Thursday, June 12, 2008

Celebrating Wayne's Birthday:The Arts and Outdoors

Wayne's birthday celebration weekend began on Thursday, May 15. We went to Abravenel Hall to see the Utah Symphony perform 3 of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

It was wonderful and we had great seats, 10 rows back on the right side of center. It reminded me of when Beth's orchestral small group performed the first movement of the 4th concerto in High School. Whenever I hear this piece I think of them.

We also heard the 2nd ( lots of high trumpet trills that were very impressive) and the 6th (the Masterpiece theater theme-lower, melodic, nice). My favorite was the third part of the 4th, when the solo violinist did some amazing sounds with his strings.

It was a short concert, just one hour, so afterwards we walked to Temple Square and enjoyed the sights and smells at night. The square was still full of blooming bulbs and the buildings and fountains were all lit so we could enjoy it at night.

Friday night we had tickets to the opera, Don Giovanni! I was excited to see it and Wayne knew he would enjoy the music played by the Utah Symphony if not all of the Operatic voices.

The staging and costumes were wonderful. We sat up high in the balcony so we could easily see the English translations posted above the stage without bobbing our heads up and down. In retrospect I wish I had gone with the front row tickets. In opera, the words are repeated so many times that you only have to glance up occasionally to understand the gist of the words, and there is nothing like being up close to really enjoy live theater.

My favorite performer was a soprano, Donna Anna who rejected Don Giovanni's advances and wanted revenge after he kills her father in a duel.
The story is about a Don Juan character who seduces women and then leaves them. There were only 8 characters, with only a minor character of the men, a tenor. The major men roles were baritone/bass. The women were sopranos or mezzo soprano. Because the music seemed lower to me, I found it more interesting. (I agree with Wayne and am not a fan of the high operatic soprano voice). I enjoyed the production but never felt anything for the title character who was a womanizer and especially preyed on the lower class. We will have to try going to the Mn Opera again when we return home. It is an artistic event. It was fun to mingle in the crowd during intermission. Most attendees were dressed up; with a few in evening gowns, top hats and tails!

Saturday May 17 was Wayne's actual birthday. He opened my gifts early after a big breakfast and a crossword, and then took off on his bicycle for a haircut downtown. Although I have accompanied him to his barber in the past, I stayed home this day to rest my back. One of the disadvantages of attending a performance at the Capitol Theater are the seats, which are set closer together than modern theaters, leaving no leg room. A few hours at the opera last night had rekindled my sore back so I stayed home to rest it. Wayne came home and we put together a picnic lunch which we took to the City Creek Park where we had had a picnic lunch in August of 2002.

I then drove him up to the mountain above the Avenues neighborhood so he could take his bike and try to get to the top without having to do all the city streets on the way. These hiking/biking trails are part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail; a system of trails that traverse the sides of the mountains at about 5-6000 feet with spur trails following the crests of the lower peaks.

The trails run the length of the Salt Lake Valley, all along the Wasatch Mountains and give gorgeous views of the valley once you climb the 500-1000 foot entrance trails. It is one of our favorite things to do; Wayne by bike and me on foot!

Wayne started out at the Morris Reservoir Trailhead and then enjoyed climbing to the crests. He followed the shoreline trail until he met up with a few bikers who pointed out the entrance to the "bobsled", an exit trail with many turns, high banks, and even jumps over abandoned vehicles. Wayne had ridden half of it once before but was really pleased to try the whole trail, avoiding the jumps, and at a slower pace than some of the younger, crazier bikers.

Meanwhile after dropping Wayne off at the trail head, I drove home and left the car in the garage before walking to the library to return and get new books and music. On the way to the library I discovered a festival spread across the grounds of the City & County building and the street separating it from the library. I could see and hear live music, dancing and lots of food and drink booths. Naturally I hurried through my business at the library and then went back outside to enjoy the Living Traditions Festival. It looked so interesting that I reached Wayne on his cell phone and encouraged him to come there instead of going back to our place when he was ready to ride down the mountain.

The Festival was running for three days and had started Friday evening. It included 2 stages for live music and dance, a workshop tent to learn more about types of music, a kitchen tent that gave ethnic kitchen cooking demonstrations, an area just for kids to try all sorts of things, five craft tents with 4 demonstrators per tent as well as the blacksmith just outside the craft tent area, a craft market tent that sold the items being demonstrated in the craft tents and finally 20 different food booths sponsored by local clubs representing food from their native region. We could choose from Hawaiian, Basque, Tongan, Bolivian, Lebanese, Tibetan, Philippine, Tahitian, Pakistani, Laotian, Salvadoran, Thai, Swiss, Scottish, Vietnamese, Bosnian, American Indian, Italian, Chinese and Sudanese. Also the local brewery had a tent. Who knew there was such diversity in this predominantly Mormon valley!

Wayne met me at a corner entrance to the grounds and we wandered through the area, stopping to enjoy music or dance or to ask a question of a craft demonstrator. We decided to come back on Sunday to further enjoy the event and partake of the food, as we had already made plans for dinner and theater for Wayne's birthday evening. Wayne rode his bike home to shower and get ready and I visited the craft market tent before walking to the TRAX and my ride home.

Wayne wanted to eat dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Acme Burger Company. We were dressed nice casual, and enjoyed the few blocks walk to dinner. We requested outdoor seating and had a nice table for two where we could enjoy the fine weather and all the action of the street on a Saturday night. SLC's dining business was sponsoring a promotion called Dine Around the Town where each restaurant would have a three course meal menu choice that week for only $15 (or $25 at the high end restaurants). We decided to both try that and had incredible soup, (clam chowder for Wayne and squash bisque for me) lamb burgers, and ginger/guava/honey sorbet with cookies. It was plate-licking good! We were entertained by a valet service operating just across the street. The valets would take off at a run, weaving around traffic, heading we presumed to the lot where the cars had been parked. We never seemed to catch them coming back!

After dinner we walked a block to the Rose Wagner Theater Arts Complex where we had tickets at the Jeanne Wagner Theater for the 5th annual Slam by Plan B Theater. It was a 24 hour effort by writers, directors and actors to create a play in 23 hours and perform it in the 24th. There were 5 plays created, Jewel in the Crown, Burning Desire, Hootenanny, Oh My Goth, and Into the Black. Each writer was given a title and what the stage set would look like and then ran with it. Each play had 5 actors chosen by lot before the writing began. It was fun to see how creative the plays were, although we didn't understand them all. The audience was mostly 20-30s but we saw a few our age, and the troupe had gotten permission to serve kegs from the brewery across the street in honor of their fifth year ,so the audience was pretty happy even if sometimes clueless about a play.

All five plays took less than an hour and a half to perform (about 10 min each with a little time between), so after the Slam was done, Wayne and I walked a few more blocks back to the Festival to listen to the last performers of the night, an Irish band of three instrumentalists. The crowd had filled the chairs and were standing all over the lawn on the North side of the stage. Before Buille was done performing, a group of happy listeners started snaking their way to the front of the stage where they stayed and danced to the music. It was fun to watch. The band ended by 10:15 and we walked home, enjoying watching all the people out on the town. Beth, Emily, and Katie had all called during the day to sing for Wayne their Happy Birthday wishes. Ellen and Scott had sent him a package containing their favorite tea and an artsy rope handle to use with his beer bottles to keep the beer from getting warm, which he tried and enjoyed!

Sunday morning found us back at Mt. Tabor Lutheran church, sharing with our new friends our adventures at Arches and Canyonlands NPs. It is nice to be missed by our church community.

After lunch we headed out to the Kennecott Mine in Bingham Canyon, UT., the largest man-made excavation on earth. It is an open-pit copper mine, more than three quarters of a mile deep and two and three quarter miles wide, and can be seen by astronauts in space. There is a visitor center which gives a history of the mine, explains the mining process and has many displays on mining, and the use of metals in our everyday lives. There is also a short film that follows the copper from a low grade ore to 99.9% pure in their refinery. Outside the visitor's center, the overlook gives visitors a view point to watch the giant trucks deliver the ore to the in-pit crusher. Through the viewing scopes you can also see the shovels dig out the ore and drop it into trucks. The mine has produced more than 18 million tons of copper since it opened in 1906.

From the mine we hurried home to drop off the car and then walk back to the Festival where we were meeting our friend Carol and her colleague Christie, who were in town for a conference. We enjoyed a beer while we each chose a different ethnic group to provide us with supper. We visited at the picnic tables, finished our food, and then wandered through the craft areas and watched performers on the stages. Carol and Christie came back with us to our place via the TRAX and we showed them the Gateway and had some water before they had to return to the convention hall for an evening program at 8. Wayne and I enjoyed a competitive game of Carcasonne that the girls had brought out as a gift for Wayne when they visited. It was a great end to a wonderful weekend.


Diane said...

Mount Tabor is going to miss you!

Beth said...

I hear there are only three human-made things that can be seen from space...