Monthly Archives: September 2017

Ecuador National Symphony Orchestra – Quito

One of the best recommendations I can make is that if you are visiting a country for a while, join the expat Facebook group(s) associated with that country.

I have been a member of Discover Chile for several years now, and when I knew I was coming to Ecuador for an extended stay I joined the Ecuador Expats and Expats in Quito groups.  All three groups are very, very active, full of interesting information, and a regular source of inspiration for me about upcoming events etc.

Usually things tend to be announced last minute, and the one that grabbed my attention the other day was this announcement about the Ecuador National Symphony Orchestra playing The Hebrides Overture by Mendelssohn in the Iglesia de la Compañia in a free concert.  It seems that any excuse for a free concert is a good one – and this one was put on to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol – the protocol designed to protect the Earth’s ozone layer from further depletion (remember when that was our major global concern?)

Ecuador National Symphony Orchestra - Iglesia de la Compañia - Quito

No, it wasn’t the fact that the designer had merged a guitar and the Earth into a pretty nifty graphic on the poster.  But rather:

  • I LOVE listening to live orchestral music, but rarely get the opportunity because it is usually very expensive!  I only used to go see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra play their free concerts during summer for this reason.
  • Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture is one of my all-time favourite pieces of orchestral music (if you haven’t heard it, click on the link and turn the sound up loud!).  I was introduced to it when I was about 14 and studying music in high school, and have loved it ever since.  In fact, when I went to Scotland with some friends many years ago and we were in the Hebrides, I insisted that we had to go to Fingal’s Cave (the popular name for this piece of music).
  • While the UNESCO listed historic centre of Quito is full of amazing churches, if you only have time to visit one – it should be the Iglesia de la Compañia.  It is incredibly intricate inside and out!

Iglesia de la Compañia - Quito

I got there an hour early to make sure I was close to the start of the line and I’d be able to get in (the fineprint on the poster says “free entry until seating is full”) and met Natalie – the only other Aussie expat I’ve met so far, a lover of classical music and clarinet player.   When they finally let us in 1/2-hour before the concert started, it seemed that everyone in front of me was reserving seats for others because although the seats were only 1/2-full, there was no room to sit!   So Natalie and I ended up standing 🙁 

But it was absolutely amazing!

I’ve always felt that the opening bars of the Overture immediately envelop you – not sure how else to describe it.  And when the orchestra started – I was wrapped in the sound and it was heaven!  This piece of music is incredible, and they played it extremely well.  My heart soared!

Unfortunately no pictures allowed during the performance (actually you aren’t allowed to take photos inside the church at all), but I did manage to take a quick one before it started.

Ecuador National Symphony Orchestra - Iglesia de la Compañia - Quito

The other pieces in the concert were not really my thing, but to hear the Hebrides Overture played in such an amazing venue was priceless.

Marionette Theatre – Estulticia

Anyone who read my post about visiting the Puppet Workshop in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, knows that I’m completely enamored with puppetry of any kind.  It really doesn’t matter if it is just a sock puppet (I’ve made a few of those for bemused people) – I love the artistry and suspension of belief that necessarily accompanies them.

So having missed out on being able to attend a show at the Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theatre in Tbilisi, Georgia (all the shows were sold out!), and again at the Yerevan State Puppet Theatre in Yerevan, Armenia (the night I was there they didn’t have a puppet show on), I was first in line at the Teatro Variedades Ernesto Albán in Quito to see Estulticia.

estuticia - marionette theatre - Quito - Ecuador

It was a very small and intimate production (there were only seats for about 50 people), with a single scene and Estulticia (a life-size marionette) as the only character.  But it was amazing!

It portrayed a short scene from the life of an old, alcoholic lady who is shut up in a dark room filled with memories.  Her only company is the radio, and a portrait of her beloved son, Ramondito.   It was incredibly sad, showing the isolation of the old woman and the mental decay that such isolation encourages, but was cleverly scripted to include funny lines to lighten the mood ever so slightly.

After a few moments you completely forgot that there was a person controlling this character – such was the power of the careful lighting, and the voice-acting and skill of the puppeteer.

Unfortunately no photos allowed during the 15 minute performance, but they came to greet the audience afterwards.

estuticia - marionette theatre - Quito - Ecuador

Here is Estulticia with her puppeteer and the puppeteer’s mentor 🙂

estuticia - marionette theatre - Quito - Ecuador

Oh how I love puppets 🙂