Sounds and images of the season

December 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm (Art, Christmas, Music)

Christmas music to accompany your viewing:

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Annnunciation, Domenico Beccafumi

 

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Ecce Ancilla Domini, Dante Gabriel Rosetti

 

bartolome_esteban_perez_murillo_023

Annunciation, Bartolome Esteban Perez Murillo

 

Annunciation, Sandro Botticelli

Annunciation, Sandro Botticelli

 

The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner

The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner

 

Madonna of the Magnificat, Botticelli

Madonna of the Magnificat, Botticelli

 

Adoration of the Shepherds, Giorgione

Adoration of the Shepherds, Giorgione

 

St. Joseph and the Christ Child, by Guido Reni

St. Joseph and the Christ Child, by Guido Reni

 

The Alba Madonna, Raphael

The Alba Madonna, Raphael

 

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa

 

 

People Celebrating Kwanzaa

People Celebrating Kwanzaa

 

Child Lighting Hanukkah candles

Child Lighting Hanukkah candles

 

 

Rabbi with a Torah, Marc Chagall

Rabbi with a Torah, Marc Chagall

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa – Happy Everything, and Everyone.

 

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On Christmas: a feast for the ears and eyes – and heart

December 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm (Art, Christmas, Family, Music)

First, the music:

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Then, the gift of great art:

Relfections on the Thames John Atkinson Grimshaw

Reflections on the Thames, by John Atkinson Grimshaw

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Coming home from evening service Samuel Palmer

Coming from Church, by Samuel Palmer

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Holy Family with Lamb, by Raphael

Holy Family with Lamb, by Raphael

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Supper at Emmaus. by Caravaggio

Supper at Emmaus. by Caravaggio

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Images of love, with the profoundest gratitude:

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And finally, the closing scene of A Christmas Carol, with Alistair Sim ‘s somewhat over-the-top portrayal of Scrooge, but in a great cause, in a film that channels Victorian London in a way  that’s almost uncanny. The message could not be more profound: Redemption is always possible, but it’s best not to wait too long. Scrooge almost did. He was lucky.

I’m deeply fortunate to be blessed with so many loving friends and such a marvelous  family. I wish all of you the Merriest Christmas possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas from Books to the Ceiling

December 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm (Art, Christmas, Music)

First, music and dance (You’ll have to endure commercial messages at the start of some of these videos, but I think you’ll find it worth your while):


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(This is a musician’s loving tribute to her father. Watch on YouTube for more details.)
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Dance of the Mirlitons from the Nutcracker, performed by young Russian ballet students:


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I had not heard of the Huron Carol before encountering it in Louise Penny’s How the Light Gets In. Penny’s novel is a story of sin and redemption and the race to make things right, just before Christmas descends upon the magical, almost mythical, village of Three Pines, as it lies knee deep in the snows of Canada.
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Is it possible for something to be almost too beautiful? Listen…


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And finally, the exultant first cantata of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, led by one of the world’s great Bach specialists, Nikolaus Harnoncourt:


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Art inspired by the Christmas story:

Adoration of the Magi, by Diego Velasquez

Adoration of the Magi, by Diego Velasquez

Adoration of the Magi, by Gentile da Fabriano

Adoration of the Magi, by Gentile da Fabriano

Nativity, by Giotto di Bondone

Nativity, by Giotto di Bondone

Adoration of the Shepherds, by Gerard van Honthorst

Adoration of the Shepherds, by Gerard van Honthorst

Adoration of the Magi, by Peter Paul Rubens

Adoration of the Magi, by Peter Paul Rubens

The_Adoration_of_the_Magi_(1726-30);_Sebastiano_Ricci

Adoration of the Magi, by Sebastiano Ricci

Adoration of the Magi, by Sandro Botticelli

Adoration of the Magi, by Sandro Botticelli

Adoration of the Magi - Tapestry by William Morris & Co., designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Adoration of the Magi – Tapestry by William Morris & Co., designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Nstivity with Burnning Bush, by Albert Herbert

Nativity with Burning Bush, by Albert Herbert (British, 1950s)

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For more delightful images inspired by the holiday season, go to one of my favorite sites, In So Many Words…

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9780393051582_p0_v2_s600 I used to think that Dickens’s classic Christmas tale was a bit of lighthearted sentiment. Now I think it’s one of the most profound stories I know. Scrooge’s redemption shows us that it is never too late to change, from a bad person to a good one, from a good one to a better one. Best not to wait too long, though.

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Christmas card

December 22, 2012 at 2:34 am (Art, Christmas, New York City)

Met tree

Click here for the concert that I was privileged to attend on Sunday the 9th, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine assembled before this magnificent Christmas tree, in the Medieval Sculpture Hall. (You can toggle back to the first screen and gaze upon the tree, while listening to the music.)

For more on this music, and on Christmas in New York, click here.

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Christmas in New York City, 2012

December 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm (Art, Christmas, Music, New York City)

It’s been many years since I was in Manhattan at Christmas time. I was there last weekend. Wanting to be as close to the Metropolitan Museum as possible, I stayed at a small hotel on the Upper East Side. There were some delightful decorations along Madison Avenue. The windows of Ralph Lauren’s flagship store were gorgeous!

(The building seen at 00:28 through to 00:34, a French Renaissance revival edifice completed in 1898, is called the Rhinelander Mansion.)

What I was most excited to see was the Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each year the Museum puts up a Christmas tree decorated with eighteenth century figures from Neapolitan Nativity scenes. It’s been many years since I’ve seen this moving and beautiful display.

(Thanks go to my husband Ron for creating the above video montages.)

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Sunday night my friend Helene and I attended a concert at the museum. Directed by Kent Tritle,  the Choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine presented a program of sacred music entitled O Magnum Mysterium (“O Great Mystery’). In all my years of going to the Met, I’d never been there when the museum was not completely open. Certain galleries were lit, especially those that led to the Medieval Sculpture Hall where the concert was to be held. Others were roped off and dark. We came in through the Roman Sculpture Court.

This was the set-up for the performance: metconcert . The choir entered from the right; we heard them before we saw them. They were singing a Gregorian Chant entitled Veni, veni Emanuel. They entered slowly, grouping themselves directly in front of the Christmas tree.

Here, the chant is sung by the Christendom College Choir and the Schola Gregoriana:

Neither photography nor videorecording were permitted on this occasion, so I have selected some YouTube videos of several of the pieces performed by the choir. This setting of O Magnum Mysterium  by Tomas Luis de Victoria is sung by The Sixteen:

Hans Leo Hassler‘s Verbum Caro Factus Est is sung here by Domchor Fulda:

Several of the pieces on the program were by twentieth century composers. I was especially taken by this Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, a composer with whom I was not familiar.

Franz Biebl  1906-2001

Franz Biebl 1906-2001

And I was delighted to find a video of Chanticleer singing this luminous work in the very same space where Sunday night’s concert took place:

I had heard the music of Morten Lauridsen before – specifically, at one of the Bach concerts I regularly attend with my friend Emma. I knew his O Magnum Mysterium would be gorgeous, and it was:

This performance is by the King’s College Choir,  King’s College, Cambridge. It’s accompanied by these comments from the poster:

Probably the best and most moving piece of music I have ever heard. I was lucky enough to be able to watch this on “Carols from Kings” on Christmas Eve 2009 and it left me in tears. The beauty of the harmonies and the control of Kings College Choir transcends all words and I was left in a state of shock quivering and speechless. I have never heard anything like this in all my life! I never want it to end!

The piece that I heard at the Bach Concert earlier this year is called”Dirait-on:”

Can music be too beautiful? For me, “Dirait-on” comes close…..

At the close of the concert, the choir, once again singing Gregorian chant, made its stately way out of the Medieval Sculpture Hall, to the gallery at the right.

Here is Conditor alme siderum, sung by the Schola Gregoriana  Mediolanensus of Milan, Italy:

How could something be so magical? We were transported. O Magnum Mysterium, indeed.

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For Christmas Day: a celebration of music and family, along with a heartfelt thank you.

December 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm (Ballet, Christmas, Family, Music)

The Christmas tree in the Medieval Sculpture Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The music:

“Dance of the Mirlitons” from The Nutcracker, danced by the Kirov Ballet, now once again known as the Mariinsky.. Music is by Tchaikovsky.

Here is a concise history of the Nutcracker Ballet. (An advertisement must be endured at the outset, alas.)

The quaity of this video from the English Baroque Festival is not great, but the costumes and the music – Handel’s Water Music – are quite delightful:

I’ve long loved this video of Luciano Pavarotti and his father Fernando singing Cesrar Franck’s “Panis Angelicus” at the Modena Cathedral. They’re high up in the choir, while the celebrants below receive Holy Communion.

Here, Pavarotti sings the same piece, backed by two choirs, at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Montreal, Canada, in 1978.

Here’s Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” sung by the King’s College Choir of Cambridge University:

Click here for the  “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” from the Great Mass in C, also by Mozart, sung by the English Baroque Soloists, the Monteverdi Choir, and conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, whose lifelong service and devotion to this music deserves the highest praise and gratitude.

Another “Gloria,” this one from the Vivaldi work by the same name. We here Trevor Pinnock at the harpsichord and conducting the English Concert.

And once again we have John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir, and the English Baroque soloists in “Jauchzet, Frohlocket,” the rousing opening of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio:

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The family:

Etta Lin, Erica, and Ben Davis

 This little family has brought us boat loads of joy this year!

I just have to slip this in: It’s Etta’s first school picture! She is currently matriculated  at a Montessori School Daycare, where she is honing her social skills and even learning to dance (now that she’s up on her two feet).

Here is Ron, taking pictures during our England sojourn in May. This is the man who always puts himself in the background while cheering on his (occasional drama queen) wife. I sometimes kid that he’s “the wind beneath my wings,” but the fact is: He is my everything.

And no, I have not forgotten – as she sits patiently awaiting yet another food bowl refill – the dependable provider of comic relief around here (and lots of affection too):

Miss Audrey Jane Marple

I feel deeply blessed and just as deeply grateful. Thank you to  the great artists of the past and present, to my wonderful family.

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Christmas at our house

December 25, 2010 at 9:39 pm (Cats, Christmas)

At our house, Christmas Day has been  spent in morally elevating and intellectually stimulating pursuits, to wit:

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The gift of music, for the season and all year long

December 25, 2010 at 8:55 pm (Christmas, Music)

Enjoy!

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Celebrating the season with music, dance – and the Tooty Ta song!

December 25, 2009 at 6:20 pm (Ballet, Christmas, Music)

For years, I’ve been a great fan of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. First held on Christmas Eve of 1918, this is a comparatively new tradition at Cambridge University – which  this year has been celebrating the eight hundredth anniversary of its founding. (Yes, you read that right – 800!!)

The Chapel of King’s College is one of the chief architectural glories of England.

King's College Chapel, by JMW Turner

Here is how the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols begins:

Additional selections can be viewed here.

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The haunting song “I Wonder As I Wander” has a fascinating history; click here to read about it. Fredericka von Stade sings it in this excerpt from a 1991 Carnegie Hall concert. She is followed by Kathleen Battle, who sings “Mary Had a Baby.”

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Here is our favorite Christmas music in the classical repertoire: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. It is here performed by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists, led by Sir John Eliot Gardner:

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The Nutcracker ballet has become an integral part of most Christmas celebrations. Its history is recounted in this video:

Here is “the Dance of the Mirlitons” in a performance by the Kirov (now the Mariinsky Theatre):

And here is a rather astonishing, seemingly Cossack-inspired version of the Russian dance , choreographed by Alex Kalinin:

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Finally, this has nothing directly to do with the holidays – except to remind us to cherish the children!

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Joys of this – or any season

December 24, 2008 at 7:53 pm (Christmas, Music)

I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday with the gift of music:

Benjamin Britten’s magical, other worldy Ceremony of Carols, sung by the Westminster Cathedral Choir

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Polovtsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor, by Alexander Borodin. Performed by the Kirov Opera and Ballet under the direction of Valery Gergiev

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Nunc Dimittis by Palestrina. Sung by one of the premier early music vocal group of our times, The Tallis Scholars

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Gloria from Bach’s mighty Mass in B minor. Performance by the fabled Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Chorus,  led by Herbert Blomstedt, in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Germany

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I first heard Esto Les Digo, an exquisite choral work by Kinley Lange, at a concert at Christ Lutheran Church in Baltimore on December 7.  Here is it sung by the Traverse City Central High School Choir, Traverse City, Michigan (providing us with yet another reason to keep the arts as a vital force in this country’s public schools).

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Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter, sung by the Edinburgh Singers

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The following clips are from the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, the Christmas Eve service held each year in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.

Grab the round button on the timeline (at the bottom of the video screen) and drag it forward to five minutes. You’ll see the choral scholars serenading the folks who have queued in front of King’s College Chapel, waiting for the service to begin.

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Once in Royal David’s City, the carol with which the service traditionally begins

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In Dulce Jubilo

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Here’s some light entertainment for my fellow cat lovers, or anyone in need of some comic relief!

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Here’s a link to other music posts on this blog:

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Finally, here is Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus, sung by the incomparable Luciano Pavarotti:

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