in a today’s  music hall. In less than a few hours, Johann Strauss’ son Operetta “La Chauve-Souris” (The Bat or Die Fledermaus) will be presented in a totally different auditorium as it was first shown in 1874.

FRI-SON is a self-managed multicultural  complex usually dedicated to all kinds of contemporary music styles. The sounds that you can hear today and maybe the artistic trends of tomorrow.

Little by little these industrial buildings were transformed into the happy looking hall that has welcomed so many musicians and groups from here and abroad.An entrance door  still closed in the afternoon. Tickets for the Strauss’ operetta were sold out for today’s performance. I got some for next week though.A quick visit inside the concert hall: a modern equipment and old posters of previous concerts.

The empty bar that will be crowded and noisy in a few hours.

On my way back, a bus from the Czech Republic had just arrived. The members of the Philharmonic Orchester from Praha were unloading their musical instruments and getting ready for their “première” in “FRI-SON” (one of its meanings is “shiver” in French 😉 )

And now, just for a change and if you feel like it, here is the Ouverture of “The Chauve-Souris” as played by the Vienna Philharmonic, directed by H. von Karajan in 1987.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHF5LP53LZY&feature=related

Times change but music remains !

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My hometown history

May 24, 2011

Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge for this month is about “Your hometown history”.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/assignment-13-hometown-history/

My  hometown is in another state but surely a “hometown” is also the place one feels good in : my close family lives here as well as some very dear friends. I  have  enjoyed practising many activities over the years since my family and I decided to settle down in this town.  I love the area we live in now almost as much as the one I was born in.  My hometown then would be Fribourg in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Halfway between Berne, our capital and the picturesque area near the Lake of Geneva, not far from my “real” hometown in the Alps.

As for history… this subject has been very much part of my life thanks to my paternal grandfather, Ulysse, who was a self-taught historian.  A long while ago, I wrote a post about him :

https://isathreadsoflife.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/ulysses-books/

This is the old part of Fribourg  on a rather grey day. The medieval town was  was built in 1157 along a river. The Sarine  river  borders two areas in my country: the French and the German  parts.  Fribourg (town/canton) is one of the 26 cantons/states of the Swiss Confederation. Almost one third of his 30000 inhabitants are students.  Several academies, high schools and a bilingual university attract many young people from here and abroad.

Various bridges cross the river meandering around the old town.

Apart from a winding road,  there is a funicular (1899) that connects the ancient town to the newer part above the hill. No motor but recycled water that acts as counterweight.

This medieval town used to be surrounded by ramparts. Most of those walls were destructed over the centuries. A few of them remain and have been restored as well as one heavy wooden gate that would close the town at night.

A colourful old house that used to be a military arsenal.  Nowadays people seem to be more peaceful in town and the arsenal became “Arsen’Alt”. The large painted house is meant to bring people together in the Alt district. It promotes local community life for all those wishing so: kindergarten, various courses, craftwork, cultural activities, meetings, movies,  birthday parties, etc… An inter-generation leisure complex.

By chance I happened to be in the old town when a photography exhibition took place on a square. It was all about the people who lived and are living now in this part of our town. Maybe one of these two ladies recognized herself or someone she knew on a picture ? 🙂

Pictures from today and yesterday; remembering history in a district that used to be a deprived area inhabited by large families coming from the country  in search of a job in town.  Years later many of those same families left their old houses that had become run-down for apartment houses in the upper part of  the town. Ancient houses have been restored and are now sought-after… Times are changing.

Just an old pub about one of my idols 😉  “Elvis et moi”. The owner must have the complete collection of The King’s LP’s ! A real fan and a charming lady. Pity the pub was closed as I took this picture.

A window from another time… Pretty old dolls, second hand books, ancient CD’s and other fancy dusty objects.

Many museums are worth visiting in Fribourg. A favourite of mine is the Gutenberg Museum. A whole post would be necessary to show you its wonders. I will write more about it some time. For now let’s meet the writer and the bookbinder…

… as well as two Turkish musicians who were practising folk music in a garden outside the museum: “Our landlady does not allow us to play in the apartment !”.  They were preparing for  a traditional celebration with members of their community,  an important one in our city.

Are you tired after the visit  ? Then why not take a break on the lawn or on this stone (molasse) bridge. From there you will be able to have another look at the old city, like in the first picture. Fribourg or Freiburg in German is a town of bridges over the river. Bridges over cultures,  languages and times.  Bridges that join rather than divide. It is a small town you may well enjoy visiting if you are around someday.

Thanks Scott for allowing me to use pictures of various “times”. I loved this theme too.

Close-up photography

March 10, 2011

Scott’s new  photography assignment at Views Infinitum

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/ is about Close-Up Photography. Feel free to partipate in this month assignment. You will find all related information under this link :

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/assignment-12-close-up-photography/#comments

Furthermore, tomorrow  Friday, March 11,  Scott  will be discussing the many ways that can  be achieved for close up photography. Don’t miss it and enjoy participating if you feel so.

I took this picture some years ago at the pond in our botanical garden. New pictures are requested for the assignment so I will try to do my best with my Point and Shoot camera 😉

More pictures taken on the same day around the garden, one of my favourite places in town at any Season.

Time for  a rest in the vegetation. Softness of shades and textures. Some plants still add a subdued colour in a Winter garden.  Soon, it will be highlighted by the sparks of Spring.

Looking up and down

November 12, 2010

Walking through the streets of my town and looking up to its roofs makes me forget to look down and it happens sometimes that I twist my ankles. I keep telling myself “be careful today !” and yet I do it again. Painful !How could you resist taking a picture of  those three old chimneys dancing on a roof ?Or being attracted by the close encounter of the moon with the sun ? Or even as you walk you might witness  a strange meeting in the sky  ?

Now,  if you could look down on some of those streets I walk on, you may understand better what I mean…

Uneven paved footpaths or ancient lanes covered with moss  can be quite a challenge while you are looking at special sights in the sky 😉

You may have to look in all directions if you feel like participating in Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge though. And it is well worth taking part in his November assignment : Fall 2010. For all information, please click here : http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/assignment-10-autumn-2010/

A hint of Winter

November 1, 2010

It was around 5.30pm and  I was driving to town. The sun was highlighting the pasture and the cows, the last rays of a beautiful but chilly autumnal day. I just had to stop and take a picture of two Seasons that were overlapping. Snow had fallen on the Prealpes mountains and the sight was enchanting. Could it be that Winter is at the door ? A bit too soon for me…

“Winter is an etching,  Spring a watercolor,  Summer an oil painting and Autumn a mosaic of them all”.

Stanley Horowitz

Slowing down

August 16, 2010

This post is my contribution to  the new photography  challenge assigned by Scott Thomas, http://stphoto.wordpress.com; its theme is related  to Travel Photography. On the following link you will find  the necessary information if you want to join us. Everyone is welcome ! Photos are to be posted until September 8, 2010.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/assignment-8-travel-photography/

For me, Hauterive is not  a faraway place to travel to, 15kms at the most from my home near Fribourg, Switzerland (South of Berne). More than a travel in the usual sense of the word, I would call it an “inner journey”. As soon as you leave the main road leading to the Abbey of Hauterive, you enter a small domain where peace, silence and nature help you slowing down. You don´t even realize it but the way you walk down the path leading to the Abbey is definitely more slow.

I did not meet many people as I strolled under the forest archway. It was a weekday; on Sundays the monastery welcomes many visitors coming to the 10am mass celebrated by the Cistercian monks  in the Abbey founded in 1138.The community of Hauterive is a haven of peace. Whenever I  need some quietness or just a little time for myself , I love to go and sit in the garden in front of the Abbey. Parts of this garden are closed to the public and reserved to the monks. Pilgrims on their long way to St- Jacques de Compostelle in Spain may stop there for the night.Between light and shade, some benches welcome people who come there for a pause in their day. Some – for their own particular reasons at a period of their life – can stay for a longer time at the Abbey and live with the monks according to their rhythm and spirit.  I cannot speak for them but personally I always feel a great inner peace as I stay there, outside or inside the church, also when walking along the river.

This is a view of the Abbey (at the back) and the farm (in front). The monks´s monastic life is essential  (“ora et labora” – pray, work and also fraternal life). The monks also cultivate a certain form of relationship with the exterior world.  Over the centuries they have valorised agricultural land  so  that they can sell their various products which bring the necessary revenues for their subsistence.Silence is appreciated in the areas where the monks are praying, meditating.

Hauterive Abbey (which means “high banks”) is located near a river, the Sarine. It flows quietly; people like to come and spend the day at the edge of the water.  I saw fishermen trying to catch  trouts. Cistercian monasteries  were often built near a river in rather secluded areas. Maybe they used rivers as a way of transportation for their goods to be sold in the towns nearby ? It was often done so in the Middle Age when roads were  unsafe.

To reach the Abbey you can either walk down a peaceful forest path or use  those  old wooden stairs. They have been restored of course and if they could talk, they would tell of all the people and the countless  steps up and down over the centuries. The walls are original with an occasional patch of new cement and paint here and there. No  straight lines for them but slight curves,  a sort of imbalance as if they carried the weight of time and events.Let´s  enter the Abbey itself through the  main porch decorated by a fresco.  I visited Hauterive several times over the years; for this photo assignement I came on a sunny morning which soon turned out to be a rainy one. The colours would have normally been much brighter.

I never took any pictures inside the Abbey but the monk I asked about it said it was all right. Those  are the stained glass windows on the South side of the church, their bright colours subdued under the cloudy sky.  The “rosace” (rose window) is very striking.

Rose windows are particularly characteristic of Gothic architecture and may be seen in all the major Gothic Cathedrals of Northern France. Their origins are much earlier and rose windows may be seen in various forms throughout the Medieval period (Wikipedia).

There were very few people inside the Abbey. I sat for while on the chair on the left. On Sundays and special  celebrations the nave and the lateral aisles are all taken up. The monks are reunited behind the choir-screen for the celebration. Their Gregorian chant fills the  Abbey. Moments of spirituality and sharing. I feel like saying a sharing beyond all religions,  a sheer spirituality that the site inspires and transcends.  The monks´chant is bringing life to the ancient walls.Leaving the Abbey by the quiet forest path, I was surprised by a bird flying right in front of me ! I still don´t know how I managed to take a picture. But here it is, a graceful bird dashing to the purple flower bush. A lovely ending of my travel with you.  I hope you enjoyed this quiet journey near Fribourg, Switzerland. Thanks to Scott for another interesting photography challenge.

For more information on the Abbey of Hauterive, here is a link to its  site. An English translation is available too.

http://www.abbaye-hauterive.ch/index.php#bas1

A breath of fresh air

July 6, 2010

Shopping in town on  hot days like we are having for the past week is something I rarely do. When I really have to, I always try to take time and visit the botanical garden. One of my favourite places in town.  At this Season the garden is a little paradise of shade and flowers. A real breath of fresh air, a haven of peace if you go there before midday. The arbour that looked so bare early this year is now covered with  pink wild roses. Nothing like natural shade can give you this wonderful feeling of coolness on a hot Summer day.

Even under the brilliant sun, the pond adds some freshness. How peaceful to look at  the water lilies  slightly undulating  in the water, it  quietens body and mind.

There is a particular place where I like to sit near a rosebush. Those tiny rosebuds  are an invitation and inspiration to any painter. And photographer… What I cannot share with you, unfortunately, is their  subtle, delicate scent.

As I sat on the bench enjoying this moment,  lost in my thoughts, I heard a prolonged “miaou”… Looking around I saw a black cat probably feeling a bit lonely and who was lying on the ground not far from me. He stayed there  quietly then followed me when I got up and walked further in the garden.

Young people had arrived near the pond. Some students were working together on a project.  The college of biology is close by and sometimes I see them sitting in the garden having lunch or reading. An extra-mural break…More people arrived and sat around the pond. These  girls were obviously very busy checking their  messages and totally oblivious of their surroundings. They were reading and commenting their sms for everyone to hear : “He writes beautifully, you know and he loves me so ! ”  🙂

Followed by my new friend, the cat,  I strolled all around the garden before driving back home. I  took a few pictures here and there, stopping to read the names of various trees, bushes and flowers, amazed at their origin. A world travel in miniature ! The tropical greenhouse looked inviting… but definitely too warm and humid in Summer. I will visit it on colder, duller days.  As I walked, I took a few photographs; you may recognize some arnica flowers, water lilies, fuchsias, wild roses, flax plants, edelweiss, irises. There were many more… We will leave those for a next visit ! Hope you enjoy this one 🙂

Where flowers bloom so does hope.
–  Lady Bird Johnson, Public Roads: Where Flowers Bloom

Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.
–   Gerald De Nerval

In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.
–  Kozuko Okakura

My Hometown

March 22, 2010

Scott Thomas has posted a new photo challenge  whose theme is “My Hometown”. Everyone is invited to participate in posting one or more photos about this particular subject.  If you are interested, please go to the link below and  post your photo(s) until midnight (your time) on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/

Fribourg, in the French speaking area of Switzerland is not really my hometown… but it is the place I lived the longest in. So now I consider it as my hometown, I feel as good here as I do when I go back to my home state in the Alps. It is a town of about 30’000 inhabitants, its medieval part built along a river, the Sarine. Its cathedral, dedicated to St Nicolas, is imposing and was built in the 11th century. When you walk through Fribourg as I did last Saturday, you cannot but lift your head and admire the old architecture of  its roofs and bell towers. Many of them !

Old bridges cross the river and one of them is covered. Cars may drive through it, buses too but just barely ! So much nicer to walk when no vehicles are around.

Saturday was a rather dull day, not many colours to light up my pictures but it was Scott’s challenge 😉 so I did my best and found some cheerful shades.  The sun was away but the moon stood in a garden ! Bright and smiling and joyful in a rainy day..

May I introduce you to The Big Moon ? a lovely sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle; the artist was born in Paris but lived in New York for a long time.  She spent some time in our town and left a great collection of art in a museum here. I visited it later on and, as always,  enjoyed it immensely. I hope you have enjoyed this short walk through my hometown too.

Thank you Scott for giving me the opportunity to present a little of Fribourg.

Sleepy garden

March 12, 2010

Have you ever enjoyed a walk through a botanical garden in Winter ? When I am in town, I often take time to stroll in the small garden that keeps its particular charm even though bright colours are not very present at this time of the year.But if you look closely you will find the warm orange shade of a  wild rose bud. In the pond, a small block  of ice shaped like a frozen silver rose. The pale Winter sun would light up the windows of  a greenhouse gently brushed by white rods.

Inside the greenhouse plants are growing slowly and waiting for better days to be brought outside. Their green reflections behind the glass add some life to the sleepy garden.

And when the weather is as cold as now, low temperatures and an icy Northern wind, the tropical greenhouse welcomes you in its warm and humid forest of banana trees, eucalypts, ficus, acacias  and a more exotic landscape. Wherever I go, I try to find a botanical garden, stroll through the seasons and the local vegetation. Often it is a breath of fresh air in the middle of a city. A green area to sit and rest or  read, just feel good and relax.

Blue shades in town

January 19, 2010

Walking through Fribourg on a grey and cold day, I was attracted by

a big blue glass ball seen through the workshop window of a jeweller in the old part of the city

I could not miss the deep blue old Vespa and a shawl waiting for her owner to drive off

A sculpture in brilliant blue shades and its green cat by Niki de Saint-Phalle

and a few solar panels trying to catch the very weak sun on that day.