Saturday, December 19, 2009

"An Ambiance Event"

We continued our leisurely walk (see yesterday's entry) through Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

We found this handbell choir in Webster Auditorium. "These are called English bells," explained the conductor before beginning the concert, "unless you're in Scotland. Then they are called Scottish bells."

She then demonstrated the difference between American bell ringing (snapping your wrist as you move your hand forward) and English bell ringing (snapping your wrist as you move your hand backward).

But, more importantly, the music produced by these skillful ringers was beautiful.

The glow of the luminarias seemed to encourage a slow stroll through the 1.5 miles of paths. As one writer put it: "It's more of an ambiance event than an activity event" (Judy Hedding,

Finding this section of a path open was unusual. As we walked along the paths we could hear music from the Bad Cactus Brass Band, the Dickens Carolers, the Mariachi Corazón de Phoenix, and the jitterbugging tunes of The Swingtips.

We also heard songs from The Hey Boyz, a quartet who not only sang like cowboys around a campfire but also looked as though they had just been herding cattle on the plains. I was impressed with the sounds from the bass (inverted washtub) played by the second person from the left in the photo above.

But the sound that reflected the evening's mood most vividly was that from Native American Cedar Flutist Anthony Wakeman. His soft, slow musical expressions with just a hint of an echo produced by his sound board matched the mood of his surroundings perfectly. The sound and pace of his voice as he told the story behind one selection entitled "Butterfly" (the English translation of the Navajo name of his daughter) seemed to unite him and his music with the desert.

These few minutes with Anthony were memorable.

From certain viewpoints, we imagined looking over the lights from more than 7,000 homes represented by the hand-lit luminarias.

Highlighted groupings of cacti and other plants revealed the beauty of the desert and served to remind us to visit the Botanical Garden in the daylight.

The evening was cool; the camaraderie warm. We were composing this scene and noticed that several other groups were following suit. Participants in one photo traded responsibilities of photographer with those in other shots. The "Lumi" was closing, but the evening's fun continued.

The funsters are: Standing (l. to r.): Jesse, Kate, Chuck, Evelyn; kneeling: Raina.

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