“He knows it’s all worthwhile…”

There is this community thing going on in Toronto where these two guys get a crowd of people together and they sing pop songs together in one huge choir. They are called Choir!Choir!Choir! and on YouTube I have watched some of the covers they have done over the years. Of course now, with social distancing, getting together to sing isn’t possible and apparently they have had to cancel a tour they had planned. As I was checking out some music on YouTube this past weekend I saw that they had organized a social distancing sing-along. It was just the two of them singing, inviting viewers to join them. A little article and background on that here:

I didn’t watch all of the 1 hour 45 minute video, just very short bits and pieces. Instead, I scrolled through their catalogue of videos and found that they had done David Bowie’s Starman two months ago on the occasion of Bowie’s birthday in January. They love Bowie and have done Bowie before (for instance Space Oddity and Heroes) and I of course had to watch Starman as well. It’s one of the tracks off my fave Bowie album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

DAVID BOWIE LIVE

It helps that I really love this song in its own right but looking and listening to this version really moved me somehow. Maybe it was the line “He’s told us not to blow it because he knows it’s all worthwhile…” that did it or just the fact that it sounds awesome when so many people sing a song together that I love, creating a full polyphonous sound.

A beautiful song of hope sent by some ethereal being that tells us that it will all hopefully be worth it in the end. Let’s hope it’s also true in these times of Corona.

If you like choirs, a sense of community in these isolated times and a pick-me-up, check out the Choir!Choir!Choir! YouTube channel for some really nice covers.

At the Victoria & Albert Museum

Before I go into a whole “Armitage fan experience in London” post, I’m first posting about something else I was able to do there. I had arrived in London last Sunday morning and spent a lovely day just hanging out and chatting with my brother and some with my niece.

Then on Monday I had the day to myself and I decided to finally visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington. I had never been there and had always meant to go there one day. It was a good day to pick that, as it was a cold, dreary and very wet day. Picture taken from the bus I was on; the window was wet, it almost looks like an impressionist painting.

20200224_124333I got to the museum and somehow it seemed much larger than I had thought. I mean, I knew it housed a very diverse collection but this was much bigger than I had expected.

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I wandered around on the ground floor a bit, particularly liking the statues gallery…

… and then went in search of the café for something to eat. The old café was beautiful, but alas there was no space for me to sit there…

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So, I sat in the more modern section and really enjoyed my scone and cup of tea.

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Even going to a bathroom at the café was a museum experience with old tiles and fawcets bearing Georg Vth initials, which indicates they were somewhere from the beginning of the 20th century.

Speaking of royalty, on my way to the medieval section I passed the car Harry and Meghan had used at the end of their wedding day

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It was basically an ad for the vintage cars exhibition that was also on at the V&A but that I didn’t end up visiting.

In the medieval section I was struck by this early 16th century tapestry from Brussels depicting Queen Esther (she after whom I have been named):

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I also love looking at old books, like this early printed book from 1521, not long after the printing press had been invented.

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Some more nice vistas as you walk through the museum:

I have seen lots of medieval art and statues and the like in many museums over the years, so for me the high point of the museum was something I have not seen that much of: an exhibition on early photography. Even just looking at all those cameras before you enter the room was fascinating.

I was in awe seeing an early heliograph image of Christ carrying the cross from 1827. You can barely see the image but it’s there (click to enlarge)…

… and an 1840’s daguerreotype image of a collage of famous faces.

I liked this 1850s image. Imagine keeping that little dog still enough for long enough to create this image!

An early camera was on display…

And there were more fascinating 19th century images, with one image also of Alice Liddell, who was the ‘real’ Alice in Wonderland.

Absolutely fascinating, including some early 3D imagery you could see through this viewer but that I couldn’t take pictures of.

The other section I was fascinated with was the theatre collection (with a little movie glam thrown in).  The horse for the War Horse production was there…

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And other theatre costumes…

There was the Henry V costume as worn by Richard Burton…

And a costume designed by Dior for Vivien Leigh in a movie…

Vivien Leigh seems to have bequeathed some of her memorabilia to the V&A. The Oscar she had won for A Streetcar Named Desire in the 1950s was on display…

… as was a telegram addressed to Laurence Olivier (Vivien Leigh’s husband at the time) from Lillian and Dorothy Gish, movie stars of mainly the silent movie era, congratulating Leigh on her brilliant acting performance in Streetcar.

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There were more awards on display from other actors for other performances:

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And some music related memorabilia of David Bowie…

and Madness…

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This is just a tiny impression of all there is to see at the V&A and I saw way more than I took pictures of. It’s a great museum, very diverse and I by far haven’t seen everything. I may have to return there again sometime.

By the time I finally emerged from the musem at the end of the afternoon, it had stopped raining. I again took a bus, this time to Piccadilly Circus, and the view was somewhat less impressionist:

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I was off to go and meet Hariclea for evening theatre shenanigans at the Harold Pinter Theatre. More on that in my next post. 🙂

Is there life on Mars?

Today would have been David Bowie’s 73rd birthday. As I read the news this morning (Iran, inane actions by a US president whose name I don’t even want to mention on my blog anymore and his son, horrible fires in Australia exacerbated by climate change), somehow this Bowie song springs to mind…

This is not the first time I think of this when I look at the news. Of course, if we humans could escape to Mars we’d eff it all up there too with wars and greed and destroying the environment. I know it is something of all ages to worry about the state of the world but my goodness, where is the good I wonder? That’s it, that’s my blog post – just a bit of exasperation on a Wednesday morning.

A star amongst the stars

Herba’s and Pö’s monthly blogging project ‘Mach was’ is back again from a summer hiatus and the newest theme is “Mach was mit Sternen” (“do something with stars”). Basically that means I could make this post all about me, as my name, Esther, means ‘star’!

But I’d rather not make this about me, I’ve already self-indulged enough by making an Esther-video. I’m going to make this about David Bowie instead! Space and stars always make me think of him and he made a lot of songs featuring space. His first hit was Space Oddity and he made many more ‘space songs’, like Life on Mars, Moonage Daydream, Ashes to Ashes (which was a sequel to Space Oddity) or my favourite latter day spacesong of his called Spaceboy.

However, this ‘Mach Was’ is not about space but about stars, so for this post I’m showcasing some David Bowie star-songs. His most famous, breakthough alter-ego had “star” in his name and was called Ziggy Stardust. Ziggy is an alien rockstar who has come to earth to warn of the end in 5 years time (Five Years is a brilliant storytelling song, by the way, which has nothing to do with stars or space, but is worth a mention). I love so very many of Bowie’s songs, but the Ziggy Stardust album is my favourite.

Ziggy Stardust album

Without further ado, here are some cool David Bowie ‘star’ songs:

David Bowie (and Ziggy Stardust) shot to fame after performing Starman on ‘Top of the Pops’ in 1972…

From the Ziggy Stardust album we also have the Ziggy Stardust titular song…

And Lady Stardust

And Star about being a rock’n’roll star…

There were star-songs on other albums like the sweet song The Prettiest Star from the 1973 Aladdin Sane album…

In 2003 there was New Killer Star…

And in 2013 there was the brilliant The Stars are Out Tonight with the awesome Tilda Swinton co-starring in an awesome video…

And of course, right when he died so unexpectedly, he released his final Blackstar album with a 10 minute song also called Blackstar on it. It’s very depressing and I still find it difficult to watch, but also somehow fascinating and very artistic…

The man even fittingly had an own star constellation dedicated to him after his death…

If I believed in an afterlife, I’d like to think that that is where he’s hanging out right now… a star amongst the stars.

David Bowie night

On BBC Four this evening we stumbled into a Bowie night. First a documentary on his early 1970s time as Ziggy Stardust, an androgynous, alien, rock star persona he invented and adopted for a while. When Ziggy became too successful and he couldn’t separate Ziggy from David anymore, he very surprisingly pulled the plug. While he did play Ziggy songs for the rest of this career during live performances, he never revisited the actual persona again.

The documentary was followed by all sorts of clips of David Bowie performing live at the BBC, like his break-through performance that started Ziggy-mania, singing Starman so magnetically…

Or this one of him performing the fabulous Heroes…

Or performing his song Hello Spaceboy together with the Pet Shop Boys in 1996…

The man was so diverse and such an artistic genius, I will forever love watching him and listening to him! It’s late now and I’m off to bed soon… maybe David will visit my dreams? I sure wouldn’t mind…