A Happy EMV Concert with the Consone Quartet
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Before my wife Rosemary died (we had been married 52 years)
on December 9, 2020 we went to all the Early Music Vancouver concerts, theatre,
and dance. I made it a habit to write my blogs with amateur opinions on what I
had heard or seen.
The Vivaldi Gloria, Alice Cooper, Igor Stravinsky 750 Elephants
A Vancouver Magazine writer, Les Wiseman years ago told me
that you can only write about that which you know. And if you don’t you consult
an expert. I did for this:
Another side of that coin is an Argentine saying (I am an
Argie) that states that the devil knows more not because he is the devil but
because he is an old man. At my age of 80 I am perhaps that devil.
Because my introduction to baroque music in Vancouver was in
1991at the Ryerson Church I place here my devilled documentation.
Yesterday, Friday February 17 I witnessed a lovely Early
Music Vancouver concert at Christ Church Cathedral.
It was wonderfully different in that it did not have on the
program anything that was truly baroque. It featured The English Consone (my
spell check wants to convert that to chicken soup) Quartet. In England they are
affectionately labelled The Gut String Quartet.
They played with gut strings (violinists Agata Daraskaite,
Magdalena Loth-Hill and violist Elisa Bogdanova all played without chin rests)
and cellist George Ross had no endpin on the bottom of his instrument.
What made their performance unique, to the point that I
found myself smiling, watching the Consone musicians smile as they played, was their choice of
music I had never ever heard before, particularly Haydn’s String Quartet in E
flat major, Op. 33 no. 2 “The Joke”.
I would agree with Early Music Vancouver Musical Director
Suzie Le Blanc that the Largo sostenuto was the best of the evening. I am sure
she would have added String Quartet in E flat major that was the only one Fanny
Mendelssohn ever wrote.
I have written here, that to me new music is any music I
have not heard before.
What is New Music?
A few years ago EMV featured concerts with then unknown
composers who were under a rug walked by Bach and Vivaldi. It is in one of them
where I heard a Tarquinio Merula Ciaccona. I fell in love with all ciacconas
and folias and in my amateur music critic mode I call them the Louie Louies of
the early baroque and baroque periods.
From my perch in the organ balcony I found the whole
experience a delight to all my senses. The crowd was not as familiar to me as
in others but I did spot David Lemon and pianist Robert Silverman.
Robert Silverman, etc
During the question period I felt smug. I knew the answers to
most questions (except for José Verstappen’s, founding artistic director of
EMV, complicated one which impressed cellist George Ross when I chatted with
him). I knew the answers because I have been friends with Marc Destrubé for
many years. He told me that in the 19th century instruments had to
be louder to play in the larger venues. The chin rest (invented by Louis Spohr,
a contemporary composer to Beethoven) gave the musician more power and the
metal strings were louder. Perhaps the same could be said for the cello’s
endpin. With the endpin women in the 19th century did not have to
Curiously Destrubé told me that with a chin rest he hears
the music more in his head.
As for gut strings, few in Vancouver remember who introduced
them. I was there.
John Elliot Gardiner - May 13 1980
|With glasses Agata Daraskaite, above Magdalena Loth-Hill, below Elitsa Bogdanova & George Ross|
The Bishop of Hippo - One, Two, Three
Friday, February 17, 2023
|Niño & Niña giving me affection and close comfort|
How can the past and future be, when the past no longer
is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present
and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity. St.
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
Walking with Niño today between the rainy periods I was
struck by a thought as I was enjoying the moment. Walking Niño is one of the
most (if not the most) important of my daily duties. I feel guilty when I
cannot walk him.
Taking the same route that Rosemary took around the block
is when I feel closest to her. It might rival being on my bed on the left side
and sensing that absent presence on my right.
I have always admired, because of my Roman Catholic
education at St.Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas, two saints. One is St.
Thomas Aquinas and the other Saint Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo.
In our religion class, taught by Brother Edwin Reggio,
C.S.C., I figured years later, that it had been more than a religion class,
one of theology, full of philosophy that had begun with Aristotle’s Unmoved
God & the Unmoved Mover in the bowling alley
St. Augustine was saint in his later life which is why
his suffering mother Monica was made a saint. Augustine wanted to be a good man
but he had pleaded with God to give him time to have some fun.
Buried in Augustine’s Confessions is the one, two, three
concept that came to mind today as I walked Niño.
Augustine explained that when one listened to music one
would hear a note in the past, listen to it in the present and predict the
next note in the future. Of course we could state here that Augustine had no
concept of atonal music.
I have all those memories of living with Rosemary for 52
years and of my life with my mother, father and grandmother, before I met her.
In this present, the present on 7th Avenue with Niño behind me, It
came to me that Augustine was right. I could prolong that present into a near
eternity of pleasure. In short words my daughter Hilary would say to me, “Enjoy
every moment you have, while you have it.”
It would seem that Hilary Stewart and the Bishop of Hippo
Tram 35 & an Ache in My Heart
Thursday, February 16, 2023
|Hilary circa 1978 in Burnaby|
There is a bittersweet feeling (an ache in my heart) in me today as my Burnaby daughter Hilary (50) is coming for a visit. It has all to
do with the warmth my mother and I felt
long ago when we took a tram to visit my abuelita in downtown Buenos Aires. I want to repeat that warmth.
The interminable wait for Tram 35,
The long and never ending route it took,
The beautiful church on Juramento and Cabildo
I always watched out for out of the window of Tram 35
The expectation of getting to Mother’s flat,
At the end of the line,
And the warmth I’d get there!
The above lines are from a poem, called Argentine Nostalgia, my mother wrote on December 1956 in Nueva
Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico is frequently in my
thoughts. Because I have lived in Buenos Aires, Mexico (Mexico City, Veracruz,
Nueva Rosita), Austin and now Vancouver I feel a nostalgia/longing for all of
them. It was only about 15 years ago that it dawned on me that to feel nostalgia you have to not be in the place you are feeling that nostalgia for! I would have to be in my Buenos Aires to feel for that Vancouver rain.
Important in Argentine Nostalgia are those 7 lines that mention
Tram 35. I often accompanied my mother on that tram so we could visit my
abuelita. I remember one time, I was 8 or 9, when I was crossing the street on
Nahuel Huapí, and Melián, half a block from our house on Melián 2770, old man asked me if I knew if
the “tranvay” stopped.
I wrote about my love for trams in this blog:
Hilary and the Marpole Trams.
If it were not for the constant companionship of my two
cats, Niño and Niña and visits (or forays to good films) from Hilary I would
have no sense of purpose and my constant grief for the loss of my Rosemary
would be worse.
Hilary is aptly called as she does have a hilarious
disposition and a ready smile. I love preparing a good meal for her and to chat
as we sit at Rosemary’s Victorian crank table.
It is that warmth that my mother wrote about in her poem
that I want to repeat for Hilary. She might never write a poem but I do hope
that someday she will think of the comfort she got when she visited her father’s
The photographs of Hilary and the old trams I took on Lougheed Highway between Willingdon and Boundary were they were stored by BC Hydro. The strip of b+w film here was one of my earliest use of a brand new Mamiya RB-67 I had purchased. I had much to learn. At that time we lived in a little house in Burnaby on Springer Avenue and Lougheed Highway. They were simpler times and in that rosy past I remember my Rosemary and our two daughters. If only I could write poems like my mother did.
The Three Bs - Bueno, Bonito y Barato
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
In my frequent Bunny Watson mode to find connection between
disparate ideas this came to mind when I found out that Bed Bath & Beyond
is seeking bankruptcy protection in the US and is closing all its Canadian
In Spanish we have the Three Bs which are Bueno Bonito y
Barato or Good Pretty and Cheap.
Between those Three Bs and the closing of Bed Bath &
Beyond I could not avoid thinking about my Rosemary.
In our 52 year marriage we rarely shopped without being
together. In one of those “why me or why her?” moments I think of all those
stores we loved to shop together like Woodward’s, Eaton’s (both gone) and Bay
(just about to).
Rosemary had a fondness for towels, sheets, bedspreads,
pillow cases and kitchen dish towels. We liked going to the Bay for these. I
may have enough of our purchases of those items left to take me to my eventual
oblivion which statistically should be soon.
But I keep thinking, selfishly, why would Bed Bath & Beyond be
closing when Rosemary and I enjoyed going there? Is this fair to her memory?
In the scan here is a wonderful 5 year-old tablecloth we bought
there. It washes easily (it is also stain repellent) it dries quickly and never
But we gave up trying to keep Niño off our dining room table
and its red tablecloth. The item accompanying the tablecloth was one of
Rosemary’s fave purchases at Bed Bath & Beyond. We used it to remove Niño’s
In my last trip to Bed Bath & Beyond a month ago I purchased a blue version of the red tablecloth and a nice ochre bath mat to replace an old one that Rosemary liked that was beyond repair.
Slowly (and perhaps not so) all those places in our city
that bring me memories of Rosemary are disappearing and it saddens me.
Like many of my fading friendships these are friends, too.
Valentín the Pig & the Colour Red
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
|Rosemary in Lillooet, 14 June 2020, Photograph Ale Waterhouse-Hayward|
Because I was raised in American schools in Argentina,
Mexico and Austin, Texas I grew up with the awareness of American holidays like
Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
In the 8th grade in a small school in Nueva
Rosita, Coahuila, where my mother was our teacher, I fell for a girl in the 7th
grade called Ana María Ramos. She did send me a Valentine.
It would seem that the only Valentine card I ever sent is
Today is Valentine’s Day. I am alone with two cats and
nobody has called or emailed. It is a lonely Valentine with no
possible pleasure of dining with my Rosemary at a fine restaurant and then
indulging in bedside shenanigans.
Thus I have lots of spare time to reflect on the meaning of
the holiday without the help of chocolates.
Google has a banner today in pink. Pink seems to be today’s
colour. I believe that pink is supposed to be a blend between the passion of red
and the purity of white.
My Rosemary rarely wore red and loved white in the garden.
She tolerated and then loved deep red roses. She did not like all of my pink
El curioso color del colorado - Jorge Luís Borges
When I saw a single bloom of Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ today
I instantly was reminded of Rosemary and how she loved this plant.
|Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' 14 February 2023|
The presence of the pig Valentín (a very large piggy bank
from Mexico) is here because my eldest daughter’s godmother Rosa Velia gave it
to her. Alexandra has yet to claim it and take it home to Lillooet.