Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

It was a wonderful Christmas this year!  On Christmas Eve I went to the final Christmas broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I can't think of a better way to spend Christmas Eve!  The program was especially beautiful and I loved "Wexford Carol."  In the afternoon I went to see It's A Wonderful Life on the big screen at my local art house theater.  They show it every year and I've always wanted to see it so this year I decided to make it happen.  I love that movie!  In the evening Sean and Tashena opened their traditional Christmas pajamas.
We played shanghai rummy for the rest of the evening which is always so much fun!  Trent won!
Sean gave us very strict instructions about when we were opening presents in the morning.  I thought I was going to be late but I made it with two minutes to spare only to discover that he wasn't there yet!
Santa Claus came and he was very generous!
Sean got lots and lots of games for his Xbox, a wireless controller, and a drone (I kind of want one of those!).
Tashena got a bigger TV for her room, some new basketball shoes, a Kindle e-reader, and lots of body spray from Bath & Body Works (she has so much of that stuff).
I got some books, a sweater, a new chromebook, and lots of movies!  After a fantastic dinner we played shanghai rummy (Tashena won) and then Marilyn and I took Tashena (Sean didn't want to go because he has a million new games to play) to see The Last Jedi (it was the third time for me and I still love it!).

I hope that you had a wonderful holiday as well!  Just like last year, I plan on spending the rest of my winter break in a darkened theater trying to cross off a bunch of movies on my list (reviews will come in the new year). 

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Nutcracker 2017

I am now officially on winter break and I am so excited (and relieved). The past week at school has been extremely stressful and, honestly, I didn't think I would make it! The one thing that got me through the day yesterday was knowing that I would be seeing a performance of The Nutcracker by Ballet West later that night. This is a cherished tradition every Christmas and I was even more excited than usual this year because it is all new! The new production retains everything that I love about this ballet, namely the incomparable score by Tchaikovsky and William Christensen's iconic choreography, and adds some beautiful new sets and costumes. I loved it! The set during the party scene has a very Baroque feel to it with lots of jewel tone colors.  I especially loved the falling snow visible in a picture window behind the tree. I also really liked the special lighting effects when the tree grows in size. The set for the Snow Pas de Deux is like a woodland winter wonderland with the Northern lights in the background.  I particularly liked the effect of viewing this scene through diamond paned windows as Clara and the Nutcracker Prince leave the house. The set for the Land of the Sweets has a very tropical feel with candy hued costumes for the pages and attendants (and monkeys!). The new costumes are incredibly opulent and my favorites were the Waltzing Flowers and the furry mice. I don't think I will ever get tired of seeing this ballet and I eagerly anticipate all of the divertissements offered by the Sugar Plum Fairy to entertain Clara. As ever, my favorites are the Arabian dance because it is so exotic and sensuous and the Russian dance for its sheer athleticism (it received the loudest cheers). I wait through the entire ballet for the Grand Pas de Deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. I love this because Tchaikovsky's music here is so incredibly romantic!  The Sugar Plum Fairy was danced by Sayaka Ohtaki last night and she was fantastic. I think she is so classically graceful and she seemed to glide across the stage and whirl through the air. It was a wonderful evening and the perfect start to winter break! I highly recommend seeing this amazing update of a Christmas classic.  It runs at the Capitol Theatre through December 30 and tickets may be purchased here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Gingerbread Houses 2017

My nephew Sean is the keeper of the family traditions and he started asking me about doing gingerbread houses last weekend when I was over playing cards.  Every year I keep expecting that Sean and Tashena will no longer want to make them but it seems like they still look forward to it and that makes me happy.  We planned our epic gingerbread party for last Sunday night and it was as fun as it always is!
Various stages of construction.  We eat as much candy as we put on our houses!
Sean's house.
Tashena's house.
Marilyn's house.
My house.
The whole village!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sunday Ritual

Every Sunday in December I have been getting up early in the morning to attend the Music and the Spoken Word broadcasts.  It has been so lovely to walk through an almost silent city in the cold brisk air to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Christmas music.  I have been loving it so much!  Last Sunday was such a treat because the broadcast featured a portion of the Christmas concert and both Sutton Foster and Hugh Bonneville were there!  My friend in the choir mentioned that some of the songs from the concert would be repeated but I didn't know that the guests would be there as well.  I was thrilled!  Sutton Foster sang "Christmas Time is Here" and "Angels From the Realm of Glory" and Hugh Bonneville read the Christmas story from the Bible.  The choir performed "Joy to the World," with the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble, "Unfold, Ye Portals," which was absolutely thrilling once again, and "Silent Night."  After the broadcast the choir sang "God Be With You 'Till We Meet Again" to Foster and Bonneville and that was just incredible.  There is one more special Christmas broadcast on Christmas Eve and I am so looking forward to it!  Honestly, I will be a little sad when Christmas is over because this has been wonderful!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

A ticket to the Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert is highly coveted in these parts.  I very much wanted to go (I even schlepped my laptap on my trip to Los Angeles after having trouble using the website on my phone in the past) because this year the featured guests were Broadway star Sutton Foster and Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham!).  But, alas, I couldn't get tickets.  I was really sad but I knew that I had a lot of really fun things planned in December (The Last Jedi!) and, since you can't do everything, I got over it!  Then my wonderful friend, who sings in the choir, offered me one of his tickets (I got a ticket to a later screening of The Last Jedi because sleep is overrated).  The concert began with the choir, along with the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble, singing "Joy to the World" and that pretty much began the waterworks because it was so stirring.  The stage was decorated like the prow of a ship with sails, maritime signal flags, portholes, and flickering lanterns hanging all around.  The effect was stunning and the significance was revealed a bit later.  Sutton Foster, Hugh Bonneville, and hundreds of dancers dressed in Victorian costumes sang "Just Once a Year" which was a lot of fun.  Then Foster sang "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Christmas Time Is Here."  Next came my favorite part of the concert which was titled A Classical Christmas.  The choir and Richard Elliott, on the most amazing organ you can imagine, performed "Unfold, Ye Portals" from The Redemption by Charles Grunod and then "Sing!" based on the Toccata from Organ Symphony No. 5 by Charles-Marie Widor.  That was spectacular and I could hardly catch my breath!  Then Foster sang an amazing version of "Sunshine on My Shoulder" by John Denver after telling an affecting story about her mother.  Seriously, the waterworks began again (so much so that the adorable older gentleman sitting next to me felt the need to comfort me!).  The Orchestra on Temple Square performed "Sleigh Ride" and then Foster followed with "Snow," from A White Christmas, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Happy Holiday."  Mack WIlberg, the conductor of the choir, led the audience in a rousing version of "Jingle Bells" complete with snow falling!  Richard Elliott performed an epic version of "I Saw Three Ships" on the organ and then Hugh Bonneville appeared in the audience very close to where I was sitting to tell the story of how Horatio Spafford came to write the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul" after losing most of his family after a ship they were traveling on at Christmas time sank in the Atlantic Ocean.  It was quite moving because the choir sang the hymn at various times in the story.  Then the choir sang a beautiful version of "Silent Night" with lighting that made the women look like angels in their white dresses.  Bonneville then recited the Christmas Story form the Bible.  The concert ended with an incredible version of "Angels From The Realms of Glory" performed by Foster and all of the dancers.  I will never forget this night!  It was a beautiful and inspiring concert and I am beyond grateful that I got to go (Thank you so much, Stanford!).
Me and some random guy before the concert began!
Note:  Look for my review of The Last Jedi tomorrow!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tashena's Christmas Concert

I love Christmas music and I especially love hearing it performed live!  I have now heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Lower Lights, and now the Bountiful High School Concert Choir!  Last night my family went to hear Tashena sing but the concert was with the whole music department and I was so impressed with the sheer number of kids involved.  There were four different choirs, the chamber orchestra, and the concert orchestra.  Every group sounded so beautiful and I especially loved one of the songs that Concert Choir sang called "There is Faint Music" accompanied by a harp.  Goosebumps!  It was such a lovely concert and I am so proud of Tashena because she is such a talented girl.

Note:  Where do schools get these Concert Choir dresses?  Is there a company that does nothing but supply these dresses to schools?  They all seem to look alike but with different colors to represent the school (HHS has the same dresses but in navy blue with a white sash).  Do the girls every wear them again after the school year is over?  I'm fascinated!  I think Tashena rocks the Concert Choir dress.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Christmas Carol 2017

It just wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't see Hale Centre Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol. I like to joke that I've seen it so many times I could probably stand in for any part!  However, this year it is an entirely new production! It is now held in the new Jewel Box Theatre at the Mountain America Performing Arts Centre which has a traditional proscenium stage.  The script and all of the musical numbers are the same but, since it is no longer being performed in the theatre-in-the-round, the staging and the choreography are completely different. The stage reminded me of a set for a Shakespeare play because there is a upper level with balconies on either side at different levels and a staircase connecting the levels. The design is actually quite simple but I really liked it because, at its heart, the story of Ebeneezer's redemption through visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future is a simple one. Sometimes the same actors reprise roles year after year but this year I was able to see many that I had never seen before, including Stephen Kerr as Scrooge, Lucas Charon as Fred, and Addison Welch as Bob Cratchit. It was fun to see some new interpretations of beloved characters and I particularly liked a scene where Bob Cratchit thanks Scrooge because it is so heartfelt and moving with an affecting performance by Welch that actually brought a tear to my eye. Tiny Tim, played by Alexander Scott, is absolutely adorable and I loved his interactions with Scrooge! There are some new costumes for the ghosts and the Ghost of Christmas Future is quite terrifying. I thoroughly enjoyed this updated classic and, even if you have seen it countless times like I have, I definitely recommend getting a ticket (go here) but hurry because almost every show is sold out!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Lower Lights 2017

Last night I continued a tradition that I started several years ago by seeing the Lower Lights in concert and it just made me so happy!  I really love listening to Christmas music played live and the Lower Lights concert is one of my favorites.  The Lower Lights are a super group of 22 insanely talented musicians and vocalists, many of whom are famous in their own rights, who have a distinct folk-gospel sound and have an incredible rapport with one another on stage that is palpable to the audience.  Last night they performed quite a few of their gospel songs which turned Kingsbury Hall into a raucous revival tent.  Some of my favorites were "Old Time Religion," "Down to the River to Pray," "Go Tell It On The Mountain," and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."  Of course, I especially loved all of the Christmas music, especially "Still, Still Still" and "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" because I sang those songs in choir when I was in college.  Hearing them always brings back so many memories.  I was also really impressed with a beautiful instrumental version of "What Child Is This?" featuring a guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and bass.  It gave me goosebumps!  Some of the other Christmas songs in the setlist included "I Saw Three Ships," "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful," "Away in a Manger," "White Christmas," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," "Silver Bells," "Mary's Lullaby," "The Holly and the Ivy," "A Cradle in Bethlehem," "Mary's Boy Child," and "In the Bleak Midwinter."  For the encore they performed "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and a beautiful a cappella rendition of "Silent Night" with the audience.  It was so lovely!  I really love this tradition and I walked out of Kingsbury Hall with a big smile on my fave.  The Lower Lights will perform one more concert tonight and I highly recommend getting a ticket (if there are any to be had!).

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lights on Temple Square 2017

Last Friday I had a ticket to a Utah Symphony concert and I got downtown and hour and a half early.  During the holidays it can sometimes be tricky to drive and park downtown and I didn't want to take any chances (you won't be seated until an appropriate pause if you are late).  Of course I found a parking spot immediately which gave me an hour and a half to kill.  I decided to spend the time seeing the lights at Temple Square and it was as magical as it always is!  The temperature was really mild and the crowds weren't very big so I enjoyed myself immensely.  I even popped into the Assembly Hall to hear a random high school choir sing Christmas music which I really loved!
Go here for a list of events on Temple Square this holiday season.
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