photography, San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel’s tree lighting ceremony and holiday lights show kick off with a bang

Tonight was the official tree-lighting ceremony in San Miguel de Allende. As always with any ceremony here, that includes a bodacious fireworks display. The fireworks seemed to go on forever. What a sight!

All the white fairy lights in the park and those covering the seven streets entering into the public square were lit as well. As the Atencion newspaper put it this week: they “seem like a path of stars.”

Rose and I walked into the square (Jardine Principal) just as the countdown began.

What a show!

Scroll through the pictures and be sure to check out the videos at the end. Turn the volume up to 10!

Merry Christmas!

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San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel’s Pro Musica Youth Orchestra is back, with a holiday concert in a new setting

The Pro Musica Youth Orchestra is back after a 20-month hiatus because of the pandemic and the tragic loss of the orchestra’s founder and Pro Musica vice president, Tim Hazel, who passed away on Feb.3 from stomach cancer.

An exciting new youth music director and conductor, Robert Mari, has assumed the podium and the popular orchestra has been in rehearsal for more than a month.

To celebrate the return of the orchestra, Pro Musica has set its first concert for Sunday 12 December 2021 at 3 pm. This will take place outdoors with socially distanced seating in the delightful gardens of the Arts School of the Instituto Allende on Ancha de San Antonio.

The youth orchestra’s previous home, in the Belles Artes complex, has yet to re-open. In the old days, Hazel would conclude each concert with a wry tale of his need to feed his 12 children — or 8 or 6, it varied. A scruffy straw hat with a pink ribbon would be passed among the audience and the money, of course, went to supporting the orchestra which grew in size and capability over the past three years.

Now, Pro Musica is asking for a $300 peso donation from attendees. Tickets can be purchased through the Pro Musica website at  www.promusicasma.org . Proceeds will go to the orchestra members, according to Pro Musica.

“This will be a wonderful opportunity for you to show your support for the orchestra under its new conductor and to see how the young musicians are performing,” says Michael Pearl, president of Pro Musica, in a press release. “I have attended rehearsals of the orchestra and they are sounding excellent.”

The program will include works by Mozart and Haydn.

The centerpiece of the concert will be Mozart’s wonderful Symphony No. 35 in D major, the “Haffner”, written in 1782. And just for fun, ours and theirs, the orchestra will also play Mozart’s K.552, known as “A Musical Joke”. (A loose translation of the German title, “Some Musical Fun.”) The work satirizes other composers’ styles and is “a masterclass in using wrong notes and compositorial comedic devices.”

Pro Musica calls it, “an ideal piece for a youth orchestra.”

From Haydn, the orchestra draws on his Symphony 99 in E-flat major, written in 1793 in Vienna for performance during his second visit to England. It is the seventh of the ultimately twelve “London” symphonies.

This will be followed by the “Toy” symphony. This 18th-century work is variously attributed to Joseph Haydn, Leopold Mozart, Michael Haydn, and Edmund Angerer. As the title suggests, the performance includes various “toy” instruments, such as a toy trumpet, a ratchet, and bird calls. 

The Canadian native Robert Mari conducted the Cowichan Consort Orchestra and Choir starting in 2011 and recently retired. He is no stranger to youth orchestras, having started his own studies at age 3 on the piano. He first performed in public at age 5 and conducted his first symphony at age 13.

He holds masters and doctorate degrees in music and orchestral conducting respectively from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University among other music-related studies. He is a composer, recording artist, conductor, and performer.

You can read the entire program for the Sunday concert here.

(Correction: The post originally said Robert Mari has been with Pro Musica since 2011. He is just beginning a new career with Pro Musica. My apologies for the error.)

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

On Dia de Los Muertos, even the dead love a good parade

Traffic finally emptied on the Ancha at 8 p.m. Monday and down the broad street, and out from the Rosewood resort, streamed hundreds of Catrinas, Catrinos, ghouls, skeletons, and even an underworld creature or two.

And they came on fast — as if all the pent-up energy from last year’s cancelled parade was unleashed atop this year’s and resulted in a headlong rush to the finish.

The crowd where Nemiseo Diaz meets the Ancha was so thick and eager that costumed paraders had to run a tight gauntlet, elbowing their way to the merger point.

It wasn’t so much a parade as a fast jog of the living dead in glorious technicolour and fabulous costumes. They marched, they merged, they posed for pictures, they trundled up Zacaterous, turned onto Canal and cascaded into the Plaza Principal where the crush of Catrinas and onlookers must have been something else.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

Population boom around San Miguel — especially spooky couples — means Dia de Los Muertos is nearly here

This wedding couple, or someone very much like them, shows up on the El Cardo roundabout every year at this time. Always of comfort to see.

You meet the strangest characters on the streets of San Miguel de Allende at this time of year.

Bigger than life, a bit on the emaciated side, and not that responsive to a cheery hello. Their appearance marks the run-up to Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — although I’m seeing that more and more in the plural, Days of the Dead, as just one day no longer seems enough.

Bars, hotels, and boutiques seem to especially revere the dead as they decorate and plan events for days leading up to the traditional Nov. 1 celebration. Door frames get beautiful floral treatments, too.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized

You up for some photos of San Miguel while I think of something new to blog about?

This is how we sometimes feel the first time we head out into the public square after quarantining at home for 18 months. These two are currently hanging out in Parque Juarez, through Dia de Muertos.

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She’s right, you know, my new friend from the housewarming party the other night: I haven’t written on the blog in a long time.

I owe you all an apology, if, indeed, you actually missed me.

If not, then, hi! Welcome (back) to my blog.

You know how these things happen — someone starts a blog and it goes great for a while, then a pandemic strikes, and life as we know it is suspended. So the writer begins writing interior monologues, surreal short stories, overly long recollections about that dream from last night, and, in the worst of cases, poetry.

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

A good Sunday morning walk to the Presa, unspoiled by the reality awaiting back in town

Horses and cattle graze where there was once water at the Presa, outside San Miguel de Allende. Chances are, the current rainy season will do its job and refill the reservoir.

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We went for a walk on Sunday.

Or maybe it was a hike. When does a walk stop being a walk and become a hike? Is it the distance? The degree of difficulty? The moment when you suddenly realize one call to Uber could end all this?

Anyhow, we went for a walk on Sunday.

Eight miles, round-trip.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The Log: April 24 — Stories help us understand, Alicia Keys helps us heal

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FREE ANNOTATION AND HOT LINKS:

#1. GREAT ESCAPE: The plan was for me to get up early and walk Moppit so Rose could take an online yoga class before the sun turned up the heat.

The internet was down.

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The Log: April 22, I’m back and I’ve got this headful of stuff I need to tell you …

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Miss me? These days you can’t say “I am sick” without sending tremors through the universe. But now I can say, “I was sick, for a couple of days.” Whatever the symptoms, they did not add up to COVID 19.

I was just sick. And now I’m better and life goes on and gratitude pours in to fill the void.

As many of you know, when you are sick, you basically do nothing. So, since I sense you don’t want unnecessary detail on nose-blowing and sneezing, let’s say I did nothing of note (“Honk!” … sorry) on Monday and Tuesday.

But here’s today’s ANNOTATED LOG!: Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Entering Phase 2 of the coronavirus with the help of the Camino, history, humor, and Garrison Keillor & Randy Rainbow

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Decontamination crews are spraying down the streets of San Miguel de Allende today. The visuals alone ought to drive the doubters indoors. (Photograph by John Bohnel)

So, Mexico entered Phase 2 on Tuesday. While the president still hugs and kisses the babies and young girls, his Health secretary has called for restaurants and casinos to be closed, for public gatherings to disperse — you know, the same stuff we have been doing in San Miguel for a couple of weeks now.

Only, a lot less.

Phase 2 is clinically called the “community transmission phase.”

Phase 2 feels like Mom calling the kids inside to safety — after it starts raining. The kids have been playing outside, conscious of the dark clouds building. Continue reading

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