Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Babies

The result of a photo shoot I did with Aron, Simon and Valentina about a month ago. They behaved terrific. They ended up on home made Christmas cards that were sent to family and friends all around, on Facebook and now finally on this blog. Share the Christmas spirit!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Now Leaving "City of Angels"

After some three months of rehearsals and eight performances in two weeks, it's time to say good bye to the cast, crew and stage of the "City of Angels". It's been a beautiful experience in the company of a some very special people. To see the acting grow and mature. Working together, playing with the text. The reward of an entertained audience. Here is a teaser clip from the last performance, recorded by my pal Sven-Erik. This clip is from the scene where Stine caves in to the demands of his publisher to change sex on Detective Muñoz. Stone, another of his fictional character, reacts and openly questions his creator. Emil Gustafsson in the role of Stine, Margareta Clasborn as Muñoz and I'm playing Stone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Visit to the 1860's

During the second half of the 1800's, Prof. Herman Rydin and family rented an apartment in central Uppsala. They were bourgeois and had six rooms.
When the wave of demolition swept through the city in the 1960's this house was spared, as one of the few remaining old residences in the city centre. The Rydin family's apartment was restored to its original appearance, and has since been a part of the Uppland Museum. it is known as "Walmstedtska Gården".
At this time of year, it is decorated and staged for the Christmas of the time.
I made a visit, and took some pictures.
One of the things that stood out was how dark it was back then. Furniture had to be placed by the walls, or you would risk tripping over them after night fall.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Vulgar Vikings in the Final

A few questions for Joakim Englund, manager of the football team Vulgar Vikings.

Where and when is the Final going to be played?

- On, an online football manager game with 900 000 active users. It´s free to join and build your own team to compete with. My team is in the English Cup where more than 16 000 teams are playing. The Final is tomorrow (Tuesday 8th) at 21:00 (GMT+1). We are very excited about it.

With "we", you mean you and the virtual players?

- Yes, but to me they are very life-like.

How did you get to the finals?

- I've been studying the algorithms of the game. What parameters control who gets the most goal opportunities, the best defence or how leadership affects the players. In the long run, it is important to have a good economy, earn money and make your club profitable. About six months ago, I felt like trying something new in the game and sold off my entire team. They were mostly young talents and were worth quite a lot.

With that I bought old but great players, like Henrik Larssons, that won´t last very long but can perform great in the short run. The team became really strong and has taken me to the Final. But I doubt it will still be standing in a few seasons.

How will you prepare for the Final?

- I have to configure the team, decide on formations and other parameters. My opponent will probably buy new strong players, and I must follow to have a chance. Being a virtual football manager takes time, I am spending around 15 hours per week on this, and it reflects your chances to succeed. My family knows I've reached a high level in the game, and have shown understanding.

The best of luck to you!

- Thank you. When its over I will enjoy some time off.

In his real life, Joakim works as a statistician in clinical research. He is also a long time friend and co-singer of mine.

Update: Vulgar Vikings have won the Cup by 3-0! Congratulations!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

City of Angels Cast & Crew

The overall picture is coming together, and things start to make sense. Soon it's opening night and rehearsals are intensifying. We are close to the final stage, Reginateatern.
I volounteered to photograph the cast and crew, it was too tempting with such a handsome crowd.
Gallery updated on 23th of December!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Johannes and Clara around the globe

Johannes and Clara began their trip around the world today, with good timing considering the gloomy months that await our fair region. In the coming three months, they will visit North America, Oceania, China, southeast Asia and India.
Best of luck to you! Your cacti look healthy and spiny, I will see to it they stay that way...

Follow their adventures on Clara's blog and Johannes' blog.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trees in Fashion

From UppsalaHöst09
A golden birch.

To celebrate the end of the season, trees have dressed in their most elegant and eye-catching outfits. Like models heading for the gala event of the year. And these models are well aware of their best colors.
They are the same every year, always right.
Click on the image to see this year's tree fashion!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autumn in Wik

This Saturday my choir visited Wik Castle for a theme day on "Living Early Music". On a coffee-break I snuck out to capture the autumnal colouring of the surroundings with the trusty old camera.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Little Sleep Cinema

Tonight, I joined Johannes and Clara to attend a screening of the Uppsala International Short Film Festival. The block was presented in the oldest cinema of our city, Slottsbiografen. Inaugurated in 1914, restored in ´94, with beautiful wooden panels, paintings and ... comfortable seats. Yes, you know where this is going.
The first feature was an animation by the Canadian Cordell Barker about a train chasing down an unsuspecting cow, naturally in an amusing presentation. Plenty of sounds and moving elements to appeal and excite the primitive parts of the brain.
The difficulties started by the second short, which dealt with a man finding himself marooned in an arctic circumstance following an accident of some sort. His head injury and/or hypothermia provoked strange illusions (not in me, in the film), until he lies down and succumbs. At least, that's what I think happened. A few nods, but I was still in the game.
The next topic to be projected on the silver screen was the Skype-conference between a Romanian man and his son in the U.S., and their joy of the son´s wedding. Not inexplicably, my brain decided it was sleep time.
It is always a bit embarrassing when the nod-offs become more than a subtle twitch. It must be obvious to the person sitting behind you that you're not exactly taking in every cinematic facet of the film. If this should occur, it can be remedied by a quick and clear reaction to something going on in the scene. Grabbing your chin in a thoughtful way can work, or joining in on a laugh that you don't know the reason of. But most likely, the person behind will see through this and value your respect for the flick even lower. So be it, you will have done what you could.
My attention had returned by the time a guest was presented to the audience. It was a collaborator on the "Romanian Skype-conference" thing, and was now accepting our questions. I was about to raise my hand and ask how the short had ended, but refrained.
By that time and for the remainder of the screening, my perception was as acute as an eagle's, and I could follow the programme in detail. It ended with "Poste Restante", a 14-minute-long tale about undeliverable mail. It was the story that touched me the most, and I sent the organizers an appreciative thought for saving the best for last.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Photo Safari

For my birthday, I got a quite unusual present. A personal photo expedition with a professional wild-life photographer.

This is what happened:

On a day like any other, at 7 a.m., I was picked up in a 4x4 jeep. "I am going to take you to places around Uppsala you never dreamed existed". I´m exaggerating what he said to make the story a little more dramatic.
The sun was still falling in from a sharp angle and my guide squinted beneath his wide-brimmed hat as we navigated through the early morning traffic.
The first stop on this wild-life odyssey was the municipal water purification plant. More specifically, the fields where the "mud" is laid out to dry. I´ve never seen such fertile soil. Among the vegetation that sprawled with unrestrained lust for life, I noticed an abundance of tomatoe-plants. "They pass right through the human body unharmed", the guide explained. He meant the seeds. The reason for this stop was the long-legged birds that usually descend upon these fields, attracted by the water mirror. Unfortunately, the fields were dried out this time. "So, no birds, I´m afraid", he said. "Well, no smell either", I could´ve added as a positive side-note. But I didn't.
Nonetheless, the location offered some interesting motifs. There was a light fog that rose as the morning sun touched the ground, some bluethroats (blåhakar) that presented themselves and a large number of cows grazing on the field beyond.
At times, my guide went silent and immobile. He would stay like that for several minutes, his only vital sign being the uttering of incomprehensible words in a low, hushing voice. If he hadn´t had a camera stuck in front of his face, I would´ve been seriously concerned for him.

As we headed out of the city toward the final location, the guide turned to me, squinting beneath his wide-brimmed hat, and began to explain the mysteries of the red-winged grasshopper. "It is to be found only in two places in the whole of Uppland - a rare species, it is. At this place where we are going there are many-many, but you will most likely not capture a single one in flight with your camera. Trust me, I've tried. Most elusive, you see." While saying this, he did of course look at the road as well, being a safety-conscious driver as he was.

As the jeep stopped, the doors were opened gently not to discompose any natural scene that may have formed in the absence of people and that may be sensitive to inelegant sounds. Soon, we concluded that such scenes were not at hand, and continued toward the grasshopper location less discretely. The site in question is an island of untamed nature in an agricultural sea, not far from a major highway.
Just as the guide had briefed me, the red-winged ones were numerous. Quite easy to spot and follow with the eye, but most uncooperative with the camera. You see, from the ground where they usually are, they jump away and then open their wings. So, even if you had focused on one, it was hard to tell where it would be while flying.
After some chasing around we retired to the car, returned to the city and I was left where I had started. "So long, and remember...", the guide concluded with a squinting look before he pressed on into the day, like any other.

Friday, September 25, 2009

September ending

Autumn has arrived a little later than usual. By the end of September, the days are still sunny and enjoyable. Compare with a similar post from a year ago. The tree to the right of the bridge is taking on a more reddish coloration this year. It will be exciting to see how things develop in the next weeks. Stay tuned...

The house cat, likes to cuddle and look for rodents by the trash.
Tried to kill my lens cap when it fell down the steps.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Musical kicks off

Some of the musical cast

Since about a week, I´m involved in a musical production to premiere in December. The musical is called "City of Angels" and weaves together two plots, the "real" world of a Hollywood writer trying to turn his book into a screenplay and the "reel" world of the fictional film.
Tonight there was a showcase at the Regina Theatre, with a glimpse of all the productions of the autumn. We performed a song called "You´re Nothing Without Me", where the writer (called Stine) and my character, the fictional private detective (Stone) duel by song. Despite my freshness in the role, I think we did a decent presentation. Fortunately, we have lots of rehearsals left... It is going to be fun.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

11 Second Club

The 11 Second Club is a monthly animation competition, where the goal is to animate a scene based on a given audio clip. The clip is usually an extract from a film, with dialogue and/or sound effects. This is my contribution to the August competition.
It was great fun to animate to the clip and I think the result deserves a little better than the placement it got (#91)! Almost more hard work than the animation was the rating of all the other entries (188 in total), with the inevitable ringing of the audio clip in your ears. But it was fun. I might do it again.
The character is a freeware rig by Jason Baskin.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Brakesman

From Upsala-Lenna
This weekend I went along with Dad on the Upsala-Lenna museum railway, to check on his examination as a brakesman. The job description is to engage or release the brakes according to the signals from the locomotive. This particular train does not have a system to control these brakes from the front, so two persons are required to do this; one in the middle and one in the end of the train.
Everything went smoothly and JC was passed. So, as soon as he´s fitted with the uniform (a cap), he is ready to serve aboard! (More pictures if you click the pic)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Magnus weds Susanna in Rasbo

From Magnus & Susannas Bröllop

Yesterday was the marriage of Susanna and Magnus, a long time friend of our family. The ceremony took place in a medieval church in Rasbo, a village north-east of Uppsala. It was a beautiful ceremony with music and recitation.
Magnus and Susanna met as performers in the musical "A Shoggoth on the Roof", which is based on stories by H. P. Lovecraft. In a very personalized sermon, this name was mentioned many times by the priest. She emphasized its two components "love" and "kraft" (Swedish for force). This and her other references to the world of Fantasy delighted the crowd.
The dinner was a lot of fun, and one of the few songs that were included in the booklet was "I Still Haven´t Found What I´m Looking For". This was a joking allusion to a wedding I attended last summer where, due to a misunderstanding, the newly wed almost made their sortie to this song.
All in all, a most memorable evening.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Rockin' Bachelor Party

From Magnus Svensexa
This Saturday we threw our friend Magnus a bachelor party, with a KISS theme. He is an old fan of the hard rock band and didn´t blink when we put make-up on him and dressed him up like Paul Stanley, including glue-on chest hair. We toured the city with our reggae perfomance of KISS songs and were cheered on by many along the way. He was lifted up in the air by cheerleaders and beat us all in a Lasergame. The evening ended with a visit to Harry B James, a very loud rock club in Stockholm. I think my t-shirt said it all: "PURE ROCK FURY".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pictures Tamil Nadu

From India - Tamil Nadu

My trip to India is over. As I settled down in my apartment, I felt astounded by the tranquility and silence that prevails here. Things that you learn to cherish after a visit to a land of 1+ billion people. The trip home was uncomplicated, and I got a whole day in Frankfurt, where I visited the Film Museum and saw their H. R. Giger-expo, among other things.
Please enjoy the pictures from Tamil Nadu.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pictures Bangalore & Mysore

From India - Bangalore & Mysore

More pictures from India!

I am now writing from Velanganni, Tamil Nadu, on the east coast of the continent. I have arrived here in the company of my father and his three students. They are going to remain here in the area studying projects of post-tsunami reconstruction.

In the next days, I will head north along the coast until reaching Chennai, then head back to Bangalore and begin the journey back to Sweden.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

First days in Mumbai

From India - Mumbai

First day in Mumbai

After breakfast, I hesitated leaving the hotel. The rain was already pouring down and I didn´t know how to approach the unknown city outside. After pacing the hotel room a few times too many, I decided it was time to get out there.

As is the case many times, it was not as difficult as I thought. Just outside the hotel I found a row of taxis and a driver who seemed nice, and we set off to check for train tickets, which was my first priority. I´m staying in the tourist-friendly sector of Colaba, and a ticket agency was not far away. As I entered the office, my driver waited on the sidewalk chatting to some friends under a marquis. Half way through my booking procedure, he popped his head in and offered me tchai, an extremely sweet tea with milk. It would not be the only tchai I drank this day. As the seats were few, I bought mine right away. A 24-hour (at best) train trip to Bangalore.

Next stop, a clothes shop. The moment I stepped out of the cab a portière held an umbrella over me. It seemed I was receiving some kind of special attention, most probably part of an agreement between the driver and the shop. Entering the boutique, 5 well-dressed men awaited me, and as soon as I uttered the word "trousers" a measuring tape was laid around my waist. "Please, sir, sit", I was asked, and a variety of elegant garments were presented on the counter. The pair that I chose to try on first fit perfectly. What I wanted was the kind of light clothing most men were wearing. Eventually, after reaching the cheaper selection, I left with two pairs of pants and two pairs of shirts.

My driver asked me what I had bought and for what price, and gave some inside tips on bargaining. On our way to some sight-seeing he told me many things about himself. "You know, I am married, and I like to have sex every day", he shared with me. At first, the phrase sounded strange to me, but later I realised that it was necessary for him to point out that he was married, since sex outside marriage isn´t good. I said I thought it sounded healthy. He continued explaining that this ability came from eating 50 g of nuts and drinking whisky every day. "You know these nuts?", he asked holding up an imaginary nut. I assured him of it in my most convincing voice, hoping to leave the subject.

We drove around the rainy city, stepping out occasionally to see the waterfront. The ocean was high and unwelcoming, and no ships were allowed to sail.

After lunch at Leopold´s, Colaba´s most popular café among foreigners, I returned to the hotel for some rest.

On a side note, Leopold´s was one of four sites that were hit by the terrorist attacks against Mumbai in November last year. At first glance, there are no indications of this tragic event. The crowd consists of locals and tourists, and the room is filled with chatter. At a second glance you notice a glass pane perforated by automatic fire. The memory is still fresh.

Curiously, there was a message for me in the hotel reception. "Mrs. Karen (...) expecting your call, staying at Kashna Guest House". I don´t know any Mrs. Karen, but asked if she had called me personally. As with my previous consultations, the hotel staff just added to the confusion, with a mix of smiles and unintelligible english.

Outside my hotel room, I acquianted myself with some fellow travellers. Among them, a Kenyan young woman by the name of Beatrice. She invited me to join her sister and her for dinner, and I gladly accepted.

By the time we walked out, the rain had gone from heavy to torrential. And it was not going to pass any time soon. We were asking ourselves: Is this normal?! The next day the Mumbai papers said we had received 154 mm of rain that day. And it was not normal, despite monsoon and all.

After a meal at a humble-style restaurant (I had rice with vegetables and a bread with vegetarian stuffing - spicy!), we went to see a movie. Going to the cinema is very popular here, and as you may know almost all movies include singing and dancing and a love drama, and are about three hours long.

Before the movie began, a message on the screen read "Please stand for the National Anthem". The entire audience were on their feet in less than a second. A huge Indian flag waved on the screen while the song played out. After this, the movie could start. The feature was called "New York", about Indians living in that very city, their family life, love and terrorist activities. Most of it was in non-subtitled Hindi, but you managed to follow the story anyway. Bollywood is huge, even bigger than Hollywood from what I´ve heard. And the fact that this big-budget movie was shot in New York, with Indian actors speaking in Hindi, certainly confirms that claim.

At the time we walked back, the downpour had ceased and the air held a promise for a rain-free next day.

Second day in Mumbai

From India - Mumbai
Beatrice, Chep and I set out with our taxi driver to visit the most important tourist-sights of the city. The rain had taken a pause as we had hoped. The citizens of Mumbai, on the other hand, were hoping for more rain since the lakes that provide the city with its fresh water are nearly drained, one with only 30 days worth of water left.

First stop, the Hanging Gardens, a lovely park with red soil and exotic plants. And an impressive amount of butterflies. As we strolled around, the guards approached us and started quizzing me on my origin, place where I was staying, which hotel, etc. "Sweden? *too rough accent* Olof Palme! He was here once!" Very nice guards, however a little unsettling when they follow you around.

From there we continued to Gandhi´s house in Mumbai (between 1917-1934). It is a quite spacious three-stories-high white building with a wooden staircase. Inside was a collection of photographs from his life, his possessions (a few small personal items), quotes from him and dioramas showing the decisive moments. One quote was a reply to if he feared being murdered: "If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling." Eventually, this was how he ended his days in 1948 at the age of 78 years.

Altogether, it was a deeply moving place.

Another place of interest was the huge open-air laundry, where as many as two thousand workers clean the clothes of hotels in a completely manual way. It is a sight to behold, and makes you think of the differences in culture of east and west.

The final stop on this tour was the Victoria Railway Station, built by the British in the gothic style. The building is majestic, with a huge ornamented cupola. While admiring the station, a man came up to me and began the now familiar inquiry. Where are you from, where in Mumbai are you staying, at which hotel, what do they charge for a room there, are you here for work or tourism? I replied tourism. - WHAT IS THE PURPOSE? ... I had to smile a little at this funny question. Replied, "to see India". Are you travelling alone? At this point, Chep decided to take part and said I was married to them. That stumped a short man who had listened in: "Two wife, one husband? Very rare in India." At this point the querying man was satisfied, shook my hand and left.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Valentina 3 months!

From Valentina 3 Months
We celebrated Valentina´s first three months in a beautiful park close to Isabel and Roberto´s place. Apart from the family, a lot of friends were present for the toast in champagne. We are experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees, so the weather was great and the attendees laid casually on blankets on the grass. The little family had a hectic schedule as they travelled to Rhodos the next day, in the company of the grandmothers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Midsommar in Uppland

From Midsommar2009
This year, I celebrated with Johannes, Clara, Hele, Sara and Nusse! We did a two-day tour of Uppland, sleeping in a hostel in Dannemora and on a small island at the coast. A very pleasant and enjoyable experience. Enjoy the pics!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Photos from trip to Denmark


To celebrate our choir conductor Gunnar´s 70th birthday we took a trip to Denmark. We were blessed with magnificent weather from the moment we stepped on the bus in Uppsala to the time of our return. The choir sang on two occasions; in the catholic church of Copenhagen and in mass in the Frederiksborg Palace. It was a nice escape for the weekend that delivered us many interesting things, among them the acquaintance with the Compenius organ (danish).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Photos from second visit to Serbia

From SerbiaMay2009

Martin, Dad and I had a great weekend in Belgrade, attending the wedding of Filippo and Zorana.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Friede auf Erden

This is from the concert we did in Falun some three weeks ago with UAK, one of Uppsala´s good choirs. Someone was kind enough to post their video of it on Youtube. I am in the back row, 6th from left, not visible from this angle. The music is by Arnold Schönberg, and quite difficult to sing (the work was actually dubbed "unsingable" when it first came out). It is rewarding at last, once you´ve made your way through it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who Let the Cows Out

A cow´s life... Pretty dull, right?
You´re wrong! In spring time they are let out to graze for the first time in many months and go euphoric.
Euphoria, once a year. More than most of us.

They chase each other around and engage in playful butting, such is their emotional revival. For us city dwellers, that are used to seeing cows as dots on a field it is an amusement, and we gather in the several hundreds on farms around the land.

Lina, Aron, Martin and me travelled in great comfort in their newly acquired car. Aron wasn´t very interested in the cows, but went through the roof when he found the farm´s tractor. These, and other service vehicles, lie close to his heart.

It was a rural experience that we shared with countless other people.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Lens Correction

Move your mouse over the image to see the lens correction in action.

Lens correction is a wonderful feature in Photoshop that can cancel the perspective caused by the tilting of your camera up-down or left-right. For instance, lines that converge towards the top can be made parallell, which generally looks much better. Lens correction can also diminish the effects of pincushion or barrel distorsion that become noticeable if shooting in wide-angle.
So, if you think the architecture on your pictures seems to be falling in on itself, remember this feature!
While this procedure will give you nice, straight lines, it will also crop your image somewhat. So whenever you are suspecting you might need to use it, don´t frame your subject too narrowly.

Aron turns 2

Aron 2 år

Aron threw a really nice party for his second birthday, and was lavished with new toys and books. Suddenly, everyone had babies! As if having decided collectively that the time of sweet, unresponsible living had passed.
A lovely day in company of family and friends.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Warm River

The warm embrace of spring sends hundreds of people to the river sides, to bake their pale limbs in the glowing sun, swinging them an inch over the glittering surface, greeting what was recently covered by ice - the river, pouring life into the city, is the natural attraction to the people at it´s sides in the warm embrace of spring.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Valentina, a lovely Easter Egg

The newest addition to the family, my niece Isabel Valentina, was at the centre of our admiration and affection this Easter. Today is her three week birthday! Her interests are sleeping, eating, crying and flapping her arms. She is quite charming as you can see. For more pictures, click here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Choir singing

Members of the Uppsala Cathedral´s boys choir

Yesterday I went to hear one of the greatest works ever written, or so they say, the Vespers for Blessed Virgin Mary (1610) by Monteverdi. It was performed in the cathedral by the resident choirs, soloists and a broad line-up of instruments. Being there some forty-five minutes before the show, I managed to grab a seat on the third bench. The acoustics are rather unfavourable, so either you sit right up front or you´ll lose everything but the broad strokes, delivered in a blurry murmur.
Despite a weak choir, or so it sounded, the music was presented quite decently with many well-played and sung chords. I was not familiar with this work and tried to consume it as much as I could. But the audience´s experience is very different from the performer´s. As a performer, you have had months of preparation getting to know the music, finding your favourite parts and letting it mature within you. As a listener, you only get the end result, and must be much more absorbant, devoting more mental energy to the spectacle. A chorist can be pretty numb-minded through many rehearsals, but will still have a good sensation of the music´s essence on concert day. So, it is a short-cut to the inner circle. Requires more manual labour, though.
That´s enough ranting for now...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Bach Gem

There are some pieces by J. S. Bach that make me happy. Quite a lot of them actually. And then there are some that move me, and make me surrender unconditionally. It is hard to describe what they have, that gives them an added level of impact. But I can identify at least one of their qualities: 
Taking a concept further than expected. 
I think you know what I mean by this. For instance with Bach, when a musical idea; rythmic, melodic or otherwise, is presented various times in an ever-changing way, you are normally hinted by the composition of how far that presentation will stretch. And then, Bach takes it yet another step, in disregard of the rules that have been so carefully defined until then, sometimes even breaking out of the tonality.

The beauty of this, and perhaps of all music that we like, is that it communicates something. A bond is made between you and the composer´s mind. He´s talking to you in a language you didn´t know existed, but that you understand perfectly.

Like in this piece. Toccata in f# minor, Adagio (BWV 910) (played by yours truly)

My apologies to any Bach purists out there who (by all right) get upset by the liberties I´ve taken when I´ve isolated this adagio from the toccata it is found inside of.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Winter illusions

As is usual, February has struck with the winter´s heaviest of snow and cold. 
Fortunately, the city centre is better lit than ever, exposing its other self to the nocturnal flâneur. In the park next to the Museum of Uppland, a photo expo plays with your perceptions. The river´s ice cap erases the boundary between water and stone. 
Our surrounding world is indeed illusory.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Wedding in Quito

To my great fortune, a wedding took place the very same weekend I was visiting Quito.  It was my second cousin Francisco and his Daniela that took the vows in a beautiful ceremony in a small church. Afterwards, the party was held at the Marriott Hotel in grand style, with delicious food and dancing (to reggaeton). I was very happy to take part of this special occasion together with my Ecuatorian family. Francisco sent me this photo of us, and as you can see it was a handsome crowd. In the photo are Francisco´s four cousins, one friend and their significant others (if any). I am actually smiling, though it may not be so obvious.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cantamás sings Monteverdi

My song group Cantamás is rehearsing for our upcoming Monteverdi concerts (see dates on the side -->). This year is special because we are celebrating our 10-year anniversary! It was in the summer of ´99 that me and Joakim (second from left) got to know each other, singing Spanish Golden Age music in Provence. We got the idea of taking the renassiance music to a smaller, and purely male, format. The group started out as a trio, grew to a quartet in 2003, and is now often employing Gunilla, Joakim´s spouse, as an added acoustic dimension. For this project we also have Madeleine, so that we can cover Monteverdi´s works for six voices. On basso continuo we have a solid line-up with Gunnar Englund, organ, Janne Johansson, arch lute and Björn Carlsson, cello.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Napo river

From EcuadorOriente

A few hours into the jungle, the Cotopaxi has long since disappeared from the horizon, but it´s presence can still be seen. It is a source of the mighty Napo river that serpents through the rainforest on it´s way to Peru, eventually flowing into the Amazon.

Here, on either sides of the river lies the small indigenous village of Ahuano, where I spent two nights.

The tranquility of the village is contrasted by a feverish bird and insect activity at night. Together with the rushing waters of the river, they form a compact acoustic background. Walking in the forest, I was struck by how dark it is on the ground level. The tall trees steal the light high above our heads, but not without a price. Parasitic plants are in turn strangling the trees, and may leave the top part of a tree dead while the lower part continues to live. Other species cover their host completely, and eventually the original tree rots away, becoming a hollow space inside.

According to our guide Telmo, this particular region had been almost entirely cleared of animal life by the local people. However, the hunting of wild animals is not practiced anymore, and hopefully sometime in the future they will once again have monkeys, tapirs and cats there.

One of the amusements offered by the hotel was a ride on a raft tied together by the group itself. On the raft, we glided downstream, enjoying a rare lo-tech moment. Telmo told us about sailing several days downstream, where anacondas sunbathe on floating logs and uncontacted indian tribes retreat deeper to avoid an encounter with civilization.

At one point during our walks, we came very close to a group of tucans, where the male was singing to mark his territory. No matter how hard we tried we never managed to see them, but they were in the foliage in front of us... very near.

I also ate live ants, that tasted acid and could provide enough protein to sustain you for several days.

Oriental Ecuador turned out to be very intriguing.