Category Archives: Music

Weddings and Rice

As I was walking out of the co-op the other day, I looked down to see a large splotch of rice in the parking lot. The kind of splotch that can only be achieved by having your bag of rice break open while you’re carrying it to the car (you can guess why I know this).  My first thought was that the local birds would be happy but then I remembered that supposedly uncooked rice is bad for birds, which is why they throw birdseed now at weddings.

Then when I got home, I discovered that YA had received TWO “save-the-date” cards.

Wedding reminder #3 was when I was watching Cake Boss that night and one of the bakers (sorry I don’t watch this enough to know any of their names) was celebrating a milestone anniversary with a big party and a wedding cake. When the couple began to cut the cake and feed each other, I cringed, hoping they wouldn’t smash the cake into each other’s faces.  I detest that.

So all these wedding reminders in one day made me think about weddings how the traditions have changed over the years. My first wedding, which was completely orchestrated by my mother, was fairly traditional.  Church, gown, reception, cake (unsmashed), lots of people I didn’t know.  My second wedding was the exact opposite, we met the judge at  Good Earth restaurant and were married at the table with our server, Philip and the server from the next section, Sarah, as our witnesses.  Honeymoon at Day tons that afternoon.  I am much more fond of my Good Earth wedding memories than my traditional ones so it makes me wonder why so many brides and bridegrooms adhere so stickily to all the “musts” when getting married.  Why not do something different, stretch their boundaries, find things that are meaningful instead of just traditional. Those of you with psychology degrees, any ideas?

If you were planning your wedding today, how would you like it to go? (Like all good fantasies, money is no object.)

Christmas Music

There is a Lutheran  tradition that you really shouldn’t sing Christmas music in church until Advent is over.  I love the mournfulness of Advent carols. They often are in minor keys. I find them calming.  Husband and I have many treasured Christmas recordings that we listen to every year.  I listen to the Holiday stream on MPR at work through the day. I find I am becoming increasingly fussy about what Christmas  music I can tolerate. Gene Autry and Rudoph is definitely a no go.

What Christmas music do you like? What do you loathe? What Christmas earworms have you had this week?

Our New York Trip

Husband and I returned last Monday from a week long trip to New York  City. We were there with four other members of our church handbell choir to participate in a massed handbell choir of 275 ringers. We were the opening act before a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall.

Everything that could go right on the trip did, and there were no disasters. We slipped past three major snow storms in our travels.  All our rental bells were there as ordered, hotel reservations were good, and our names were in the program. What more could a person ask for?

In addition to the Dec. 1 Carnegie Hall gig, we had the options of playing in Central Park on Saturday afternoon, and with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall at various times during the weekend. Here are the players at the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park.

The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular featured the Rockettes in numbers like “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”, during which the dancers collapsed on one another like dominoes. They also did a number called “Sleigh Ride” in which the dancers were featured as precision-stepping reindeer. In between the dance numbers were high tech visual effects and bell numbers. It ended with a tableau of the nativity complete with three live camels, a donkey, and a sheep. All the animals had been blessed by Cardinal Dolan at the start of the season. No unsanctioned animals in this production! I haven’t any photos. Photos were prohibited. This will give you an idea.

The Carnegie  Hall concert was really fun.  We entered the hall through the stage door, just like all performers do. There were a few ringers on stage with the conductor, and the rest of us were in the boxes on Tiers one and two on either side of the Hall.  The following photos were taken during dress rehearsal.

 

 

We played  well. The acoustics were good, but we had to be as precise as possible given how many of us there were.  Given the size of the hall, we couldn’t use our ears to make sure were were together. We had to watch the conductor as much as possible for the timing. The conductor was so excited as they used “the Bernstein podium” for him.

The Messiah performance was wonderful. The two male soloists were on loan from the Metropolitan Opera, and there were more than 300 singers in the chorus. Half of them sang from the boxes we had played in.  We had to vacate to the nosebleed seats in the balcony during the oratorio.

So many things could have gone wrong, but nothing did. We were all so grateful for this opportunity.

 

Tell about your best and worst vacations and trips.

I Love a Parade

Last Thursday morning at 6:00,  Husband and I and four of our travelling companions  left our hotel on Times Square, walked down 49th St, crossed  Broadway, and made our way over to 6th Ave where we found a nice open space of sidewalk right across from Simon and Schuster Publishing  House to claim as ours for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Prime areas near the corner were cordoned off, reserved for widows and orphans of police and fire fighters.

The curbside was already claimed by some intrepid souls who got there at 5:00. It was cold, but we felt warm gusts of air from the subway through grates in the sidewalk.  The teenager in our group promptly laid down on the metal grates and went to sleep until the parade started.  I kept pretty warm in my lined jacket, but it really helped when a Netflix representative handed out Green Eggs and Ham earmuffs to everyone around us.

 Police patrolled on foot and bicycle, and were blocking off side streets with metal barriers. The people nearby us were from Arizona, Minnesota, and Connecticut as well as City residents.  We shared stories and took turns getting coffee and pastries as the sun rose.

The parade began many blocks north in Central Park, and got to us at about 9:30.  There had been much anxiety if the balloons would fly, as it was pretty windy, but fly they did, although closer to the ground than was typical. The were loads of clowns in charming costumes, dancers of all ages, lots of stilt walkers,  and lovely floats. Many of the participant were school aged children who looked  so happy and proud to be in the parade. I really liked the Christmas trees on stilts.

The marching bands were from all over the country.  Their chaperones and parents marched right along behind them. We had fun judging the straightness of their rows and columns.  (“Guide right!”) The biggest group was The Second Time Around Marching Band comprised of dozens of quite aged baton twirlers, pom pom wavers, and musicians in natty uniforms  who looked ecstatic to be marching again. The floats were elaborate and featured singers, TV personalities, and actors. I wasn’t very familiar with most of them, but our teenager assured me they were  quite famous

Astronaut Snoopy was the first balloon, with the Grinch and his dog, Max the last.

The parade ended for us at 11:30 with Santa on his float.  The side streets were still blocked to motor traffic, and it was fun to meander with hordes of New Yorkers  in the lanes normally full of honking cabs and cars and buses.  We all trooped back to the hotel and took naps. It had been a long, cold wait, but well worth it.

Tell some parade stories. What would you like to do in a parade?

Mind Games

Jacque mentioned yesterday that she thought Husband’s challenge for imaginary dinner guests was the result of filling time during Great Plains travel. She wasn’t far off.  Travel out here is tedious. People at the conference I attended were somewhat surprised to hear that we drove to Minneapolis, since it was “only” 500 miles from our home.

I listen to classical music on the radio, either streamed from MPR at home or at work, or else the Symphony Hall station on our car radio. I challenge myself to identify the composer and/or the name of the piece before the announcer says them.  I pretend I am in a competition. I listen to music whenever I can, so I do the challenge quite a lot. I have  a really good auditory memory, and I recognize pieces quite quickly. (I can always tell if it is the Concordia Choir on the MPR Choral Stream just by the sound.)  It is coming up with the name of the piece and the composer that is tricky. I find that the more pieces I recognize, the harder it is to sort out exactly what the name of the piece is. My brain is getting too full.  I am pretty good at recognizing pieces by Brahms or Schumann. They have distinctive patterns of harmonies and rhythms. Mendelssohn and Schubert can sometimes confuse me.  I always know Stravinsky and Prokofiev, but sometimes  late Prokofiev sounds like Shostakovitch

As I was in a wind band in college, I can identify Vaughan Williams and Holst and Grainger very easily, but distinguishing Molly on the Shore from Handel in the Strand is sometimes hard.   I am  somewhat embarrassed to say that I  can always identify the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper and also know the name of the composer. It is so distinctive.

I know that Baboons have various areas of interest. Mine is classical music. I hope that my classical habit helps keep my mind alert and healthy.

What are you doing that keeps your mind active and healthy. How are you at identifying the names of musical pieces and their composers?

Dinner Guests

Husband challenged me-what composer, visual artist, and writer would you invite to dinner?  I am still thinking. I know the composers would be either Brahms, because I love his harmonies, Bartok, because I want to know if he is really on the Autism Spectrum, or Stravinsky, because I think he would be a good conversationalist.  Visual artists, well that would be Vermeer, and for the writer, either Dorothy Sayers, because she is both a theologian as well as a mystery writer, or C.S. Lewis, for sort of the same reasons.

What composer, visual artist, and writer would you invite to dinner? What would you serve?

Remembrance of Things Past

Today’s post comes from Ben:

I came home and said hello to the dogs. Went out another door and said “Hi” to the dogs again, and then, as one does with dogs, said “Hi Hi Hi”

And then, from the depths of my mind, out of nowhere, sang  “Ayi Yi Yi Yi, I am the Frito Bandito”.
Wow.
I said to myself “Where did that come from??”
Forgotten anything lately? 
Remembered anything lately?