Portugal (Sept.26-Oct.3)
Dear Readers,

Thank you very much for visiting my journal. This past week brought me to beautiful Lisbon, Portugal, where I performed a most enjoyable (and rather unique) concert as soloist with the Orchestra Metropolitana de Lisboa.

I was to give two concerts - Sunday and Monday evenings (after two rehearsals with the orchestra on Friday and Saturday). The first performance was at a terrific old movie house - absolutely full of character and as intimate as can be. With the audience literally just a few feet from the stage, it was a true treat of a venue. The next hall was one of the most revered of Lisbon - the CCB (Centre Cultural de Belem) Grande Auditorium - a most extravagant and beautiful venue lined with multiple rows of box seat balconies and adorned with extravagant architecture and lighting. The sound was terrific and the audience couldn't have been more attentive.

The program was a very diverse one - in fact, almost entirely of new works for me, and American themed. What made this different was that, in addition to the usual solo works with the orchestra, I was to perform several duets with a guest soprano singer. The program included arrangements I did of George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein (for the duets) and several solo film works: Franz Waxman's "A Place in the Sun," John Williams's "Escapades," etc. There's something always very exciting about performing a brand new program - you never truly know how well it will go over until after that first performance. At the same time, with a tried and true program, you have the freedom and flexibility to take chances in the moment, responding and reacting to whatever situation arises, which is an utterly thrilling feeling in its own. The two concerts were extremely different, in everything from the hall to the audience, but they couldn't have been more enjoyable.

For most of my stay, rain and overcast were the daily forecast, but fortunately I decided to stay an additional day and the skies began clearing up. I spent the early morning walking around downtown Lisbon (The Alfama and Baixa districts), visiting Lisbon's old Castle São Jorge and Sé Cathedral. After lunch I took the Metro up to the beautiful village of Sintra. While known as a popular tourist attraction in Portugal, it only becomes clear why upon arriving. From its small town atmosphere to its lush gardens and mountains, it provides a terrific place to spend a day. I began with a beautiful 5 mile hike up to the Castle of the Moors, overlooking the entire town from atop its crumbling 10th century walls, followed by a hike through the town's two extravagant 16th century palaces.

As dusk approached, I headed back to Lisbon, spent a few hours walking around the upscale Bairro Alto and the Chiado shopping areas, before finally calling it a night and taking the subway back to the hotel.

It's now about 6am and I'm at the Lisbon airport awaiting my flight back to the States. It seems it's time to go....I hope you enjoy the photos and, as always, thank you for the emails. Until next time...

Yours truly,
Ashu
Lisbon Portugal
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Downtown Lisbon
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Praça do Comércio
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Outside the hotel
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City Square
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From my hotel window
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My hotel room Cinema São Jorge (1st concert) Cinema Lobby
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From the stage Setting up before the concert Dressing room sign
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CCB hall (2nd night concert) View of the stage Subway billboard
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Very early morningLisbon Lisbon Trolley Trolley cables
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Santa Justa Elevator From below Alfama streets
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Overlooking Lisbon homes Cathedral in the distance Miradouro das Portas so Sol
Sintra, Portugal
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Sintra flower water well Forested pathways
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Overlooking downtown Sintra Caste of the Moors From atop the caste
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Castle ramparts Pena National Palace Hiking back
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Through an alley Sintra National Palace up closer
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another view Sintra shops Train station - Sintra
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Waiting Quiet train ride Cristo-Rei & 25 de Abril bridge
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Castle Sao Jorge at night Flying over Lisbon
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