Monday, August 31, 2015

BBC Proms is a Rock Concerto!

First off, we watched a posh orchestra concert by accident. It was not a 'fatal' accident. More of a posh kind of accident. Our friend Jerome had a pair of tickets for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. The text conversation is more of like:

'Hey guys, you wanna go to BBC Proms tonight?'
'Us? Yeah sure.'
'Okay, cool. See you two later.'
'Wait, what are we supposed to wear?!'
'Umm..I don't know. Something okay-ish?'

Well, not exactly, but that was the gist of it. Admittedly, apart from an orchestra, I knew nothing about the BBC Proms. Aside that it is very posh and under BBC. So we had to google, where to go, what to wear, what to do and more importantly what not to do.

The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London.  

Prom is short for promenade concert, a term which originally referred to outdoor concerts in London's pleasure gardens, where the audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra was playing. Source: Wikipedia.

I admit I kind of suck at music class back in school trying to memorise the various wind and string instruments. The only classical names I know were Mozart and Bach and I don't even know which did what. I have blogged previously about a lady that has Tchaikovksy on her playlist, and plays it when she's in pain. I have seen the film 'Whiplash' and I was just gushing all about it, pretending I know a whole about music after seeing it.

But I wanted to see and witness this event and not just hear it from a classical FM radio station. The conductor that night was Francois-Xavier Roth together with the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg. They played pieces from Pierre Boulez, Ligeti and Bartok.

The gorgeous Royal Albert Hall

Jerome, our patron saint of Sudden Tickets.

To say that the Prom was mind-blowing is just injustice and simply not enough. The fantastic harmony and astounding symphony treats your auditory senses and sends fire to your nerve endings. The fast and intricate waving of hands and fingers by the conductor serves as waves of melody sent to the audience. It was spell-binding. Hearing them play is one thing, but seeing them perform and master their chosen musical weaponry, is beyond my mental comprehension. The precision and beauty in the complexities of each key and note was unbelievable. 

When they played Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra for the finalé, it was simply phenomenal. Here's a sample clip of that piece, by a different orchestra:

The sight of the orchestra is art and beauty on its own.
We definitely dressed to impress.
Then I realised how much orchestra music we have all over. From classic cartoons such as Tom & Jerry, up to Hollywood monster hits like Jurassic Park and the Star Wars Theme. It simply rocks.

The last date of the BBC Proms 2015 is on 12th September. For those interested to watch, they can book their tickets at the website here. The best part is that everyone can enjoy a world-class performance for just £5. Yes, a fiver.

Finally, I can say I know more about classical music than just The Imperial March from the Empire Strikes Back by John Williams.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

I don't have a TV before 30. (The Reasons Will Be Revealed)

Pardon me for a clickbait-ish title. 

But I would like to emphasise the key-points there at the start. I am turning 30 soon. I am not compiling a checklist or bucketlist of 'Things To Do Before 30.' I sound like a buzz-kill or a box of bore, but I'm at a point in life where things have it going well for me.

I want to focus on a single material thing, and how it changed my perspective, which in this regard of its absence.

The 'Television' Problem.

Six months ago before moving flats to London, me and my now fiancĂ©e had challenges in moving. Not only in the physical task of the move, but particularly on our personal items. We prioritised which ones we could let go through giving-away or selling items. At that time, we had 2 tv sets. A 37" LCD I bought from an Amazon deal, and another 42" LCD that I got as a second-hand deal. 

The problem was we were only using them very rarely. My partner mainly uses her mobile devices such as her iPad and mobile phone for media streams. I use the bigger tv for PlayStation games. We weren't using the other tv at all. 

It was a complete waste of resource and the value for its worth weren't good enough. So we sold them both for cash, in which we helped pooled in for funding our downpayment fee for the flat move. In short, we turned some 'frozen assets' into 'investing' into our future move.

So, why did we decide NOT to buy a new one? 

We gave it a few weeks of trial to see if we would feel our new flat would feel 'empty' without this appliance. It did at first, especially since I would love to use my then PlayStation whenever I felt like to. (Eventually sold my PlayStation 3 as well to fund another priority.) But 6 months down the line, we survived without one. 

I still love my films, music and videos. But the phone, a laptop or the ipad were doing those pretty much easily. I mainly use Spotify, Netflix, Youtube and the BBC iPlayer for those purposes.

What advantages did a TV-less home environment gave me?

I had to channel my supposed 'TV-time' to other things that I did not do as much as when we had 'TV'. It helped me stimulate my mind to find other resources of inspiration and entertainment.

I began to have more time reading books and comic books.
I would play more music and discover more artists and songs of old and new.
More time to take short naps.
More time to do house chores.
More reason to go out and explore the city.
More time to write.
More time to plan things.
More precious space in the flat.
More time to appreciate the simple things.
More time to spend on my faith and spiritual side.

And much, much more.

I could buy one easily, BUT...

This is not a humble-brag statement. Technically, I could buy one with an easy instalment. But I had to teach myself of the valuable 'art' of Delayed Gratification.

I started to discipline myself with expenses, with more focus on the needs vs wants. I try to learn the difference between spending and investing. I try to lean more on experiences rather than material things.

I had to ask myself each time: is it a Want? or a Need?

I am not suggesting for everyone to sell your possessions and items to reach true happiness. I am not entirely living life like a monk. Rewarding yourself after earning and working hard for it is totally necessary. This does not just apply to a 'TV', the TV here of course is just a micro-representation of a materialistic debate whether if its a Need or a Want.

The bottomline for me is this: I would spend more time looking at 'Home & Kitchen' section of a store rather than the 'Electronics & Gadget' department. I had more expenses on grocery than others. Who doesn't want to eat well? :)

It does sound like a 'boring dad' situation. It may be the aging. But if I place that perspective with a 'hipster-ish' spin into it and label it as 'maturity', then probably more people would be happy with that. 

I am getting 'old', hitting 30 soon. And I'm more than happy to tell my 20 year-old self:
'Hey, trust me you don't NEED that TV.'  
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