

I don’t know if you can get these very easily, since my CD is from 1991 and the only song I found on Youtube, I’m not even sure if it’s by them, but they are one of my favourites. I enjoy their folk approach t classical music, and I have spent many (semi-sophistocated) afternoons listening to their CD English Country Dances, definitely what you need for a hop and a skip into real-life Pride and Prejudice!

Loreena McKennitt

A modern artist, Loreena blends mediaeval, Middle Eastern, fantastic, and some modern elements into her pieces. They evoke images of Middle Earth and other fantasy worlds to me, and I always throw in a song or two by her whenever I put together a playlist of classical-atmospheric music. After all, since none of this is actually in the genre of classical music, why not add a mysterious element to it?

The Mask and the Mirror Loreena McKennit

Find her website here: http://www.quinlanroad.com/homepage/index.asp?LangType=1033 and consider purchasing her works either in CD form or on iTunes so that you can add this exotic twist to your library!

Jean Yves Thibaudet

A few of you savvy Austen-ites may recognise this name, or perhaps just those familiar with film music. Jean Yves Thibaudet composed the music for the latest Pride and Prejudice film. These songs, while short and soft, add a quick moment of romantic dreaminess to your playlist. Take a hop back to the 1700s, with a more conventional feel, by trying out a few of these for your latest craze.

The Chieftains

Irish Pub Painting

And now we turn to the timeless. I cannot reccomend these fellows enough to you, and I beg you to invest in music that they’ve done by themselves, without featuring other artists, because I enjoy that the best. I’ve included their Christmas album into my classical-atmosphere playlists for the sort of music that makes you want to hop up and do a jig! Visit their website here: http://www.thechieftains.com/ and think about bringing more bagpipes and accordions into your life! Thankfully, they sample more pieces on their website, so you can get a better taste of them. Here’s to the best  playlist composing!

-A.

Photos Courtesy of:

Dùn Èideann

So perhaps a few of you knew that I was gone to Scotland for 6 days at the end of last week. I went to Edinburgh and then took a town bus out to Rosslyn Chapel for a day (confused? watch the Da Vinci Code), both of which were stunningly beautiful. Like, I can’t even describe to you this sort of beauty. So I’m going to include various photographs that I took that will hopefully describe my travels and include an anecdote or two to make my text seem worthwhile.

First of all, as many of you are probably ignorant of, I adore languages. And there’s nothing better than a good bookstore. Now, I know that lots of people say that there’s unnecessary hype about Blackwell book stores, that they’re a chain and that everyone makes a big deal out of nothing, but I have to say, they have a consistently great, academically oriented selection. Of course, I also tend to go into ones located in university cities. Maybe I’m biased because not many people have whole sections dedicated to linguistics and Anglo-Saxon literature.

Upon browsing the language section in Blackwell book store Edinburgh, I noticed that there were no books on Scottish Gaelic. Now, I’ve wanted to learn Gaelic for a while, and where better to get a book than Scotland? But none. Nothing. Not even Irish or Welsh. I was shocked! They had books on Urdu, Dutch, Basque! But no Gaelic? The original language of the Scots?

So I went up to the register and asked why they had no books on Gaelic in their languages section. The tweedy, buttoned-up fellow behind the counter looked over his glasses at me with a devilish smile and whispered, “Well, we’d get in quite a bit of trouble if we put the Gaelic in the foreign languages section.”

I was so embarrassed! I had completely forgotten that it wasn’t just “languages!”

Furthermore, I just have a newfound love of the Scots in general. They are more practical and lighthearted than the English, and a bit grittier too. It’s simply a different atmosphere, but, despite how much they would protest if they heard this, they are actually remarkably similar too. The English and the Scots both have a stick-to-it-ness that they’re individually proud of and claim the other group doesn’t have enough of. They’re both incredibly tidy (though I don’t think Edinburgh can represent Highland farms, just like clean Oxford streets doesn’t represent Liverpool). Literally, those lovely British buses were so clean, when I sneezed, I felt I had dirtied something precious.

Of course, not only were the buses clean, but also convenient. Edinburgh, while undergoing (endless) tram construction, has a bus system that makes sense. I’m not joking with you. It actually makes sense. There’s cafes and pubs on more than every street corner, literally 2 or 3 a block. Interesting restaurants, sketchy bars, tiny art galleries and tall-ceilinged antique map shops. It was undescribable!

-A/