Belshazzar’s Feast

I recently went to watch the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Chorus  performing the Hymn of Jesus by Gustave Holst, the Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein and an awesome and spectacularly noisy rendition of Belshazzar’s Feast by Sir William Walton, at the Birmongham Symphony hall. The concert featured John Stogards conducting and Mark Stone singing Baritone

Belshazzar, sometimes called Balthazar, was a tyrannous 6th-century BC prince of Babylon, who persecuted the Hebrews and was the son of Nabonidus and the last king of Babylon according to the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible. In Daniel 5 and 8, Belshazzar is the King of Babylon before the advent of the Medes and Persians. Although there is evidence that Belshazzar existed, his famous narrative and its details are only recorded in the Book of Daniel, which tells the story of Belshazzar seeing the writing on the wall. In Daniel Chapter 5, the details start off by there being a banquet for a thousand of his lords. Belshazzar next orders the vessels of gold that were taken from the Temple in Jerusalem, to be brought so that everyone can drink wine from them. It is at this moment that a man’s hand appears and starts to write on a wall.

“You have been weighed in the balance and found Wanting”

Understandably Belshazzar gets extremely worried by this and brings in his astrologers, Chaldeans and Soothsayers and that whoever interprets the writing will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom. The queen comes in and suggests that he call for Daniel whom Nebuchadnezzar had made chief of the Magicians, Astrologers, Chaldeans, and Soothsayers. Belshazzar offers Daniel the position of third highest ruler in the kingdom if he can interpret the writing but Daniel doesn’t want to be rewarded. Daniel interprets the writing, what it means for Belshazzar and consequences for him. Belshazzar immediately makes Daniel the third highest ruler in the kingdom anyway.

On the night of Belshazzar’s death Cyrus and Darius were employed as doorkeepers of the royal palace. Belshazzar, being greatly alarmed at the mysterious handwriting on the wall, feared to hat someone in disguise might enter the palace and murder him, so he ordered his doorkeepers to behead every one who attempted to force an entrance that night, even though such person should claim to be the king himself. Later on Belshazzar, went to answer the call of nature and left the palace unobserved during the night through a rear exit. On his return the doorkeepers refused to admit him. In vain he said that he was the king. They said, “Has not the king ordered us to put to death any one who attempts to enter the palace, though he claim to be the king himself?” Suiting the action to the word, Cyrus and Darius grasped a heavy ornament forming part of a candelabrum, and with it shattered the skull of their royal master (Cant. R. iii. 4).

The very night Belshazzar was slain Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty two years old. Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, who after ruling only three years, went to the oasis of Tayma and devoted himself to the worship of the moon god Sin. He made Belshazzar co-regent in 553 BC, leaving him in charge of Babylon’s defense.In 540 BC, Nabonidus returned from Tayma, hoping to defend his kingdom from the Persians who were planning to advance on Babylon. Belshazzar was positioned in the city of Babylon to hold the capital, while Nabonidus marched his troops north to meet Cyrus. On October 10, 539 BC, Nabonidus surrendered and fled from Cyrus. Two days later the Persian armies overthrew the city of Babylon.

Jenna Louise Coleman and Russell T.Davies OBE

English Actress Jenna-Louise Coleman was born 27 April 1986),known as Jenna, She is best known for her role as Clara Oswald in the British television series Doctor Who and Jasmine Thomas in the British soap opera Emmerdale. Coleman was born in Blackpool, Lancashire and began her acting career at a young age as a member of a theatre company called “In Yer Space.”

She got her big break While auditioning for drama schools in 2005, And was chosen to play Jasmine Thomas in Emmerdale in 2005. She received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Most Popular Newcomer award at the 2007 National Television Awards.She went on to play “hard girl” Lindsay James in the BBC school-based drama series Waterloo Road, Susan Brown in a BBC Four television adaptation of the John Braine novel Room at the Top, Annie Desmond in Julian Fellowes’ four part mini-series Titanic, and Rosie in Stephen Poliakoff’s original drama series Dancing on the Edge. Coleman made her feature film debut in 2011 as the character Connie in Captain America: The First Avenger At the 2009 British Soap Awards, she was nominated for the Best Actress, Sexiest Female, and Best Dramatic Performance awards. She received a nomination for the Best Actress award from the TV Choice Awards. In May 2009, it was announced that Coleman would be joining BBC drama series Waterloo Road as “hard girl” Lindsay James.As she was 23 at the time of her casting, Coleman found the experience of playing a schoolgirl “surreal”.

Dr who=bellsn December 2010, it was announced that Coleman would be playing Susan Brown in a BBC Four television adaptation of the John Braine novel Room at the Top. In 2011, she made her feature film debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. She also landed the part of Annie Desmond in Julian Fellowes’ four part mini-series Titanic, describing her character as a “cheeky little Cockney” and “the Eliza Doolittle of the ship”. Coleman provided the voice for the character Melia in the English dub of the 2011 video game Xenoblade Chronicles. In 2012, Coleman was cast as Rosie in Stephen Poliakoff’s original drama series Dancing on the Edge, which follows the fortunes of a black jazz band in the 1930s. The show aired on BBC Two in February 2013. On 21 March 2012, Doctor Who producer Steven Moffat confirmed at a press conference that Coleman would play the companion of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith). Moffat chose her for the role because she worked the best alongside Smith and could talk faster than him. She auditioned for the role in secrecy, pretending it was for something called Men on Waves (an anagram for “Woman Seven”, as she would first appear in the show’s seventh series). Although originally announced as beginning her run as companion in the Christmas special in 2012, Coleman made a surprise appearance on 1 September 2012 in the first episode of the seventh series, playing Oswin Oswald, who dies at the end of the episode. She subsequently debuted as a series regular in the Christmas special episode “The Snowmen”, playing the Victorian governess and barmaid Clara Oswin Oswald; like her previous incarnation, the character dies. At the end of that episode, Coleman is seen playing a third version of the character, this time from contemporary London and named simply Clara Oswald. The Doctor finds the third version of her, and from the episode “The Bells of Saint John”, this version begins her travels as the Doctor’s regular companion,including after his regeneration into the Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, in the 2013 Christmas special episode “The Time of the Doctor.” As of 20 June 2013, she began using the name Jenna Coleman for stage credits, having previously used Jenna-Louise Coleman. She was first credited as Jenna Coleman in Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, which aired on 4 August 2013. She starred as Lydia Wickham in Death Comes to Pemberley shown on BBC One during Christmas 2013.

Whilst on the subject of Doctor Who, Welsh Television producer and screenwriter Russell T Davies OBE was born on this date 27th April in 1963. Born in Swansea, Davies aspired to work as a comic artist in his adult life, until a careers advisor at his school suggested that he study English literature; he consequently focused on a career of play and screen-writing. After he graduated from Oxford University, Davies joined the BBC’s children’s department on a part-time basis in 1985 and worked in varying positions, including writing and producing two series, Dark Season and Century Falls. He left the BBC in the early 1990s to work for Granada Television and later became a freelance writer. Davies moved into writing adult television dramas in 1994. His early scripts generally explored concepts of religion and sexuality among various backdrops: Revelations was a soap opera about organised religion and featured a lesbian vicar; Springhill was a soap drama about a Catholic family in contemporary Liverpool; The Grand explored society’s opinion of subjects such as prostitution, abortion, and homosexuality during the interwar period; and Queer as Folk, his first prolific series, recreated his experiences in the Manchester gay scene. His later series include Bob & Rose, which portrayed a gay man who fell in love with a woman, The Second Coming the UK and Ireland and the, which focused on the second coming and deicide of Jesus Christ, Mine All Mine, a comedy about a family who discover they owned the entire city of Swansea, and Casanova, an adaptation of the Venetian lover’s complete memoirs.

He has worked on many television prograns includng Queer as Folk, Bob & Rose, The Second Coming, Casanova, perhaps his most notable achievement is reviving and running the science fiction series Doctor Who after a sixteen year hiatus, with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith, in the title role of the Doctor. Davies’ tenure as executive producer of the show oversaw a surge in popularity that led to the production of two spin-off series, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, and the revival of the Saturday primetime dramas as a profitable venture for production companies. Davies was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to drama, which coincided with his announcement that he would step down from as the show’s 7executive producer with his final script, The End of Time (2009–10). Davies moved to Los Angeles, California, in 2009, where he oversaw production of Torchwood: Miracle Day and the fifth and final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures. He returned to the United Kingdom in late 2011 after his partner developed cancer and is currently worki on the CBBC drama Wizards vs Aliens.

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Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse The American contributor to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system and co-inventor of the Morse code, was born 27th April in 1791 in Charlestown Massachusetts he attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, after which he went on to Yale College where he studied religious philosophy, mathematics and science of horses. While at Yale, he also attended lectures on electricity from Benjamin Silliman and Jeremiah Day, and In 1810, he graduated from Yale with Phi Beta Kappa honours.

Painting

Samuel Morse was also an accomplished painter and whilst at Yale He supported himself financially by painting. He expressed some of his beliefs in his painting “Landing of the Pilgrims”, through the depiction of simple clothing as well as the people’s austere facial features. His image captured the psychology of the Federalists; Calvinists from England brought to North America ideas of religion and government, thus linking the two countries. This work also attracted the attention of the notable artist Washington Allston. Later Morse accompanied Allstone on a three-year painting study in England, where he worked to perfect his painting techniques under Allston’s watchful eye. By the end of 1811, he gained admittance to the Royal Academy. He liked the Neo-classical art of the Renaissance particularly the works of Michelangelo and Raphael. After observing and practicing life drawing and absorbing its anatomical demands, the young artist produced his masterpiece, the Dying Hercules. Morse eventually left England on August 21, 1815, to return to the United States and begin his full-time career as a painter.

The years 1815–1825 marked significant growth in Morse’s paintings, as he sought to capture the essence of America’s culture and life. He painted the Federalist former President John Adams. He hoped to become part of grander projects. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists clashed over Dartmouth College. Morse painted portraits of Francis Brown — the college’s president — and Judge Woodward, who was involved in bringing the Dartmouth case before the U.S. Supreme Court. However Between 1819 and 1821, Morse experienced great changes in his life, and his commissions decreased. Morse then moved to New Haven and was commissioned to paint the Hall of Congress and a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, who was a leading French supporter of the American Revolution. From 1830 to 1832, Morse traveled and studied in Europe to improve his painting skills, visiting Italy, Switzerland and France, Some of Morse’s paintings and sculptures are on display at his Locust Grove estate in Poughkeepsie, New York. During his time in Paris, he developed a friendship with the writer James Fennimore Cooper, and On a subsequent visit he also met Louis Daguerre and became interested in Louis’ daguerreotype — the first practical means of photography.

Morse Code

In 1825, the city of New York Morse was commissioned to paint a portrait of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, in Washington. Unfortunately whilst Morse was painting, a horse messenger delivered a letter from his father that read one line, “Your dear wife is convalescent”. Morse immediately left Washington for his home at New Haven, leaving the portrait of Lafayette unfinished. By the time he arrived, his wife had already been buried. Heartbroken in the knowledge that for days he was unaware of his wife’s failing health and her lonely death, he moved on from painting to pursue a means of rapid long distance communication. On the sea voyage home in 1832, Morse encountered Charles Thomas Jackson of Boston, a man who was well schooled in electromagnetism. Witnessing various experiments with Jackson’s electromagnet, Morse developed the concept of a single-wire telegraph. However Morse encountered the problem of getting a telegraphic signal to carry over more than a few hundred yards of wire. His breakthrough came from the insights of Professor Leonard Gale, With Gale’s help, Morse introduced extra circuits or relays at frequent intervals and was soon able to send a message a distance of ten miles (16 km) of wire. This was the great breakthrough Morse had been seeking. Morse and Gale were soon joined by a young enthusiastic man, Alfred Vail, who had excellent skills, insights and money. At the Speedwell Ironworks in Morristown, New Jersey, Morse and Vail made the first public demonstration of the electric telegraph on January 11, 1838. and Today The original Morse telegraph, submitted with his patent application, is part of the collections of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution

Morse sadly passed away on April 2nd 1872 at the age of 80, and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. However his legacy lives on and his invention has changed the way people communicate long-distance. Morse code is still the primary language of telegraphy iand is still the standard for rhythmic transmission of data.