Skip to main content

The Forbidden City (故宮), Beijing (北京)

It's a sight to behold when you first enter the ground of the Imperial Palace - a vast vista with harmonious architectural proportions.

But after millions of tourists trotting about year after year, all the buildings are in desperate needs of maintenance and repair. At first, it seems obvious what needs to be done - dusting the place down, pull out the weeds, repaint the peeling walls. However, when one considers the age of some of these buildings and the building material used, one realises it is not an easy job. The Temple of Harmony (太和殿), the grandest building in the palace, is now under scarfolding. The positive sign is that the Palace Museum is working with expert restorers from Italy to conduct investigation and research, and to identify the best way to carry out restoration. It is expected to re-open in October 2007. Let's hope the Chinese government has the will to commit to an Eternal Restoration and Maintenance project for this historic monument.


Popular posts from this blog

Joyce DiDonato sings Berlioz at BBC Proms

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique started this BBC Proms concert with Le corsaire - it was tightly played and a sonorous sound. I wonder whether this was due to the whole orchestra standing up while playing had anything to do with it. It sounded good.

Joyce DiDonato first sang La mort de Cléopâtre - her performance was mesmerising due to her dramatic delivery of text and the wonderful lines. Sir John was ever sensitive to the flow of the music. Dido’s death scene was short, yet no less powerful with DiDonata's breadth of emotions. Some may moan about her over dramatic delivery at the expense of pitch accuracy - but that's just nitpicking.

The second half of the concert was Harold in Italy - a whimsical and eclectic piece that's interesting to listen to - but I wonder whether this should have been played in the 1st half of the concert.

Poème symphonique, British Museum

Now how often does one get to hear Ligeti's "joke" Poème symphonique? It came about recently at the British Library. Or rather, it was performed in the old British Library reading room. 100 metronomes arranged neatly on a platform, lit, and poised to commence. After a short introduction, a small team of museum staff flicked the metronomes and the performance started. It was a cacophony of sound echoed by the reading room's unique acoustic. It's strangely mesmerizing and hypnotic. From time to time, some metronomes came together into unison, and then dissipated. It had an organic quality to it. If one ever wondered, it took about 25 minutes until the last remaining metronome on Largo came to a stop. It was fun!

From the House of the Dead, the Royal Opera

Janáček's From the House of the Dead was not going to be an "easy listening" piece. The drama was intense and claustrophobic - perhaps that's intentional. Unlike Káťa Kabanová or Jenůfa where there was a greater story arc, The House was more choppy - including two plays within the opera. All in all a very intense evening.