Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Never hope in any other

Tallis, from Wikimedia Commons

Lots of driving this weekend resulted in multiple listenings to Thomas Tallis’s great motet “Spem in alium”. Calling for a minimum of 40 singers, it’s considered a pinnacle of Renaissance polyphonic choral music (which as far as I’m concerned is already a pinnacle).

I wish the dial on the car radio would go up to 11. As it was I was afraid I would blow out my speakers, not to mention my eardrums. Tallis (1505-1585) was possibly a recusant Catholic, a dangerous critter to be in Elizabethan England. But thank goodness she must not have objected to setting Latin texts, and so we have this work for 8 choirs of 5 voices each – soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass in modern arrangements.

I have recordings by the Tallis Scholars and King’s College Cambridge. Based on a rave review in the Gramophone, I bought a recording by the group Magnificat. Here’s a link to possibly the largest performance in history — over 700 singers in Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, recorded by the BBC in 2006. What’s missing, at least on my laptop, is a sense of the extraordinary effects big stereo speakers can bring. But it’s fun to watch, and now there are even flash mobs performing it.

Man, would I love to see that. It will be performed on March 28th at St. Ignatius Loyola in New York.

Spem in alium nunquam habui praeter in te
Deus Israel
qui irasceris
et propitius eris
et omnia peccata hominum in tribulatione dimittis
Domine Deus
Creator coeli et terrae
respice humilitatem nostram
I have never put my hope in any other but in You,
O God of Israel
who can show both anger
and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
Lord God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth
be mindful of our lowliness
(original and translation from Wikipedia)
Advertisements

The Peachoid

Li’l Gaffney, SC, my home town, has unexpectedly found itself in the thick of the Republican primaries. Opponents of Mitt Romney are focusing on the closure of a photo scrapbook factory in 1992. It closed with 150 jobs lost after being acquired by Bain Capital, the private equity firm headed by Romney. But according to the New York Times, most people in Gaffney hardly remember the plant and are rather embarrassed by all the attention it has drawn.

Here’s a link to the Times article, and here’s their slideshow of Gaffney. I haven’t lived in Gaffney for many years and since my parents are no longer alive, I only get back occasionally for Vassy family reunions and Gaffney High School reunions. But I certainly know Henry Jolly and Cody Sossamon, who are in the slideshow, and I keep up with some old Gaffney pals via Facebook.

The photo is of the Peachoid, the world’s largest water tower in the shape of a peach, and a landmark to anyone traveling along I-85 in South Carolina. I took it on a GHS class reunion trip.

Merry Christmas, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone, from Cleve and Jenny. We’re at Litchfield Beach, SC, enjoying a mini-family reunion. Here’s a slide show.

Our annual Christmas letter is on the page tabbed above.

Have a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!

 

Cucalorus swamps Wilmington

The 17th Cucalorus film festival is nearing the end of its 4-day run in Wilmington. It’s a wide-ranging assortment of mostly small and independent films that brings together a pretty diverse crowd of old and new Wilmington, film students, industry craftspeople and (perhaps best of all) the filmmakers themselves. Like all good festivals, there’s way too much to take in, so you either plan excruciatingly or just kind of stumble into things. We chose the latter, and were richly rewarded.

The one big ticket we’d heard about was We Need to Talk about Kevin, a hit at the Cannes film festival. It’s a disturbingly intense story of a mother who, try as she might to construct a ‘normal’ life for her family, knows in her heart that something is really wrong with her son – and perhaps her. Tilda Swinton’s icy coolness is perfect for the part; the sound and scene design, non-linear story line and terrific acting add up to a kind of suburban horror story — but one that’s not supernatural, which makes it all the more chilling.

The 5 films grouped together as Zaragoza Shorts were a somewhat unexpected treat. I went in thinking that if only one or two of them were any good the evening would be well spent, but each in its own way was memorable. Even better, the filmmakers of 4 of them were present and spoke at a Q&A afterwards. We saw:

  • Jesus was a Commie, based on a magazine piece by, and starring, Matthew Modine. A meditation on non-violent revolution and how far we have gone astray from the teachings of Jesus. Really more of an illustrated essay – but at least intriguingly illustrated, and thoughtful.
  • Gilded Age Gladiator, an animated story of the 19th-century boxer John L. Sullivan. Coming in the week of Joe Paterno’s firing from Penn State, it was a timely story of the symbiotic intersection of money, media and sports.
  • Waiting Room. This film (less than 10 minutes long) is about – well, it’s about a man who waits in a room. Powerful and suspenseful results from a very spare minimalist esthetic. Not one frame, not one sound is wasted, nor more than needed. Here, more would have been less.
  • Manhattan Melody. Holly is a bored, unfulfilled aspiring actress in New York City, whose romantic dreams erupt from interior monologues to song. A chance encounter with potential danger seems to offer an escape. Will it?
  • I’m Coming Over. Perhaps the most off-beat of the night, and the funniest – a sweet postcard to the filmmaker’s adopted home town. Is there something wrong with your life? Is it possible the solution involves lumberjacks and chainsaws? Only, we learn, if you’re not clumsy. And what’s the deal with the typewriters and telephones?

I realized in writing this that it’s been a long time since I posted. I must have been spending a lot of my tech time with Facebook and/or my new smartphone. It’s easy to post to Facebook from the phone. I should try to post to the blog from it.

Blasted hemlocks

Update: more photos from this year’s trip; video on my Facebook page.

This is a hemlock in North Carolina’s Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, blasted to smithereens by the U.S. Forest Service. All along the 2-mile trail, which we hike each year on our trip to Snowbird, are these blasted stumps.

Apparently the Forest Service fears that they might fall on hikers, so they took ’em down. In places it looks like a devastated moonscape. It will likely be years before it recovers. The hemlocks have been blighted by the invasive insect called the woolly adelgid. The lower trail is startingly bare, but the upper loop with the giant hundreds-year-old poplars is in much better shape. Ironically, with so many hemlocks now down, you begin to realize how many of them are still standing – dead, of course.

Wilmington StarNews

We got through Hurricane Irene in pretty good shape, all in all. There was a lot of wind and rain from the storm, which made its closest approach to Wilmington (about 80 miles) in the middle of Friday night/Saturday morning August 26/27. But there was little real damage compared to what was feared.

We went to bed Saturday night with strong winds and rain, and woke to calm blue skies. The photo, from the Wilmington StarNews online, is from an area not too far from both the apartment and the rented house we’ll move to in a couple of weeks.

The biggest problem for most people was probably loss of power. At one point early Saturday Progress Energy was reporting that over 50% of customers in New Hanover County were without power. We were without power at the apartment for something less than 24 hours (I was at WHQR, on the air, for much of that time). But we got power back at about 10 pm Saturday. Cable came back this morning, and Internet service a bit later.

This was my first hurricane. To tell the truth, we’ve seen more problems in Cincinnati with the Hurricane Ike windstorm and some blizzards. But we were lucky — hurricanes are frightening, and many people in Irene’s path weren’t so fortunate.

John enrolled for his Master’s program at Manhattan School of Music today. It’s in a great location, off 120th Street in the Upper West Side, between Riverside Drive and Broadway. We’re very excited for him (and he’s excited already). You can see a slideshow here.

Jenny and I drove him up and spent the night Tuesday night with our friends Janet and Gary at their farm in Bucks County, PA. We were lucky for a move-in day: great weather, some traffic inbound but not bad, and I even managed to find a parking spot about 50 yards from his residence, the International House.

We were not far from the epicenter of the great (?) Virginia earthquake on Tuesday the 23rd, but never felt a thing. On Thursday we head back to Wilmington to see about Hurricane Irene.

Whew!