Monday, September 29, 2008

Music Monday - Thomas Morley (c.1557-1602)

While not terribly seasonally appropriate, "Now is the Month of Maying" was the first song The Monday Madrigal Madres sang together at the first ever meeting of the group. We may have to change the name should the co-op's one baritone commit to singing the bass part (you know who you are--otherwise one of the ladies will have to continue singing that part). This particular madrigal had the happy coincidence of having five parts for the five of us that showed up to sing, and it is probably the madrigal I am most familiar with, having listened to this recording on The King's Singers Madrigal History Tour CD many, many times in the past several years:

Thomas Morley
is probably the best known English composer of madrigals. He lived at the same time as Shakespeare and has the distinction of being one of two composers of the period whose settings of Shakespearean verse still exist.

Ladies, you did a great job! Music readers and sight singers all, what a treat! I can't wait until next week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Poetry Friday - Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

The Fitful Alternations of the Rain

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fitful alternations of the rain,
When the chill wind, languid as with pain
Of its own heavy moisture, here and there
Drives through the gray and beamless atmosphere.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Music Monday

Having heard from several parents present on Mondays at our homeschooling co-op that they had loved singing madrigals in college, and how much they would love to sing them again, I opened up my big mouth and offered to run a group sing after lunch for whomever would like to come join in on the fun.

This being my fourth music group of the day (9:oo a.m.: assisting with Revels, in residence at the co-op this fall; 2. 11:15 a.m.: co-directing the co-op's Sing Along Chorus; 3. 12:45 p.m.: Madrigal Club and 4. 7:30 p.m.: one of the highlights of my week, the local Festival chorus I get to go and attend as a grown-up without children attached to some part of me), I hearby declare Monday to be "Music Monday," from now until whenever it stops being so. And in honor of the first ever (on this blog, anyway) Music Monday, I give you a madrigal from the late great John Dowland (1563-c.1626), as sung by those quintessential vocalists of all vocalists, The King's Singers. Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Poetry Friday

Far Over the Misty Mountains

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gleaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.

On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold; where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves.

The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night,
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.

The bells were ringing in the dale
And men looked up with faces pale;
The dragon’s ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.

The mountains smoked beneath the moon;
The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.
They fled their hall to dying fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


This photo was sent to me via email as National Geographic's Photo of the Month, and I had to share it. Downloading it from their website is kosher, so I hope it is okay to reprint it here. Here is the photo's information, and a link:

Bright beaks and feet signal the breeding season for Atlantic puffins on Horn√łya Island.

Photograph by Jan Vermeer, Foto Natura
Visions of Earth, October 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Outside the zone

One can't learn much and also be comfortable. One can't learn much and let anybody else be comfortable.

Charles Fort (1874-1932)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Feel Old

I watched the season premiere of SNL tonight, having recorded it last night. SNL hasn't been funny to me for at least a decade, and I stopped watching it before my first child was born. But tonight, in addition to not finding the show particularly amusing (though it had its moments--Tina Fey makes an eerie Sarah Palin), I felt old. About half the time I didn't get the references to pop culture that were obviously being made, and what's with the new slang? I'd heard (or read) "Oh, snap!" somewhere, but don't know its origins, and the other words I couldn't even figure out how to spell and I couldn't winkle out what they might mean from their context.

Another pointer to my loss of youth--our neighbors had a party for other neighbors and various friends from around town, and I was so happy to have to go home at 9:30 and send the babysitter away (she had to get up for religious school this morning). Not that it wasn't a fine party--it was. Great food, good drink, nice people. But two hours was about all I could take.

It's time I face what I should have known since I was a teenager watching Mystery and Masterpiece Theatre (oh, yeah, and then there was that fascination with Andy Williams): I'm an old fogey, and have been for a long time.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Carpe Diem

Seize the day.
Just do it.
This is the only life you'll get.

These phrases are familiar, yet the message bears repeating often. Recently I saw Tony Vacca, world percussionist, in concert, and his music was wonderful. I fell in love with the sound of the Balafon, and have new appreciation for the sound of many gongs ringing in synchrony. But the gist of one of his spoken word pieces was this--make it happen. You determine what "it" is, and then figure out a way to get it done. Make your life extraordinary!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Poetry Friday

Helen Hunt Jackson
The goldenrod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An it harm none

I'm not a big fan of any sort of religious fundamentalism. Having been raised in a fundamentalist Christian church, I view the black and white dogma of such institutions to be harmful to many. Full of prejudice toward and fear of anyone or anything different, members bring up their children to see the world through the lenses of self-righteousness and self-importance. For such people, it can be a very small step from "I am right; you are wrong" to "Agree with me or you will be cast out"--from a church, from a nation, or, in extremity, from life itself.

History is full of conflict created not by religion, itself, but by people who insist their way is the only way. How do we even begin to stop the madness? One way is by not electing anyone to a position of power who is aligned with a fundamentalist religion. While I am not terribly politically-inclined and would love to see a woman in the oval office or even as second-in-command, I will be voting against McCain and his choice of v.p. come November, largely because of Palin's association with this church, and because of her former association with this Penecostal church, and this one.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Angelic voice

After this week's choir rehearsal, Barb and I were talking about singers of classical music we enjoy listening to, and I was reminded of how much pleasure I get from hearing Custer LaRue's pure soprano vocals. There were only a couple of YouTube videos that popped up when I searched for her name, but this video is a treat--beautiful photos of Ireland coupled with the plaintive sound of "Mine Eyes Are Now Closing to Rest," from LaRue's CD with Chris Norman and Kim Robertson, Lullaby Journey. The CD is filled with music guaranteed to induce somnolence without grating on one's nerves like other "relaxing" music I've encountered. (The other selections on this CD are not as mournful as this particular song, though the singer does seem to have a penchant for minor keys, which may be why I like her music so much, as I have the same predilection.) For a complete list of LaRue's solo cds and her recordings with The Baltimore Consort, visit Dorian.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sneezing and sniffling through September

Is it still a summer cold when you catch it after Labor Day? Ah-choo! Maybe it's just ragweed.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Poetry Friday

Autumn Poem

Fall, leaves, fall;
Die flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day.
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the Autumn tree
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

~Emily Bronte