Mercoledi Musicale

After I had experienced a less than restful night I woke up this morning to find my friend Norm in Upper Granville in the Annapolis Valley had sent me this link. The combination of humans and nature making music in this setting brought the day and life into a focus that was most needed.

Norm and his partner own a wonderful shop that lives up to its name and is filled with Treasures & Collectibles. As with many small businesses they are currently closed on site but all types of goodies show up on their Facebook pages.

And as we know it is the small business – particularly those that often depend on the tourist and drop in customer – that will suffer most in this pandemic. The big box stores will not suffer and Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco will still be around. It is the local entrepreneur that will bear the brunt of the economic fall out. Let’s try and keep that in mind when we do our shopping both online and in person.

The word for May 20th is:
Xylophone /ˈzīləˌfōn/ /ˈzaɪləˌfoʊn/: [noun]
A musical instrument played by striking a row of wooden bars of graduated length with one or more small wooden or plastic mallets.
Mid 19th century name for an ancient Asian and African instrument: from xylon-‘of wood’ + phone – ‘sound’.
One commenter referred to this video as “These trees listen to beautiful music being played on the bones of their dead relatives.” Either a very beautiful or slightly creepy observation. I leave it up to you to decide.

Mercoledi Musicale

Last evening we tried to watch a short concert by two of our favourite young musicians, Sylvie and Bryan Cheng. Also known as Cheng² Duo they are a sister and brother duo from Ottawa that we have heard perform since they were very young – I think Bryan may have been around 10 or 11 when they played at a house concert we attended. I say tried because Facebook froze half way through and no amount of rebooting seems to reactivate the video. Fortunately we have their CDs and also a goodly number of performances are available on YouTube.

Here from their 20126 debut album Violoncelle français is the Allegro vivo from Louis Francoeur’s Sonata No. 4 in E major. The piece was originally written for violin and bass and adapted for cello by Jean-Delphin Alard and Arnold Trowell.

Though they frequently appear as a duo both Sylvie and Bryan has busy solo schedules. On the 2017 tour of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada Bryan was one of the featured soloists. After a bit of a workout with a Shostakovitch cello concerto he would encore with this short piece by Pablo Casal’s arranged by Christ Paul Hartman.

It has been a pleasure to watch the two of them mature as musicians and particularly seeing Bryan graduate from his baby cello to the Canada Council for the Arts’ prized ca. 1696 ‘Bonjour’ Stradivari. And when things return to whatever will be considered “normal” in the future we hope to hear them once again in concert.

The word for May 13th is:
Blarney /blahr-nee/: [noun]
Deceptive or misleading talk; nonsense; hooey.
Blarney is named after the Blarney stone, a stone set high up on the outside of the parapet of Blarney Castle, and accessible to a kisser who desires eloquence only if he or she leans backward over the parapet to kiss the stone.
From the Gaelic an Blarna “the little field”.

Mercoledi Musicale

In these “worst of times” it is often hard to think that there is also a “best of times”. I won’t get all philosophical or sunshine, lollipop and rainbow memeish but there are things in our lives these days – and every day – that are pretty damned good.

Meme /mēm//miːm/ : [noun]
1.1 An element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.
1.2 A humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.
1970s: from Greek mimēma ‘that which is imitated’, on the pattern of gene .
And I looked it up and spell check is right – there is no such word as memeish!

Mercoledi Musicale

I thought of posting something jazzy today – something finger snapping positive and then didn’t the CBC go and play a selection from an album that I hadn’t thought of in years.

Lois Marshall in recital with Sir Earnest MacMillan conducting – memories of my early days of concert going.
Toronto Star Archive Photo

When I was a wee Willy immersing myself in the classic music scene in Toronto there were two names that you could depend on seeing on performances lists throughout the season: Maureen Forrester and Lois Marshall. Though not quite contemporaries they were constants in the concert halls as soloists, and often as a duo. And after a while I’m sure we took them for granted and became blasé about the beauty they gave us. I wish their like were around today.

The text of the song from this 1976 album that CBC played today is attributed to Anne Bullen. It is suggested that the night before her execution on May 19 1536 she sat in her chamber in the Tower of London writing this poem. Though that makes for a lovely store it appears it may have been written by her brother Lord Rochford who was executed two days before his sister. The music is attributed to that prolific talent Anon.

Miss Marshall had been stricken with polio as a child and as a result her mobility restricted her operatic appearances. However the last time I saw her was as Filippyevna, the old nurse in Eugene Onegin at the NAC in 1983. She used two canes and played her little scenes with the grace and beauty of voice that had always been her trademark.

The word for April 29th is:
Minimifidian /ˌmɪ.nɪ.mɪˈfɪ.di.ən/: [1. noun 2. adjective]
1. A person having a minimal amount of faith.
2. Having a minimal amount of faith.
A borrowing from Latin, combined with English elements: Latin minimus, –i– connective, –fidian comb. form.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – 1825
Call me a minimifidian, but I have little faith that Andrew Scheer or Pierre Polievre will ask intelligent questions at today’s sitting of Parliament.

Mercoledi Musicale

I’ve been talking to friends in Rome and a site that I’m on put me in contact with a chap in Parma (one of my favourite cities in Italy – oh who the hell am I kidding there wasn’t a city there I didn’t love!). I am happy to say that everyone I know there is safe and relatively sane*. However I digress – again.

Yesterday was the 2773rd birthday of Rome and to celebrate the day my friend Larry, who is a school teacher there, posted this video on Facebook. This version of E Io Te Amo (And I Love You) could be considered a bit of a love song to the hidden Roma – the video shows not the familiar tourist sites but the Rome I knew and loved: the back alleys and neighbourhoods. Composer-singer Emilio Stella posted it on April 21, 2015 on the birthday of his home town.

*They and my friend Mitchel and his husband in Spain have almost reached the biblically-inspired 40 days that was imposed on travellers in Medieval Venice so any new idiosyncrasies are more than forgivable.

The word for April 22 is:
Curmudgeon /kərˈməjən/ /kərˈmədʒən/: [noun]
1. An ill-tempered person full of stubborn ideas or opinions. (Often a person of more mature years)
2. A miser (archaic)
The word is attested from the late 1500s in the forms curmudgeon and curmudgen, and during the 17th century in numerous spelling variants, including cormogeon, cormogion, cormoggian, cormudgeon, curmudgion, curmuggion, curmudgin, curr-mudgin, curre-megient.
Spell it how you want, it’s how I’m feeling today.