Sunday, May 5, 2019

A Return to the Symphony

Today marked my second visit to the Saenger Theatre in Mobile, AL, for an amazing performance entitled Forte presented by the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. The program included Blue Cathedral by Jennifer Higdon, a contemporary classical composer who received a Pulitzer Prize for one of her compositions in 2010. Also on the program was Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique" and Sergi Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with pianist Vadym Kholodenko, winner of the Gold Medal at the 2013 Van Clyburn International Piano Competition.

I am reluctant to attempt a description of music with words; however, that being said, a secondary or subordinate theme of the "Pathetique" in the first movement is, in my opinion, more lyrical than almost anything else from this composer and the triumphal march of the third movement must be an absolute thrill to conduct.

Each of the above titles contains a link to examples of the music if you are interested. The Piano Concerto is only the third movement and there is no video but is performed by the artist I heard today.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

O Fortuna!

Those of you who have been following my blog postings for many years have probably noticed it has been since May 2018, that I last wrote about exploring the USS Alabama near Mobile, AL. This is mostly because I've not really been anywhere new to report on since that time, but today I've been somewhere different. It is in Mobile again, but not a typical travel venue:
Carl Orff's Carmina Burana was presented at the Saenger Theater. The performing groups included the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, the University of South Alabama Concert Choir and the Mobile Opera Chorus, a total of over 180 musicians. Guest conductor, Lidiya Yankovskya is music director of the Chicago Opera Theater and did a most creditable job in bringing this masterpiece to life. It was, in a word, fantastic, every bit of what I was expecting and more. If you enjoy classical music, I would encourage you to attend a performance of this work if it is ever presented in your area.

Monday, May 28, 2018

USS Alabama

As indicated in my last blog, I have returned to Battleship Park in Mobile to actually tour the vessels.

USS Alabama was commissioned in August 1942 and earned 9 Battle Stars during WWII. The ship is 680 feet long and under battle conditions weighed in at 90 million pounds. In addition to the size of the ship and her guns, I was astounded at the maze of interior stairs (more like ladders) and passageways.

The sub, USS Drum, commissioned in November 1941, is 311 feet long and earned 12 Battle Stars during the war. I spent only a few minutes inside the sub. I am not claustrophobic, but there were only a few spots where I could stand fully erect.

Included in these photos are 2 shots of parts of my favorite aircraft the SR-71 or A-12, YF-12, or a number of other designations, depending on exact configuration and several other factors.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Battleship Memorial Park

After many years of visiting the area and traveling I-10 through Mobile an uncounted number of times, I figured it was high time to visit the Battleship Alabama. The park and displays are entirely created and funded by interested individuals, personal donations, and fees, not tax dollars. It is all quite impressive and must for anyone traveling in the area.

After threes hours of exploring the outdoor exhibits in record-breaking temps, I decided against the interior tour of the ship and the sub but will return again soon.

While surveying the B-52, I had the honor of meeting a fellow Air Force Vet who had served as Loadmaster on these beasts while serving in Guam at about the same time that I had seen many of these aircraft being deployed from Kadena AFB in Okinawa. Photos of just a portion of the displays can be seen here.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Photos from Pickens

As promised, today's entry is mostly to share the photos from two weeks spent at Fort Pickens near Pensacola Beach in the extreme NW section of Florida. In addition to the wanderings around the Fort and the surrounding area, there are also shots from the nearby Naval Live Oaks section of the Gulf Islands National Seashore as well as a visit across the Pensacola Bay to the Pensacola Light and Fort Barrancas, both of which are located within the Pensacola Naval Air Station. There are about 70 photos so you will want to allow some time and many of the pictures are captioned for some additional information. Click here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

HiWays, ByWays, PathWays, and WaterWays

With my apologies to everyone else, this entry will be mostly of interest to those of you who are at least somewhat familiar with this area, particularly if your latest trip was not all that recent. First, I was very surprised to discover that there is a whole new bridge under construction from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze.  It exactly parallels the existing bridge and seems to be moving along at quite a nice pace since I've seen real evidence of progress each time I've been there, even from the morning until evening.

Second, Fort Pickens road has evolved considerably since my last visit (and the storms that have hit here in the intervening period). If you've been here, you will remember that the road from the entrance to the Ranger Station (campground office) was pretty straight and largely centered between the Gulf and the Bay. That section of the road has been completely replaced and now has quite a number of sweeping curves and some near hairpins, some of which give an illusion of running right into the Bay. My guess here is that (1) the road is being kept much closer to the Bay, for the most part, and (2) there may be less impact of blowing sand. I'm thinking that these changes will diminish the impact of storms that have been a major problem here for years. Since my GPS apparently has not yet picked up the changes, following my progress on the screen shows me driving through the sand for much of the trip.

Third, it is one of my objectives to explore areas and seek viewpoints that are different from my 10 or so previous visits to Fort Pickens. I still have another week to go, but have already discovered a few paths that I didn't know about and are not charted in anything I have seen and I have every confidence that there are yet more to be discovered and I will keep you posted on that.

Finally, there is the matter of a ferry between Pensacola and the fort. We've been hearing about this for years and years, first as rumors, then with some concrete evidence (docks were built on both sides of the bay) and now it appears that we may be only a short time away from reality as some details are being worked out between the government and the ferry operator. I actually heard a news account of it a few days ago and it seems a start date had been set but is delayed, so time will tell.

Sorry, again no photos due to WiFi limits.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Another Visit to Fort Pickens

In the photo, a welcoming committee of one. It seems that there are more of these than usual this year, digging a lot of large holes, requiring care (and a flashlight) when walking about the area at night.

The plan is to be here at Fort Pickens for two weeks, which is a good thing since the first 5 days have brought a confluence of events that have largely precluded the intended activities here. For instance, a whole day of rain, wind and tornado warnings all over the place with 6 actual confirmed tornados in the surrounding area. Another thrill was, thanks to my less than expert skills in backing the 5th wheel trailer, a shattered rear window in the truck and the resultant hours spent in cleaning up most of the glass and this, of course, required the loss of another day of exploring due to a trip into Pensacola to have the window replaced.

There was still a bit of time available for a few short hikes, two shows by the Blue Angels and some sitting around enjoying the surroundings. There will be much more about this visit and photos, but probably not until the time here has expired and I have access to more than just a limited amount of WiFi time.