Posted by Jasmine Lee / Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas tree lightings and festive parades are the norm in the United States…
but let’s not forget about the diversity that exists around the globe. From the traditional foods of The Philippines to the folklore in Italy, there will always be a multitude of ways to celebrate. Here are six traditions you may not have heard before.
It may be unseasonably warm today, but NoVA is typically cold come Christmas-time. Down in the Bahamas, both the joy of the holiday and the bright sunshine warm up the streets, making it a perfect time for an outdoor festival. “Junkanoo,” as it’s called, is celebrated on Dec. 26 with colorful costumes, elaborate decorations and lively dancing.
While we’re taking our families to Reston Town Center for a fun day of ice skating, Venezuelans are skating their way down the street to mass! From Dec. 16-24, streets of the capital city of Caracas are closed to motor traffic for “Misa de Aguinaldo,” or Early Morning Mass. It’s an established part of the Christmas season, and skating there is much easier way to get everyone there on time.
In Ethiopia, Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 7, as the country follows the traditional Julian calendar. Everyone fasts the day before Christmas (called “Ganna”) and, at night, priests carry intricate umbrellas as they lead people through the cities and villages to church services. On Ganna morning, white clothing is the norm, followed by sports, feasts and the exchange of gifts.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
If third time’s a charm, then beloved Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is completely charmed. And charming. With trip #3 (in a row) to the U.S. just around the corner, we caught up with the most beautiful voice in the world and talked about visiting D.C., his recent Dancing With the Stars cameo, soon-to-be-established charity foundation and more.
[As told through translation]
Lorin Drinkard: We’re so looking forward to your upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. As your third tour in the United States, do you have surprises up your sleeves for the audience? What are some of the musical selections you’ll be performing?
Andrea Bocelli: “My aim is to transmit throughout the world that eternally beautiful repertoire which is traditional of an Italian tenor, ranging from operatic arias to great ballads and Neapolitan melodies as well as a few other pieces chosen among the ones that people have come to associate with my voice.”
Drinkard: Conductor Eugene Kohn, Ana Maria Martinez and Heather Headley will also be with you tour. Tell me a little about working with Mr. Kohn. What aspects of his conducting do you most appreciate? And performing with Martinez and Headley?
Bocelli: “Eugene is a great musician as well as being a man who lives for music, almost more than me and it is always a wonderful thing to work with people who still have a childish enthusiasm towards the things they do.
Heather and Ana are two friends who have been sharing the scene with me for several years. Let’s say it will be like a special party among friends. What more can I ask for?”
Drinkard: Over the years, you’ve starred and performed in numerous operas. Do you have a favorite character or role? What about it appeals most to you?
Bocelli: “There are plenty of characters that I love in operas and it would be truly impossible to choose one, also because a lot depends on the moment, on my mood … I can say that, when I confronted the character of Cavaradossi I could truly identify with his personality as a man, as a lover, as a citizen, very attentive to the political events of his era.”
Drinkard: And you recently performed on the hit show “Dancing With the Stars” along with Chris Botti. How did this musical collaboration come about?
Bocelli: “David Foster introduced us and we quickly took a liking to one another. Chris is extremely talented and transmits vital energy. Music has the power to unite people and so we immediately felt a strong desire to make music together.”
Drinkard: In just a few days, you’re newest CD/DVD release, “One Night in Central Park” will be available in stores. Tell me a little about that concert in New York. What about it makes it so unique and special? What can fans look forward to on this CD/DVD?
Bocelli: “I experienced a huge emotion, a huge sense of responsibility with regards to recording of the CD and DVD. I thought of the people that were eagerly awaiting me, defying the rain and the cold wind, I thought of my children, my mother and my partner, all of those whose heart was beating fast at the idea of seeing me appear in that spectacular framework. I thought of everything and nothing at the same time, because when the moment arrived, all thoughts took refuge in that protected area of my mind to make space for concentration.”
Drinkard: Congratulations, Signore Bocelli, on making it into the “Guinness Book of World Records” for the highest-selling solo classical album of all time. As one of the most accomplished tenors in the world, who inspires you musically? Any other tenors or classical performers you admire?
Bocelli: “This is one of the few questions that does not generate any doubts whatsoever: I have said and written time and time again that Franco Corelli was my true model, my inspirer, always, when I heard him for the very first time. It was love at first sight and this bond has never broken and has never suffered a recession.
As far as more recent times are concerned, I cannot afford not to mention the Maestro Pavarotti who deserves a special place in the history of music of our century and it was an unforgettable privilege for me to be at his side.”
Drinkard: In addition to classical music, what other types of music interests you?
Bocelli: “I am open to listening to all kinds of music: we can trace marvellous pages from all kinds of music, but my preference is for the opera and when I get out of my armchair to put on a CD, most of the times my choice is for opera.”
Drinkard: Having sold over 65 million records to date, what about your music makes it enjoyable and relevant to fans all over the world, from all different walks of life?
Bocelli: “The nature of music is mysterious and so much so that it generates strong emotions within us. It moves along passages that reach the most intimate areas of our psyche without being tried by prejudices or influences of any kind. This special condition attributes special properties to music that even I, in a certain sense, without even troubling the supernatural, do not hesitate in defining as a mystical experience.”
Drinkard: What do you think are contributing factors to your success in the musical world?
Bocelli: “I don’t believe that key moments exist: instead there is passion, determination, predisposition, the receptivity of the audience. What counts is to be the right man at the right time.”
Drinkard: You are quoted as saying, “I don’t think one decides to become a singer, It is decided for you by the reactions of the people around you.” Who were the people around you that led to the beginning of your journey as a singer?
Bocelli: “It was an intuition of my mother who, when I was a whimsical child, only managed to make me eat by putting on background music that she used as a ‘sedative.’ She made me listen to the tenor Franco Corelli, whose voice I fell in love with as soon as I heard it. From then on music became a constant and vital element in my life. It was a real flash of lightning, so much so that at nine years of age I already knew quite a number of songs.”
Drinkard: You began your career in Italy. Do you have a favorite performance venue there?
Bocelli: “Italy is where the opera was born and, among other things, it is my real passion with traditional theatres in which singing still represents an extraordinary experience. Small theatres in which you can feel the audience breathing almost next to you and with you, where your voice is offered in a simple and natural manner, without the need for amplification – these are the places in which I am always happy to sing.”
Drinkard: You are also quoted as saying there is “no connection” between your blindness and your singing ability. In what ways do you think being blind has impacted your life? As far as your musical career?
Bocelli: “It is not the absence of defects that determines the success of an important singer, but the presence of huge values that are nothing more than heaven-sent gifts.”
Drinkard: Last year you teamed up to sing with Mary J. Blige at the Grammy Awards to raise money for Haiti relief. Are there other charitable organizations that are near and dear to your heart?
Bocelli: “I warmly and actively accepted the nomination as Honorary President of the ARPA Foundation of Professor Mosca some years ago and I have also been supporting the NPH ITALIA Francesco Rava Foundation , operating in Haiti, for some time.
Furthermore, I must say that the birth of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation will soon be announced.”
Drinkard: Signore Bocelli, you’ve said you’ve always “loved speed and adventure” and that you’re “a man of action.” When you’re not performing or recording music, what types of activities do you most enjoy doing?
Bocelli: “One of my greatest passion is horse riding. I have always been fascinated by horses, by their strength, their agility, their beauty, all made available to man. Riding is also a challenge, a courageous act, even more so the younger and more highly strung the animal is … As a child I couldn’t resist the temptation of riding a difficult horse, of conquering his resistance … It was really thrilling. Later on horses helped me to learn to love nature, the peace of the countryside, the voice of the woods and the rivers.
As my career got underway I had to abandon my horse riding activities but the passion remained, to the point that just recently I could not resist buying another horse. Once again I chose another young black stallion, only three years old; now we have to get to know each other, but our friendship has got off to a good start. I feel that I have made a new friend who will be a good companion for many years.”
Bocelli, with conductor Eugene Kohn, will be performing with world-renowned soprano Ana Maria Martinez and Tony Award-winner Heather Headley at the Verizon Center in D.C. on December 2nd at 8 pm. Tickets are $78 – $378 and are available for purchase here.
Posted by The Editorial Desk / Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
After years of laying low, journeyman pizzaiolo Edan MacQuaid (that’s his grinning mug, above) stands ready to reintroduce artisan pie lovers to his particular brand of Neapolitan deliciousness at the closer-to-opening-than-ever Pizzeria Orso.
“I can’t wait to get back in front of the oven,” MacQuaid said, adding that he fully intends to hand make every pizza–all pies will be flash baked (estimated cooking time: 90 seconds at 800 degrees) in the straight-from-Naples brick oven–for the foreseeable future.
It’s that type of attention to detail that helped MacQuaid rise through the ranks at the first Pizzeria Paradiso during the early 1990s and led to his becoming one of the most sought after pie slingers in the area (he helped establish the pizza programs at 2 Amys, the original RedRocks and the now-defunct Bebo Trattoria).
MacQuaid retreated from view in 2007 to began working on the Pizzeria Orso project, devoting the past few years to recipe testing and business plan writing. And he’s convinced the fruits of his intensive research will be readily apparent to veteran pizza hounds.
“We’ve gone to really long lengths to make sure we have the most authentic product this side of Naples,” he asserted.
MacQuaid suggested, however, that he was unlikely to pursue the now fashionable Denominazione di Origine Controllata certification. But he did leave the door open to exploring the newly minted Specialita Traditionale Garantita status.
Pedigreed or not, everyone will get the chance to judge MacQauid’s life’s work when Orso officially comes online in the coming weeks. (A press release pitched an early June opening but MacQuaid suggested he might pull the trigger sooner, noting, “We’re ready to start producing some pizzas.”)
MacQuaid expects to get underway with around 20 specialty pies, including: classic margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil), Vera Orso (five Italian cheeses and shaved, seasonal truffles), mezzalune (1/2 margherita and 1/2 stuffed pizza), tricolore (a salami-and-cheese medley MacQuaid equated to “two calzones and a margherita.” “There’s a lot going on in that one,” he pledged”), quattro staggioni and Vesuvius (stuffed with buffalo burrata).
The near uniform 12-inch pizzas are expected to run between $6-$19.They’ll also offer homemade antipasti, fried snacks (arancini, fritto misto), specialty calzones and build-your-own pizzas.
Meanwhile, MacQuaid said his wife and partner, Thea, remains hard at work on constructing a beverage program centered around craft brews (look for four draft lines and around a dozen bottles) and Southern Italian wines.
“I can’t wait for people … to see us in action,” the long patient pie maker gushed.
Pizzeria Orso: 400 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church; 703-226-3460; www.pizzeriaorso.com. Open for lunch and dinner daily.