MacMillan: Miserere
Tenebrae; Nigel Short, Conductor

At a recent opera orchestra rehearsal I was telling a colleague how much I love the human voice (and wish I had a good singing voice, alas). He agreed with me. There really is nothing like a wonderful voice … so lovely, so real, so … well … human! I think every instrumentalist should sing and, yes, I’ve written about this before. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have the best of voices. It’s just something we should do. And I believe it helps with our music making. I know that students of mine who were also able to sing had a better time with pitch, timbre, and vibrato. Especially vibrato. It tended to come more naturally to them. Sadly most of my students balk at singing. Some look at me in horror when I suggest they sing. I could go on about “back in my day …” but I’ll leave it here. Singing just isn’t as popular as it used to be.

If anyone reads this blog any more you know I’ve reduced my involvement tremendously. I miss having things to say and write about, but I think I just ran out of steam! I will, however, have more to write in, I hope, the near future. So if you check in occasion, but sure and check in again in a few months.

Meanwhile … here is a lovely choral work by Dan Forrest. Sort of movie music-ish, but I’m okay with that. Reminds me a bit of playing Lord of the Rings, actually. But that might be just me. It’s a sacred work, so some of you might balk at that like my students balk at singing!

The third movement, “The Sun Never Says” … well … I love that poem. I’d print it here, but that would be against copyright laws so if you click through to the YouTube video it’s printed there with permission.

A favorite sonnet put to music. Heaven.

Holy Sonnet XIV
John Donne

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

09. April 2024 · 2 comments · Categories: Oboe, Opera

Sometimes I wonder why we have certain licks in a piece. And I wonder how many “give it to the flute player!” (A suggestion that has been made over and over these past few weeks.) This is only a snippet … I play the measure four more times! Or I try to play it, anyway.

Handel: Alleluia (from “let They Hand Be Strengthened”
Caritas Consort

Maybe I do.

Maybe we all do?

Gabriel Fauré: Cantique de Jean Racine
VOCES8; English Chamber Orchestra; Barnaby Smith, Conductor

Word of the Highest, our only hope,
Eternal day of earth and the heavens,
We break the silence of the peaceful night;
Saviour Divine, cast your eyes upon us!

Pour on us the fire of your powerful grace,
That all hell may flee at the sound of your voice;
Banish the slumber of a weary soul,
That brings forgetfulness of your laws!

O Christ, look with favour upon your faithful people
Now gathered here to praise you;
Receive their hymns offered to your immortal glory;
May they go forth filled with your gifts.

Have I shared this work before? I can’t recall. But it moves me, as someone who now deals with a hearing loss. Mine, though, is nothing compared to Beethoven’s.

You can read more about the work here.

A Silence Haunts Me
adapted from a letter by
Ludwig van Beethoven
Hear me, brothers —
I’ve a confession painful to make.
Six years I have endured a curse
that deepens every day. They say
that soon I’ll cease to hear the very
music of my soul. What should be
the sense most perfect in me
fails me, shames me, taunts me.
A silence haunts me.

They ask me —
Do you hear the shepherd singing
far-off soft? — Do you hear a distant
fluting dancing joyously aloft?
— No. — I think so? — No. — I
think so? — No.
God, am I Prometheus? — exiled
in chains for gifting humankind
my fire? Take my feeling —
take my sight — take my wings
midflight but let me hear the
searing roar of air before I score
the ground!
Why? — Silence is God’s reply
— and so I beg me take my life —
when lo — I hear a grace and feel
a ringing in me after all —
so now as leaves of autumn fall, I
make my mark and sign my name
and turn again to touch my flame
of music to the world, a broken
man, as best I can,
As ever,
Faithfully yours,
(— A bell? — A bell?)
Hear me,
and be well.

Joachim Oudaen: This Joyful Eastertide, harmonised by Charles Wood, Words by George Ratcliffe Woodward
Gesualdo Six; Owain Park, Conductor

Antonio Lotti: Crucifixus a 8
Ensemble Altera; Christopher Lowrey, Director

He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate:
He suffered and was buried.

Victoria: Amicu meus osculi
I Fagiolini