Monday, August 31, 2009

La Cathédrale de Beauvais, France

The Beauvais Cathedral (in French, Cathédrale St-Pierre de Beauvais) is both magnificent and unfinished. After a series of disastrous fires, the wooden structures of earlier versions started to give way to the present stone edifice in 1225. However, a deadly mixture of war and political disputes with central government dried up funding for this ambitious undertaking. Subsequent efforts to finish the cathedral, at least enough of it to be useful, resulted in the present areas known as the choir, the apse and its chapels, and the transept. Since work on the nave never commenced, you now enter the cathedral primarily through doors which take you directly into the transept.

Located in the North of France, the Cathedral of Beauvais could boast of having vaulted ceilings which, at the time, were higher than those of any Gothic structure in the land (42m). The choir was finally completed in 1272, but part of its ceiling collapsed in 1284 and had to be rebuilt. The transept was completed in 1548, but its enormous tower collapsed in 1573. Builders were realizing that these ambitious heights were taking Gothic architectural designs and techniques to their very limits, and beyond. Nevertheless, even today, the choir with its tremendous columns, vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows can only inspire admiration and engender contemplation and meditation. No other structure of the time drew the eye heavenward quite as successfully as did this cathedral.

The choir as seen from the transcept.

Choir and transcept

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

UBC's Old Aud, August 13th, 2009

On August 13th, 2009, I was given another tour of UBC's Old Aud (Auditorium). Slowly but surely, this revered icon of the UBC campus is being brought up to code (finally) and transformed into an auditorium suitable for various types of ensembles, especially opera. We hope to be able to present an inaugural opera here in April of 2010. (To see photos from June 2009, please go to Labels and click on "Old Aud".)

Auditorium, looking toward the stage.

Backstage, the roof and walls are still open, rain or shine, so that all sorts of materials can be brought into the building.

Looking down through the ceiling, past the balcony, to the main floor.

Stairway leading down from the balcony level to the main floor atrium.

Scaffolding on the main floor, seen from the orchestra pit.

Looking up from the (wet) orchestra pit.

Scaffolding crossing from the main floor over the orchestra pit.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vancouver Sunrise

My Skywatch contribution this week shows an early morning sunrise in the early spring, looking toward the eastern mountains.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Église St-Paul-St-Louis, Paris

In the 4th district in Paris, in Le Marais, is the beautiful Baroque Jesuit church now known as the Église St-Paul-St-Louis. The chronology at the conclusion of this entry shows some of the troubled history this church has endured. The Jesuits purchased the property in 1580 but were briefly expelled from France (1595-1603). Returning to France, they procured more land and resources. Louis XIII laid the cornerstone in 1627. None other than Richelieu said the first Mass in the presence of the royal family (1641). In 1764 the Jesuits were once again proscribed, and several decades later, the church was stripped of its remaining wealth and treasures as a consequence of the Revolution (1792), when it was dedicated to the cult of Reason as an expression of the Age of Enlightenment. Nearly 250 years after it was constructed, St-Paul-St-Louis was finally reconsecrated as a church (1872) and now serves the city as one of its local parish churches.

The dome soars to 195 feet, foreshadowing future architectural structures in the city.

Clean classical architectural lines run through the nave and side aisles.

Busy Baroque decorations adorn arches, while sculptures and paintings preserve poses and attitudes favoured by the Jesuits in the 17th century.

To learn more about the chronology of the church, click on the following photograph.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sky Watch Friday, British Columbia's Highway 4

SkyWatch Friday is a network blog which has weekly photos from around the world featuring skies. These photos were taken on Highway 4 in British Columbia as a storm was gathering over a mountain lake. The day was cold, rainy, and yes, these are actually in colour. Skywatch Friday