I know that as we head into this winter, that all of us are craving and missing making music together. Last week we listened to a series of tunes with a focus of discovering the layers of the arrangements. This week I wanted to take us somewhere much more vulnerable. The thought of standing on a stage on my own has never appealed to me, I can do it, but I have always gravitated to ensemble.
however, when I remove the audience, I do love making music on my own within a space, where no one can hear, be it an empty parking garage, singing to snow covered peaks in the silence of a fresh snowfall, or enjoying the reverb that is only achievable when standing IN the bathtub. (it’s the best reverb you can get in most modern homes.)
I find I am most creative in the late hours of the night, when the rest of the world has gone to bed, some folks find this space in the morning before anyone else rises.
Some times being alone can be beautiful. Sometimes to be alone we need to sing to break the loneliness, and hear ourself echo back. Sometimes one musician is enough to create a beautiful experience. I hope we can all find this for ourselves as musicians in the coming months
Tonight we are going to travel through 4 solo performances. 2 are with video, 2 are recordings.
The first is the Magnificent Martin Hayes, performing live Irish Arts Center NYC 2016. An incredibly talented and humble man, the tunes he picks are not showy, yet, his delivery of each is far from simple.
Hildegard of Bingen OSB (German: Hildegard von Bingen; Latin: Hildegardis Bingensis; 1098 – 17 September 1179)(81 yrs), also known as Saint Hildegard and the Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath of the High Middle Ages. She is one of the best-known composers of sacred monophony, as well as the most-recorded in modern history. She has been considered by many in Europe to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.
O Virga Ac Diadema - Sequence to the Virgin Mary
If you’ve ever been in a cathedral, they are architectural structures that that make me feel both the need to whisper, and the wish to shout and sing out with joy. I’ve only once gotten to sing in a cathedral, and then we were politely but firmly asked to leave once we finished singing North West Passage.
So before you listen to this next piece, let’s build a space that we are comfortable singing in to take in this celebration through music.
You are in a large space. Columns rise up on either side of you, holding the high-vaulted ceiling. Not unlike great tall trees, reaching up and branching across the sky.
There is a warm light coming through stained glass windows between the pillars, casting fractals on the polished floors. it could be morning, it could be late afternoon.
As you walk between the columns each step echoes for an infinity.
now for a moment, as we walk down the long length of the room, picture a person who you love, it could be a friend, it could be a relative, children, grandchildren, a stranger that you met on the bus, it could be someone long gone but well loved and missed. It may be that there are many who come to mind, hold them all,
now you’ve reached the front of the hall. on the raised dias before you is a beautiful work of art that embodies the memories you just recalled. It might be a marble statue or a painting, a stained glass window, a silent movie, or entirely abstract.
there is a bench beside you, should you wish to sit, and as the music plays, take in the details of the art before you, or close your eyes and exist in the space you have created. Now shared with a song composed over 800 years ago.
"Romance Anónimo" (Anonymous Romance) is a piece for guitar, also known as "Estudio en Mi de Rubira" (Study in E by Rubira), "Spanish Romance", "Romance de España", "Romance de Amor", "Romance of the Guitar", "Romanza" and "Romance d'Amour" among other names.
Its origins and authorship are currently in question. It is suspected of originally being a solo instrumental guitar work, from the 19th century.
The style of the piece is that of the Parlour music of the late 19th century in Spain or South America, having a closed three-part form: the first in the minor key and the second being in the major key, with the third being a restatement of the first.
The earliest recording of "Romance" is on a cylinder (from the "Viuda de Aramburo" label) featuring guitarists Luis and Simon Ramírez, made in Madrid sometime between 1897 and 1901.
Christina Sandsengen was born in a small town in the middle of Norway in 1987. She started to play the piano at the age of seven and gave her first public performance in the following year. When she was 15, she started to play the guitar, and fell in love with it. From that moment onwards, she decided to devote herself solely to the guitar
Christina Sandsengen plays a wide range of repertoire, with particular focus on Romantic music. Her passion for the classical guitar inspired her to establish the Oslo Gitarskole, Norway’s leading school for classical guitar.
Carl Friedrich Abel (22 December 1723[n 1] – 20 June 1787) was a German composer of the Classical era. He was a renowned player of the viola da gamba, and produced significant compositions for that instrument.
Although bass viols superficially resemble cellos, viols are different in numerous respects from instruments of the violin family: the viol family has flat rather than curved backs, sloped rather than rounded shoulders, c holes rather than f holes, and five to seven rather than four strings; some of the many additional differences are tuning strategy (in fourths with a third in the middle—similar to a lute—rather than in fifths), the presence of frets, and underhand ("German") rather than overhand ("French") bow grip.
Performed by Johanna Rose,
Nerd Bonus: Mechanical Knitting Machine
So since I have time to either a) worry about the state of the world or b) go down nerd rabbit holes these days, I'm aiming to chose option B as often as possible... and when ever I see a friend getting particuarly bogged down by option A in their own life, I start sending them videos that bring me joy, whether that is the Viola Da Gamba performance above, or the wonder of the world below.
Some how I ended up watching this video and I love it so much! such a cool machine!!!
What do we do?
Join us to be inspired by music from around the world, no preparation, prerequisites, or practicing required. I’ll read a short composer bio, highlight some historically relevant material or interesting context, we’ll listen to a piece of music, and then take the time to reflect on what we heard, ask questions, and explore.