Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Favorite Music

The lovely Elizabeth of The Country Handmaiden recently posted a roundup of her favorite musical artists, and I thought "ooh, I like this idea," and so am copying her.  With permission, of course.

You already know a bit about my musical tastes from my long-neglected Song Saturday series, but I've sort of changed a bit since then.  I think.  Do you ever find that after a while you just get really tired of hearing the same music over and over again?  I do.  And then I take a nice long break from it, and sometimes I start liking it again afterwards.  Sometimes not.  It depends.  (Oh frailty,  thy name is Victoria.)

Cécile Corbel

She's from Brittany in France and sings in many languages, including French, English, Breton, Spanish, and even Turkish.  I'm kind of in awe of her command of languages, and I love her accent.  She's definitely my favorite singer - for now.

I had a really hard time choosing a song to embed here.  "Maybe I should do one in Breton so they can see how intriguing that language is...nah, that might be too weird for an introductory song.  I wish My Lullaby was on Youtube. Should  I do one with a video?  Sometimes music videos actually spoil the effect..."  One of her songs, En La Mar, has a video which I quite like, but I think the song may have some inappropriate lyrics, so I didn't want to do that one.  It's in Spanish, which I cannot say that I speak, so I'm not entirely sure, but I can pick up a few words...I dunno.  I should just ask a Spanish-speaker to tell me.  Anyway, the one I did post, Sweet Song, is one of the first songs of hers that I heard, and every time I hear it I just really want to write a fairy-tale story.  The lyrics suggest it.  Only I've never tried a fairy-story and don't think I'd be good at it.

Some other favorite songs of hers are My Lullaby, C'hoant Dimien, The Great Selkie, and Mary.  Oh, forget it, I like basically all of her songs.

Regina Spektor

You might know her from the film adaptation of Prince Caspian, where her song The Call was used in the last scenes and into the credits.  It's a lovely song, almost certainly her most beautiful.

I do have to put a warning here, though.  Not all her songs are good, by far.  I've come across some with swearing, and one or two with immoral subject-matter.  So just be aware of that if you search her on Youtube or anything.  Once you find the good ones, though, she's an interesting artist.  Very quirky, and her songs never really quite make sense.  She can do pretty amazing things with her voice, and she too has a cool accent - she's Russian-born, Jewish, and lives in New York.  That makes for an intriguing pronunciation.  Oh, and you want to talk about weird music videos?  SHE has WEIRD music videos.

(This song, Eet, is definitely the least-weird music video of hers.)  Other songs of hers that I like are Fidelity, The Calculation, Us, Folding Chair, Time is All Around, and How, for starters.


Anúna is an Irish choral group and is awesome.  (You might remember them from my first Song Saturday.)Besides having gorgeous voices, if you go to their Youtube channel and read the comments you will see how snarky and humorous they are.  That might not be a good thing to everybody, but I really get a kick out of it.
Ahem.  Anyway.  They sing mostly traditional pieces in English, Gaelic, and Latin - often medieval religious texts set to music by Michael McGlynn (the one kneeling down in the picture), or pieces written entirely by him.  Their music is just so peaceful and lovely.

This is The Wild Song, which I like to lie on my bed and listen to with my eyes closed, just imagining out the mental images suggested by the lyrics.  (Don't I have constructive hobbies?) Other good songs are Siuil a Ruin, The Rising of the Sun (Eiri na Griine), Pie Jesu, Greensleeves/Scarborough Fair, Dulaman, etc. etc. etc.  (Sorry, getting a bit bored typing it all out and remembering the names of things!)

Loreena Mckennitt

Unfortunately I must once again put a warning here.  This time it's religion.  Though after research I found that Loreena McKennitt herself doesn't practice any religion, a lot of her songs are very pagan.  So just keep that in mind.  

She sings a lot of poems and old folk songs (or songs based on folk tales), often with unusual instrumental accompaniment such as Eastern instruments or electric guitar.  She also does some Turkish/Middle-Eastern type pieces and, as I mentioned, New Age-y things, which I'm not fond of.

 This is The Highwayman, one of my absolute favorites.  I really don't know why, but I am fascinated by the legend(s) of the Highwayman.  I usually turn away in disgust from "bad boy" heroes, but I find the various incarnations of the highwayman mesmerizing.  Help?
Other favorites are The Lady of Shallot (which I have posted about before), The Bonny Swans, Dante's Prayer (which makes me want to lie on the floor and sob every time I hear it),  and The Mummers' Dance, which hopefully is not pagan.  I can't figure that one out, but I think it's okay.  (Also right now I'm listening to Caravanserai, which is pretty good.)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I know, it's totally typical to like Mozart.  Why couldn't I like some cool obscure composer?  But, to be honest, I have trouble appreciating classical music (which is shameful), and somehow I've don't have trouble with Mozart.  I always think of him as the Baroque Taylor Swift, which I suppose is highly insulting and probably not true.

Piano Concerto no. 21 is probably my very favorite piece - and since we're doing Victoria Confesses To Being A Snob I will admit that I very much enjoy saying airily, "Oh, yes, my favorite Mozart piece is his Piano Concerto no. 21. Oh, you've never heard of it?  You should look it up."  Yes, bad me.  Sorry.  
My other favorite Mozart pieces are Exsultate Jubilate, Serenade no. 10, Symphony no. 40, Horn Concerto no. 4, and, possibly second favorite of all, Requiem in D minor.  I do not think it's morbid to like requiems.

Well, I do believe that is enough for one post.  I left out strictly religious music, which seems like it shouldn't really be mingled with the common crowd.  That'll have to be its own post someday.

Tell me all about your favorite music, or better yet, do your own post about it!  I love discovering new things.  Also tell me what you think of my selection.  Did you discover something you liked?  Something you disliked? (I'm fine with criticism.)  I'd love to know.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Long-Expected Adventure

I promised that I'd post about my visit to St. Joseph's Novitiate, so here you go.

The flying went pretty well.  I didn't get onto the wrong plane, go to the wrong terminal, or anything like that.  I ate many complimentary packages of peanuts and pretended to be a seasoned traveler who thinks no more of taking a plane than she thinks of taking a car.  It all went very smoothly on my way up until I got to Albany and discovered that there were about two feet of snow on the ground.  In my Southern ignorance I hadn't brought boots of any kind, so I went skipping through the parking lot in thin little ballet flats.  Luckily, when I got to the convent Sr. Mary Clare, the Novice Mistress, lent me a pair of extra boots, perhaps kept there for just such careless visitors as myself.  

I had a lovely time at the convent.  I rarely felt awkward and uncomfortable - I usually do in unfamiliar situations - and it just all flowed so smoothly.  That is not to say that it wasn't busy - oh gracious me, no.  Here's what the schedule's like:
You get up at 5:30 A.M to the ringing of the bell.  After 30 minutes to get ready, you head to the chapel, and Prime is sung/recited.  After that is half an hour of meditation.  Then comes Mass.  After Mass, about fifteen minutes for thanksgiving after Communion, then back inside to prepare breakfast, which starts at 8:15.  After breakfast there are chores - laundry, preparing lunch, housework.  The novices and postulants often have sewing, and the professed sisters have their own work to attend to - various things, I'm not sure exactly what they do, except a lot of them have office work.  Sometime during the morning, there are separate classes for postulants and novices.  Then, at 11:45 the bell rings for Sext, and all the Sisters file back into the chapel for that.  Then comes lunch - and by that time I was pretty ready for it.  During lunch, and usually dinner as well, one of the novices reads stories of the saints.  The Sisters are not supposed to talk at all during meals.  
After lunch and cleanup is the first recreation period of the day - about 45 minutes in which to chatter like crazy, play games, or go for a walk. Because there is partial silence for most of the day, recreation is usually pretty noisy!  
After recreation there's Rosary, then chant practice.  Then you finish up leftover chores from the morning, or do new ones, until free time at 3:50, during which you can get a "collation" - religious terms for coffee or tea.  There is a lot of coffee made in  that convent.  After free time there is a special time for spiritual reading - one of my favorite parts of the day.  The Sisters have an extensive library and so many good books that it's nearly impossible to choose.
Spiritual reading is all too short - only 35 minutes.  At 5:00 you go back to the chapel for Holy Hour, which is one of the Sisters' most important duties.  During the Holy Hour, one makes a meditation and does other prayers, comforting Our Lord in His loneliness and asking His pardon for sinners.  Kneeling that long, motionless, was really hard for me, but it's definitely worth it.  If God died on a cross for me, I can certainly kneel and keep still for one hour for Him!  
After Holy Hour and the Angelus comes dinner.  Like I said, dinner is usually silent, but sometimes an exception is made, like for a Sister's feast day.  Then it's a very merry meal indeed.  On normal, "silent" days, it's followed by cleanup and the second period of recreation.  After that, there's a period for study (which I didn't take part in) and then Compline and bed.  Lights out is at 9:45.

So yep, that's what the day is like.  It may sound hard, but it's just perfect in reality.  For me, anyway.  I was quite annoyed about the inevitable coming home.  

On the way home, I had an adventure.  My flight from Baltimore went right though a thunderstorm.  (And I did get to fly during sunset after all!)  At first I was excited about the thunderstorm - I love them, on the ground.  It gradually got very dark, and very turbulent.  The pilot made the flight attendants sit down, and nobody was allowed to get up.  For a while it was quite fun, but then the turbulence got REALLY BAD.  I mean clutch-the seat-in-front-of-you-and-try-not-to-get-bashed-against-the-window bad.  And then I saw a lightning bolt explode near my window.  At that point I confess I got rather frightened and mentally screamed Hail Marys, Acts of Contrition, and Memorares until we landed. 
It was pretty cool, to be honest.

So that was my adventure.  I'm ever so grateful for it, and I miss the dear Sisters dreadfully.  I fully intend to see them again before too long.

the view from my plane window, BEFORE the storm.

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