SEATTLE & BACH FESTIVAL
This part of the sabbatical continues to be more family oriented as we spend a few days as tourists in Seattle, Washington and then take in parts of the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene, Oregon.
Before Elisabeth and I were married from August 2001 until August 2002, Elisabeth lived in Seattle as part of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (where she worked at Seattle Habitat for Humanity) while I lived for a year at Holden Village. We were engaged the fall of 2001 and bought our wedding rings at a store that happens to be across the street from the hotel where we stayed in Seattle. We couldn't help but do a little browsing for the rings that we couldn't afford back in 2001 to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary coming up this August 24.
We arrived in Seattle on Monday early in the afternoon and after getting settled at our hotel (and getting a quick oil change down the street) we took a quick monorail ride to the Space Needle. By the time we took in the view of the city and took the elevator up and down, we had just enough time to pick up some pizza (and Leif's first chocolate shake ever) before it was bedtime for everyone.
On Tuesday we spent a rainy morning watching (dead) fish fly at Pike Place Market and (live) fish at the Seattle Aquarium. Lunch involved everyone taking turns melting down which let us know that an afternoon nap was in order for the whole family. For the afternoon we took a boat ride around the harbor and then found some seafood for supper.
Wednesday morning Elisabeth had coffee with a friend with whom she worked during her year at Seattle Habitat for Humanity (while I had a great time riding up and down the nearby escalators with Elijah and the son of Elisabeth's friend). After packing up the van and having some lunch we rounded out our time in Seattle with an afternoon Mariners/Athletics baseball game. Unfortunately the home team lost 2-1.
The remainder of Wednesday was spent driving to Eugene, Oregon - home of an annual event called the Oregon Bach Festival. Every summer for several weeks, professional musicians from all over the world gather to put on a festival of concerts mostly in Eugene, but at other locations around Oregon as well. In three-hour sessions in the morning and afternoons of Thursday and Friday, Elisabeth audited the master's classes connected with the Bach Festival. She also went to the opening concert of the Bach Festival on Friday night with world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell performing.
On Thursday and Friday I got to hang out with Elijah and Leif. We spent time checking out the Olympic Track & Field Trials (held just a few blocks from Elisabeth's master's classes), playing in parks, and swimming at a local YMCA (along with about a hundred other splashing, screaming children). We also enjoyed the Pacific International Children's Choir Festival (PICCFEST) as they performed for about a half hour in the lobby before the opening concert on Friday night. Here's a video of one piece they performed (by none other than Bach). They were directed by Bob Chilcott, the director of the world-renowned King's Singers.
On Saturday we packed up the van once more and drove two hours to the north to Portland. We had plans to meet up with some friends from seminary who we knew would be in the area so that they could watch Elijah and Leif while Elisabeth and I went to another Oregon Bach Festival concert in Portland. This concert was a repeat of the previous night's concert in Eugene with Joshua Bell performing a Mendelssohn violin concerto and also the orchestra and choir each performing.
If you've seen the movie The Red Violin, then you've heard him play as well because he did the solo violin performances for the soundtrack. If you want to know more about Joshua Bell, I'd also recommend a great article called "Pearls Before Breakfast" that ran several years ago in The Washington Post about an experiment he did playing as a 'street-musician' in a subway station. It certainly makes you think twice about the beauty that we bight be missing on a daily basis.
All that said, there was much more to the concert than Joshua Bell and I enjoyed the performance by the choir just as much (maybe more?). It was a thrilling concert and a great night, which I will not soon forget (once again thanks to the Lilly Foundation for paying for it!).
Sunday morning we went with our friends to an intentionally multicultural and multiethnic congregation - Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland. When my friend and I introduced ourselves as both being pastors, we were recruited on the spot to serve communion. It was a real privilege in the midst of a summer without pastoral responsibilities. The rest of Sunday was spent with trips to the airport and out to the Oregon coast for a week of reunion with the rest of our seminary friends - 15 adults and 9 children. But that's for another blog entry…