Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Spending time in Haifa

Baha'i Garden

After spending 3 adventurous days in Rome, we flew to Israel. Israel was founded in 1948 as a homeland for the Jews. The capital is Jerusalem, however most people live in or around Tel Aviv.  We stayed about 1 hour north of Tel Aviv in the city of Netanya.  We lived in a big condo with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and it even had a piano. One of the bedrooms was specially designed as a a safe room that can be used in case of rocket attacks. During our trip everything was calm and peaceful.   Miriam, Hannah, and I all shared a room, and we had dance parties every night. Our flight to Israel got delayed, and by the time we arrived at our condo,  we were so tired that we just fell asleep. The next day, we had a lot planned, as we were going to drive to Haifa, a city in northern Israel.  We went with a private tour guide, who told us about the the history and showed us beautiful sights.

View from above the Bahá’í Gardens

Beautiful Golden Dome
Haifa is a major port city that lies on and around Mount Carmel in northern Israel. It borders the Bay of Haifa at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Many religious landmarks are in the Haifa area, including the Baha'i Garden, Elijah's cave, The Stella Maris Church on Mount Carmel, the ruins of Caeseria, and Rothschild burial site.  After driving for an 1 hour, we arrived in Haifa, at the top of the Baha'i Garden, overlooking beautiful buildings, a large sea, and a gold dome that stood out to us the most. Bahai is monotheistic religion founded in 1860 in Persia. Today there are about 5 million Bahai's, and most dream about coming to visit the temple. The Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa extend all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The garden starts very high up, and we had to walk down 700 steps to the bottom. At each level, there were a variety of things such as flower beds, hedges, sculptures, and views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. After walking down all those steps we were exhausted, however we continued on. Our tour guide led us into a beautiful golden dome.  Before we went inside, we had to take our shoes off and we weren't allowed to talk while inside. Inside this dome, there were numerous lit candles.  

At the bottom 

Elijah's cave
Our next stop was Elijah's cave. Elijah hid in this cave at Mt. Carmel  in the 9th century BCE while hiding from King Ahad and his Persian wife Jezebel.  In this cave it was pitch black, and there wasn't much inside. Eliah lived, hid and studied in this cave, and he was never found by the king, who was going to kill him. After exploring the cave we moved on. We drove to the Stella Maris Church, where we hiked down to the sea. There were beautiful views of the sea along the way. When we reached the bottom, we got to take cable cars back up. A cable car is a vehicle that hangs in the air from a cable, and it pulls it up and down mountains. It was a really fun ride, and it saved us from having to walk all the way back up! 

Honorary chair to Elijah

Cable car

After the ride, we stopped by for a quick lunch break before we moved on to our next destination, the ruins of Caeseria. Caeseria was built by Herod the great at around the time of  25-13 BCE. Caeseria was built right on the beach, and there were numerous mammoth-sized rocks that we climbed. In a big sandy area, thousands of slaves and animals fought for their lives, to entertain an audience of people.  They also had chariot races, and many other races as well.

Ruins of Caeseria

Our last stop that day was Rothschild's burial site. Rothchild specifically said in his will that he wished to be buried in Israel. He was a very rich man, and he donated a lot of money to help build Israel when it was first founded. Now they have a park with gardens dedicated to him. The gardens had all types of beautiful flowers, and many interesting trees. While spending time in the park, we saw a few couples taking their wedding photos. A walk in the garden is definitely a great way to end a long and exhausting day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Vatican City in Rome

Recently, we flew to Rome. It was a 12 hour flight to get there, and we were kept busy playing cards, doing homework, watching movies and reading books. Finally, the city appeared. We stayed near the Vatican City in a small two bedroom apartment, with a tiny counter, which was supposed to be a kitchen, which separated the children's bedroom, from my parent's bedroom. We were in Rome for 3 days. On the first full day we went to the Vatican.The Vatican City is actually its own country. It is the smallest country in the world and is ruled by the pope. 

Inside the Vatican Museum
When we arrived at the Vatican, we saw a very long line of people waiting to go inside the museum. Luckily, we bought passes ahead of our trip, and we were able to bypass the long line and go inside.The Vatican Museum has many rooms filled with the works of many artists such as  Leonardo da Vinci, Rapael, and Michelangelo. Some of Michelangelo's greatest paintings fill the ceilings and walls of the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is a chapel filled with Michelangelo's paintings. He painted huge and beautiful paintings on the walls and ceilings that told biblical stories of Moses and Christ. Can you imagine having to paint upside down high above the ground! One of his most famous paintings that we saw was God giving life to Adam. When we finished touring the Sistine Chapel, we got some delicious gelato.

Dark clouds loom above St Peter's square
Adjacent to the museum is a beautiful piazza, or square, called St Peter's Square. The square is right in front of Saint Peters Basilica, and the Vatican Palace. In the middle of the piazza is a tall granite obelisk that was brought from Egypt in the year 37, and placed in the piazza in the 1500s. The first time we tried to see St Peter's Basilica, there were thousands of people crowded around the square all waiting for the pope to come out and greet the people.  The next day, there was a  a snaking line around the whole piazza filled with people waiting to see the basilica. It wasn't until the third day that we got lucky. The weather was miserable with heavy rain, thunder and lightning, but perfect for visiting the basilica.  Right when we stepped foot into the church, we were awestruck. The basilica's chapels were so tall and huge that we felt like tiny ants compared to them. This church is about 700 feet long and 450 feet wide and world's largest Christian church. Saint Peters Basilica was built to look like a cross. It is said that it contains the burial site of the first pope, Saint Peter.

Inside St. Peter's Basilica

 Rome is filled with many beautiful churches. During the three days we were in Rome, it rained quite a bit and the churches provided a nice place to hide from the rain. In fact, there are more than 900 churches in Rome. Many contain gorgeous sculptures and paintings on the walls and ceilings. There are often people praying and lighting candles. We even saw some choirs practicing in the church. The acoustics was really great.  
waiting for the rain to clear

We were really surprised at the summer weather we experience in Rome. Every time we saw the lightning, we started to count until we heard the thunder. and at one time, the lightening was less than a mile away. While taking a picture with my sister in the rain, we felt lightning right above our heads, and nearly got struck by lightning! We knew that it was time to get to somewhere safe and warm until the rain stopped.

 Finally it was only drizzling, and we set out exploring. We walked through narrow roads where cars could barely fit through. The cars in Rome are especially small and look almost like toy cars. The water in Rome was cold, refreshing and delicious. Many piazzas had interesting fountains with fresh water. Here is one coming out of a lion's statue.

After dinner, we went to the Tiber River, a beautiful river with many large bridges crossing it. On the bridges,  were huge statues, and beautiful views of the city lights. We enjoyed strolling along the river, relaxing and watching people paint and sell their wares. It was a fantastic way to end our long and exhausting day.

To learn more about our trip to Rome, please visit my sister, Miriam's post.

Have you ever been to Rome?
Have you ever seen any Michelangelo's paintings? 


Monday, May 26, 2014

School Talent Show

Recently, I performed in a Talent Show at my school. Every year, a few parents are in charge of putting together a Talent Show where fourth and fifth graders get to perform anything they like. After many rehearsals and hard work, many parents come to watch the performance. I performed Czardas by Monte on the Violin.  We had many rehearsals that took place after school, and all the performing students worked very hard at perfecting their dances, songs, and various instrument pieces. 

Vittorio Monte was an Italian Composer born on January 6, 1868, and died on June 20th, 1922. He was a violinist and a conductor, and wrote many pieces for the violin. One of his most famous pieces was Czardas, which was the piece I played for this Talent Show. This piece is very slow in the beginning, however in the middle and end, it speeds up and ends in a dramatic way. It took me a long time to learn to play this piece fast.

I hope you enjoy my performance.

Have you ever performed at a big event?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Piano Pieces

This past month, I have been working on a piece from the Theme from Piano Quintet in A major by Franz Schubert. Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer in the early romantic period, and in short lifespan, he wrote about 600 pieces on the piano, and almost completed 10 symphonies. He was born on January 31, 1797, and died on November 19, 1828. Even though he lived only 31 years, he still managed to succeed in composing music for many instruments.

  • The piece that I played was a very slow and had a lot of emotion. This was the first piece that I actually was able to reach a full octave. An octave, is a cord with 8 notes. My hand has now just grown big enough to reach this chord. Now, I have many more pieces to choose from as most composers use octaves in their pieces.  I hope you enjoyed the piece that I played!

    My sister, Hannah, did a guest post about the pieces she learned this month.

    I have been practicing hard on my four pieces this past month. They were all songs by Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky wrote 24 short songs for children, and he dedicated his songs to his seven year old nephew. I am also seven years old, and I played some of his pieces. I really enjoy playing his pieces. If you want to learn more about Tchaikovsky, please visit my older sister, Miriam's blog.

    First, I played Old French Song. Old French Song is a type of song that is slow. I like hearing the loud and quiet. Next, I played Wooden Soldier March. It sounds like there is a march. It was important to play it evenly. There are some parts that are slow and some parts that fast. I like this song because some of it is loud and some of it is quiet. Then, I played the Morning Prayer Song. The Morning Prayer Song is also slow. This song is supposed to be played with the pedal. I can't really reach the pedal so you can see me all the way at the edge of the seat trying to reach the pedal. I like this song because it is very calm. However the end is a little loud and that is my favorite part of the song. Last, I played Polka. Polka is a fast song. I like the melody of the piece. My favorite part of the piece is the beginning of the song. I like the melody of the right hand and the left hand. Polka is a kind of dance. I really liked playing this song. I hope enjoyed listening

    Which piece did you enjoy best?

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Outdoor Ed

    Last week, I went to a sleep away camp with all of the fifth grade classes.  The camp was called Outdoor Ed, and we learned about many different plants and animals.  During the five day trip, we saw many animals such as mule deer, red tailed hawks, and many ground squirrels.  We were divided into different trail groups, and we had a naturalist named Catherine that explained to us about the plants and animals that we spotted.  We also had a counselor who was a senior in high school. She took care of us when Catherine wasn't with us, such as at night, and during our meals. On the first day, I dressed in a skirt and a t-shirt with no sweater.  I almost froze that day because as soon as the wind picked up, the temperature dropped.  I learned my lesson to always dress in layers!

    In front of the dorms

    One of my favorite day during camp was when we did the all day, 7 hour hike.  We were the only group that saw a family of mule-deer. We also saw a dead bobcat along the way, which really grossed us out, but we didn't let that ruin our day.

    A family of Mule-Deer

    Dead bobcat

    View from the 7-hr hike

    Chumash lesson
    On a different day, we had a lesson on the Chumash Indian tribe. During the lesson,  we learned how to make necklaces out of abalone shells, tried to make fire without matches, saw different animal furs, and built a shelter from sticks. I was very surprised at how hard it is to start a fire by spinning a stick. We all tried and tried as a group, but we only got a little bit of smoke.  We also saw animal furs from a coyote, skunk, rabbit and dear.  The coyote skull was really cool, as it was large, and fierce-looking. I thought the best part of the whole Chumash lesson was building the shelters. We had to learn to build a small shelter with materials that we could gather in nature.  I was in charge of gathering the sticks, and everyone else was in charge of building the shelter. When we finished, we made a big tent, that all 4 of us could go into!I had an amazing time at Ourdoor Ed, and I will always remember my experience.

    Have you ever been to a sleep away camp? 
    Did you enjoy it?

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    This afternoon, Hannah and I recorded a few pieces that we've wor

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    Winter Orchestra Concert

    About 2 weeks ago, Hannah and I had an orchestra concert. We go to orchestra every Thursdays from 3:45 until 4:45 and work on our 5 pieces that our conductor gave us. This is an all string orchestra, and there are about 60 violins, 3 violas, 20 cellos and 1 base. I sit in the first violin section, and I am third chair. Hannah sits in the second violin section.  Unfortunately, Hannah sits  all the way in the back, directly behind the conductor so you can't see her playing.  This is her first year in an orchestra, and I am sure she will move up closer to the front next year when she gets better. The theme of all of our pieces was music by Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky. Even though we come together every Thursday for rehearsal,  it is our responsibility to make sure that we come prepared and know our parts well. On the day of the concert, we had to wake up early, as we had a rehearsal at a beautiful concert hall. We determined the order of our pieces, rehearsed all of the pieces we were going to perform, and made sure that everyone knew where to sit. After rehearsal, we went home for lunch and a brief rest period.  By the early afternoon, it was time to get dress in a black dress, black tights, and shiny black shoes. At 3:00, we arrived back at the concert hall for the performance.

    The first piece that we played was called Dance of the Tumblers by Nikolay Rimsky. It is a very melodic and fast piece with many trills. The next piece that we played was called Eighteenth Variation by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is one of my favorite pieces because it has a beautiful melody,  and it is very slow. The third piece we played was called Souvenirs of Saint Petersberg. This is a a famous and fun Russian melody. We learned this piece the fastest, because everyone practiced it the most. My least favorite song, Diamonds, by Tchaikovsky, was all plucking, which means that we don't use our bows to play it. However, the cellos had a nice melody The final piece we played was Hopak from "The Fair at Sorochinsk".  It was a nice way to end our concert, as it was a very light and fast piece.

    My mom recorded all the pieces we played. Even though, it isn't the best recording, I hope you enjoy the concert.  

    Which piece was your favorite?