Monday, November 3, 2008

Culture Vulture

Picture a beautiful elongated domed roof, in a rectangular room with columns flanking either side, green trees in wood chips and a sculpture of angels and a goose in the middle. Got it? Well that's where I spent my evening, at a free concert (the 2,691st concert to be exact) by the National Gallery Vocal Arts Ensemble and the National Gallery Chamber Players. The seating was squared around the outside of the statue, and then in rather odd places - I was stuck behind the statue, but could see a few of the singers and the viola player.

The first half of the program was religious pieces, but it really heated up after the intermission with the Dutch pieces (to tie in with a current exhibition). I particularly one piece, "Lascia Filli mia cara" or "Come, My Dear Phyllis".

Come, my dear Phyllis
cast off your rigours
and, wise as you are,
dress yourself in love;
Be wary that you do not imitate the snakes.
Learn to love from the doves,
learn the way of lovers,
with repeated hugs and many caresses,
that one day I will hold you in my arms
and wish to make a thousand doves
feel ashamed.

However, the biggest applause was reserved for an Italian piece entitled "Matona, mia cara" which ended with the following verse:

If you'll love me
I won't be lazy
I will make love all night long
and will thrust like a ram.

I spent the day wandering around the various monuments. I walked up to the Washington Monument (the big obelisk) and got a free ticket for a few hours later. I then headed down through the WWII memorial, which is a nice fountain, past the reflecting pool (refraining from yelling "run Forest run" at passing joggers, and down to Abraham Lincoln's statue. It's quite impressive. I wandered up through the Vietnam memorial - 58,000 names etched in alphabetical order on the day they were killed.

From there I walked past the White House - couldn't see much but I imagine the movers are in there, packing up old Georgie boy's stuff. From there I strolled back up to the Washington Monument and waited in line to go up the lift. The viewing platform is 500 feet up, and the view (though compartmentalised in little windows) was great.

Another big day tomorrow, I'm going to see if I can OD on Smithsonians!

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