Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas 2010

#3 – 906 St Charles Street, 19 December 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
This has been a year of celebration and sadness, farewells and feasts.
2010-11, the 25th anniversary of the GVYO, is dedicated to the memory of our beloved director János Sándor, who died in May. The baton has passed to his colleague, student and friend Yariv Aloni, whom János mentored as he had countless musicians throughout his full rich life. Silver Season concerts this fall featured superb performances by alumni Jonathan Crow (Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto) and Sarah MacDonald (Poulenc Organ Concerto), commending 25 years of Work in Progress, the title of a film made about the GVYO in this banner and memorable year.
Diana continues her work with the orchestra, as 25th Anniversary Project Coordinator. She had the privilege of presenting a reflection at the memorial service for János. This was the second of two ‘micro-sermons’ Di was asked to give during the year, the first having been for one of the services celebrating St. John’s Church 150th anniversary year. Preparing a sermon is a significant and humbling task.
Bob, now post 65, is still working at AMA and immersed in the study of Hebrew poetry. The language was great for identifying hummus in Israeli grocery stores – that's חומס, roughly.

Here is our year-in-review. You’ll see our busy-ness did not prevent an inordinate amount of holiday travels!

February: Ten days on the Big Island of Hawaii with our friends John and Helen Money – tennis every day, flowers galore, stargazing, snorkelling, coffee tasting, and hiking around volcanoes.

April: after 15 years we finally bought a new car – a Prius (Hybrid), a good thing considering all this holidaying!

May-June: after a quick trip to Winnipeg Di and Simon took a road trip west through the Rockies to meet Bob and Jennifer and Stephanie in the Okanagan, for a holiday with Bob's brother Bill and wife Jeanne, and Di’s brother Jim and wife Ardis, not to mention the dogs. Biking, barbecuing, more tennis and wine tasting! The Chateau St-Charles Winery, after declaring incompetence, is now officially out of business.

June: Di and Simon threw a surprise party for Jeremy’s 40th birthday. Jer put red windshield wipers on the Civic!

July: here at home for a sail on the HMCS Oriole with GVYO friends, two wonderful weeks of Duruflé with Garth MacPhee – and more tennis!

August: Di flew to UK for Sarah’s organ recital at St Paul's Cathedral London and visited the sweet little house in Cambridge newly bought and proudly owned by Sarah and Marcus. Di joined Marcus and Rita as groupies on tour to Paris where Sarah conducted Ely Cathedral Girls at Notre Dame (and others). We ate pastries, climbed la Tour Eiffel and finally visited Musée d’Orsay, then returned to London where Sarah directed the girls, now joined by the Lay Clerks, at Evensong in Westminster Abbey.
And Di arrived home just in time to prepare…

September: a second surprise party, this time for Bob’s 65th, with lots of friends, family and surprise guests, Simon and Jennifer. Two days later Bob flew to Ottawa. Di joined Bob the following week and we drove to Kingston to hear Sarah's Selwyn College Chapel Choir on tour, and to meet Bob's old school friend Peter whom he had not seen for 48 years (a story in itself). Di returned home and Bob flew to the UK for a conference on the Psalms in Oxford followed by two weeks reading at the University Library in Cambridge, again thanks to the very patient and ubiquitous Sarah - talk about seven-league boots!

But wait – we’re not finished – we met, next month in …

October: Jerusalem! - fulfilling years of anticipation, and no small preparation. Of course this visit just happened to coincide with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s 75th Anniversary Tour, and we watched Jennifer dance in two performances! After 12 days ‘walking about Zion and considering her citadels’ Di ‘translates’ the psalm: Jerusalem is builded as a city that is at enmity with itself. Bob’s take is similar: Jerusalem is built as a pomegranate in razor wire.

We had time to explore everything from Holy Sepulchre and Yad Vashem (Sho’a memorial designed by Canada’s Moishe Safdie) to the City of David (Hezekiah’s Tunnel, 7th Century BCE) and the more we saw the more we felt we needed to see. But time ran out and we took to the road with our Lonely Planet Guide and spent nine days exploring the rest of this ancient and complex Land that is called Holy.
We had walked the ramparts above the old romantic walls of Jerusalem. We were ushered through the new and frighteningly unromantic walls of its neighbour Bethlehem. There be scaffolding in the Church of the Nativity and shops where olive wood is sold in abundance. High-rises are cheek by jowl on the hillsides. The Dead Sea is weird and Di got muddy. Qumran is hot. The hills above the Sea of Galilee are as cool and vegetarian as our own Hornby Island. The Golan Heights and Nimrod’s Castle are high and mighty. The town of Nazareth is bewildering, but our stay there was a highlight. We were housed in a partially restored Ottoman mansion owned, managed and staffed by Jews, Christians and Moslems, some paid, others volunteers from around the globe. Eventually we found ourselves in Tel Aviv on the beach for 36 hours, just prior to the long flights home, where it took weeks to realize we were not in hotels halfway around the world.
There are many pictures – the summary is here:
And while you're there, do take a gander at Bob's translations. Especially fun is Qohelet in the style of Dr Seuss.
Our love and Christmas Blessings to you all.
Bob and Di