One of my favorite services is the Festival of Lessons and Carols. To me it doesn’t seem like Christmas until I have attended at least one service. I have an academic fascination with carols, and I love traditional settings, as well as seeing the way composers and arrangers have brought new life to these ancient texts. This weekend I was privileged to participate in two services in two different settings. This time, though there were some fascinating twists to the traditional service.
On our way back from Ireland Stephen asked me what my favorite thing was about the trip. I had to say that it was the pubs and music that impressed me most. I loved the atmosphere and life that radiates from those places. While they all seem similar and familiar, each is unique. If I could do one thing over, it would be to spend more time in the pubs listening to traditional music. Granted, we did quite a bit of that anyway.
Saturday was one of those busy days where I needed to be about five people. Between potential paddling trips, Artisphere, Furman graduation, and other local festivals, there were lots of choices. I decided to head over to Furman for the 2015 Nan Herring Shape Note Singing.
The Nan Herring Singing is held each year on “the Saturday before the Second Sunday,” using the parlance of the singing community. This year and last year the date conflicts with Furman Graduation. This was not the case before Furman went on a semester system and graduation was in early June. The last time I came to this singing was in 2008, before the change, and we were able to use Herring Hall, where we rehearse for Chorale. This time, due to conflicts with the Furman Singers needing their home space, we held the singing on the stage of Daniel Recital Hall.
This conversation started on Facebook, and the results were entertaining enough that I thought I would summarize it here. If you’ve already read it and commented there, then just skip this post.
It all started when a friend directed me to a site that had a slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s hit “Jolene.” It was as if someone had taken the 45 single and played it at 33 1/3 RPMs on a turntable. The result was a slow, haunting version that sounds amazing.
I reposted this on my Facebook timeline and got lots of comments. One commenter doubted the veracity of the record, and thought that it had been faked. I suggested taking the original audio file and importing it into Audacity, then slowing it down by 27% digitally. Rather than wait, I decided to do it myself.
So, tomorrow (Thursday) is my last day in Spartanburg Five. It’s been a long, strange trip, and it’s weird to think that this part of my career is over. It seems only fitting that I go out with an appropriate playlist. But what to include? I think I’ll skip the obvious “Take this Job and … Read More “Retirement Playlist” »
Today the Greenville Chorale Chamber Ensemble presents its winter concert at Furman’s Daniel Chapel. The program is entitled “Music for the Soul”, and the music was chosen to be both soothing and uplifting. We start the concert with Gabriel Faure’s Requiem as the major work on the piece. I’ve performed this piece several times, and … Read More “Music for the Soul” »
As my friend Duck Hunter pointed out on his blog, not only is it football season, but it’s also marching band season. The Furman Band has really been sounding good the last several years, and this year continues this trend.
Of course, we’ve taken more interest in the band the past several years since the son and daughter of our friends Alan and Mary have been in the band. Joshua graduated last year, but Caitlin still has a couple of years to go. So, we’ve been following the band’s repertoire closer than usual.
Videographer Valdas Katovas recorded our spring concert, a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and Greenville Chorale. This video is the entire fourth movement. You can occasionally see me on the front row of the Chorale, next to the tympani and behind the trombones. Beethoven No 9 from Valdas Kotovas on … Read More “Beethoven’s Ninth Video” »
Joy, thou beauteous godly lighting,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire drunken we are ent’ring
Heavenly, thy holy home!
Thy enchantments bind together,
What did custom stern divide;
Every man becomes a brother,
Where thy gentle wings abide.
Be embrac’d, ye millions yonder!
Take this kiss throughout the world!
Brothers—o’er the stars unfurl’d
Must reside a loving father.
–Friedrich Schiller, 1786
Last night the Greenville Chorale joined forces with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The 9th is one of my favorite pieces, and I’ve had the privilege to perform it once before. Last night’s performance, though was one of the most stirring I’ve ever experienced.
For the Chorale, the piece came together fairly quickly. Many of us were familiar with the music, but also the chorus doesn’t sing that much in the concert. We’re only there for the last half of the last movement of the piece – about 20 minutes worth. Bing Vick often let us out of rehearsals early, which was a nice change of pace.
However, that is a VERY challenging 20 minutes. First there is the range. The piece is written at the extreme upper vocal range for all parts. I can’t think of another piece that has the basses singing a high F as many times and as long as this one does. Then there was the tempo set by Maestro Tchivzhel – fast, then blindingly fast. We had to squeeze a mouthful of German syllables into such a fast pace that I don’t think any of us got all of the words correct, even in the final performance. Oh, yeah, they had to be on the right pitches and at the right dynamic, too. It was a bear.
Dolby is currently touring the country in his “Time Capsule Tour.” The show features lots of steam-punk kitsch, and a mocked up “time capsule” in which visitors can leave a “30 second message for the future” (basically a webcam uploading to YouTube.) The time capsule is a mini camper tricked out with steam-punk accoutrements.