Sunday, September 08, 2013

Oregon Arts Orchestra - day 4 Rome Concert

We spent the morning Wednesday on a tour of the Vatican.  This would have been a good place to be during the thunderstorm and downpour of the previous day.  It was almost entirely an indoor tour.  For all of our guided tours we wore what Flavio, our Italian trip tour guide, called the Italian iPod.  It was a radio on a lanyard with headphone jack and multiple channels so the tour guide could speak into a microphone and transmit it directly to our ears.  It was a nice contraption, allowing us to wander a certain amount without losing track of the lecture. It tended to start crackling when you got too far so you knew to look for the group and rejoin them before you were entirely lost.  In the Vatacan, we had to use their iPod, so we each got a second one to wear with it's own bright green ear bud.

OAO members: Lou (clarinet), Mihail (flute), Ann (cello), and Jae (Lou's wife). Outside the entrance to the Vatican.

The Vatican is an amazing place.  There is so much wealth there.  I couldn't help thinking of all the suffering in the world and how it seemed odd that a church would put so much effort into amassing wealth and impressing visiting politicians and dignitaries.  It didn't quite seem fitting for a religious institution.  And the tour guide told us stories of the Pope who commissioned  Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. He was well known for his misuse of power.  The only person he couldn't completely control through money or threat was Michelangelo himself.  And this was the spiritual leader for the Christian world?

St Peter's Basilica

That afternoon we all headed to the second largest church in Rome after St Peter's Basilica on the Vatican.  San AndrĂ©a della Valle was dedicated to Saint Andrew and couldn't be the largest because he just wasn't as important as Saint Peter. But it still had to be large and showy because he was pretty important.  So, in his honor, the ceiling was covered with priceless frescoes by famous artists framed by fancy stonework covered in 24 carat gold.  Actually, I'm not sure about that.  It may have been 18 carat. It was very beautiful.

Playing in a super huge church is an interesting experience.  There is a large amount of reverb, 3-5 seconds of sound continuing after we finished playing.  We did a mini rehearsal and then broke for snacks and changing our clothes.

Before our concert, we got to play as part of the evening Mass.  We played the Gabrielli (no flute), some of Yvonne's Vivaldi (no flute), and part of the Cimerosa (flute duo). Everyone in the orchestra was struggling to stay awake as jet lag and a day of walking in the hot sun took it's toll.

After the Mass we had a little time to set up.  The seats in the main part of the church filled up steadily.  We ended up with an excellent audience.  That was nice, but intimidating.  For the flute duo concerto, Phyllis and I stood at the front of the orchestra.  We slipped into a little side chapel after the opening piece, the Rossini, and put on our sequined shirts while and Kip and Guy took our stands to the front and Cindy welcomed the audience and introduced the orchestra.  Then, we went up to the front.  We were directly in front of the first pew, separated from the front row of the audience only by our music stands and the wooden border at the front of the pew.  The heat and proximity of the people in front of me combined to make me more nervous than usual.  It wasn't my best performance.

After our bows, we slipped into the side chapel to pull off our sparkles, then got to sit and relax behind scenes while Yvonne played the Vivaldi.  We went back onstage for the Hansen. It didn't go so well.  The reverb was hard.  Reverberating dissonance and borderline pitch issues wasn't a good combination.  But we made it through and the audience was very kind.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Oregon Arts Orchestra - day 3 Rome

Tuesday morning we had breakfast in the hotel and then took to the bus for a walking tour of the colosseum and surrounding areas.  The weather conspired against us.  As we entered the colosseum, rain started to fall.  Serious rain.  The kind that means business.  The middle-eastern men selling postcards and scarves switched gear and brought out umbrellas and brightly colored ponchos with images of the colosseum on the front.  The rain was accompanied by lightning and thunder.  The rumblings reverberated around the colosseum, sounding like the gods were angry and wanted us to know. Some of the lightning flashes struck very close, shaking the colosseum as they thundered around us.  Those of us who were foolhardy left the comfort of the covered areas to look down on the colosseum floor.  We were soaked through in seconds.  Most of the tourists took shelter inside the arches, even retreating past ropes to cluster out of the reach of the drenching rain.  We waited and waited, but the pouring rain didn't stop, so we worked our way to the exit.  I broke down and bought an umbrella from a vendor reaching in through the iron bars surrounding the colosseum. That way, I could hold it over the camera and take pictures of me and Kip in the rain.

The orchestra voted to scrap the rest of our walking tour.  Everyone was cold and drenched and just didn't want to spend two more hours walking around.  Most of the group headed back to the hotel on the bus and some even chose to dry off and have an extra rehearse.  Guy, Lou and Jae invited us to visit the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains to see the statue of Moses by Michelangelo.  The church was not open at that point, so we went to pass the time at the Moses Bar.  They served us thick rich hot chocolate, pizzas, and caprese.  It was a nice way to pass the time.  When we had eaten our fill and warmed up a little, the rain had stopped and the sun was peeking through.  We headed to see the Moses, walked around a little then took a cab back to the hotel.

On the schedule that night was the fancy dinner of the trip, at the Restaurant Tanagra, where you enjoy live opera music while you dine. Kip and I sat with Guy at a table in the back.  We placed our food allergy labels on the table, 'no glutine' for me and 'no arachidi' (peanuts) for Guy.  They served us pasta (gluten free for me) and risotto, meat and spinach, and fruit for dessert.  Or Tiramisu for the gluten-eaters.  And between the courses there were four opera singers who performed, two women and two men.  Some of the numbers were serious, some more fun.  The Barber of Seville took Jim up for a shave, face and bald head.  Lou and a man from another party were pulled up to sing along.  'Carmen' sang on the laps of several of the men.  People had a lot of fun.

Oregon Arts Orchestra - Italy Trip day 1 and 2 - Travel and Arrival inRome

We decided that we would drive the kids to Utah to be with their grandparents instead of asking the grandparents  to all come up to Oregon.  Because of that, Kip and I didn't fly with the rest of the orchestra.  We took off from Salt Lake and went through DC, with a quick visit in the airport from Wendy and Willem and their little guy.  Our flight from DC to Rome was scheduled to arrive 30 minutes after the main part of the orchestra, but it was delayed, putting us almost 3 hours behind them.  I hoped they would save us some room on the back of the tour bus for when we caught up.

When we got to the Rome Airport, we ended up choosing a shuttle to deliver us to the Piazza Navona where the main part of the orchestra was then eating lunch.  Once the driver had filled all the seats, he headed off into the city.  He was a crazy Italian driver, texting and talking on his cell phone while driving haphazardly through crowded narrow streets.  We had to periodically inform him that the light he was stopped at had changed to green.  He dropped the other two sets of passengers off first and finally pulled up to the Piazza Navona to drop us.  We hauled our luggage out of the back of his van and headed into the plaza, scanning the crowds of tourists for a familiar face.  We re relieved when we found them at a restaurant at the opposite side from where we had entered.  We pulled a table up and ordered our first meal in Italy.  It involved pizza.

After lunch we found the bus and went to the hotel, NH Leonardo di Vinci. We stashed our things in our rooms and went down to a conference room for rehearsal.  It wasn't a very pleasant rehearsal.  In spite of our efforts to sleep on the flights over, I don't think any of us were feeling rested.  We were exhausted and it showed clearly in our playing.  Cindy admitted defeat, sending us to dinner in the hotel with instructions to go to bed afterwards instead of coming back for another rehearsal.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Family reunion - July 2013

The Killpack Family Reunion was at a cabin near Manti, Utah from July 22-26. We had a ton of fun with everyone.

The cabin was way up in the mountains up a long dusty road.  We had a paper airplane contest and enjoyed launching planes from the balcony.

Everyone did a really good job.

We did a toy exchange and then got to play with some of them.

We also built and launched our own rockets.

We went to the Pioneer Day Parade in Fairview.

We got a ton of saltwater taffies.

We also visited the Manti Temple for a family photo shoot.

And went to the cemetery to see the graves of our ancestors.

It was fun spending time together and we learned a little about family history while doing it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Travelin' in Utah July 13-17

We drove down to Idaho on Saturday July 13th. It was a good drive with stops at some nice rest areas. We joined Robin and her kids for dinner that evening. She made us yummy tator tot casserole.  We had a good time hanging put with Robin, Zach, Elizabeth and Quinn.  They have infectious laughs and find lots of things to laugh about.  Dinner was a lot of fun.

We had a yummy breakfast at Robin's in the morning and loaded the car for the drive to Kaysville.  On the way down we had a need for a potty stop.  Our only option at the time was a gas station with a label in the window welcoming us to the middle of nowhere.  It was posted pretty clearly inside that restroom were for paying guests only, so I treated the kids to ice creams that we ate sitting in the dusty parking lot.

We made it to Grammy's without any problems but not quite in time to join her for church.  Instead, we settled in and fell asleep on her sofas while the kids broke out the toys she had brought out for them.

Sunday evening I had some of my favorite high school people over for a mini reunion. Our official 20 year reunion is next month but none of us really wanted to go.  So we emailed each other and set up a reunion with some of the people we did want to see.  I made some gluten free chocolate brownies with extra chocolate chips and fresh raspberries. They were delicious.  We had me, Erin Ford Findlay, Lori Hollist Auger, and Ann Baker Romero.  It was great to just sit and talk.  I could see why these were the friends I chose to spend my time with all through high school.  I definitely think we should do more of these mini reunions!

We stayed at Grammy's until Thursday evening.  We went swimming in the swim spa pretty much every day.  We also visited a few museums.  I took the kids to the Natural History Museum at the University of Utah on Tuesday the 16th.  It was a really nice museum.  We started by climbing all the way to the fifth floor. There, you can go out on the roof and learn about weather and water conservation.  There is also a room about Native American history and current relationship with American society.  We worked our way down through geological information and archeology and then to the dinosaur exhibit.  There were a lot of kid-friendly activities and the displays were all really well done.  It was a great museum.

On Wednesday we took a hike into the mountains behind the parents' house.  We had decided it was time to spread the ashes of the dog the parents had that died just after my mission. Yes, that was 14 years ago.  Her ashes have been in a box on the fireplace since then.  On Sunday when we were waiting for the parents to return from church, Becca picked up the wooden box of dog ashes and, shaking it, asked why Grammy kept a box of rice with the kid toys on the fireplace.  We decided it was time to move the dog on.  The plan had always been to scatter the ashes on the Vita Course, or nature trail. But the boys who frequently went up there never managed to remember to take the boxed dog. So, Wednesday morning the 5 Killpacks and Grandad put on their socks and shoes and headed up the mountain.  We walked to the creek and found a shady spot by the bridge.  That was where we put Cricket's remains. Then, Kip and the kids played in the creek, building up a little dam to increase the depth of the water they were playing in.  Anna and I got mosquito bites on our legs that bugged us the rest of the trip.  And eventually we headed back down the mountainside.

On Thursday Grammy and Grandad treated us with a trip to the Treehouse children's museum in Ogden.  It's another great museum option.  There were enough things to do that we weren't able to get it all done in the two hours of free parking we had available.  The highlight was when the staff hosted play staring the kids.  It was a version of Blanca Flore.  William got to be the prince.  He did an excellent job projecting his lines just like Elizabeth Moreno taught him for the school talent show.  Anna got to be one of the 7 bandits and also did well.  Becca really wanted to be a Bandit but enjoyed the play anyway.

After the museum, Grandad took us to the union station Grill.  We had a yummy lunch and then got to look at the trains on display outside.  They had a train car that had carried the olympic torch for the winter olympics in Salt Lake in 2002.