last friday night, in celebration of sankta lucia (more on her later), gus played bass for the orchestra at the luciakonsert in stockholm's iconic stadshuset. it was more amazing than words can express--never in my life have i been so proud to see gus perform. it was a tremendous experience in every sense: the history of the site (three nights earlier, the same room hosted the nobel prize dinner), the spectacle of the performances, the engagement of the audience, the absolute beauty of being situated in the frozen north listening to such a specifically swedish tradition and seeing gus as a part of it...all of it was gorgeous and overwhelming. to top it off, we ran into some friends after the concert and learned that one of their grandfather's was the principal architect of the stadshuset! it was all just incredible. i wish we could experience it every year.
lucia herself is a rather unusual saint for the swedes to celebrate, but as with many things in sweden the "how" is far more important than the "why." first, she was a sicilian martyr, a young girl from a wealthy family who had pledged her virginity to christ in the early 4th century as a symbol of her faith. her dad died, her mom was left in financial difficulty (but not too difficult, as she was persuaded by lucia to give away most but not all of her fortune and jewels to better guarantee her spot in heaven); the emporer diocletian got whiff of the offering and ordered lucia punished by defilement in a brothel. god intervened and she could not be moved to said brothel, even by a team of oxen. then, diocletian ordered her burned, but god intervened again and the wood wouldn't catch. finally, she was killed by a sword, hence the red ribbon worn on luciadag to represent her martyrdom. at some point in the last millenium an additional torture was heaped upon her of having her eyes gouged out, but the "why" part of that is quite vague. regardless, she is the patron saint of the blind now. and she is highly venerated here not for her religious connotations, but because it is said that if you celebrate lucia on december 13 you will better be able to tolerate the long darkness of the swedish winters...hence, we celebrated!
below please find an excerpt from the concert, grieg's "in the hall of the mountain king" from peer gynt. astrid chose this night to elbow me mercilessly for reasons known only to herself...so sorry about the shaky camerawork! enjoy.