Accordions…As Far as the Eye Can See

Accordions…As Far as the Eye Can See

Last week was the Leavenworth (WA) International Accordion Celebration.  Leavenworth is known as “Washington’s Bavarian Village”, and most of its buildings are dressed up in Bavarian Village style.  LIAC consists of four days of accordion competition, performances by local and international groups and individuals, an accordion parade through town, and all sorts of impromptu and organized jam sessions for accordion players and other musicians. In the vestibule of the main concert venue, the “Festhalle:”, accordion dealers set up their tables full of various accordions for sale.  The entire weekend is full of accordions, as far as the eye can see.  Check it out.

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This is a new fountain, in front of the Festhalle.  The shepherd has been given an accordion, so he won’t feel out of place during the Celebration.

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Here are some of the instruments (can you spot the “ringer”?) on offer in the Festhalle lobby.

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Friday night’s entertainment was the Northwest Accordionaires.  Hubby is the farthest player on the right, with his beautiful wood-faced Victoria accordion. (sorry about the bad lighting-they had a bunch of bright LED lights on either side of the stage)

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Here are the accordionists lining up for the parade through town.

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And, THE PARADE!  Yes, they are marching and playing at the same time.

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Destination for the parade is the Gazebo in the middle of downtown.  They all march there, and play a few songs for the cheering crowds of spectators.  You can see that they range in age from little kids to mature adults.

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Saturday night’s entertainment was the husband/wife team of Kim and Dan Christian.  They were very good, and Dan was a fine comedian.

A wonderful time was had by all.

Passion Personified

That’s what we heard last night at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival’s second Winter Interlude concert at the Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.  They had programmed one of my very favorite pieces of chamber music, Gabriel Faure’s Piano Quartet in C Minor.  From the very first note of the first movement, this piece is filled with passion and fire.  We were carried away by last night’s performers: James Ehnes, Violin; Cynthia Phelps, Viola; Yegor Dyatchkov, Cello; and Anton Nel, Piano.  They put their heart and soul into this performance, and the audience was very enthusiastic.  I don’t have video of last night’s performance, but I have the next best thing.  At the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival (on Long Island, New York) in 2014, a group of excellent musicians played this piece, and they were just wonderful.  Also, funny thing, three of those musicians also come to Seattle for the Seattle Chamber Music Summer Festival in July!  Give a listen to this performance, with Gilles Vonsattel, Piano, Jennifer Frautschi, Violin, Cynthia Phelps, Viola, and Clive Greensmith, Cello.  This is Passion Personified.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

This is a small pipe organ, manufactured in Estonia in 1844.  Today, it resides in the Sitka Lutheran Church, in Alaska.  I’m guessing that there aren’t very many of these around.

These are two views of the back of the organ.  Here’s my husband playing it, to give you an idea of why I couldn’t get a picture of the keyboard.  Nowhere to stand!

HubbyPlaying Organ

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Thoughts on Independence Day

Thoughts on Independence Day

July Fourth is a day to celebrate.  But what do we celebrate?  Funny, but a man-on-the-street survey found that the average person does not know why we celebrate on the Fourth of July.  This is depressing.  If Americans don’t know why July Fourth is important, how are they going to appreciate their country, and how unusual it is?  On July 4, 1776, a most remarkable group of men got together, and literally took their lives and their Sacred Honor in their hands, and declared Independence from Great Britain.

Declaration

This was the beginning of the most important political creation in the history of mankind. For the very first time, a new nation was created, being the union of thirteen separate colonies into the United States of America.  A new nation, founded on an Idea, of Human Liberty, and enlightened Self-Government.  The Colonists came from all over Great Britain, from the Highlands of Scotland to the Fen country of East Anglia, to the South Coast, and everywhere in between.  And from other parts of the world, including France, Poland, Spain, and the Caribbean.  All these disparate people, united by a Grand Idea, vowing to free themselves from the shackles of Britain.

This is a good short film about the Signers of the Declaration, and what they did.

 

It is incumbent upon us, the descendants and recipients of the heritage of America, not to ever forget what our Founding Fathers accomplished.  We must never lose the enthusiasm for our Great and Beautiful Country, which still remains a beacon of Freedom and Prosperity for the rest of the  conflict-ridden world.  Why else would millions of people from all over the world apply to become new Americans, and literally beat down our doors to get in?  Here is what some Immigrants to America think.

Just this week in the Wall Street Journal, a headline read “America Drops Off History Curriculum”.  It seems that there are institutions of higher (?) education in the US that do not require any American History classes of their History majors!  I was astonished to read that only 23 among the colleges rated “best” by a well-regarded magazine require even one US History class of their History majors.  I guess it goes with the information above that many Americans don’t know why we celebrate July 4.  Maybe nobody ever told them why.  Maybe their government schools make it a point to  mention how racist, sexist, and how homophobic America is.  Maybe they are brought up to think that America is a force for evil in the world.    If that is true, it is saddening.  Just think-these misguided individuals will be someday in the highest offices in the land. [come to think of it, the 1960s radicals who run the country now think that Americans are stupid and can be enslaved by bureaucrats in Washington DC]

Central Hall, Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College in Michigan has taught Liberty and Intelligent Piety since 1844.  They are the shining star in Higher Education in America.  They accept not one cent of government money, which allows them to be totally independent.  These days, they are the epitome of American freedom and open-mindedness.

So, tonight when you’re watching the fireworks, remember why we celebrate.  Remember the courageous Founders, who left behind the mother country, and came to a new land, where they and their children could be Free.     Cape May

From Sea….

Newport Beach, California
Pacific Ocean, Newport Beach, CA

To Shining Sea…

God Bless America

Weekly Photo Challenge…Admiration for a Thing of Beauty

I have always admired my violin, which I bought from its maker in 1987, when it was nearly brand new.  David VanZandt lives in Seattle, and every once in awhile I take my beautiful violin home to “Daddy” for him to touch up the varnish and do any needed adjustments.  I found that, once I had my new Guadagnini-copy instrument, it made me a better player.  It sounds so beautiful, my violin teacher said it sounded much like her 18th-century Italian instrument.  It has a warm, brown varnish, and in the sunlight it just glows.  It sounds more beautiful, and becomes more valuable every year.  And it’s a work of art, in addition to being a musical instrument.

Violin front

Violin back

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Celebrate our Beautiful Country

Celebrate our Beautiful Country

Every day, I give thanks to have been born in the Greatest Country on God’s Green Earth.  Our country is one of the most beautiful on Earth, with terrain ranging from blazing hot deserts, to grassy prairies, to high snow-capped mountains, to chains of beautiful blue lakes.  The American people are the most generous in the world, voluntarily supporting thousands of charities in the US and doling out the largest share of ANY country, of aid to needy folks in foreign nations.  The Left in the US likes to portray everyone other than themselves as racist, sexist, bigoted (fill in the blank)-phobes, who are only out for themselves, literally taking food from the mouths of needy babies everywhere.  But we’re not.  So, herewith, is a celebration of the beauty of the United States of America, and its people.

Deception Pass, looking East

Western Washington, this is Deception Pass, looking East from the (scary) Deception Pass Bridge.  That’s Mount Baker in the distance.  You can see why Washington’s nickname is the Evergreen State.

Taken from the Washington State Ferry that goes from Anacortes, Wa to Sydney, British Columbia
Taken from the Washington State Ferry that goes from Anacortes, Wa to Sydney, British Columbia

Boats in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, in the Straits of Juan de Fuca (separating the US from Canada).  Millions of families in Washington own boats, from simple rowboats and small motorboats to huge yachts, and sailboats.  Puget Sound is crowded with boats on any sunny summer day.  I know a rabbi who has seven children, and his big extravagance was a motor boat, on which he and his family traveled whenever they could get away.

Diablo Lake from Overlook on Highway 20

This is Diablo Lake, in the North Cascades.  It’s about a one-hour drive there from our house, and we love to go on a day trip when the weather is nice.  Out of view is Diablo Dam, which provides hydroelectric power to the Greater Seattle area.  I have always marveled at the ingenuity it took for people to design and build a hydroelectric dam.

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And the people.  This is a crowd of accordionists, at the Gazebo in Leavenworth, Washington, at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.  Players ranging in age from 7 to 77, playing music for the sheer joy of it.  And there is as much variety in the accordions as in the players.

Potholes Reservoir, Eastern Washington-site of ancient flood
Potholes Reservoir, Eastern Washington-site of ancient flood

The Eastern part of Washington State is much drier than the Western part, its landscape showing the effects of receding glaciers, and ancient floods.  Millions of years ago, this was a giant waterfall.  Nature sculpts for us to admire.

 

Prickly Pear and Agave under a tree
Prickly Pear and Agave under a tree

Even in the harshest desert climates, plants grow, and feed birds, insects, and other small animals.  This is the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

IMG_1674There are places where people like to gather, to place their bets, and to just marvel at the beauty and power of thoroughbred horses.  The Sport of Kings, indeed.  Emerald Downs, near Tacoma, Washington.

Grand Canyon, South Rim
Grand Canyon, South Rim

Of course, a celebration of America would not be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon.  Think about it.  Through millions of years, the Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon.  Remarkable what running water, and time, can accomplish.

Tahoe Shoreline
Tahoe Shoreline

Beautiful, blue, Lake Tahoe.

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And friends, from all over this country, meeting for the first time on the shore of Lake Tahoe.  Ricochet Meetup.

Central Hall, Hillsdale College

A true National Treasure, Hillsdale College in Michigan.  Teaching Truth, Defending Liberty, since 1844.

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Another National Treasure.  Saint Joseph’s Polish Catholic Church, Camden, New Jersey.  Celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2012.  Polish-language Mass is still celebrated here daily, by the Polish priest.  The parishioners and former parishioners at Saint Joe’s have supported it, and kept it maintained in all its glory for a very long time.

Everett Symphony on stage at Carnegie Hall
Everett Symphony on stage at Carnegie Hall

Proof that even amateurs can make it to Carnegie Hall.  We went in the summer of 2006, and played Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony.  You can spot me right in front of the tympani.

 

In front of "enemy lines", July 4, 2006 in Albany, NY
In front of “enemy lines”, July 4, 2006 in Albany, NY

I just couldn’t let this opportunity get away.   Me, in my Rush Limbaugh Club G’itmo t-shirt, in front of the Democratic Party booth, Fourth of July in Albany, New York.  Sometimes, if you search on RushBabe on Google, this picture appears!

Cape May

From Sea to Shining Sea.  The Atlantic Ocean at Cape May, New Jersey.

Celebrating the Magnificence of the United States of America and its people.