Sir Hubert Parry: Jerusalem; Under the Greenwood Tree

21 09 2009

It’s a two-for-one day!

by Scott St. George (used under Creative Commons)

picture by Scott St. George (used under Creative Commons)

And did those feet in ancient times walk upon England’s mountains green?

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (referred to as C.H.H. Parry or Sir Hubert Parry) does not have the same name recognition, perhaps, as some of his contemporaries or successors (Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Finzi, or Quilter, to name a few) despite his distinguished positions at the Royal College of Music and Oxford University. Regardless, his noble, stately setting of William Blake’s poem, Jerusalem,  has become something of an unofficial English national anthem.

Dame Felicity Lott was one of the first lyric sopranos I ever heard who grasped me with not just her beautiful voice, but also with herability to really communicate a text; I still remember her vividly as Pamina in the video of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and as Anne Truelove in the recording of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. So when I came across her 2004 CD of English Song, entitled “My Own Country,” I knew I had to feature it, especially when combined with a discovery of a vast public domain treasure trove of songs by Parry.

Under the Greenwood Tree is another great example of Parry’s ability to create a sound-world in music that echoes the mood of the text. The music is playful throughout, but the enemies of “winter and rough weather” sound stark, though not particularly threatening.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
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Giovanni Maria Bononcini: Deh piú a me non v’ascondete (Hide from me no more)

17 09 2009

by Paul J Everett (under Creative Commons)

by Paul J Everett (under Creative Commons)

“You could bring this soul out of sorrow”

When it comes to teaching, I’ve got the 24 Italian Songs and Arias down, but there are quite a few out of the Anthology of Italian Song of the 17th & 18th Centuries that I’m not as familiar with. Playing them through at the piano is one thing, but hearing is quite another. “Italian Thursday” will be heavily weighted toward exploring this volume in the coming weeks.

Bononcini’s Hide from me no more has both a grace and a playfulness to it. Dame Janet Baker’s is on the graceful side, while this unknown recording on YouTube tends toward the playful. The music, with its running notes at the end of phrases, seems to suggest the “sorrow” the singer mentions isn’t terribly serious.

Translation behind cut

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Music and technology — Eric Whitacre: Sleep

16 09 2009

I’m using the Concordia College Faith, Reason, and World Affairs Forum to begin posting again. It’s my new place of employment, and this blog is one way in which I answer the following question:

This summer, I sang with the Utah Festival Opera, and it became painfully obvious how integrated technology has become in the arts world. The entire apartment complex had complimentary (although slow) Wi-Fi. Email was the backbone for all official and professional communication. News was received via the web, be it through individual web pages or through an aggregator like Netvibes or Google Reader, or by streaming audio/video or Podcasts. We saw the wide reach of the web when the director of the company was both lauded and vilified in comments made on the local paper’s site.

When it came to communicating directly, I wasn’t surprised that those with iPhones and GooglePhones always seemed to be a step ahead of the rest of us. I watched one colleague use his new account on Google Voice to set up a NYC phone number that would forward to his Houston-based cell phone for business purposes. The number of people who used Skype surprised me, and the fact that one colleague used Skype to take lessons from a teacher in New York City proved to me that we have moved into a new era of communication.

Less formally, everyone (including the artist coordinator) used Facebook to keep in touch with friends far away and friends just around the corner — my upstairs roommate and I would have entire Facebook conversations in the comment sections of a friend’s photo or status update after our other roommates had gone to bed. Texting was more than a luxury; I couldn’t have coordinated rides to the theatre or been alerted to an impromptu gathering without it. Twitter and FriendFeed hadn’t really caught on with the artists, but I tried them out, which left my personal journal virtually abandoned. I did some virtual gardening via Flickr — I was able to look at pictures of my garden and say what needed to be pulled and what needed to be kept.

We relaxed to shows and movies on Hulu, or the latest delivery from NetFlix, or to MMO video games like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Team Fortress. Some liked to kick it old-school and play old DOS, Nintendo, Sega, and arcade games on their laptops backstage, while others played games on their phones. Pandora provided the soundtrack to many evening get-togethers. No gathering was complete without sharing YouTube videos, both the ridiculous and the sublime.

It is in that spirit, then, that I want to look at what the web has allowed us to do. It serves as inspiration; it allows for individual expression; most impressively, it allows us to collaborate in new and unique ways. The way that these singers have been brought together into this one video is, to me, one of the most amazing uses of “Web 2.0” techniques I have ever seen. Technology can be overstimulating, but it can also be positively transcendental.


(I know this isn’t technically an art song, but Wednesdays on this blog are “wildcard Wednesdays” and this was too cool not to share)