Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ēriks Ešenvalds where have you been all my life?

I have a new favorite choral composer -- Ēriks Ešenvalds. Our next Providence Singers concerts, May 13th and 14th feature all Scandinavian or Baltic composers. Ešenvalds is a contemporary Latvian composer and his work is like nothing I've sung before. We are doing two pieces by him, Northern Lights and In Paradisum -- and first I thought Northern Lights was my favorite, but now I am also falling in love with In Paradisum.  Both pieces are both ancient and modern. Northern Lights is a musical depiction of the experience of seeing the Northern Lights for the first time and uses a traditional Latvian folk song to start and end the piece. The tune of this folk song calls out to my soul in a way that some tunes -- and for me bagpipes -- do. Maybe I was Latvian in another life? The rest of the text for the song is from a 19th century poem written by a sailor experiencing the Northern Lights for the first time. Some of us are playing water tuned glasses in this piece -- the sound they make is eerie and evocative. You can listen to the piece here and read more about it here. I enjoyed the composers TEDx talk seeing the Northern Lights and being inspired to composing this piece. If you watch until the end (or skip to the end) you can see him singing the Latvian folk song and playing a water tuned glass! 

In Paradisum is a quite different experience to listen to. I'm so in love with and moved by it right now that I'm putting it on a list of music I'd love played or performed at my funeral. Parts of it are gorgeous and other parts are jarring -- but that's okay -- it works for me. The cello part is amazing. Its a capella with as many as 8 vocal parts at once and we get no help from the string instruments. It's a challenge, but so worth it. I'm off to practice it now. You can listen to it here, and read more about it here. 

Have a great weekend, and if you are in Rhode Island or nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut please come to one of our concerts! 


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saying Happy Easter with "Ubi Caritas III | Sacred Heart" by Ola Gjeilo

Today is Easter, The day Christians celebrate that Christ is Risen from the day. It's a day of resurrection and of hope & joy and promise.

In celebration I'd like to share this gorgeous Ola Gjeillo piece which is just one of several Gjeillo pieces we are singing at our next Providence Singers concert in May. I am really loving learning and rehearsing this music which is both challenging and so beautiful.

Happy Easter to you and enjoy the music and text. We are singing this in Latin, the English translation is below. For the Latin and more information on other musical settings of Ubi Caritas check out this article. There are also terrific program notes on the Providence Singers website here.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time, therefore, are gathered into one:
Lest we be divided in mind, let us beware.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease.
And in the midst of us be Christ our God.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time we see that with the saints also,
Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good, Unto the
World without end. Amen.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Invisible Work Load That Drags Women Down

So I've been trying to explain this very concept for awhile now and this author has nailed it. This is exactly it -- read the whole article. No wonder I have felt so overwhelmed since I went back to work 40 hours a week over two years ago -- with a 50 minute commute each way tacked on. I'm not sure what the solution is besides giving up work and running the household full-time -- or alternatively going on strike. Don't get me wrong -- I have a terrific husband and daughter and they both pitch in a lot -- but I'm still managing most of the nitty gritty and doing the remembering.

The article begins with referencing Ellen Seidman's blog post on this topic which is in the form of a poem for Mother's Day.  Here's how it continues:

More of the Mental Work

Walzer found that women do more of the intellectual, mental, and emotional work of childcare and household maintenance. They do more of the learning and information processing (like researching pediatricians).

They do more worrying (like wondering if their child is hitting his developmental milestones). And they do more organizing and delegating (like deciding when the mattress needs to be flipped or what to cook for dinner).

Even when their male partners “helped out” by doing their fair share of chores and errands, it was the women who noticed what needed to be done. She described, in other words, exactly the kind of work that Seidman’s poem captures so well.
Seidman isn’t complaining. Her poem is funny and sweet and clearly driven by a love for her family, husband included. And, to be fair, while women who are married to or cohabiting with men do more domestic work than their partners, husbands spend proportionally more time on paid work. Today the amount of sheer hours that men and women spend in combined paid and unpaid work is pretty close to equal.

But that doesn’t count the thinking.
Husbands may do more housework and childcare than before, but women still delegate:
Honey, I’m going to be out of town for the weekend. Remember that the pediatrician’s number is on the fridge, we’re expecting a package on Saturday and you should intercept it if you can, Susan has a sleepover at Amy’s later that night and I wrote the address in your calendar, Scotty has a piano lesson on Sunday at 10 so don’t let him sleep in, the number for Mikey’s Pizza is programmed into your phone, and the flower bed out back could really use some weeding if you’re up to it.

No wonder wives have the reputations of being nags. Even a person who was perfectly happy to do household work might get tired of being wrangled by a half-frantic taskmaster.
Like much of the feminized work done more often by women than men, thinking, worrying, paying attention, and delegating is work that is largely invisible, gets almost no recognition, and involves no pay or benefits.

'Superpower' or No?
Seidman suggested she had a “seeing superpower” that her husband and children did not. But she doesn’t, of course. It’s just that her willingness to do it allows everyone else the freedom not to. If she were gone, you bet her husband would start noticing when the fridge went empty and the diapers disappeared. Thinking isn’t a superpower; it’s work. And it all too often seems only natural that women do the hard work of running a household.
We have come a long way toward giving women the freedom to build a life outside the home, but the last step may be an invisible one, happening mostly in our heads.
It’s about housework, yes, but it extends to having to consider what neckline, hemline, height of heel, and lipstick shade is appropriate for that job interview, afternoon wedding, or somber funeral, instead of relying on an all-purpose suit; it’s about thinking carefully about how to ask for a raise in a way that sounds both assertive and nice; it’s about worrying whether it’s safe at night and how to get home; for some of us, it involves feeling compelled to learn feminist theory so as to understand our own lives and, then, to spend mental energy explaining to others that the revolution is unfinished.

To truly be free, we need to free women’s minds. Of course, someone will always have to remember to buy toilet paper, but if that work were shared, women’s extra burdens would be lifted. Only then will women have as much lightness of mind as men.
And when they do, I expect to be inspired by what they put their minds to.

Read all of the article by Lisa Wade here:

Friday, March 3, 2017

Some people suck -- but others write incredibly beautiful poetry and music

So I'm in a mood -- a bad one. We just got a letter from the Division of Taxation in RI that someone filed a tax return using our information, but they suspect it's not use because of our past pattern of filing. Of course I opened the letter on Friday evening and can't do a darned thing about this until they open on Monday at 8:30am.  Oh, and they noted that I should check with the IRS in case they also filed a federal tax return -- oh Goodie.

This coming week is insanely busy. Work is super busy so not much time there to handle any of this identity theft hassle there. It's concert week with Providence Singers where we have two extra rehearsals -- for a total of three weeknights of rehearsals -- for our two concerts on March 11 and 12, "Music For Chorus and Percussion".  Good thing the music we are singing for this concert is filled with some of the most gorgeous poetry, and while some of the music is a bit too modern for my taste, much of it is simply glorious. So, I shall concentrate on the better aspects of humanity as I practice and live with this music for the next week. I honestly feel sorry for those people who spend their lives engaged in fraud and crime and the search for easy money.

One of my favorite poems and pieces from this concert is Abide by Dan Forrest, composed just last year in 2016. The music is set to this poem by Adam York (1972-2012)
Forgive me if I forget
with the birdsong and the day’s
last glow folding into the hands
of the trees, forgive me the few
syllables of the autumn crickets,
the year’s last firefly winking
like a penny in the shoulder’s weeds,
if I forget the hour, if I forget
the day as the evening star
pours out its whiskey over the gravel
and asphalt I’ve walked
for years alone, if I startle
when you put your hand in mine,
if I wonder how long your light
has taken to reach me here.

Here's what the Providence Singers program notes say about this piece:

Poet Jake Adam York is known for verse that elegizes martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement. His poem “Abide” was inspired by Thelonius Monk’s recording of the classic funereal hymn “Abide With Me.” About his setting of York’s poem, Forrest has written:

“My setting hints at that hymn and seeks to evoke a sense of Americana on a warm late-summer evening. Inspired by York’s own direct manner of reading his own poetry, I chose to set most of his text in a rather homophonic and syllabic style, surrounding it with richer textures which envelop and embrace his own honest voice. ... York’s poem is worth pondering deeply on many levels, and I hope this musical setting enables repeated and ever-deeper reflection on the work of this gifted poet.

You should come to our concert to hear us, but if you can't wait that long, listen to this YouTube recording. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Digital Scrapbooking and other weekend pursuits

So, yes I really need to be wrapping Christmas gifts, or food shopping, or something, but I just finished up a digital scrapbook page that I started yesterday. It's been a while since I made one and I've been missing it. Most of my non-work time is taken up with singing in Providence Singers or church choir, or being a Mom and wife, but I'm glad I made time for this today. The page I made is for Emma's Confirmation back in October.

I spent a lot of yesterday working selling tickets at dress rehearsal for Emma's dance studio's Holiday Show, and then attending the show. As usual the Ballet Center put on a terrific, fun and professional performance. Emma was in several numbers. I didn't take any photos because I was working, but here  are some that other people took. The costumes and music were so festive that it really put me in the mood. Plus I got to sit with my Goddaughter and her family and cousins and they really enjoyed the show too. So many things are more festive with younger kids -- especially during the Holidays. My Goddaughter was wearing some fun Christmas jewelry that reminded me of my Grandmother Barley. She hasn't been with us since 1998, but she always wore special Christmas jewelry. It turns out my Goddaughter's belonged to her great-grandmother -- so same vintage as I remembered. So, I sent up a little prayer for my Grandmother yesterday too.