A Slovenian post for poets

One of the interesting things about Slovenia is that one of their national heroes is a poet. France Prešeren (1800-1849) was the first major poet to write in Slovene. His poetry influenced all Slovene literature and one of his poems is now the national anthem. The main square of Ljubljana was re-named for him with a monument erected in his memory over a century ago.
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The statue depicts the Muse holding a laurel branch of over Prešeren, but, given that the Muse is mostly unclothed, the monument was controversial, especially as the Square is bordered by the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, also known as the “pink church.” I was able to attend Sunday Mass there on our last morning in Ljubljana. (This photo was taken from across the river; the square itself was partially closed off due to reconstruction of the pavers.)
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And because many of my poet friends write ekphrastic poetry, I will close with a photo that I took in the baggage claim area of Ljubljana’s airport. I think we would all be able to write many lovely poems if we were able to visit this installation…
in Ljubljana airport
…which is called “a temporary art intervention” on this banner.

I know I, for one, could use an “art intervention” about now.

Our last full day in Slovenia

After collapsing into bed after our bus ride back from our Koper concert, we were gifted with a (mostly) free morning. B and I took the opportunity to finish shopping for gifts and remembrances to bring back. We shopped for honey, as Slovenia is home to a long-standing tradition of bee-keeping. We bought two Christmas ornaments, one of handmade lace and one of wood, both crafts that are important culturally. We bought sea salt from Piran. A cute, artist-designed Ljubljana dress with a dragon on it for ABC. Chocolate because they had interesting flavors, including a lot of white chocolate products, which I appreciated as I need to avoid dark chocolate.

Then, we started a string of official Smith College Alumnae Chorus events. We had a meeting to hear from our officers and take care of some organizational tasks. We went to a local restaurant for our farewell luncheon.  We proceeded to St. Jakob Church for our last rehearsal.
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LIke many other churches we visited, it had been renovated and changed styles as the centuries went on. Also, like other churches, some of the renovations had been necessitated by earthquakes.
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We were surprised to see a vehicle from the Slovenian version of public broadcasting. They were setting up to record the concert for broadcast. Our rehearsal in the church was quite short; we couldn’t run long because we needed to clear out for vigil mass. While we rehearsed, B took some more photos.
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For some reason, there was a donkey grazing beside the church…
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Street performers were amusing the children with giant bubbles.
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After rehearsal, B and I grabbed a quick salad from an al fresco restaurant before returning to the church to get ready for the concert. We were honored by a visit from a representative of the US embassy, who wanted to meet us before the concert.

The concert went very well. We again had a full house and the audience was very appreciative.
concert in Ljubljana

We had a reception back at our hotel, a last chance to talk and laugh together – and to compare which sections of the Haydn and Duruflé kept playing over and over in our heads.

And to eat cake, because, I, for one, always have room for a good piece of cake.

 

 

Centered in Ljubljana

One of the nice features of the Smith College Alumnae Chorus’s tour of Slovenia was that we stayed for the whole week in Ljubljana in the City Hotel, just on the edge of the (mostly) pedestrian-only Old City. It was nice to be able to settle into our hotel rooms and walk to rehearsals, meals, shops, etc. in the Old City, only using our buses when we ventured further afield for sight-seeing or singing.

Because I needed to be in rehearsal, B had the chance to do more exploring than I did. I happily delegated picture-taking to him and want to share a few photos of places he/we visited.

One of the really nice features of our hotel rooms were that they had large murals of black and white photographs of Ljubljana by Slovenian photographer Žiga Koritnik. Here is the one in our room: CIty Hotel Ljubljana

While walking around the city, B found the exact location and took this photo, with the river walls in the foreground and the castle on the hill above:
matching our hotel room mural

While I did get to go to the castle on the hill by funicular,
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B walked up several times, enabling him to get some shots of the city and the Alps beyond:
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And a close-up of the castle clocktower, flying the flags of Slovenia and Ljubljana:
tower of Ljubjlana castle

The Ljubljanica River flows through the heart of the Old City:
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where it is crossed by many bridges, including the Triple Bridges:
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One of the most famous of the bridges is the Dragon Bridge, guarded by this fellow:
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with the help of some griffins:
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Every day in the Old City, there are farmers and artisans selling their wares from shaded booths:
Ljubljana open air market

And sometimes, just the walkway itself is interesting:
sidewalk in Ljubljana

 

 

Why we went to Slovenia

I have done a couple of posts on Slovenia here and here, but am hoping to do a series of posts on different things that we did and saw there. I thought I’d start on the reason we travelled to Slovenia.

I am a member of the Smith College Alumnae Chorus. We sing at occasional events on campus in Northampton, Massachusetts, and every other year or so, go on an international tour. This year, we spent a week in Slovenia. We sang the Haydn Missa in Angustiis, also known as the Lord Nelson Mass, and the Duruflé Requiem, in conjunction with orchestra, tenors, and basses from Slovenia. We did have a few tenors and basses of our own along, mostly spouses of alumnae, but, as a women’s college, the vast majority of our chorus is sopranos and altos.

We performed two concerts under the direction of our conductor Jonathan Hirsh on our last two evenings in Slovenia. Our Friday night performance was at the cathedral in Koper.
Koper cathedral performance

On Saturday night, we performed at Saint James’ Church in Ljubljana. To our surprise, a representative from the United States Embassy came to greet us and the performance was recorded by the Slovenian public broadcasting service.
St. James Ljubljana performance

To the delight of the audience, Maestro Hirsh addressed them in Slovene before each concert. He told them a bit about our chorus’s mission to collaborate with local musicians when we toured and a bit about each piece. Both were written in times of strife and uncertainty. The Haydn, which was the first half of the concert, ends with a forceful plea for peace. The Duruflé, however, is much more meditative and ends very quietly with the “In Paradisum” as the soul enters into paradise. Mr. Hirsh asked the audience to take a few moments to reflect before applauding.

Those moments of silence, after the last chord had finished reverberating in those magnificent spaces, were incredibly moving, illustrating the power of music to reach across language, social differences, and time to touch hearts and minds.

SoCS: Ljubljana

As you can see from my One-Liner Wednesday post this week, B and I have recently returned from Slovenia. We stayed for the week in the capital, Ljubljana, and went on sightseeing excursions from its central location.

One thing that impressed us about Ljubljana is how clean it is. There was almost no litter. I did see someone who I assumed was a municipal employee picking up a stray piece of paper with one of those sticks with a claw on the end – but only once in the many hours we were out and about in the Old City, which is mostly pedestrian and busy with residents and tourists, visiting the sites, shops, and open air markets.

Slovenia rightly prides itself on its environmental stewardship. As part of their green credentials, along the streets are small dumpsters for glass, paper, plastics, organic waste, and things that don’t fit in any of those categories. People are very diligent about dealing with trash, which goes a long way in keeping the streets clean.

Some of the people in our group were surprised to see some graffiti here and there. B and I were not surprised to see some in a city of 300,000. Graffiti is a combination of artistic expression and social commentary. I don’t think of it as being dirty.

Maybe this weekend, I will get some time to start organizing photos and writing some posts about details of our trip…
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “clean/dirty.” Join us! find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/07/26/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-27-19/

SoCS badge by Pamela, at https://achronicalofhope.com/

One-Liner Wednesday: in case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been…

Taken by my spouse B in the “Old City” of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I was singing with the Smith College Alumnae Chorus in Ljubljana and Koper; blog posts will be trickling in over the coming days.
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/07/24/one-liner-wednesday-creepy/

Badge by Laura @ riddlefromthemiddle.com