Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chocolate Milk

So, I got up this morning and decided that I wanted some chocolate milk. I got upstairs, poored a glass of milk, grabbed some Nesquik and was more than ready and excited for my cool, refreshing glass of liquid chocolate paradise. I opened the chocolate to find that it hadn't been used in a little while and was a little compressed and hard. So, my natural inclination was to put the top back on and give it a little shake to loosen it up (because everyone knows that this makes your chocolate milk fluffier and lighter. Duh!).

As I'm doing this, I'm watching a little Sportscenter, listening to analysts talk about the Saints and Colts perfect season, Tiger Woods, BCS hopefuls, etc... when all the sudden, I see chocolate powder come flying out of the canister. I look down and found Choco Mountain.

I didn't realize that the cap wasn't on all the way. All I did was look and laugh at myself. Then I grabbed my camera and thought, "This would be a fun blog post!" So here it is. Just thought some of you might have wanted to share this little moment with me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tchaikovsky... Mmmm....

So, this semester has been crazy busy and I have not had any time to do anything fun, like blog. You may find that I am blogging... I just decided to take a moment and post something to get away from everything that I'm supposed to be doing, and so that those who may care about me in this world know that I am not dead. :)

Coming up this Thursday, the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra, in which I play, is putting on a concert. In this orchestra, we play "the big stuff." No movie music. No cheesy popular stuff. We play the pieces that have been forgotten over the years by the general public. The pieces that are deemed "classical" by our current generation. We resurrect the timeless pieces of the past by the world's greatest composers who dedicated their lives to such music.

We will be performing Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. For anyone that finds the classical genre boring or uninteresting, try this symphony on for size. Tchaikovsky was known for his profound lyricism and melodies. His music, though it does not have words, penetrates and speaks to the very soul. He presents a wide range of emotions, feelings and aesthetics: anger, frustration, adoration, beauty, anticipation, mourning, surprise, hope, light, determination. All of these and many more are found in this one piece of music. I grew up on this kind of music and it holds a very prominent place in my heart. This symphony is so profound, moving and so very beautiful. By far, one of my favorite symphonies of all time.

My favorite moment of the entire piece is the very beginning of the second movement. The cellos and violas come in as quiet as they possibly can. They are playing in the lower tessitura of their instruments which gives it a rich, dark sound. It feels really gloomy, dark and sad, but as the music progresses, there is a gleam of hope that changes the mood of the music. The French horn (my instrument! Of course this is my favorite part. Totally biased), as a solo, then comes in with the melody which is beautiful and heart-wrenching! It just pulls at the heart strings as it constantly builds tension and relaxes the tension as it resolves. I love it so much! This is one of the many reasons I play the French horn.

This kind of music is so rich and deep. If you get the chance, try separating yourself from the mainstream music of today and expose yourself to some of the "classics." You may be surprised by what you hear.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

So, I am still alive (barely!) and I thought I would leave a little update of what has been going on in my life the past little while.

School started again and it is busier than ever. It has only been two weeks and I am exhausted. My schedule kind of goes like this:

6:15 am - alarm goes off
6:50-7:00 am - actually get out of bed.
7:30 am - pick up Kristin and head to school.
8:00 am - 6:00 pm - variety of classes mixed with homework, composing, lots of horn practicing, lunch and dinner with Kristin, chat with Kristin...
6:00 pm - go to work
9:30 pm - get off of work (do as much homework as possible while on the clock, while at the same time getting all my tasks done)
10:00 pm - visit with Kristin before bedtime
11:00 pm - a little more homework, get ready for bed
12:00 pm - sleep

I have lots to do and not quite enough time to do it all, but I'm not complaining. I'm just having the time of my life and enjoying every minute that I can squeeze out of it.

So, some highlights from the first two weeks of school:
  • I auditioned and got a spot playing 2nd horn in the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra. It is so awesome and I am so excited for all the pieces that we get to play and all the concerts we have.
  • It is my last year here at BYU. I'm hoping to graduate in April 2010.
  • I'm playing in a woodwind quintet. I haven't played in a small ensemble for a long time. I've forgotten how much I love it!
  • President Monson is the man! I've learned so many amazing things about him in my Living Prophets class and it makes me respect him more than I ever have. He truly is God's Prophet on the earth today.
  • French horn rocks! I forgot how much I love to play it. I was a big slacker over the summer.
  • I'm still dating Kristin. She is absolutely amazing and we have awesome times together.
There are just a few things that pop into my head at the moment. I'm sure that there are plenty more, and I know that there are more great things to come this semester. It's going to be hard and extremely busy, but I'm way excited to see how this semester will unfold.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beauties of Life - Part I

Earlier this evening, there was quite a powerful storm that rushed through Provo. Water was accumulating everywhere. There were water falls driving down the rooftops. Rivers rushing through the gutters. Puddles appearing on the sidewalks. There was crashing of thunder following strikes of lightning, which struck only a few hundred yards away. At a time like this, when Mother Nature's wrath was building, it would be expected for everything to be dark and grim. However, this was not the case. The sun, ready to fall behind the mountains for the day, peaked out from under the clouds and lit everything in sight. This created a beautiful rainbow off in the distance.

With the rain pouring and the sun shining, a beautiful scene was for all to behold. I stood and pondered on the beauty of everything going on around me. After watching this storm pour across the whole city, I called for my best friend and we began running through the rain, jumping in puddles and kicking water at each other. What a wonderful way to enjoy this stunning storm.

One of the beauties of life is to enjoy what God has given us. This kind of storm, with the raging rains and the shining sun, rarely occurs and I wanted to be a part of that and to feel it. It was wonderful. Of course, I am so thankful for a shelter overhead that provides me with protection, but sometimes, these elements simply need to be experienced. I felt so alive and rejuvenated by the rain. For me, it's these kinds of moments that make life so enjoyable and pleasurable.

The earth truly is a beautiful place. Sometimes we get caught up in the many things that are going on in our lives and don't take to time to stop for a minute and look at the beauty and wonders that surround us every day. So, when there is an opportunity for us, take a look at the sky; look at the clouds; watch the sunset; gaze at the stars; watch and listen to the trees; smell the flowers; feel the grass; breathe the fresh air. There are so many things around us that shows how blessed we are by a loving Heavenly Father.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Want to Live Longer? Crawl Through the Hole.

So, I was at a Buddhist shrine once upon a time in Japan, and there was a big pillar that had a small hole in it. The belief is that when a person crawls through this tiny hole, they are protected from all sicknesses and ailments for an entire year.

So, the secret is out. If you are able to fit through this hole, chances are you can live forever. Fountain of Youth? I think not. I'll be crawling once a year for my immortality.

Caution: the whole does not get bigger over time. It remains the same size. Just so you know.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Time Travel

Once upon a time, I visited the future. I hopped on a plane early morning on May 3, flew to San Francisco and then boarded my time machine. I strapped into my seat and waited to take off. I expected to land in Korea sometime that night, say around 10pm. It was about an 11 hour flight, so I figured I would sleep when I got there. Little did I know, I had actually boarded a time machine (really, I was full aware of the time change, but for the sake of the story, I'm playing a little dumb). We landed in Korea. It was about 5pm, or so they told me. As far as I was concerned, it was like 2am. May 4 had just begun for me, but in reality, it was just ending. Holy smokes! I did it! I just traveled to the future. It was only a day ahead, but the future nonetheless.

Now get this. After spending three weeks in the future, I felt that I had already adapted. I also was a little tired of being in the future, even though it was so cool. I decided that since I was able to travel to the future, why couldn't I go back in time? I was determined to go back in time. I once again boarded my time machine at 5:30pm on May 25 in the future. After a few movies, BOOM! I arrived in Salt Lake city. What?! It was 3:30pm on May 25. I did it! I successfully went back in time! I wasn't supposed to board my time machine in Japan for another two hours. That's really weird to think about. Maybe I have another self in Japan that is two hours away from me in time. We just happen to be in a different time warp. Anyways, I'm a time traveler. How cool is that?

a picture of me traveling through time :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Composer Highlight: Pavel Chesnokov (1877-1944)

For the past hour or so, I have been listening to a fantastic choral piece that just has me listening to it over and over again. It is Salvation is Created by Pavel Chesnokov, Tschesnokoff, or Tchesnokov (whichever makes most sense), or for those of you that are studied up on your Russian, it is Спасение Соделал by Павел Григорьевич Чесноков. This is one of my favorite pieces ever by a fantastic composer, so I decided that I would blog about him and in the future about any other composers that I was interested in.

Pavel Chesnokov was born just outside of Moscow on October 24, 1877. He was very musically talented and spent nine years studying solfege alone! This amazes me so much. For anyone that doesn't know what solfege is, it is a system of singing designed to teach notes, rhythms and singing. Also known as sight singing. Everyone, well, almost everyone at one point in there life has seen the part of the Sound of Music where they sing "Doe, a deer, a female deer; ray, a drop of golden sun..." Those first words are solfege, representing a specific note in a diatonic collection, but spelled differently. So, a major scale would be {do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do}. In Russian, just slightly different. The ti is a si {до, ре, ми, фа, соль, ла, си, до}. Anyway, I'm amazed that he studied it for nine years. I am a music major and I barely have four semesters of solfege under my belt. It is very difficult stuff.

On top of studying solfege, he has seven years of training on violin and piano. Also, his composition training includes four years of harmony, counterpoint and form. What??!!! Four years of each. No one studies these this intently anymore. These are three areas that I feel are being blown off in the composition world, as well as some other things. New composers get so excited about creating their own stuff, that they don't learn the essentials and basics. Most all great composers have a very strong foundation in harmony, counterpoint and form. Especially counterpoint.

Most of the music that we have from Pavel Chesnokov is sacred, liturgical music. My favorite piece, as mentioned earlier, is the piece that he is best known for, Salvation is Created. It is simple, yet profound and powerful.

Спасение соделал еси, посреде земли, Боже. Аллилуия!

(Salvation is created, in the midst of the earth, O God. Alleluia!)

Take a listen to it here. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Architectural Spectrum

I am fascinated by architecture. Were I not studying music, I would probably study architecture (both kind of dead end subjects as far as careers go, but they are fun). Anyway, I saw some pretty awesome buildings while in Korea and Japan. There are literally two worlds of architecture in these countries: modern and traditional. Here are a few examples of some interesting things I saw in Korea.

Here, we have a very traditional building. It has the classic Asian, tiled rooftops. It is amazing how these magnificent structures were built so long ago.

Then, as you travel down the street a little bit, you find this rising up out of nowhere.

Then, when those two worlds are combined you get this.

This is seen everywhere in Asia, where there are many traditional buildings among the modern. The places where these traditional structures stand were usually places of great importance or where the heart of the city was located. The Asian people take a lot of pride in these buildings and structures and are putting out tons and tons of money to have them preserved. If I remember correctly, this area is currently being restored. Most of it was destroyed in war. 

Now, time for the winner of my favorite building in Korea (there's another in Japan that I think is a lot cooler, but this one wins architecturally). Most buildings that are put up have a lot of glass. My thoughts go out to the poor window washing boy.

(Isn't this just so awesome?)

It's almost like they were building it and didn't realize they weren't quite going straight up, then just decided to correct it by slanting back in the other direction. I'm pretty sure that's exactly what happened. That's my guess.

Now, we turn to Japan. I saved some of my favorite pictures for the specific part. As far as coolness goes, Japan wins by a long shot (sorry to any Korea fans. That's just my opinion). The Japanese are just so hip and modern and cool, yet humble and silent but powerful. They really know how to make things awesome. 

Traditional Japanese architecture is slightly more elegant than traditional Korean architecture. How so? It just feels that way. The Japanese have more attention to detail and use finer materials. For example: Koreans tile their roofs with clay tiles. Japanese will use copper, because they know that in a couple hundred years you get one of the most beautiful shades of green you will ever see.

Isn't this absolutely gorgeous? Now check out this next one. It's built over the water so that it has a cool reflection thing going on. The material used for this one is gold. Yes. This is a gold building. They sure went all out with this one. 

Here is one more unique building. This one houses the Big Buddha. Inside this one is a huge shrine and a gigantic Buddha. You'll hear more about this in a later post.

That's a little look into traditional Japanese architecture. On to the modern stuff. I'm so excited! 

There were cool buildings everywhere and they were even cooler at night when they were all lit up. Exhibit A.

Exhibit B. Not too exciting, but pretty cool in it's own respect.

Exhibit C. This one is cool, because I imagined it as being constructed from the top down. Either that or they built a small middle section and built out from the sides. I like the building from top to bottom idea. It makes the picture more interesting.

And finally, one of my Japan favorites. Exhibit D.

Now that I've bored you to death, here is the moment you have all been waiting for. My favorite building. The architecture is very, very simple. It's just a gigantic box. The reason I liked it so much was because it blended so well with nature. It was so interesting. I just happened to catch it at the perfect moment. Here is what I saw.

I thought that this was pretty amazing. I just love how it blends in with the sky. In the last picture, it's almost like there is no building there at all, or most of it is missing. 

Anyway, I hope that you were able to make it to the end of this post. There wasn't much explanation of the buildings. I just wanted to give you a little glimpse of what I saw and a little of what I thought about it. Even if you didn't read anything, I'm sure you enjoyed the pictures.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

City Life

I have never been to a big city before. Actually, that's a lie. I have been to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Those were pretty big. Especially, Moscow. However, I have never been to a gigantic city; one that houses more than 10 million people. I'll put it that way. I received my official introduction when I travelled to Korea with the BYU Wind Symphony. Our first stop was Seoul. This was quite the introduction to city life. There were gigantic buildings all around me. The streets were crowded with people going every which way. I wasn't able to really soak it all in until we checked into our first hotel of the tour. From my window, I saw this. 

I sat there at my window and just gazed out upon this. Even at night, this city was full alive. There were still cars traveling everywhere, people wandering the streets (not necessarily the kind you would want to meet), and the lights were bright and beaming. There was a lot of energy that was in this city. I could feel it and see it. I was extremely excited to be there and was ready for the next day to come so that maybe, we might get to venture out into the city.

I was blown away by Seoul. I had heard about such cities and their massive sizes, but being there and experiencing it for myself really put into perspective what I had heard all my life. Now, Seoul was absolutely amazing. I loved it there, but I wasn't really prepared for the experience that I was about to have when we finally traveled to Tokyo.

Oh my gosh!!! Tokyo is amazing! Now, whatever energy and excitement that Seoul had, take that and multiply it twenty times. There is so much going on in Tokyo. Being on tour was kind of restricting in that I didn't have as much freedom as I would have liked to run out into the city and check things out for myself. However, I was still able to get a good taste of life in Tokyo.

Tokyo has a population of about 15 million people... ... at night. During the day, there is around 30 million people in the city. At seven in the morning, out on the streets are only men. There may be a few women, but for the most part, only men. In the afternoon, there are pretty much only women out on the streets. By nighttime, around eight or nine, the men dominate the streets again. This is explained by the work hours. Most men work from about seven in the morning until eight, or nine or so at night. The Japanese are very efficient and productive and this is one of the reasons why.

If I were to ever live in a big city, it would definitely be Osaka. Sorry, I'm sure you all were expecting me to say Tokyo, because I've only talked about Seoul and Tokyo. Surprise! 

Osaka is one of the cleanest cities I have ever been in. It is absolutely beautiful there. Being in this city gave me the feeling of safety and comfort. It was so interesting. I only feel that at my home around family and friends.

While in Osaka, we met the mayor, who is one of the coolest guys ever. We had one of the most wonderful performances ever here. It was our final performance of the tour, which you will hear about later. 

This ends my new fascination with big cities. I love the energy, the architecture and tall buildings, and the fact that there is so much to do. I wish that I lived closer to one, but that's okay. Better reason for me to have a road trip or something, right?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Korea and Japan Tour

I recently returned back home from a tour with the BYU Wind Symphony. We travelled to many parts of South Korea and Japan and performed many concerts throughout our three-week stay. Not only did this trip provide me with a look into a life of a professional musician, it helped me to gain a better understanding of their culture. The next few posts on my awesome blog will focus on different aspects of my tour. There were a lot of exciting things that happened and I learned many things along the way that I would like to share with all of you. So, stay tuned. I have a lot of time on my hands now and nothing to do with it. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Confusing Diminutive

So, there is only one true way to spell my name. That is with an 'h' at the end. Hence, my name is Zach, but the 'h' is silent. Now check this out. I'm headed to Korea from Salt Lake City. I'm on the bus when one of the tour directors tells us to get into our tour envelopes and has us pull our name tags out and put them on. This is what I pulled out of the envelope. 

You can imagine how I feeling. It wouldn't have been so bad had I not made the correction that it should be an 'h' and not a 'k' several weeks in advance and multiple times. Think about it. If my name is Zachary, and I was shortening it, just take off the -ary. There is no 'k' in Zachary. Zackary? Umm... I don't think so. Anyway, I just thought that it was funny. So, that's where my blog title comes from.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Blog!!!

Oh man! How exciting is this?! I'm starting my own blog. I don't know how I feel about this yet, but I think that it will be a lot of fun. I never thought of myself as someone that would blog, but after reading some blogs of my recent friends, I think that I'll give it a try. 

Another inspiration for me starting a blog is because I am currently touring around Korea and Japan with the BYU Wind Symphony and would like all my friends to be able to see some pictures and my thoughts on the whole experience. Not only this, it seems like a nice way to organize some thoughts that I might have. Kind of like a cyber journal.

I hope that this turns out to be a lot of fun not only for me, but for whomever will read this blog. The real test will be to see if I can be faithful enough to somewhat regularly write some posts. We shall see.