Zebra's Child

Living With Common Variable Immune Deficiency and It's Autoimmune Friends

Category: Music

Schubert Bliss

Almost 7 months to the day since my husband died, I am finding  that a sense of peace often settles over me. I’m not saying that there is not still grief, or that I don’t still miss him. There is, and I still do. But I am finding that as time goes by, I am remembering more and more often our many decades together when he was not sick, and remembering less the awfulness of the illnesses that preceded his dying.

Last night I went with two friends to a small concert venue to hear an evening of music written by Schubert. As an Austrian composer of the late 18th and early 19th century, he was unusual in that he not only composed music for small and large orchestra, but also wrote transcendently beautiful art songs for voice. Saturday was an evening of both.

I am fortunate. Much of music speaks directly to my soul. It bypasses my analytical brain and goes straight to my heart and fills me with a sense of peace and beauty. Sometimes it feels as if the music inhabits me and I sense little boundary between me and it.

Such was last night, and I realized, not for the first time, that the intense grief of my husband’s death has continued to lessen, giving me space to exist in the world. Such is the grace of time, I think, and love. As I sat there fully present in the music, I realized that this is exactly what he would want for me. He would not want me to stop living after his death, but rather fully embrace life for the both of us.

The Music World Has Lost a Titan

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Les fleurs dans Le Jardin des Tuileries

I am deeply saddened by the untimely death of James Horner, a brilliant and prolific film composer. He is perhaps best know for his orchestral score for the film Titanic, but he composed the score for 75 films. I cannot do justice to the depth of his talent, but the best tribute to him that I have read, is  written by Jay, over here.

Requiescat In Pace, James Horner. You will be sorely missed.

“A Pathway to Joy”

This quote comes from an wonderful post by fellow blogger Su Leslie at Zimmerbitch, which is entitled “Pathways to Light.” She ends the post by posting a YouTube link (above), which is an excellent performance of John Rutter’s Requiem Aeternam. Leading in to this video, she writes,

The religious music of John Rutter embodies for me much that is truly good in humanity; a pathway to joy.”  ~Su Leslie

That sentence echoes deep within me, and is a perfect description of how I feel about John Rutter’s music. I have been privileged to perform many of John Rutter’s compositions, but the highlight for me came 6 or 7 years ago when one rehearsal we all walked in and found the score of his Gloria in our boxes. It’s a 20 minute piece, and at the time was by far the hardest piece we had ever performed. I seem to recall that we spent about 2 months learning it, and our musicianship grew tremendously in the process. The second movement, opening with only the men’s voices, is so beautiful that it almost broke my heart, even in that haltingly imperfect first reading. It is the kind of music that haunts me with it’s beauty, and I literally began to hear it in my dreams once we had been rehearsing it for awhile. It was then the kind of piece that is given to you occasionally in your performance life, that stretches your skill almost to the breaking point. The kind of piece that reaches inside and changes you. So that from that point forward, there becomes the way you sang before that piece, and the way you sang after. John Rutter’s Gloria became such a piece for me.

Gloria, by John Rutter:
(You have to click on the tiles on the screen after the first movement finishes (I Allegro) in order to listen to parts II and II. Be careful, as the tiles are not arranged in order. Listen especially to the second movement: II Andante. That is the movement that is the most ethereally beautiful.)

In Requiem

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Les fleurs dans Le Jardin des Tuileries

On Saturday I joined a group of 24 singers to sing for the memorial service of an elderly friend. I didn’t expect to cry as much as I did – I hadn’t put any kleenex in the pocket of my vestments, and had to ask for some from a fellow singer. I hadn’t expected to cry that much because the service was indeed a celebration of a life that had been joyfully and fully lived.

My friend had led a life filled with service to others, and he found some of his greatest pleasure in listening thoughtfully and unhurriedly to people as they worked through both their tangles and their celebrations. He was so present when you talked to him, and his children attested to the fact that he was that way at home as well, both during their childhood and after they became adults. He deeply believed that God was revealed in each of us, and he thought it a privilege to sit in the presence of someone as they talked to him. He was fond of quoting St. Irenaeus using inclusive language; “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

Fully alive. It is what the French mean by the phrase Joie de vivre, although a lot of the meaning is lost in the translation into English. It doesn’t just mean the joy of life. A closer translation would be “the joy of being fully alive.” Being embodied, grounded, delighting in each moment as it comes, whenever that is possible. And when it’s not, whether due to health conditions, pain, trauma or grief, to do our best to still find some beauty or kindness in the world, despite all. Or even more so, perhaps, in the midst of all.

My friend didn’t have a perfect life. None of us do. But he had a way of living fully and delighting in other people’s joy. I met him in his elder years. I wish I had been able to know him when he was younger as well.

I think I cried as much as I did during the service because even though he was at peace and was ready to “cross over the river,” as he phrased it, a beautiful soul has departed this life, and I shall miss him.

Remember to Tune in to the Spring Concert 2015!

And then let me know what you think. Did you like it? What was your favorite piece of music? What sort of music do you like?

We’ve got little something for everyone, so please join us live @ 5:00 PM, PDT!

http://allsaints-pas.org then click on Live Stream.

Enjoy. 🙂

Announcement: Spring Concert 2015 Live Streamed!!!!!

Hi Everyone,

This year for the first time, our Spring Concert is going to be Live Streamed, AND IT IS GOING TO BE FANTASTIC!!!! It will be streamed on June 7, 2015 @ 5:00 PM (17:00) Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). I know this will be in the middle of the night for some of you, but this concert will not be held in a buffer, so if you want to hear some fantastic music, tune in. And let me know how you like it.

  1. Go to this website: http://allsaints-pas.org
  2. Click on Live Stream at the top
  3. Do this about 5 minutes before the concert starts so that you have the screen up and ready for action.
  4. Get ready to have your socks knocked off! 😉

Happy Easter!

I wanted to share with you some of the music we will be singing today. It is Louis Vierne’s Solemn Mass. It is new for most of us, as the last time our choir performed it was 20 years ago, and most of us haven’t been in the choir that long. It is a departure from the masses we normally sing on Christmas and Easter, which are usually by classical composers such as Mozart and Shubert. But Vierne is modern, 1870 – 1937, and his music, while lush, also has a shimmering quality to it at times. Singing it brings forth a mystical illusiveness for me. I hope the music touches something deep within you and gives you strength.

PS – This is the best recording that I have found, but it is only the first 2 movements. You can find the last 3 movements by following the links within Youtube. Enjoy!

All Kinds of Music

Those of you who have been reading for awhile know that I talk about music a lot because it is such an important part of my life. But here is today’s experience.

I was listening to the Metropolitan Opera’s saturday broadcast (yes, I’m one of those people) and during the intermission they were interviewing some of the musicians. I was most especially struck by the interview with  soprano Preity Yende, a rising star from South Africa. She said that the beautiful thing about opera was that it totally immersed you in the music. You could arrive at the opera house feeling happy, sad, ill, anything at all, and after the opera was over, no matter what, you would feel better. And that’s the way I feel about singing.

Whether you are an opera fan or not, please listen to this gorgeous voice. And enjoy!

But you also know that I love a 500 year span of music. So, least you think that I am a total music snob, let me share a link to a John Legend song that I like for a double reason. I mean, beyond the fact that he has a gorgeous voice. One: it is a call to action for each of us. Something I have been behind since I could think. Two: it is a sort of love song to NYC. Now how can you beat that? So here you are: The Roots – Wake Up Everybody, featuring Melanie Fiona and Common.

And to my US readers, you all caught the Oscar Awards performance of John Legend’s and Common’s Glory from the picture Selma, right? Right??? If you didn’t, head over here and take a listen!

Spring Concert Music #3

Since last night was a rehearsal night, I want to share some music with you today. This is by George Friderick Handel (1685-1759), so it is from the Baroque period of music. We performed Movements 6&7 of this for our concert last spring. That section starts at minute 12:05 in the recording. Movement 7 is particularly fun to sing, as you will see. (Or should I say, hear.)

O Sing Unto the Lord, Chandon Anthem No. 4, by George Friderick Handel

PS: The choir in this recording is about the same size we are when both of our adult choirs are combined.

PPS: The grid that comes up once the recording is finished gives you several recordings of additional works by Handel.

Enjoy xoxo

My Valentine to You

My husband and I are up in the San Francisco Bay Area for the long weekend visiting our older daughter, son-in-law, and brilliant 15 months old grand baby. I am going to take the long weekend off, but wanted to leave you all with a valentine. Which, of course, is music. This is a piece that we performed last Sunday when our choir sang the Evensong service. It is by Sid Robinovitch, and the words are taken from the Babylonian Talmud. It is music that I feel deep in my soul, it is so hauntingly moving. And for those of you who are observing Shabbat, I hope this music will bring you peace. See you Tuesday.