Monday, July 28, 2014

45 Days in London: Day 35

We started to panic last night–only ten days left in London!
But then I realized: most people who come here ONLY come for ten days...or even less. So if you look at it that way...we have a whole trip to England left...YAY!

One hundred years ago today marked the beginning of World War 1. We appropriately visited the Imperial War Museum and its new exhibit on The Great War. It was a stunning presentation—lots of audio/video and other elements. The overall sensation was very sobering. The grim reality of the ravages and atrocities of war was right there in your face. Quotes from soldiers about killing without mercy, about trying not to kill, then realizing it was their duty, and about watching their friends die. Weapons, masks, helmets, knives, bullets and bayonets. Uniforms and propaganda. I started to cry. It actually made me a little depressed. But then of course the Americans come in and save the day. (Better late than never!) I was still somber, but not depressed, by the exhibit's end.

From there we raced over to St. Martin in the Fields where we heard a small choral group, St. Martin's Voices, sing songs about WW1 by composers to wrote, fought, and/or died during the war.
It was the perfect follow-up to the war museum experience. We got so much understanding of the horrors and suffering from the exhibit, and then pure healing from the concert. The perfect blend of rich voices bounced off the ornate, rounded ceiling and enveloped us in nurturing sound. The songs brought evoked sadness, honor and solace, and were interspersed with brief readings of poetry by WW1 soldiers. The experience was sublime. Next we took a quick peek inside the wonderful underground crypt and the brass rubbings, and grabbed a quick lunch.

We went out for Indian food with one of the study abroad directors and a small group of students. We ate at Light of India, and the food was great. Lamb Korma for the win!

Then we walked over to the Royal Albert Hall for a BBC concert. I love the Albert Hall! I still remember so vividly going there as a student, and buying a standing-room-only ticket, clear up on the fourth balcony, to hear the Scottish National Orchestra perform Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals.

Tonight was no less exciting. The hall is grand, and our seats were looking right over the orchestra. The first piece was a world premiere symphonic work called GAIA—inspired by the theories of James Lovelock. Having just seen the Lovelock exhibit at the Science Museum this was especially meaningful. The piece was gorgeous—my favorite of the evening. Next was a Mozart piano concerto featuring a very passionate, energetic pianist. Then of course they have an entire salon dedicated to serving Haagen-Dazs ice cream, where half the audience floods during the interval. And finally Daphne and Chloe by Ravel, complete with chorus. It was a wonderful, rich, multi-cultural evening, wrapping up yet another perfect day.

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