Thursday, August 31, 2006

So it's getting colder in Vilnius, and autumn is appearing. Rained all day today, and some yesterday as well. Also getting dark much much earlier. Yesterday I visited friends in their new flat in Antakalnis, a suburb close to the city centre (bit of an oxymoron that). They have just done up their flat and it is absolutely beautiful. Very modern, nice tiles everywhere, very colour coordinated and also a nice clean stair. Not like the one in my building which no-one takes any interest in.

Was waiting for the latest version of Viola News to be translated from English, but has not happened, so will have to distribute it tomorrow, seeing I will be elsewhere next week.

The Filharmonija still has not published this year's concert programme. The opera house and the other orchestra have had their plans published since May, and it has been possible to buy opera tickets since May (except I cannot, not knowing where I will be and when). I cannot understand why these things have to be done in the last moment. Yes, the organisations are busy but the filharmonija can be no busier than the opera house with about 6 performances per week.

Tomorrow the schools and everything will start again. Hope it does not rain on the smart school beginners in their finery with the large bunches of flowers. This will of course be the anniversary of the Beslan tragedy, too.

Yesterday went for my vaccination for yellow fever and a prescription for antimalarials for my trip to Rwanda later this year. It seems that the one drug which does not have nasty side-effects, and which the local mosquitoes are not immune against, Malarone, is not approved for use in Lithuania, so the doctor had to complete a complicated form stating why this should be prescribed and that I was aware of the risks I was taking. All the same, the drug was available at a specific pharmacy, and they managed to scrape enough together from different packets in different parts of the shop. Outrageously expensive, though, something like 5 quid a day.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

got it now, I think. Problems with passwords and so on.

Having had relatively free time over the last few weeks I spent much of it lazing...and also reducing the huge pile of scientific journals (Journal of European Social Policy, Sociology, Social Policy and Society, International Social Work, and Journal of Social Policy) that had built up over the last year. Do I really get five journals? They all come out quarterly but the quarters are fairly random. Most have one or two useful articles in every issue; these are now identified, marked and have little post-its sticking out for ease of reference. One thing that irritates me about the articles is the way the writers have to position their research in the context of other research, so about half of each article is the introduction. One article about social assistance for children in southern Europe had 8 authors, but the conclusions seemed really quite basic - though there must have been a fair bit of number crunching involved in building the relevant economic models. Did not give the impression of that, though. Purely sociological articles have a habit of stating what is obvious to people who are affected by the issues (eg dancers, poor people) to people who do not really understand those issues. Sociology is a great excuse for sitting on a sidewalk and watching people ('Oh, I'm doing some sociological research. Would you like to join me for a coffee?')

Also had some time to read some books. More of that anon.


I've just spent about half an hour trying to edit the links in the blog (having also in the process had to log out of linux and into windows (and in windows the blog isn't even found!), and the blog does not show the new links! I am sure I'll get the hang of it eventually, as long as I get past this frustrating stage!

Last night was the final concert of the St Christopher Festival in Vilnius; it started with about half an hour of speeches...one of the speakers just said 'thank you'; the head of the festival had to say something witty about each of the about 25 sponsors, which amused people (everyone loves him) but took a lot of time....3 overtures by Schubert, which were not among his better works, and no wonder they are hardly ever played. Also a piano concerto by Ted Dawson (USA) who was there for the Lithuanian premiere of the work; quite interesting, with lots of percussion (did really only one percussionist play?), a fairly slow but quite pleasant piece. Finally Mozart's Jupiter symphony. I was a bit bored by it - have I heard it too often?


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wow, it's hard to set up a blog! Here goes - this blog will be much about the viola, music in general, but also about Lithuania and many other countries I go to often.

Summer in Vilnius is horrible if you are into music...There are almost no concerts, except for the St Christopher Festival, http://www.kristupofestivaliai.lt/2006/?ln=en. This is fine - Donatas Katkus is the most wonderful, funniest conductor in Vilnius, full of new and often crazy ideas. But many concerts focus on guitars, or pianos, or church organs, and frankly are not my cup of tea. The orchestral concerts are not to be missed, but they are too rare! This year's festival, which covers a wide range of music, also saw an evening of Jewish wedding music, another grand celebration of St Christopher's Day on 25 July (last year there was the 'biker's orchestra' - exactly what it says). A good and funky festival, and the concerts are always packed, but it's just not for me.

All other musicians are out of town, earning real money abroad, or performing where their customers are, at the seaside or in the countryside. The town is totally deserted apart from the tourists who are coming in greater and greater droves.

Next week September starts and the Filharmonija, Lithuanian State Orchestra and Opera and Ballet Theatres will all get back into production. Not a minute too soon!