12 December 2007

Dinner for Eight on Our Lady's Feast Day: 8 December 2007

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.
~ Luciano Pavarotti

After many months of trying, my choir director and my schedules finally meshed. I hosted him for dinner along with six other close friends. Choosing the menu took much thought ~ Dahvid is a true Southern gentleman from North Carolina and accustomed to his mother’s incredible, I am sure, Southern cooking.

A Southern feast with a Mikaela twist was debated, but in the end I opted for a menu with a cranberry theme.

Cook's Notes:
One: Remember to read the recipe thoroughly. Not allowing the cheesecake to cool a full 4 hours before chilling overnight did not really hurt it; however, not chilling it for an hour with the cranberry topping made it a tad drippy.

Two: Some dishes are perfectly happy being cooked the night or even two days before the event. In fact, they may even benefit from a couple days rest in the fridge. This will free you the cook from being chained to the stove and/or the kitchen all evening. I spent more time in the kitchen this time around then I did with my

Three: Remember these pieces of wisdom from the queens of culinary masterpieces:

“You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients.” Julia Child

"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable." Ina Garten
I wish I had read those before Saturday! ;-) For the appetizer, I leafed through a 1998 issue of Saveur that I had on my shelf and found a delectably simple recipe for Cappesante el Pesto (scallops with pesto). This recipe, inspired by the author’s father, Edward Giobbi, was hailed by my guests and I must say, the pesto, made with fresh basil, walnuts instead of pine nuts and gorgonzola instead of reggiano (my substitution) was the best pesto I had ever tasted.

Next came a simple salad of spinach, arugula, walnuts, cranberries and gorgonzola cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. I followed this with a soup course and used a recipe from Epicurious.com for Fresh Wild Mushroom Soup. This soup, made up of shitake, cremini and regular mushrooms (again, my substitution), beef broth and brandy, was an instant hit at the dinner table. I alone did not find the taste to my liking. I am always surprised when anything I cook or create comes out well and is well-received, a trait which drives my friends crazy. But in this case, the surprise was warranted because I honestly thought it was the most deplorable mushroom soup I had ever tasted! :-) Cie la vie ~ at least they loved it and that is what is important. For my own dinner, however, I will try another mushroom soup recipe.

For the main course, I went back and forth between pork loin, chicken with pesto and beef tenderloin. I finally decided on Beef Tenderloin, served with a cranberry and port sauce. Beef tenderloin is one of the tenderest cuts of beef you can find…and the most expensive. Buying organic tenderloin from Whole Foods made it a tad more expensive than it usually is. But it was well worth it. A couple of days later I cooked up another cut of beef in the leftover sauce and was disappointed in the toughness of the meat. I am now officially spoiled in favor of tenderloin! ;-)

To end the meal, I chose a wonderfully creamy Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake with a chocolate crust, also found on Epicurious.com. One of my friends, who is from Long Island, paid me one of the highest compliments I’ve yet received for my culinary skills when he said: This is by far the best cheesecake I have ever had. Remind me why you haven’t opened your own restaurant?” Ah yes, Dennis, that is an interesting question! ;-)

My future career plans and the inordinate amount of time spent at the stove aside, the evening was wonderful ~ filled with laughter, time spent with some of the best friends and another successful culinary adventure!

Next up: Christmas dinner!

Oremus pro invicem,

30 November 2007

Welcome to a New Diva Blogger!

We who love music realize that it is exactly this element of hard work and thoughtful study which eliminates the lazy and uninterested from our ranks and makes this hard-won title - MUSICIAN - something of which to be proud.
~ Phil Farkas

I would like to extend a warm welcome to blogdom to my dear friend and fellow performance diva, Imelda Franklin Bogue!! She is an incredible singer, a wonderful person and a true soulmate and musical sistah! Do visit her new blog and if you live in the NYC area and have a chance to hear her perform, don’t miss it! :-) Welcome, Imelda!! Looking forward to many more wonderful posts on your doings in the world of New York opera!

* * * *

In regards to her thoughts on performing for family, I must agree that one definitely can get a good case of nerves even when performing for people you know love you. For myself, I have always found family and friends of family to be either the toughest critics or the most politely-and-slightly bored audience ever! And consequently, I no longer sing or play at family functions, which are few and far between anyway.

It is odd, but perhaps nerves are due to one’s own perfectionism ~ the desire to perform well, no matter who is in the audience. And certainly this continues to be the case for me even after I have given a less than stellar performance and can remember every wrong note sung and every missed beat and still people come up to me afterwards all aglow and moved by the music. And I am touched in return that my poor performance (in my eyes and ears) could still be used to uplift someone. And isn’t that what this beautiful, painful art called music all about? To share one’s soul with others in the hopes that someone, somewhere will be touched and encouraged to press on awhile longer.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

30 October 2007

Musica Sacra: Feast of All Souls

Oh, may I join the choir invisible
Of those immortal dead who live again.
~ George Eliot, The Choir Invisible

The choral season at Saint John the Beloved began beautifully: our first Tridentine Mass on the 21st celebrated with the Ropartz Mass and then Christ the King (by the old calendar) on the 28th celebrated with the Mozart Mass in C sung with chamber orchestra.

Now, this Friday, November, 2nd, Father MacAfee will be celebrating another Solemn High Tridentine Mass and we will be singing Duruflè’s Requiem with chamber orchestra for the Feast of All Souls.

If you are in the Washington, DC area, please join us!

Oremus pro invicem,


We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
~Jawaharlal Nehru

This past weekend several hundred friends (I kid you not!) and I went to see the movie, Bella. The film has won critical aclaim and several awards, including the People’s Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival. I now know why.

Simply put, this film is brilliant and beautifully crafted.

The story line is moving ~ I think someone said that if you do not cry at some point, you do not have tear ducts. I think I cried through most of it. But then the story line hits very close to home for me. In some ways, it provided a catharsis for me ~ which quite honestly is what a well done play or film or piece of music is supposed to do. Not pick up you and leave you hanging with unresolved emotions. Bella is real; it makes no apologies for life, how hard and unfair it can be. And yet how beautiful that same life can be. Yes, your heart will be broken. Yes, life can be painful. But it is totally worth it.

If you have not seen it yet, go. It’s playing in select theatres, but hopefully with many people going to see it, it will get wider distribution.

Oremus pro invicem,

09 October 2007

Musica Sacra: St. John's 2007-2008 Choir Season

It's the way we sing that makes 'em dream.
~ Ed Kowalczyk

Many apologies for my radio silence the past few weeks. As I have been telling all my friends and family, my schedule has literally exploded ~ Sunday through Friday my time is no longer my own. I cannot complain ~ almost all of it is taken up by music-related happenings: voice lessons, rehearsals for two choirs, and all the new music that one must learn for all three!
Speaking of music, the Saint John the Beloved Latin Choir is back from vacation and our Director, David Lang has prepared yet another musical collage designed to raise body and soul to Heaven! I will once again be posting our schedule and music selections for your envy and edification. ;-)
The one major difference this year will be singing for the Mass according to the 1962 Missal and not the Novus Ordo. (Sounds of angels singing Victoria heard in the background.) Of course, for the choir, not much will change musically. The music we sing will be the same ~ almost all of it was written before 1962. Now we will just be singing them in the setting for which they were composed. Like a woman wearing diamonds with jeans instead of a black velvet evening gown. It can work, but the proper setting is a ball and not a barn dance.

More to come!
Oremus pro invicem,

07 August 2007

Weekend in New England: Part I

It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien (Bilbo Baggins)

Back in July I went up to New England for a mini-vacation with some close friends. Sullivan has an aunt and uncle who have a house up in New Hampshire that they let us use for 4 days. It was absolutely glorious! Silly me forgot her camera; however, both Sullivan and Jeannette brought theirs and took lovely pictures, some of which I will post here.

We left the DC area at 10:30pm on Thursday, July 12 and arrived in NYC at 3:00am at our friend Diane’s abode in the heart of Harlem. Leaving so late for an 11 road hour trip may sound crazy enough, but what added to the hilarity of it was the presence of a rather large chair, which Sullivan put in the trunk. Well, at least one foot in the trunk. The rest of it was hanging out behind, firmly tied down. But that was not all! There was an ottoman, which we affectionately named Otto, that went with the chair. He took up residence in the backseat of the car, between Jeanette and Ames. It made for quite an interesting 5 hours. We played “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” in Otto's honor. :-)

Once we dropped off Otto and his chair at Diane’s, and she took his place in the backseat, we were back on the road to New Hampshire. We reached Providence around 6 a.m. and stopped to have breakfast with Dan, a college friend. I was not as tired or freaked out as I thought I would be after close to 8 hours in a Dodge Neon with 4 people. Euro trash techno helped immensely and as I was riding shotgun, I was in charge of music. Ah….bliss!

We finally made it into North Hampton around 10 am and decided to stop at the house and get settled before heading to the beach. The house was beautiful with a huge screened in porch and an expansive front and side lawn. Then we headed to the grocery store and packed a picnic lunch and headed to the beach.

I’m a country gal. I grew up with black beef cattle for neighbors and wide expanses of rolling hills and trees and an occasional mountain range thrown in for good measure. The beaches I have been to have all been here in the Old Dominion and are sandy and soft, the water cool if not downright tepid. This was my first introduction to the New England coast. And what a stony and cold one it was! (Sort of how New Englander’s are….haha! A little joke at all my yankee friends’ expense….and hopefully not the last….hee!)

Supposedly walking on hot rocks is therapeutic. People pay hundreds of dollars to do this at a spa. We did it for free and it was NOT therapeutic! It was, well, stony! Ouch! Standing in the ice cold Atlantic, however, was. I felt like a kid again, my skirt hitched up to my knees, my bare feet clinging desperately to various medium to large sized rocks, as the waves crashed into me.

Sullivan stood further out than I did, being braver and having on shorts. He kept encouraging me to come closer to the waves, at times taunting my reluctance and at others, grabbing hold of my hand as I tentatively edged away from the shore. I kept saying, “Are you crazy!? I’m not standing on THAT little rock! I’ll be washed away!” And he would just laugh and then after about 5 minutes debating it, I would quickly hop to another rock. It would have been quite a hoot if I had fallen in and become completely soaked. Luckily, this did not happen. Now, however, I kind of wish it had!

After we struggled painfully back up to where Ames, Jeannette and Diane were sunning, I was instantly aware of the significance of stepping further and further out into the water, away from the painful, but safe shore and immediately began to write a poem about it. I felt something inside me give way and for the first time in a long time, I felt completely alive, completely relaxed and ready to dive into life. More importantly, I felt completely loved and accepted for who I am.

This became the theme of the rest of the trip: risking, letting go, trying new things, leaving my public face behind and growing closer to loved ones. All of us on this trip, I think, experienced the same things, albeit in different ways and to a different extent. But one thing was definitely true for all of us: these people are the core that we can count on to be there, both emotionally and physically, when we need them. This revelation was healing and in conjunction with all the other lessons I was learning, this trip proved to be another turning point in my journey. I am one step closer to self-discovery and therefore, one step closer to self-gift.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

02 August 2007

Where's a Time Turner When You Need One!?

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
~ Douglas Adams

y apologies for being AWOL for the past few weeks. I have been busy re-reading Books 5 and 6 of Harry Potter in order to have the events fresh in my mind when beginning Book 7, which I have now dived into; spending as much time as I could with a dear friend before sending him off to California; practicing for an upcoming concert I am singing in this coming Saturday and generally being swamped at work. In between that I have been working on a blog post about my recent trip to New Hampshire and meditating on Mr. F’s thoughts on relationships and reading books on the subject as well to prepare another post.

Meanwhile read Mr. F’s insightful posts on the subject of Divine love, human love and relationships and I will try to make time to write and post soon.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

06 July 2007

The Lost Weekend

For whatsoeuer from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide vnto an other brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.
~ Edmund Spenser, The Faeire Queen

Last weekend I went to spend some time in the country. I had not been home since April or May, so I was looking forward to some quiet, peaceful time imbibing Nature.
Eternal sigh.
Sometimes a peaceful weekend at home is just that: peaceful. At others, it is the anti-thesis of peace. This particular weekend was....well, guilt is not the opposite of peace but it sure robs the soul of any that it had! The worst kind of guilt is guilt due to sin ~ the knowledge that we have done something wrong. But a close second is mother/father guilt. Father guilt is actually worse than mother guilt, at least from a daughter's perspective.
Anyway, this post is not about my family angst. The point is, that although it was a lost weekend in terms of a peaceful getaway, my trusted friend was waiting for me, patient and beautifully in tune. No song ever written is more true than Billy Joel's My Baby Grand. Mine has definitely been good to me. I sat down, played a few bars of a couple of unfinished songs and then promptly composed a new one.
I cannot remember the last time I composed a whole song from beginning to end in one sitting. It has been awhile. Stagnant. Uninspired. And here I have this new show to put together. Which means old songs to polish and new ones to compose. I have had two unfinished songs mocking me from the stand for weeks. Now, all of a sudden, I have one new one composed. Completed, ready to be critiqued and polished and one of the unfinished ones now also completed.
Maybe I just had not been suffering enough.
Byron said that a man can see further through a tear than through a telescope. That is certainly true. Suffering or pain, strips away the non-essentials and one can see more clearly what is really important and you cannot hide from your emotions or from relationships any longer.
Ahhh, relationships. Yeah.
Anyway...the newly finished song is about regret: wishing that I had said something about how I felt, wishing that I had even known how I really felt....only it's too late. You've moved on, or you can't forgive me. The new "new" song is about the last thread of hope, the last attempt to make things work out: "Maybe it's not written in the stars....But what if we let go and opened our eyes?"
The new song is where I'm at now. The newly finished one is where I don't want to be. I would much rather regret something I did, rather than something I did not do that I should have. But it seems like I am forever missing my cues. In the case of relationships, either I am interested and he is not. Or he is and I am not. Or as is more often the case, he is interested, and I am interested, but neither of us knows the other is interested and then we both lose interest due to lack of real, concrete encouragement. I feel seasick just writing that!
It is sort of like stage fright. You know you have talent. You know you are good. You know people enjoy your music. But that knowledge does nothing to stop your leg from shaking like a leaf every time you take the stage. (And darn it all, it's the leg that's attached to the foot that I use for the damper pedal!) So, I know I should be open, I know I should be vulnerable and step out in faith. That does't stop me from being afraid. And right now, being afraid does stop me from truely enjoying the ride. Don't blame me too much, my journey isn't over yet.
Meanwhile, being crossed in love has been good for me in that it has given me many songs. One that I wrote in college, which thankfully is lost to both memory and bad filing, was even called You Were Good for a Song. Hee!
What can I say? Music is my first love and if heartache be the Muse I have been given, bring it on!

It's totally worth it.

Oremus pro invicem,

21 June 2007

Sailing Out of Safe Harbors

A ship in safe harbor is safe, but that is not what a ship is built for.
~ William Stedd

As I said yesterday, the real purpose of the trip to New York was to check out the Catholic Underground. My friend Diane is a parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel, where CU meets in Manhattan. Having attended their monthly evening concerts and being a fan of my music, Diane suggested that this might be a good fit for a future gig. So I went up to check out the venue.

CU is on break for the summer and will start up again in September. But it was still a good idea to get a look around and get comfortable with the setting. I’ll be heading up that way again in September, and hope to get a better feel for the energy when it’s packed.

After Adoration, Diane, Eric and I went to Fetch for drinks and dessert (very good Margaritas and cheesecake ~ mmmm!) and that is when my life took a dramatic turn. Both Diane and Eric took turns kicking my acreage regarding my music and my hesitancy to share it with a larger audience. The conversation can basically be summed up this way: God has given me the gift of music and if I don’t share it with a wider audience, than that is burying my talent and I will be held accountable for that when I die.


Never thought about it quite in those terms. I have been complimented, asked if a CD could be pre-ordered, told consistently that my music is good and that I have what it takes. For whatever reason, it never made a dent ~ those negative tapes that kept playing in my head drowned them out. I do not know what it was that spoke so clearly to me this time, but that night, I finally got it. And believed it. Believed in the gift and what I need to do with it. The energy produced by this new self-knowledge and acceptance of support was incredible. It was as if I were staring at a train, and the conductor was holding out his hand, inviting me aboard.

No one but another artist understands the interior battles that I live with every day in regards to my art. Self-doubt is a constant companion. One of the lines I tell people at a concert is “Come on ~ clap! Musicians need love!” It always garners a laugh, but I am serious! The soul stands naked in the spotlight. If the audience gives verbal affirmation to the art, then the soul is not as conscious of its nakedness. But if there is no feedback, or (the ultimate slap in the face) bored indifference, then the soul is made painfully aware that its beauty is not appreciated and feels that its art has been cheapened.

So though I now realized that I really had no choice but to continue to grow my talent, and to share it with more people, I was still painfully aware of the risks such sharing entails. This fear has dogged me all my life.

So I kept staring excitedly at the train, but I did not get on.

The next day we met Imelda for lunch. Lovingly, but firmly, she pushed me on to the train, which turned out to be an express! I found myself saying yes to performing a benefit concert near her home in Connecticut. And she really didn’t allow me to say no by graciously offering to act as my agent in the area, as I have never performed outside of the Washington, D.C. area and am unfamiliar with venues. That will all change in September when I premiere my new show, The Edge of Love: Finding My Voice.

Thank you to all my wonderful friends and fans who have always believed in the music. The journey is far from over, but I know I could not have come even this far without your love, support, prayers and tough talk! Thanks for joining me on this wild ride ~ y’all are a blessing!!

Oremus pro invicem,

20 June 2007

NYC: The Southern View

One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
~ Andre Gide

I have been meaning to write about my recent trip to New York City for a couple of weeks now. It was a life changing weekend for me and I needed a little time to process everything that happened. As such, I will do a couple of posts to cover the trip details. This first one will focus more on the city itself and the food.

I had been to New York City once before, my junior year of college, on a weekend trip with a group of friends to hear the Tallis Scholars perform works by Tomas Luis Victoria at the Church of St. Ignatius in Manhattan. We arrived at night, in time for the concert, but not in time to get a good walk around downtown. So I count this last trip as my first real look at New York City.

Sullivan grew up in Brooklyn, knows his way around and had friends we could stay with, so he came along to act as guide. And thank goodness he did! This little Southern Belle would have been completely lost! I am not quite a country bumpkin, but close enough to warrant and be exceedingly grateful to have a Yankee city slicker around. ;-)

The main purpose of this trip was two-fold: 1) to check out The Catholic Underground as a possible future gig and 2) to scout things out for the big New York trip with about 5 to 8 friends in mid-July. We took the bus from Chinatown in D.C. ~ for $35 roundtrip, you really can’t beat it! We would have spent more than that on gas alone! And our driver must have had NASCAR dreams as a child ~ we made it in under 4 hours. Even with my own mad NASCAR-esque driving skills, I could never have made it up that fast!

One of the first things we did once we arrived was meet Sullivan’s old family friend, Carl, who I immediately fell in love with. Carl is a stereotypical Brooklyn-ite ~ Italian descent, retired NYC cop, accent, attitude and all! He was a real gem whose wry wisdom and dry humour kept me in stitches practically the whole weekend. He picked us up and we went to meet my friend Diane for a late lunch at Katz’s Deli (where apparently Harry met Sally ~ never saw the movie) and I had my first taste of New York City: the biggest hard salami sandwich I have ever seen and half-sour pickles. Half-sour? Yes. I thought it was weird too ~ but they were delicious! It was almost like eating a cucumber fresh from the garden, with just a slight pickle taste to it. I also ordered fries and they were the best fries I have ever had…anywhere…period.

But what impressed me most was the friendliness of the people! I was surprised to find that the stereotype of New Yorkers being grumpy and not talking to anyone is not really true ~ and yes I do live in a Southern cocoon. The guys behind the counter at Katz’s were sweet, funny and acted like we had been friends forever. It was a breath of fresh air. I felt like I was back in my hometown. It was a lovely experience and one that tickled Sullivan to no end. He and I are forever having lively yet playful debates on North vs. South. ;-)

My next foray into New York cuisine was on Sunday. We met my other friend, Imelda, for lunch at a downtown Manhattan pizzeria. More than once Sullivan and I have debated pizza as well: he insisting that New York pizza is far superior to any pizza we have in Virginia. To which I would respond with rolling my eyes. No more! My apologies, Sullivan. When it comes to New York pizza, I am in complete agreement with you ~ no pizza I have ever had in Virginia comes close! I now find myself longing for another slice and I think driving 4 or 5 hours for a good pie is not unreasonable! :-D

After lunch, we strolled down Broadway for awhile, where I bought the most sweet-smelling roses (Janet, you would have appreciated them!), posed in front of Juilliard and then Imelda made me close my eyes and then led me to the front of the Metropolitan Opera House. When I opened my eyes, it was the most glorious scene: the beautiful fountains in front of the Met were dancing lightly, almost in time with the strings playing Pachabel’s Canon in D in the background as a misty rain began to fall. It was a magical ending to an epic weekend.

Tomorrow: Sailing out of Safe Harbors

Oremus pro invicem,

08 June 2007

Musica Sacra: June 2007

Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?
~ Michael Torke

Mea culpa! I was in New York City this past weekend (a visit worthy of a future post) and did not have a chance to post the music list for Saint John the Beloved. Here it is for last weekend and for the upcoming Sundays. The choir will go on break in July and August and resume singing at Saint John’s in September.

This week it is not the b minor Mass, but the g minor Mass by Ralph Vaughn Williams. Truly a thing of beauty! Hope to see y’all there!

Holy Trinity (Cycle C) ~ June 3, 2007

Opening #201 All Hail, Adored Trinity / Introitus
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: Duo Seraphim – J. Handl
Communion Communio / Motet: Jam Sol Recedit – M. Franck
Recessional # 343 Holy, Holy, Holy

Missa Tertii ToniCostanzo Porta

Corpus Christi ~ June 10, 2007

Opening # 213 Alleluia, Sing to Jesus / Introitus
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: Caro Mea – F. Guerrero
Communion Communio / Solo: Panis Angelicus – M. A. Charpentier
Recessional # 345 Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
Motet during Incensation: O Esca Viatorum - Isaac

Mass in G – R. Vaughan Williams

Ordinary XI ~ June 17, 2007 (Father’s Day) (No choir)

Birth of John the Baptist ~ June 24, 2007

Opening # 247 By All Your Saints Still Striving / Introitus
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: Jesu Dulcis Memoria – T. L. Victoria
Communion Communio / Chant: Ut Queant Laxis – Gregorian
Recessional # 617 Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

Missa St. Joannis de Deo - F. J. Haydn

Oremus pro invicem,

26 May 2007

Musica Sacra: Pentacost 2007

...You who go up through the sheepfolds to the hill, if by chance you see Him I love most, tell Him I am sick, I suffer, and I die.
~ Saint John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle

Blessed Feast of Pentacost! Tomorrow's Noon Mass music promises to be absolutely glorious! The choir will be singing Vierne's Missa Solenelle. If you have not heard this piece written for choir and two organs, I urge you to buy the version by the Westminister Cathedral Choir. It is by far the best performance I have heard yet of this soul-stirring music. It reminds me of the first time I heard the Tallis Scholars perform a Victoria motet ~ there is no other word for the experience except ectasi-sensual. I know ~ that's not really a word. But the only other word I can think of would be scandalous to all save fellow melancholics and readers of the poetry of Saint John of the Cross. :-) Just take my word for it ~ you need to add this missa to your music collection.

Pentecost (May 27, 2007)

Opening # 267 Come Holy Ghost / Introitus
Sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: Confirma Hoc, Deus – W. Byrd
Communion Communio / Motet: Panis Angelicus – R. Rice
Recessional # 524 Sing Praise to Our Creator

Messe Solennelle – L. Vierne

If you are in the area, I hope to see you there!

Oremus pro invicem,

18 May 2007

American Inklings: May 23 @ 7:00pm

Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
~ Michael Crichton

The next meeting of the American Inklings will take place next Wednesday, May 23, 2007 at 7:00pm at Cosi’s in the Reston Towne Center. Don’t forget to bring your works in progress and your “assignment” from last month: creating your dream dust jacket!

See y’all next week!

Oremus pro invicem,

13 May 2007

Musica Sacra: May 13th & 20th

Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself.
~ Henry Ward Beecher

I was out of town this weekend planting a flower garden for my mom for Mother’s Day, so I did not get a chance to post today's music list. Here it is , along with next Sunday’s:

Ascension (May 20, 2007)

Opening #382 Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise / Introitus
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: Ascendit Deus – R. Rice
Commuinon Communio / Motet: O Clap Your Hands – R. V. Williams
Recessional #529 Sing We Triumphant Hymns of Praise

Missa Viri Galilae – G. P. Palestrina

Easter VI
(May 13, 2007 ~ Mother’s Day)

Opening # 323 Good Christians Men, Rejoice and Sing / Introitus
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: Ave Maria – Z. Kodaly (S/A)
Communion Communio / Salve Mater – chant (T/B)
Recessional #212 Alleluia, Alleluia, Let the Holy Anthem Rise

Missa de Maria Virgine – G. Aichinger
Oremus pro invicem,

04 May 2007

Missa Musica

Let us then consider how we ought to behave ourselves in the presence of God and His angels, and so sing the psalms that mind and voice may be in harmony.
~Saint Benedict

One would think that after singing every day for 5 days during Easter, music and singing would become tiresome ~ not so! Here is the music list for this upcoming Sunday at Saint John the Beloved. Hope you can join us!

Oremus pro invicem,

Easter V (May 6, 2007)

Opening #525 Sing of Mary / Introitus
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: Ave Maris Stella – E. Grieg
Communion Communio / Motet: Sub Tuum Presidium – W. A. Mozart
Recessional #330 Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above
Missa Brevis K 194 – W. A. Mozart

21 April 2007

A Collaboration

When a singer truly feels and experiences what the music is all about, the words will automatically ring true.
~ Monserrat Caballé

Jon is leaving for the Holy Land on Monday. Since he will be without a piano for two weeks (that is brutal!) he came over to play mine the same night the American Inklings were over. So, although I had nothing to contribute to the group at large, Jon and I ended up collaborating on a new song ~ he wrote the music, I wrote the lyrics.

This is now only the third time I have collaborated on a song with someone. There is no set “way” of composing. Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the music, sometimes both at the same time. This time around, I had mentioned to Jon the idea of collaborating and then he mentioned it again Saturday. So I said, well, let’s do it then ~ play something and I’ll see what I feel the music is saying.

His music painted a picture of rain, city streets and a broken relationship with a twist: the singer has recovered from the break up ~ she just can’t forget her lover’s eyes. I am still tinkering with the verses, tightening up the imagery (something I need work on in my other writing as well) and making sure it flows and helps define the story that the music tells.

Not bad for a Saturday evening! ;-) One of these days I will figure out how to add music files to this blog so you can actually hear what I am talking about!

Oremus pro invicem,

Cocktails & Writer's Block

Good work doesn't happen with inspiration. It comes with constant, often tedious and deliberate effort. If your vision of a writer involves sitting in a cafe, sipping an aperitif with one's fellow geniuses, become a drunk. It's easier and far less exhausting.
~ William Hefferman

About a week ago, the American Inklings got together and sat, not in a café, but a living room and ate and drank with fellow writers. :-D However, none of us suffers from the illusion that just doing that will produce good work! It’s the time spent at the laptop or desk or wherever genius strikes that the real work is done.

Alas, I must confess that I ignored the cries of the writer inside and busied myself with other things and so had nothing substantial to contribute to the discussion. I did not even touch my two poems that I had wanted to revise and submit again to Dappled Things (which by the way, the Lent/Easter has been published and is online for your reading pleasure). Sigh.

Sullivan did keep us on track for the most part and our new assignment is to:

Think about all the things you would like to imagine you will write during your life, or the one special work you would like to be able to say you have written. Write the text of the dust jacket for your work or for the anthology of your works.
Whew. Note to self: make an appointment with self to write, write, write!

The next meeting is yet to be determined, but we will keep you posted!

Oremus pro invicem,

11 April 2007

American Inklings: April 14 @ 7:00pm

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
~ Albert Einstein on Science

The next meeting of the American Inklings will take place this Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 7:00pm at the Divine Mercy House. Among other things, we will be doing some writing exercises, vetting each other’s works in progress and gearing up to submit some of those works to Dappled Things for the next edition ~ which will be the first one in print ~ hooray!Submissions are due by Monday, April 16, 2007.

Writers ~ dip your pens and get crankin’!

Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Oremus pro invicem,

10 April 2007

Organ Concert at Saint John the Beloved

Only an artist who is profoundly steeped in the sensus Ecclesiae can attempt to perceive and express in melody the truth of the Mystery that is celebrated in the Liturgy.
~ John Paul II

One of those artists steeped in sensus Ecclesiae is Jonathan Laird ~ our very talented and humble assistant organist at Saint John the Beloved. Jon was over last night hanging out and unwinding after a long day of practicing and still itched to play my baby grand. After listening to him make it sing like it as never sung before, I am considering giving up the piano!!! :-) He is a truly gifted and amazing pianist, not to mention a deeply spiritual and thoughtful person. I am grateful and blessed to know him.

Tonight, he is giving an organ concert at the church at 7:30 in the evening. Pieces by J.S. Bach and his great, great, great, great, great, great grand-student, Marcel Dupré will be performed. If you are in the area, make time to attend and be uplifted and impressed.

See you there!

Oremus pro invicem,

02 April 2007

Music for the Sacred Triduum

There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is.
~William P. Merrill

The Easter Triduum has to be my three favorite days of the year. I remember as a child, going to the Good Friday service and hearing the timpani beat out the steps of Christ on the Via Dolorosa at the Veneration of the Cross. And nothing comes close to the Good Friday Reproaches in moving the heart to “Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow…” (Lamentations 1:12). I have yet to find a musical setting of the Reproaches. If any of my readers know of one, please let me know!

One of my favorite pieces of choral music at this time of year is the Crux Fidelis ~ the same tune of which is sometimes used when singing the Pange Lingua. It ranks up there with Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence as a great piece of melancholic music.

We will not be singing that particular hymn, but here is a list of the music we will be singing for the Triduum at St. John’s in McLean, Virginia.

Holy Thursday April 5, 2007
Missa Pange Lingua – Josquin des Pres
Processional # 610 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross / Introitus
Washing of Feet Antiphons / Maneant in Vobis – R. Rice
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: – Ubi Caritas – H. Mardirosian
Communion Communio / Motets: Panis Angelicus – F. Peeters
O Esca Viatorum – Isaac / O Salutaris Hostia – G. Rossini
Recessional Pange Lingua / Tantum Ergo - Chant

Good Friday April 6, 2007
Processional # --- Silence
Gradual Christus Factus Est - Chant
Veneration Ecce lignum Crucis / Improperia / Miserere Mei – G. Allegri
Communion Motets: That Virgin’s Child – T. Tallis / Improperium Expectavit - G. Casali / Ave Verum Corpus – F. Poulenc / In Manus Tuas, Domine – J. Pujol
Recessional # --- Silence

Holy Saturday April 7, 2007
Coronation Mass – W. A. Mozart
Opening # -- Humbly We Adore Thee / Introitus
Offertory Offertorium / Motet: Haec Dies – J. Arcadelt
Communion # -- Communio / Alleluia! In Resurrectione Tua – J. Gallus Solo: The Trumpet Shall Sound – G. F. Handel
Recessional # 376 Jesus Christ Is Risen Today

We will also be singing a Tenebrae service on Wednesday evening, April 4, for which we will be singing Vos Omnes, Christus Factus Est and Jeremiah's Lamentations. I have also included a list of the Holy Week schedule for St. John’s, which also be found on their website.

Easter Schedule 2007
Holy Week & Easter schedule April 2 – April 8, 2007
{Please note changes in time from the regular schedule
at bottom of page}
Mon. Apr. 2: Confessions after 9:00 am Mass
Tues. Apr. 3: Confessions after 9:00 am Mass
Wed. April 4 : 8:00 pm--Tenebrae Service
(Confessions after Tenebrae)
Thur., April 5 : 7:30 pm--Holy Thursday --
Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Thur. April 5: 11:50 pm--Compline (Night Prayer)
(No Confessions on Thursday)
Fri., April 6: 12:00 Noon-- Divine Mercy Chaplet,
Terce, Stations of the Cross, & Dramatis Personae
Fri., April 6: 3:00 pm---Solemn Good Friday Services
Fri. Apr. 6: 7:00 - 8:00 pm Confessions
Sat., April 7: 8:30 am--Morning Prayer
Sat., Apr. 7 : 9:00 - 9:30 am-- Confessions
Sat., Apr. 7 : 12:00 Noon --Blessing of Easter Food
Sat., Apr. 7: ( NO 5:00 pm Mass)
Sat., Apr. 7: 8:30 pm – Easter Vigil
Sun., Apr. 8: Easter Sunday: Masses at: 7:15* am,
9:00 am, 10:30 am and 12:15* Noon (*please note 2
Mass times are not regular Mass times)

Oremus pro invicem,

27 March 2007

Music at St. John's in McLean for Palm Sunday

Music is the silence between the notes.
~ Claude Debussy

Here is the upcoming schedule of music we are singing at St. John’s on Palm Sunday:

Palm Sunday (cycle C) April 1, 2007
Prelude - Hosanna Filio David
Blessing of Palm Branches - Pueri Hebreaorum
Processional - Gloria, Laus, et Honor Tibi Sit
Opening - All Glory, Laud, and Honor
Gradual - Christus Factus Est – J. M. Haydn
Offertory - Adoramus Te Christe – T. Dubois
Offertorium / Solo: Vidit Suum Dulcem … – G. Pergolesi
Communion - Were You There / Communio/Duet: Inflammatus Et Accensus – G. Pergolesi
Recessional - Silence

Hope you can join us for a little foretaste of Heaven! ;-)

Oremus pro invicem,

25 March 2007

A River of Fado

Music is the river that runs through my veins…
~ Mikaela D’Deigh

riday night was absolutely incredible. A few friends and I went to hear Mariza at the Kennedy Center. For those who are not yet devotees of this incredible music, Mariza is one of Portugal’s top fadistas and after hearing her perform Friday night, I understand why.

Dulce Pontes’ renditions of fado were my first introduction to this hauntingly sad style of music. And she is still my favorite. But Mariza’s style is every bit as mesmerizing ~ it calls out to something deep in your soul and practically rips it out and you are completely entregado, given over to it.

She sang for a full an hour and a half, we gave her four standing ovations and her encore lasted longer than any encore I have ever heard, but I wanted her to keep singing. One of the pieces she sang as an encore was Summertime and I have never heard it sung with such passion and beauty. And it was the perfect song to for her sing: her interpretation of it illustrated the similarity between fado and American blues. I only wish I could have a recording of her performance of it. It was breath-taking.

So now you are kicking yourself and wishing you had been there Friday night. Not to worry! Dulce Pontes will be performing in May in Maryland. Maybe we will see each other there ~ I will be the one listening and not breathing until the last note dies away. ;-)

Oremus pro invicem,

07 March 2007

How Can I Keep from Singing?

It's the way we sing that makes 'em dream.
~ Ed Kowalczyk

s some of my readers know, I sing in a church choir made up primarily of professional singers. Sometimes I forget to tell people what our upcoming “playlist” is and some of you have expressed an interest in knowing ahead of time so that you can plan to be with us at Saint John’s in McLean. A few weeks ago, we sang Arvo Pärt’s Beatitudes and I did not let people know in time to arrange their schedules. So I am going to begin posting our upcoming pieces and dates.

Last week, we sang the Missa de Angelis, which in itself is a beautiful and traditional Mass setting. In addition, however, we sang Tallis’ O Nata Lux and Gluck’s De Profundis ~ which has become a personal favorite of mine. It is dark and melancholic and breath-taking. Those deep notes really do something to the soul!

March 11, 2007 – 12 Noon
Missa ~ Claudio Monteverdi
Motets ~ Exaudi Deus, O. di Lasso and Miserere Dei, A. Lotti

I am so blessed and humbled to be working with such gifted people. Thank you, Dah-vid! :-)

Oremus pro invicem,

06 March 2007

American Inklings: March 9 @ 7:00pm

The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.
~ Robert Cromier

he American Inklings will meet again this coming Friday, March 9, 2007 at 7:00 pm at La Madeleine next to Reston Towne Center.

At our last meeting, we did not assign any new exercises. Rather, we were to continue developing our stories and / or any other works in progress. I confess I have not even looked at much less touched my story. For shame! I did however, write and submit two new poems to Dappled Things, which were rejected. :-( Hence, my contribution to Friday’s meeting will be more asking how to become a better writer and editor of my own work.
I already know the answer. For one, I need to write more. Even if it is nonsense or a stream of consciousness on a page. Just write. And pretty soon, something real and substantial will appear. Or perhaps not. But it will clear the cobwebs and get the brain warmed up. The second thing I need to do more of is read. For now matter how fertile my imagination, it will not remain so without a good tilling by other, much better writers. My best poems or stories have come out of being inspired by other writers, other stories. There is nothing like a great phrase or quote that pierces your soul and opens it up to whole new way of thinking or feeling that you can then turn into a new poem or the beginnings of a new story.
I look forward to seeing everyone Friday night and being inspired.

Oremus pro invicem,

23 February 2007

Following the Story Line

A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved. And that perhaps, is what makes him different from others.
~ Leo Rosten

y friends never cease to amaze me. They are wells of hidden talents and gifts. And I never feel so blessed as when I am present to have a taste of that talent. The American Inklings are just such a group of friends. Our last meeting was an incredible success. We gathered around my dining room table and read our scribblings out loud to each other. And such scribblings! I think we all knew that each had something to say, creative fires that were burning deep inside and dying to warm an audience.

But I do not think that any of us knew just how talented we each are ~ ourselves included. As you may recall, our writing exercise from our last meeting was to finish a story, with lines contributed by all of us. Three of the members worked on the project and came up with three incredibly different and incredibly interesting storylines:

Ann S. created a fantasy/science fiction world for her main character. She originally considered setting the story in Scotland and later chose Virginia as the starting point, ending in Iceland. Her story involves a mysterious disappearance, a crusty old sailor and a Golden Whale.

Jackie D. envisioned a psychological thriller in which the main character questions reality and his or her own sanity. Was the fall from the cliffs real? A dream? A nightmare? What is reality?

Yours truly, as you know, placed the main characters in Scotland and the story involves a nameless horror, murder, intrigue and hidden identities, history and of course, romance. I had considered “writing what I know” and setting it in Virginia, but stayed with Scotland instead – the complete opposite of Ann. :-)

None of us completed the exercise ~ that is, we did not put an ending to the story. We continued it. And we each found ourselves captivated by our characters and the story they wanted to tell us. It was not simply enough to just stick an ending on ~ we had to follow the story line. And to have such diverse paths from one beginning was fascinating and exciting to hear.

Now the next assignment is to continue to follow the stories and see where they take us. Writer and reader alike cannot wait to hear what happens next!
Our next meeting is Friday, March 9, 2007. The place is yet to be determined, but it will be outside the Beltway, somewhere near Reston. If you would like to join us, please feel free to email me at mdeigh (at) gmail (dot) com.
And remember ~ keep writing!
Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

23 January 2007

American Inks: The Project Continues

The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it. ~ Elizabeth Drew

I am now 810 words into my version of the Amer. Inks new writing project. I know, it does not sound like many words after two and half days of being snowed in. What can I say? In Virginia, one inch of snow, layered with a nice thin sheet of ice constitutes getting "snowed in." Add to this fact that my car did a little icy pirouette on the way home and gave my nerves quite a shaking and I have since been severely under the weather with a bout of either the flu or a nasty little cold with an attitude.

From late Sunday evening until late Monday evening, I have plied this little cold with honey, tea and whisky - not necessarily in that order and a single malt of course. ;-D I don't know about my cold, but it has been a tremendous boon to me! I stayed abed most of Monday and almost all of today. I did not feel as weak as I did yesterday - hence 810 words later, I feel my time in the sick room has been justified.

This short story that we were supposed to simply finish has turned into a prologue and a chapter. What in the world has happened here?! My characters have happened, that's what. They practically shouted at me in a Highland accent: "this tale cannot be told in short story, lass! It needs to be a whole bloody book!" Ah yes - my characters are Scots. At least some of them. Big surprise there if you know me. If there's one accent that makes me weak in the knees besides Gothic, it would have to be Scottish. ;-)

If these characters continue to carry on like this, I may have to come to the meeting with yet another unfinished story. I don't have a choice ~ the tale cannot be told in a short story!

Oremus pro invicem,

16 January 2007

American Inklings in McLean

The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea.
~ Thomas Mann

The first meeting of the American Inklings in the new year took place last night at Corkies ~ a cozy place where I am a regular Sunday brunch-er. The charm and atmosphere immediately said that the A. Inklings would be at home. And though they closed at nine, they graciously allowed us to stay until after ten.

We began by discussing creativity: what it means to be creative; whether there are boundaries to creativity and what creativity is not. Then we engaged in a writing exercise. We each took a piece of paper and wrote down one sentence, then passed it to the person to our right and they wrote a second sentence. We continued passing the pieces of paper around until Sullivan said stop.

Out of four beginning sentences, three of the unfolding stories were quite melodramatic and silly. I only claim responsibility for two sentences that took a story from a horror to a farce. But I must say the end result was humorous. :-)

The fourth story we all agreed we were intrigued by. It had the best flow; it made sense and we all wanted to know what happened next. How was it going to end? And there in lies our next writing exercise: to take that beginning and write an ending. And it does not have to be long nor does it have to be short. We put no limits on word length. Just write an ending and however long it takes you to get there, so be it. I can’t wait to read what the others will come up with. And I’m looking forward to seeing what story the characters are going to be telling me to write down!

Oremus pro invicem,