Twitter is a strange place. Depending on who you follow or what you read in the news on the internet that leads you there, it can be informative and educational. A blog post led me to a tweet where I found this tweeted response And Carol of the Bells is based on a Ukrainian …
Dec 25 2022
Dec 25 2021
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May 04 2020
From the Juilliard School of Dance, Drama, and Music: Creating Bolero: Creating Bolero Juilliard In normal times, Juilliard’s halls are buzzing with collaborations: string quartets, jazz ensembles, and singers rehearsing in practice rooms on the fourth floor; dancers creating new choreography on the third floor; HP students embellishing bass lines together in Room 554, the …
Dec 25 2019
May 24 2015
Back in 1964 musician, songwriter, pacifist, and activist Buffy Saint-Marie wrote the song “Universal Soldier,” one of the best known songs of the anti-war movement of the 60’s. Last week she spent an hour with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Juan González to talk about her music and her activism.
The transcript can be found here
In a Democracy Now! special, an hour of conversation and music with Cree Indian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. In the turbulent 1960s, she was just out of college but already famous for her beautiful voice and moving lyrics in songs like “Universal Soldier” and “Now that the Buffalo’s Gone.” Over the years, Buffy Sainte-Marie has worked with the American Indian Movement, but also with Sesame Street, and even Hollywood, winning an Academy Award for the song “Up Where We Belong” in 1982. She’s won international recognition for her music, has a PhD in fine arts, and began a foundation for American Indian Education that she remains closely involved with. We speak with the folk icon about her life, her music, censorship, and her singing and speaking out about the struggles of Native American peoples for the past four decades. She also performs live in the firehouse studio.
Apr 04 2015
There’s only one time of year when a performance of Handel’s Messiah is chronologically correct and that is Easter.
Oh sure, the First Act deals with the birth of Jesus as fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy and the annunciation of the shepherds, but it’s only one of three. The bulk of them are about his passion and death, his resurrection, and his ascension (Act II); and redemption, the Day of Judgement, general resurrection, and the ultimate triumph over sin and death and the universal acclamation of Christ (Act III).
As a matter of fact that famous Hallelujah Chorus, the only part anyone bothers with generally? Act II Finale.
Sorry to ruin your holiday season folks.
While I’m sure Handel would be gratified by the events that mostly consist of gathering the largest group possible to unmusically caterwaul a tricky piece to do well and one that almost nobody knows the right words to as a testament to his enduring popularity, I suspect that he would agree with me that they are best listened to buried among the mass of performers under the influence of an appropriate amount of ek’smas cheer.
The original work is rather modestly scored for a small orchestra and choir with soloists, to be performed in a hall of medium size. The fashion for large scale performances didn’t start until 1784, 42 years after the debut. It has always commonly been performed for charitable benefits.
Another interesting feature of this piece is that it’s an archetype of Oratorio structure. Handel made his mark on the English musical scene as a composer of Italian Operas which were very popular from 1711 until about 1730. He wrote over 40 of them. He amassed a small fortune but was increasingly dependent on wealthy patrons to stage his oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. One particular sponsor was Charles Jennens who is generally credited with the libretto, which is in English. Handel wrote the music in 24 days.
Now this is not unusual for an Opera and that’s basically what an Oratorio is. The 3 Act structure is exactly the same as the Italian Operas Handel was used to composing and the only distinguishing features are that there are no costumes, there is no acting, and the sacred nature of the subject. Handel had composed similar Oratorios when Opera was temporarily banned in Italy (counter-Reformation Fundamentalism).
Anyway, without further adieu the Messiah, all 2 hours and 38 minutes of it.
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