Gwendolyn Toth

Gwendolyn Toth is the director of the New York City-based early music ensemble, ARTEK, and a soloist on early keyboards (organ, harpsichord, fortepiano). She is married to harpsichordist Dongsok Shin, and they have three children.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Off to Europe again!...UK & Belgium

Like last summer, I've planned a long trip to various countries in Europe to play concerts, look at instruments, and visit friends. This year, however, instead of being accompanied by my husband, I am traveling with my 21-year-old daughter Samantha. Because Samantha is a visual artist on summer break before her final year at Vassar, a large part of our plans include visiting art museums. (Check out her art blog - the link is on the right side of this blog page.)

We left New York City on July 2, arriving at Heathrow July 3. We spent a day in London, visiting the British Museum (picture above) and having high tea right next to St. Paul's Cathedral. The next day, we boarded the Eurostar and arrived in Antwerp, where we stayed at the home of our friends Ellen Delahanty and Geert van Gele. Ellen is a singer and Geert, both a recorder and harpsichord player. (Geert's sheet music collection included the out-of-print editions of Gabrieli! A trip to an Antwerp xerox store was definitely in order...) We stayed in Antwerp through July 13th. We alternated visitng museums in Antwerp with traveling to other Belgian cities (Bruges, Ghent, Brussels). A wonderful plan. The weather was cool and rainy, so I bought a better rain coat & a sweater for Sam who had anticipated only hot New York weather. In Ghent, I had an appointment to play the organ of St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent. Built in 1653, it was renovated in 1935 by Klais, but still retains much of its magnificent sound. Cathedral organist Edward de Geest very kindly spent an hour showing me the organ and the smaller organ in the crypt. I hope very much to return for a concert in Summer 2013.

We saw many wonderful organs throughout Belgium (above is a picture of Notre Dame du Sablon, in Bruseels) as well as simply incredible art. Samantha and I both love early Flemish painters: Van Eyck, Van Weyden, Memling, Bosch,and all the anonymous painters ("Master of the Embroidered Foliage"!) Samantha was like a walking art history book: she always knew who the figures were in each painting, what the symbolism was, all the tiny fascinating details that my eyes would tend to miss otherwise. I have offered her a commission to paint a harpsichord lid in this style after she graduates from Vassar - even though the style will be a bit early for the harpsichord, it will be magnificent, and I'm hoping she uses memebers of our family to model the faces.

Here's our favorite painting from the whole trip:

Samantha made a beautiful watercolor painting of Ellen & Geert's son as a thank you for our extended stay in their home, as well as a fun picture of their cat - check out her art blog at top right to see these.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful colors and organic natural forms. Reminds me of a painting like Rainy landscape, by Russian painter Kandinsky,, that I saw at, from where one can order a canvas print of it. Really good place to browse the painter’s work and other work similar to your style of painting.