One must admit…

With my return to Japan less than a week away, I have been indulging in more than a bit of fun, it must be admitted. Even semi-serious musicians enjoy a visit with family, a dash of tourism, and the occasional glass of beer. One doesn't wish to wish to bore the reader with truckloads of personal information, of course. Those readers who are disturbed by non-musical matters should probably leave this post unread. If you don't mind a wee bit o family news, however, scroll down for my post-Portland travel news.

1. Gig Harbor, again. Hill climbs were rewarded by wonderful views of Mt. Ranier.

2. I was finally joined by my wife after six weeks of bachelor life. She and I traveled to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to visit family, most of whom I haven't seen for many years. While in town, we hiked (with my brother's family),

sampled the local beers,

and made friends with family pets.

3. Our next stop was Seattle, where we did more catching up with relatives and friends. We also visited old haunts. Here is the University of Washington Music Building, where we both studied as undergraduates.

Seattle brought out its best spring weather for us. As you can see, winter is really over here.

From Seattle we traveled by ferry to Victoria, British Columbia (Canada) with family. Home base is the Empress Hotel, which fronts on the inner harbor. Here is the sunset that greeted our first night here (taken through the hotel windows).

Night views of the hotel and nearby Parliament building.

A visit to the spacious Butchart Gardnens turned out to be a bonanza for photographers:

Our visit concluded with an obligatory group photo. (with my father and step-mother, as well as “the wife”).

Tomorrow we will all attend the Sunday service at Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican), which I will report on in a future post. Here is the cathedral and it's organ.




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A tale of two cathedrals

The View has gotten lazy with updates, it seems. Regular travel, visiting family and friends, etc., have gotten in the way of blogging. But today I will try to catch up, skimming over most of the details and sticking with the facts my inquiring reader needs to know. We begin and end with cathedrals today.

Since last posting, I have attended Sunday services at two Anglican (Episcopal) cathedrals. Each took great care with its liturgy, which were as different as the buildings in which they took place. Please keep in mind that I don't intend to rate services, but rather, to share what I found interesting with the reader.

1. Trinity Cathedral, Portland, Oregon.

Architecturally, Trinity Cathedral is a modest building (for a cathedral). The nave is large and comfortable (padded pew cushions!), but not particularly inspiring, visually. There are however, a beautiful set of twelve windows, six on either side of the nave, that depict the Beatitudes. Here is one:

The large west window was also notable:

In the chancel is the very fine organ by Manuel Rosales. Despite the somewhat dry acoustics of the room (pew cushions!), the organ supported both the choir and the congregation with a full, deep, yet sparkling sound.

I attended the last Sunday service before the beginning of Lent, and there was a baptism, so the overall mood was festive. A sung introit, choir anthems, service music, etc., were all sung at a professional level. Certainly, this group was the finest church choir I have heard during my travels. Their choirmaster, Michael Kleinschmidt, has moved to St Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, where I am sure he will continue to do excellent work. The incoming interim choirmaster, Bruce Neswick, is also known in this country for his choral and organ work, so I am sure Trinity's great choir will continue to flourish. There is also an active concert series at the cathedral, so when in Portland…

2. St John's Cathedral, Spokane, Washington

Visually, this building has that “stop the car, there's a cathedral!” aura. It is a well-proportioned neo-Gothic style edifice that makes people like want to delay any and all appointments in order to spend time inside. On a personal note (spoiler: personal info ahead), I was born just down the hill from the cathedral, and have many relatives in the area, so consider the Spokane area a second home (after Seattle).

The interior of the cathedral continues to delight the eye:

The organ is a fairly large Aeolian-Skinner organ installed in 1957. Those parts of the organ that we heard last Sunday (the first Sunday in Lent) were smooth and elegant, reminiscent of an English cathedral instrument from the early 20th-century. John Bodinger is the organist (he and I were students at the Eastman School of Music together decades ago), and used the organ to great effect throughout the service.

As mentioned, this was the first Sunday in Lent, and began with a long procession and chanting of the Great Litany. Two anthems by the choir (Brahms and Farrant) were well sung. I rarely comment on sermons heard, but that given by the Dean yesterday was extremely fine, touching both on the readings, as well as current topics (strife in the Middle East). I had a flight to catch soon after the service, so didn't have much time to enjoy the building after the service. But if you are ever in Spokane, be sure to climb the South Hill to St John's Cathedral.


Preview: in its next post, The View goes casual. Outdoor activies, perhaps even a family photo or two. As my sabbatical winds down, it is time for visits with family and friends before returning to Japan. All this and more in the next post. Y'all come back, now!


Posted in Choral ~ 聖歌隊関係, Church music ~ 教会音楽, Photography ~写真, USA | Leave a comment

A tale of two cities, continued

Today we have homework for the reader. Prepare pen and paper. Write a 300 word essay describing your favorite city or town. What did you write? What did you point out for the unfortunate person that doesn't know your city? We are facing just such a dilema here at The View. How to describe Portland in a few pithy, yet juicy paragraphs?

I have had only three days to get a feel for this city (unlike Seattle, where I lived for many years), so decided to throw caution to the wind and describe only the few places that I found interesting. There are undoubtedly things and places of far greater value, but here is what I have discovered.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, this is an economically thriving city. Old buildings survive in great numbers, and most are in use. All the shopping one needs to do is here – no need to get into a car in order to visit a nasty suburban mall surrounded by a wasteland of parking lots. So you don't want to walk? Then ride the wonderful MAX system of lightrail trains. I bought an all day pass today for a mere $5.00. It enabled me to reach the suburbs in order to visit a friend, as well as to buzz around town on the trolley. This is a city that has figured out mass transit.

As a tourist, I did gawk at a few things. These include:

Bridges over the Wilamette River, including the Steel Bridge. Be careful if you take photos here – highly serious cyclists and joggers chastise those who don't hustle along (me included).

Portland's Steel Bridge

Steel Bridge pedestrian walkway

Impressive architectural detail on the older buildings.

What I found most memorable about the city (in my short time here) were the Portland Art Museum, and the Chinese Garden. China Town, itself, was a very small area with very little going on. If you are familiar with the big, thriving China towns of Yokohama or San Fransisco, Portland's will come as a big disappointment. However, there is an absolutely fabulous Chinese garden to visit instead. I spent nearly two hours there, enjoying and photographing the garden, as well as enjoying a rest in the tea house, serenaded by a professional erhu player. Views of the garden:

My other favorite spot was the Portland Art Museum. I allotted three hours to see it, but ran out of time before it closed. If, like me, you like to savor the art, read the descriptions, and photograph it, you will need at least four hours to do it justice. Even though I was in a tizzy toward the end, I managed to find quite a few objects I would gladly take home, were they offered. These include:

Morris Graves: Portrait of Bill Cumming

Ernest Wilhelm Nay: Rythmische Imagination

George Morris: Composition With Stripes

Alfred Maurer: George Washington

Carol Hepper: Standing X

Other places to be checked out if staying in the city for any length of time: the Pearl District (brew pubs, outdoor shops, art stores, coffee shops, etc), and Powell's Bookstore (surely one of the best I've ever seen). I have another half day left to enjoy, so look forward to new discoveries before returning to Tacoma in the afternoon.

To close today's post, and to satisfy the curiosity of the legions of faithful readers, I share a photo. It is of the entire editorial staff and advisory board of The View from Tokyo.

(left: Mr. David Perrine, faithful reader and oldest friend of the editor in chief; right: the Editorial Staff. It should be noted that at meetings of the board – and there has only been one – the “my wife” of Mr. DP, Lynne, serves an excellent spread of Korean food. For your information and edification, said meal is shown below.)



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A tale of two cities and two dogs

The View is reporting in from Portland, Oregon. Recently, the editorial staff has been too busy running around two fine West coast cities do any writing, but today an attempt will be made to share a few sights from Tacoma, Washington, and Portland.

The contrast between these cities is considerable. Tacoma is situated on steep hills above a fine salt-water port. Portland spreads out on fairly flat land that features the Willamette River. Tacoma's downtown has many fine buildings, not a few of which stand empty and in disrepair. Portland appears to be in better shape, financially, and bustles with activity. Empty buildings were few and far between in the downtown area.

In Tacoma, efforts have been made to re-use empty architectural gems, and the careful observer will note success stories here and there. Tacoma is a funky town, with many antique stores, painted buildings and walls. Unfortunately, and unlike Portland, the city center is victim to suburban flight, as all the major department stores and related shopping has fled to the suburbs and malls. Be that as it may, one wishes great things for Tacoma and hopes it is ready to turn the corner. It already has the University of Washington's Tacoma campus, the Theater District, Museum District, cool cafes and coffee shops. Good luck, Tacoma! Here are some of the wonderful buildings I found while walking around town for five hours on a wondefully sunny and warm winter day.

1. Painted walls and buildings – this is a colorful city!

Fine buildings from the the late-19th century and early-20th centuries that are in use.

Stadium High School

Pantages Theater

Pantages Theater

First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church

former Masonic Temple

Sadly unused buildings awaiting renovation (one hopes).

former Elk's Lodge

former Elk's Lodge

A few people of Tacoma.

Mr. John Henry Haines

Two ladies chatting

a homeless person sleeping on the street

And what of Portland? All questions about this great city will be answered in tomorrow's post. To be continued… To close, dog two, Oggie. Say good-bye, Oggie.




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A 95% Superior Week

It was a mostly excellent week in the hinterlands of Tacoma, Washington. We did have the pineapple express (a flow of warm, wet air from Hawaii that drenched us in nearly non-stop rains for over a week), to contend with, but life went on, albeit in soggy fashion. I spent several hours each day practicing both the organ and the Tacoma Rain Walk, nearly perfecting each over the course of the week. The organ practice led up to last Sunday, when I played the early service at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church. I accompanied the choir’s anthem, as well as playing the prelude, hymns, and postlude. It was an interesting and rewarding experience that made the soggy hour-long walks worth the trouble. My allotted practice time on Sunday was from 7 am – good heavens! The choir rehearsed from 8 am – good heavens! The service started at 9 am and ended at 10 – good heavens! My annual share of early morning work was accomplished all in one day.

The afternoon was equally memorable. Not only did the rains finally cease (for a few hours) but we were able to enjoy a performance of Glibert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore by the Tacoma Opera at the historic downtown Rialto Theater. The champagne of comic operetta! Laugh followed laugh, releasing the tension of the morning. I stole a few minutes before the performance began in order to run through the Broadway area of the city and photograph a few of the interesting buildings there. Photos below.


And what about the 5% disagreeable portion of the week? It came at the end of the day on Sunday, when I attempted to force open a stuck garage door. The cord I was pulling on suddenly gave way and I found myself slamming into the concrete directly on my tailbone. Ooooooh! Ahhhh! Pzmmm! (In order to preserve the high tone of this blog, there will be no photos of said tailbone, unfortunately.)



Posted in Church music ~ 教会音楽, Music - general ~ 音楽:一般, Organ ~ オルガン関係, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment