Sunday, June 17, 2018

Culture Beyond Sports

I was able to attend a concert on Friday night with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where they performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It truly was an incredible experience. Sometimes we get too accustomed to our speakers and earbuds to appreciate how amazing music performed live can be.

A few weeks ago when I restarted "Light the Cauldron" I mentioned that I might take some steps away from Olympic sports now and then, and this is one of those weeks. In order for us to appreciate the athletes that compete in Olympic events, we need to appreciate their cultures and histories.

One of the ways that I've worked on that appreciation is listening to different kinds of music. Although I am a musician, I never really got into classical music until college when I went to the Minnesota Symphony for the first time. There I was able to listen to Ravel's "Bolero" and was completely blown away. The piece is repetitive if you don't feel the underlying tension throughout the piece, but it is incredibly evident when performed live. It was one of the only times I've experienced when the orchestra was finished and everyone was immediately on their feet in appreciative applause.

I've been able to get around and see a variety of orchestras perform a variety of pieces from all over the world. Some of the pieces I've heard - like "Bolero" - I've seen used in Olympic programs. Others do a great job encapsulating the ideals of the nation where it was composed. And one of my favorite pieces of all time - Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" - was used when the cauldron was lit in 2014 in Sochi, and that brought even more emotion to that moment than ever before!

Music is a great gift, but sometimes people only appreciate a small slice of the plethora of music that's in the world. (Sound familiar, Olympic fans?) Once we open our ears to all that music, the more our world is opened up before us!

Tokyo 2020 Prep

Just found out that an important conference that I usually attend was postponed from 2020 to 2021. This is great news, because that's one less piece on the giant platter of things I'm doing that summer!

Olympic Channel Video of the Week

I might sound like a broken record with these Design Focus videos, but I adore them so much! This week they covered the wonderful world of pictogram designs:


Mini Blurbs

  • This week's BlurbWatch is small - and will stay small for the next few weeks because I'm working on something professionally for a few weeks!
    • Swimming
    • Gymnastics
    • Climbing
    • Baseball
    • Track and Field
  • Yup, you saw climbing there in the BlurbWatch. In 2020 sport climbing will be in the Olympics, so I tuned in to an event taking place in Vail, Colorado. When you hear "climbing," you might think tall walls. But this type of climbing I watched was boulder climbing, and is designed to have the athlete figure out the best holds to get from one height to another, ending up about 15-20 feet up in the air. Athletes are timed, and if they fall once, they have multiple chances to try again until the timer goes off. 
  • Another gymnastics World Challenge Cup event took place in Portugal this weekend. This was an apparatus final, and unlike the past couple of meets, the men's and women's events took place at the same time, with one or two athletes competing for the men, and then one or two competing for the women. They weren't on the same apparatus; in one instance the men were on the floor and the women were on the vault. 
  • I'm still not impressed by the athletes that are competing here. I think more and more that coaches are sending athletes to just get some international experience before the major tournaments. 
  • The IAAF didn't have a Diamond League meet this week, but they did have a World Challenge in Ostrava, Czech Republic. The World Challenge is the second tier of the track tour, but athletes in the Diamond League can compete. 
  • Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria has suddenly burst onto the scene in the long jump. He followed his amazing nearly-jump-out-of-the-pit moment from Oslo by winning in Ostrava. Keep an eye on this kid!
  • I loved that the bibs for the athletes read "OSTRAVA!!!" with the exclamation points!
  • Mare Nostrum is apparently a swim meet that takes place in multiple locations in a short amount of time. Last weekend they were in France, but in the middle of the week they were in Spain, and this weekend they were in Monaco! "Mare Nostrum" was the Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea, and all the stops take place around the Mediterranean. 

Weekly Cauldron Check

Is the cauldron lit????

...No.


I'm Claire Nat and you're reading Light The CauldronFollow me on Twitter and Facebook @CauldronLight and read my past Olympic articles! You can start with my daily recap of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics HERE!

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