27 May 2008

...Are Longing to Stray

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

This past weekend I attended the 20th Anniversary of Classical Singer magazine in New York City. The convention was incredible ~ I took copious notes and learned much from the likes of opera great Sherill Milnes and several judges and coaches from the Met. I love opera, but it is not the style of music I sing. The wisdom and performance tips I learned, however, apply to almost all singers, whatever genre their talent falls under. Many thanks to my dear friend and soul sister Imelda Franklin Bogue for making it all possible! :-)

On Saturday evening, I headed from Brooklyn over to Manhattan’s east side. The Church of Notre Dame is a beautiful piece of architecture modeled after the Church of St. Louis in Paris and located not far from Columbia University and under the care of the Polish Province of the Dominicans. As I mentioned previously, Mr. F is a member of the choir there and they performed a concert in honor of Mary, the Mother of God. The church itself is a wonderful space for a concert of early sacred music. The soaring ceiling over the nave made the acoustics something every singer dreams of.
As I sat in the pew waiting for the concert to begin, I confess I felt a tad uncomfortable. Turning off the critical musician’s ear is possible, but it is neither easy nor is it often done. This makes listening to a friend’s performance a virtual minefield. One wonders whether honesty in such cases truly is the best policy!

Luckily, I have never been in such a position and Saturday night was no exception. Any reservations I may have had were instantly swept away from the first note to the last. I was completely taken in and won over by the masterful blend and balance of this small ensemble. Closing my eyes a couple of times to “drink it in with my spirit,” I thought I was listening to a small group from the Tallis Scholars! I asked Mr. F later if any of the members were professionally trained and he told me that the baritone was currently studying music at Columbia, but the rest are all ordinary professionals with no music training. I was impressed anew with the purity and strength of their sound. If you are in New York and would like to hear them, they sing at the 11am Mass on Sundays. They are on break for the summer but will return in the fall.
Bravo Mr. F and the rest of the Choir of the Church of Notre Dame! I hope to hear more of this lovely choir in the future.

Oremuc pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

22 May 2008

These Vagabond Shoes...

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

Tomorrow, I head up to the Big Apple for a much needed mini-vacation and some quality time with far away friends. Saturday marks the 20th Anniversary of Classical Singer Magazine and I will be attending their Convention in Brooklyn. I am rather looking forward to being in a hotel among 400 divas (not sure what the male version is called ~ divos?) As my dear friend said to me: "Good Lord! Can you imagine!? 400 other me's!!" Ah yes indeed. I am not alone in my drama! I do not know whether to laugh or whine! ;-)
On Saturday evening, I and my friend Diane (that Norwegian goddess!) will endeavor to find our way to the Church of Notre Dame for Mr. F's concert. I am very much looking forward to seeing the church and hearing what promises to be a fantastic evening of music! Mr. F ~ I do hope you will have time for post-concert coffee!
There is wifi on the trip up, but I staunchly refuse to take my laptop. I will have my cell phone, but I am breaking free from the technology ball and chain for a whole three days! Yipee! I shall enjoy talking over the weekend with you once I get back. Til then, ta-ta!

Oremus pro invicem,

08 May 2008

Musica Sacra: Widor Mass, Opus. 36

Music is a means of rapid transportation.
~ John Cage

Don't forget that this Sunday, 11 May 2008, the Saint John the Beloved Latin Choir will be singing the Widor Mass Opus. 36 at noon. It is a piece of music you will not soon forget!
Saint John the Beloved Parish is located at 6420 Linway Terrace, McLean, Virginia 22101.
We hope to see y'all there!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

02 May 2008

A Return to the Land

Chemicals, n: Noxious substances from which modern foods are made.
~ Author Unknown

Both the Washington Post and the Washington Times greeted me this morning with front page stories on the $770 million in food aid that President Bush is asking Congress to approve. The line that caught my attention was this: “the administration denied that corn-for-ethanol subsidies are a major cause of the worldwide surge in food prices.” (Times, 5/2/08). The Post said the same thing: “While nearly all experts agree that increased biofuel production has contributed to escalating food prices, there is little consensus on the scope. Edward Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, argued yesterday that the impact of ethanol on prices was minimal, because corn is a small portion of global food consumption.” (Post, 5/2/08)

Although I am no economic expert, I am a consumer. And an uneasy one at that. Frankly, the denial that increased corn production by a large number of American farmers is NOT contributing to the current food crisis sounds like what it is: denial. Here at home the decision by farmers to turn their fields over to producing as much corn as possible has definitely affected those of us who buy the bulk of our fruits and vegetables at the supermarket. To deny that such a decision has minimal impact is ludicrous. And I have all the proof I need right at home.

My parents are retired and live on a very limited income. It has become more and more expensive to buy fresh, healthy produce. Even for just two people who do not eat a whole lot the grocery bill increases each time they shop. Add to that they live in the country where driving everywhere is a necessity and the bulk of their income is going to food and the gas needed to go buy it.

Thankfully, they still own around four and half acres. So this weekend I will head down for a much needed mini vacation where the only sound I hear at night are the cows and the crickets. But it will not all be rest and relaxation. Since Dad had a pacemaker put in, he cannot do as much as he once did, so yours truly gets the awesome job of bush-hogging one of the fields. And to help them save on produce, I will also put in a vegetable and herb garden for Mom.

They both have incredibly green thumbs. Last summer’s tomato crop left mine in the dust. I expect this year’s yield to be just a good, if not better. And the good news is, it will all be local and organic. So we know that it is not genetically meddled with or injected with drugs or sprayed with toxins.

When I was growing up, we owned a little over five and half acres and at least three of those were vegetable gardens. I could not eat zucchini for the longest time because we grew so much of it! (I like it now….in zucchini bread. ;-)) Because of Mom and Dad's decreased mobility, this year’s garden will not be quite that large. However, I do plan on making it big enough to feed both of them and my household as well (we also plan on having a small city garden ourselves).

The good thing about going back to the land out of necessity is that you rediscover something both beautiful and basic; something you cannot experience or touch when you live in the city: man was meant to till the land and take care of it. And once you get dirt in your blood, there is no getting rid of it. To try to deny it is to deny a primordial need.

And there’s enough denial in this town as it is.
Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela