Last Night of the Proms at the Orpheum

Yesterday, on 5 June 2013 at 8PM in the Orpheum Theatre, was Vancouver Symphony Orchestra‘s Last Night of the Proms. This was my second time attending LNOTP at the Orpheum and I was very glad to sit in row 3 centre left this time for $15 (rather than $68-84), thanks to TD All-Access Pass for those under 30 y.o.


While I could not see half the orchestra and choir members to the right of the grand piano, I was excited to see the other half of the orchestra so close to me. I found the audience to be not as enthusiastic as the attendees in 2012, most of whom brought their flags and wore funny hats. We later learned that there were many first-timers last night. The ones who knew what to expect sat mostly in the first few rows in the orchestra or balcony, waving their Union Jack flags. Nevertheless, the initially too well-behaved audience loosened up once they realised that it would be a night of great amusement. Conductor Bramwell Tovey had the audience in stitches every time he spoke in between the performances. What can we say, we love British humour! ;)

The concert began with the singing of both our national and royal anthems. Given that the majority of the attendees were over 50 years of age, some of whom were from the UK, the royal anthem, better known as God Save the Queen, was sung just as loudly and proudly as the former. Or perhaps we were all very proud of the Queen as our Head of State, who had just celebrated the 60th anniversary of her coronation.

The anthems were then followed by the repertoire performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Bach Choir:

  • Orb and Sceptre Coronation March (Walton)
    Written for the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
  • Blest Pair of Sirens (Parry)
  • Samson: Let the Bright Seraphim (Handel)
    Some of you may recognise this as the one played at the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales
  • We’ll Gather Lilacs (Novello, arr. Tovey)
The Vancouver Bach Choir 'dress up' for the 2nd half of the performance

The Vancouver Bach Choir ‘dress up’ for the 2nd half of the performance

After intermission, we were given our first opportunity to sing along with the Vancouver Bach Choir. Land of Hope and Glory had us up and down every time the chorus was played, doing the Mexican waves left and right. If this was too much exercise for the audience, we were given a break with three songs sung by Ms. Dahl, accompanied by Mr. Tovey on the piano:

  • A Foggy Day in London Town (Gershwin, arr. Tovey)
  • White Cliffs of Dover (Kent, arr. Tovey)
  • Why Can’t You Behave? (Porter, arr. Tovey)
    A popular 1948 song from the musical, Kiss Me, Kate. We were having a good laugh watching Ms. Dahl’s despairing facial expressions and actions as Mr. Tovey happily – and apathetic to Ms. Dahl’s plea – played away on the grand piano, playing excerpts of well-known classical music during every ‘pause’.

After we applauded Ms. Dahl’s and Mr. Tovey’s comical performance, we continued on our LNOTP journey:

  • Fantasia on British Sea Songs (Arr. Wood)
    Here the VBC and the VSO did all the things one would never do at a concert: burst into tears, blow their noses loudly, knitting, etc. We were all too excited when we heard The Sailor’s Hornpipe that Mr. Tovey had to shush us when we started clapping too early!
  • Rule, Britannia (Arr. Sargent)
    We were supposed to be standing only when we were called to sing but the VBC stood the entire time and the audience had no intention of sitting down for long!
  • Jerusalem (Parry/Elgar)
    I am not sure if we were supposed to be sitting but the audience immediately stood up to sing this beloved hymn with great passion.

Generally, a LNOTP concert concludes with Jerusalem (actually, no, with the singing of Auld Lang Syne). We were gladly surprised with an extra performance by the VBC who sang I’ll be Seeing You, followed by a truncated recording of the then Princess Elizabeth’s BBC Children’s Hour speech in 1940 as Mr. Tovey played softly on the piano:

Upon hearing our monarch’s clear 14-year-old voice over the speakers, I realised how calm but caring our Queen has always been, despite all the hardships she has had to live through. I smiled when I heard her and her late sister, Princess Margaret Rose, bid everyone good night. It is good they had each other.

The VBC concluded the evening with the reiteration of the verse:

“I’ll be looking at the moon… and I’ll be seeing you.”


Ladies and gentlemen, if you have not yet had the chance to attend a Last Night of the Proms concert, please consider going next year – or this year, if you are in London. You will have a marvellous time. Do NOT forget to dress up (be as over-the-top patriotic as possible) and do bring your flags.

My Union Jack headband from Tesco

My Union Jack headband from Tesco

For those of you who attended this year’s VSO LNOTP, consider making it an annual tradition. You will still hear Pomp & Circumstance, Fantasia on British Sea Songs, and Jerusalem, but there will still be new selections to enjoy.




Coronation Service


Thoughts on today’s Coronation Service

This morning, the entire royal family attended the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation service at Westminster Abbey. Due to the time difference, I was not able to watch the service so I was at least 6 hours behind when I read the updates on Twitter. While most of the accounts I follow were excited to see what the Duchess of Cambridge would be wearing, I was far more interested in what the Queen would pick out. To my dismay, I had to scroll through hundreds of Kate tweets before I was able to find more photos of the Queen. In fact, even headlines were about the Duchess of Cambridge rather than the Queen. While it is always exciting to see the Duchess of Cambridge – for she always looks beautiful – today was supposed to be about the Queen. Just to be clear, this is not the Duchess’ fault for it is clear she was not trying to steal the limelight. The Duchess of Cambridge dressed quite similarly to her outfit for the Diamond Jubilee service last year (see photo).

What upset me and a few other readers was that the media preferred to focus on the Duchess (i.e. what she wore) rather than on the Queen, whose special day they were celebrating.

Of course, can the media be blamed entirely if they are trying to cater to their subscribers? If many of the readers and viewers demand “Kate! Kate!” would the reporters and photographers not do their best to give them what they want? We had already seen this happen at the Diamond Jubilee last year. Did we really think that today’s service would be any different?

I hope the Queen enjoyed today’s service. I was happy to see that her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, could be with her on this special day. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but the Queen always looks more joyful when her husband is with her. After all, he’s been at her side for more than 60 years! She must have also been glad to see her six maids of honour again. I enjoyed reading about their reunion and hope that my memory will also be as good as theirs when I’m old. :)

Now, the fun part – see my fashion favourites below:

Best hats

1. Queen Elizabeth II – Pale blue roses against pale gold fabric. It’s the perfect combination for the Queen to match her aquamarine brooch.

2. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – I’m not usually a fan of the hats that the Duchess of Cornwall wears but this one is my new favourite of hers!

3. Autumn Phillips – Yes, clearly I like roses.

Best outfit

1. Queen Elizabeth II – The Angela Kelly silk brocade dress coat, along with the Cornelia James gloves, and cute bow patent pumps… Our Queen is always tastefully dressed!

2. Princess Beatrice – Although we could not see all of her Roland Mouret dress, I liked her black dress coat by Hannah Coffin with embellishments. She looked very elegant today. (see more)

3. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge – Plain? Still elegant in her Jenny Packham lace dress and coat. I was actually hoping she would wear lace. :) Unfortunately, as mentioned last year, I’m not a fan of the big flower on the Jane Taylor pillbox hat. (see more)

Photo Gallery


Full service

Carolyn Harris Interview on Global TV

60th Anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation

Last year in 2012, we celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. This year – that is, this summer – we [will] celebrate the Queen’s 60th anniversary of her coronation, which took place on 2 June 1953.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of ...

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Coronation portrait, June 1953, London, England. Credit: Library and Archives Canada/K-0000047 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some events and memorabilia to celebrate Her Majesty’s coronation anniversary:

June 2nd: BBC Coronation season (source:

June 4th: Special service at Westminster Abbey (source: Paul Harrison – @SkyNewsRoyal), followed by a lunch (source: Daily Mail)

Related Article:

July 11-14th: 4-day Coronation Festival of ‘innovation, excellence and industry’ in the gardens at Buckingham Palace (source: Daily Mail)

Related Articles: Four day ‘festival’ at Buckingham Palace Gardens and service of celebration at Westminster Abbey to be held for 60th anniversary of Queen’s coronation (

      Royal gift of design to celebrate Jubilee (

  • display stands of the ‘best of British’ – fashion, technology, car design, food, drink, etc.
  • music and dance gala performance on some evenings
  • tickets: daytime (£30), evening (£90)

July 27th – September 29th: Queen’s coronation robes and other royal outfits on display at Buckingham Palace (source: @BritishMonarchy)

Related Article: Queen’s coronation outfit on show for 60th anniversary (

More events!

Royal memorabilia:


Queen Victoria & the Birth of British Columbia


Today in Canada, we celebrated our Queens’ birthdays – that of Queen Victoria, whose actual birthday is on 24 May, and Queen Elizabeth II, whose birthday was on 21 April. While only 28% royalists/monarchists honoured these two Diamond Jubilee Queens, the rest of the country was simply grateful to have an extra day off work.

Why the 20th and not the 24th? Victoria Day occurs on the last Monday before 25 May so this year, it fell on the 2oth. The last time Queen Victoria’s birthday fell on Victoria Day was in 2010. Royal Historian, Carolyn Harris, has written an excellent article on our uniquely Canadian holiday in the Ottawa Citizen. I was surprised to discover that only Canada, and some parts of Scotland, continue to honour Queen Victoria in May. Since 1952, Victoria Day is when Canada celebrates the Queen’s or current sovereign’s official birthday (In the UK, Trooping the Colour is held on a Saturday every year in June). I am not sure what will happen when we have a king – new monarchs change their minds, don’t they? – but I hope that we shall always get to keep Victoria Day. To learn more about when the Queen’s official birthdays are celebrated throughout the Commonwealth, head over to Ms. Harris’ blog!


Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Australia, and other Commonwealth realms) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Name change?

Recently, there has been a petition to change the holiday’s name to “Victoria and First Peoples Day”, to honour our First Nations and their role in developing Canada. Note that there is already a National Aboriginal Day in Canada on 21 June, which honours First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. What is unfortunate is that it is only a local holiday in the Northwest Territories and somewhat forgotten about for the rest of the provinces and territories in Canada. It is no wonder a stat holiday is needed to honour our First People’s. Unlike unofficial holidays (i.e. non stat-holidays) like Valentine’s, St Patrick’s, and Halloween, National Aboriginal Day goes by half-forgotten. 21 June is Midsummer’s Day, the longest day of the year and other people’s traditions seem to capture our attention more than our own First People’s, who have so much to share. I believe a stat holiday allows everyone to have the day off to learn more about our First People’s rich history by attending various events around town, for instance. Certainly, it will be rather inconvenient when the 21st falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. The next question is, should the stat holiday occur on the Friday or Monday preceding or succeeding the 21st?

This 2013 year, there is one stat holiday every month in British Columbia (and many other provinces) except for April (Easter Monday is not a stat holiday, sadly) and June. Personally, I believe that a stat holiday a month gives us something to look forward to. It might even make us more productive because we will have returned from a well-rested weekend. Of course, what do I know; I am just a young “lazy and entitled” 20-something. Every time we have a stat holiday, we must be paid for a day’s wages! Yes, absolutely selfish and lazy of me.

So what if we can’t have National Aboriginal Day as a stat holiday? Will changing Victoria Day’s name pay homage to the monarchy AND the First People’s? While supporters of the petition think so (actor Peter Keleghan thinks it would be a “baby step”), Monarchist League spokesman, Robert Finch, thinks that the name change could alter the 168-year-old holiday’s meaning, particularly the role Queen Victoria played in Canada. He adds, however, that “we can celebrate the great relationship between the Crown and the First Nations on a day called Victoria Day. There’s nothing stopping us from celebrating that relationship.” (see article here)

Let’s say that the name change goes ahead and next year, we shall have to say, “Today is / Happy Victoria and First Peoples Day!” Seems rather long, don’t you think? In fact, you might even find half the people sticking to Victoria Day and the other half completely changing it to First People’s Day. I’ve noticed that any time we’ve had name changes or have come up with euphemisms, we are left wondering which word(s) to use. Mind you don’t insult someone! :O (For instance, I still don’t know which noun I am to use: aboriginal, indigenous, native, First Nations, First People, etc. I’ve met a few First Nations who refer to themselves as Indian!)

Of course, what do I know? I am not indigenous though I am part of the visible minority. I am not Métis though I am of mixed origin. My ancestors did not move to Canada hundreds or thousands of years ago. Oh, and to top it all off, I’m a royalist (selectively). However, may I have one request? Can we have a National Aboriginal Day stat holiday in June? They deserve a WHOLE holiday for themselves. :) Forget about sharing Victoria Day and only getting half the recognition!

P.S. Quebec celebrates National Patriots’ Day on the same day as Victoria Day. Will they have to change their holiday name as well to honour the First People?

Victoria Day at Fort Langley

Today I decided to change my usual Victoria Day destination (Burnaby Village) and head further west to Fort Langley, which was over 2 hours away by transit. Fort Langley is the birthplace of British Columbia and the town is reminiscent of historical towns in Ontario, with colourful houses, some Victorian and others Georgian-style. The residents were far friendlier than our rushed and uptight City of Vancouver locals.

Every year, Fort Langley has its May Day parade near the actual fort. I missed most of it but was able to catch the end of the parade before finding my way to the fort. On the way to the entrance, a First Nations man looked at a painting and proudly mused aloud, “My great-great-grandfather helped build this fort!”

Having already been to Fort Langley for Canada Day many years ago, I took a quick look around each house again and walked along the rampart/parapet/banquette (what is the correct term?) for a view of the small fort. The last house I visited was the Big House, where British Columbia was proclaimed a colony on 19 November 1858. The current building, however, was reconstructed in 1958 though it is true to the original’s appearance and location. Inside Big House, we sat around one of the rooms to hear the James Murray Yale interpreter tell us about the Hudson’s Bay Company, Fort Langley, and the birth of British Columbia.

It was in learning about how British Columbia came to be that we realised the importance of Victoria Day and our privilege to be Canadians. We learned that at one point, Vancouver Island was its own British colony (1848-1866) and that the rest of British Columbia did not become a British crown colony until 19 November 1858. In fact, it wasn’t until 2 August 1866 when the two crown colonies merged to become the Colony of British Columbia. The very name (British Columbia) was chosen by Queen Victoria, who wanted to show that BC is the British remainder of the Columbia district and New Caledonia (administered by Hudson’s Bay Company – see photo). Yes, we’re special. ;)

Do you want to know something even more bizarre? Canada didn’t become a self-governing dominion of Great Britain until 1 July 1867 (this is why we are a ‘young’ country. We didn’t rebel like our siblings down south.) On top of that, “Canada” started off with four original provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec) and it took more than 100 years before Canada had 10 provinces and 3 territories (Nunavut being the latest addition in 1999). Insane!

Internal development of Canada's internal bord...

Internal development of Canada’s internal borders, from the formation of the dominion to the present. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So why is this important? Thanks to the gold rush and its effect on greedy people, it was essential that we wouldn’t be annexed to the Americans. Once proclaimed as a colony, we were safe…temporarily. With the end of the gold rush, BC found itself swimming in debt with a growing population. Thankfully, the Confederation League invited us to join “Canada” so long as we wouldn’t mind helping with the extension of the Canadian Pacific Railway to join our HUGE country. BC agreed and became the 6th province in Canada on 20 July 1871. Debt problem solved! phew

There you have it! Queen Victoria protected us from being turned into Americans. Let us thank everyone involved in developing our country. Thank you! applaud

Lessons learned: If you discover gold, do not, do NOT tell the Americans. Wouldn’t want all of Canada annexed to the States now, do we? :O (j/k)

P.S. If I have typed the wrong information, please forgive me but feel free to correct it so that I may go back and edit my post. Would hate to be learning and sharing the wrong information!

Victoria Day around BC

Wonder where you can go to celebrate Victoria Day next year? Here are some suggestions:

  • Burnaby Village – the lady who plays Queen Victoria bears an uncanny resemblance to her. It’s free too!
  • Victoria – The Queen’s namesake and BC’s capital. There is an annual Victoria Day parade that lasts 3 hours. While you’re in Victoria, why not have afternoon tea at The Empress? ;)

Happy Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten!



I hope all of you are having or had a wonderful day today. It’s not yet noon so my day has just started!


I woke up this morning an hour after the Queen’s Christmas message had already broadcast. If you haven’t already, you can watch it on The Royal Channel YouTube page.



The Queen delivered yet another lovely message reflecting this year’s events (namely, the Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Games) and concluded with the important Christmas message:


“This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.

“It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.

“The carol, In The Bleak Midwinter, ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service: ‘What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part’. The carol gives the answer ‘Yet what I can I give him – give my heart’.


It is clear that this year’s ‘theme’ is about serving, something the Queen has done for her people throughout the Commonwealth since she ascended to the throne at age 25. I admire our Queen for her dedication and her perseverance, as well as her faith. I wish I were brave enough to speak more openly about the importance of today, of the true Christmas message. It is ironic that in this day and age when I live in a country with ‘freedom of religion’, I am still afraid of sharing for fear of being mocked or humiliated. One day, I’ll be brave enough and one day, I trust the LORD will help me overcome my fear. Regardless of what you believe, Jesus came as a present for all of us. HE is mercy. HE is compassion. HE is LOVE. 25 December may not be his true birthday but we borrow this day to remember what HE did.




This morning, while calling my relatives in different countries, I learned that one of my relatives had passed away some time ago. Though I am saddened to learn of her passing, I also remember that she is now at rest and with the LORD. I am always deeply sad when our beloved seniors leave this world. They had gone through so much – a war (if not more), food rations, fear, decades of changes… I am selfish for wanting them to stay a while longer for they represent history and I cannot bear to be parted from them. Yet I must remember that they would want us to be happy and that they were glad we thought and still think of them fondly. Don’t forget to call or see our seniors and let them know how much they are loved. Let us make their last days filled with joy and peace.


I will probably be spending the day or the next few days watching some Christmas favourites:





Cover of "Joyeux Noel (Widescreen)"

Cover of Joyeux Noel (Widescreen)



The Nativity Story

The Nativity Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


And of course, mustn’t forget Downton Abbey‘s S3 Christmas Special!


This year, I would like to start a new tradition. My family and I will be volunteering at a shelter (soup kitchen) so that those less fortunate than us may enjoy a Christmas dinner and receive presents filled with necessities. For isn’t that what Christmas is about? Christ came so that we may have hope. HE came to serve. So I shall too. :)


Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas. Thank you for taking the time to read this.


With love,




Christmas 2012 Articles