Voxing in the kitchen

I don't know how it started. But we kind of like it.
Prima Vox has decided to move rehearsals
from the living room to the kitchen.

The change of scenery
(and the proximity to the refreshments)
may have something to do with it.

We're getting excited about singing for First Presbyterian Church's evening service on October 18th. Pastor Dawn emailed me about the Hildegard chants we'd be singing and suggestions for readings. Then she asked if I knew she'd gone to a religious education seminar about Hildegard von Bingen. No, I didn't know that...but started thinking what a wonderful, rich service this was going to be.


Welsh Weekend of Song 2008

After much arranging and rehearsing and expert promotion by the Minnesota Gymanfa Ganu Association, the Welsh Weekend of Song concert turned out beautifully. It was a gorgeous autumn Saturday.

In the green room, the band and I warmed up.


Laughed away our pre-concert jitters.
Okay, okay...MY pre-concert jitters.
Thanks, Martha.

Wondered what kind of crowd we would have in light of the perfect weather. But as evening fell, the people flowed into Bjorling Concert Hall at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter

What a wonderful space to perform in.
So warm and intimate feeling, it was hard to believe
the place holds 400 people.

The audience was so appreciative. The band and I had a lovely time performing our explorations of Welsh music. After quite a long break in performing, it was good to make music with them again for people.


Sunday, I joined the Welsh at the Gymanfa Ganu (hymn sing) at First Presbyterian Church in Mankato. I played a solo set of Welsh songs for them, and the rest of the time, we sang Welsh hymns. In four-part, six-part, sometimes even eight-part harmony. These people can sing. It was glorious.

After some Welsh tea cakes and visiting with some old friends after the concert, I hauled harp and harpist home for a long Sunday nap. Very satisfied with a job well done.


By the shores of Gitchee Gumee

I had a rare full weekend off. As in, not a wedding, event, reception or rehearsal Saturday AND Sunday. When I told my Mom this, she said, "Let's escape."

So we did. Fled our lives and work and to-do lists and had a fun mother-daughter get-away in Duluth. It was lovely.

Lots of sitting by the shores of Lake Superior...

...a.k.a. Gitchee Gumee, Ojibwe for "big water".

Wandering along the water's edge.

Picking up rocks.

And rocks. And rocks.
Trying to skip rocks over the waves.

Watching the ships come in.

Mom and I had a lovely time together. We had long talks, wrapped up in blankets and sitting outside by the shore. Lots of good dinners and great lunches and sleeping in and laughing until we cried.

I love playing my harp. But this reminded me that time off and moments of peace are good, too.

Looks like somebody else had that idea, too.


Ancient Artists

Last summer, I really wanted to see the Jeffers Petroglyphs, ancient rock carvings by Native Americans on an outcropping of quartzite running 23 miles over the prairie.

I think the Ireland bug had bitten me. I was missing trudging through endless sheep pastures, bogs and meadows to see ancient sites. And the Jeffers Petroglyphs were even older than what I'd seen in Ireland — before the pyramids or the first stones of Stonehenge were set, there were carvings in this rock.

But nobody would go with me. I couldn't believe it. So I gave up.

Until last week, when a friend asked me if I'd like to take a day trip. "How about to the Jeffers Petroglyphs?" he asked. I yelled "YES!" so loudly I think I scared him.

So we set off through the river valley and across the prairie. There was a soft, Irish-like mist in the air. It was one of the first chilly days we'd had. We braced against the wind and began the walk to the rock.

The last prairie flowers were blooming.

The wind whispered "shhh" through the grasses.

The flat earth stretched on and on and on,
and the rock jutted out like a vein.
It was easy to see why people still find this place holy.

The guide told us it would take patience to see the carvings. After much squinting, pointing, bending over, backing up and almost tripping over the guard rope, there they were:



The hand of an ancient artist.

We stood there in silence, shivering. Then it began to rain in earnest. So we took some photos and hurried back to the car. Wondering at things like time. History. The very human need to make our mark.


More voxing, more music

Prima Vox rehearsal tonight. I had all the windows open to the cool fall air, and our chanting was joined by the whistle of the train downtown and the honking of geese overhead.

Then we got the news: Sara had a job interview. And of course we hope she gets the job. Of course we do.

Except if she does, she'll have much less time to gather all this great music she's been bringing to the group. And transposing it for us. And making PRACTICE RECORDINGS. All we can say is, we're sure she'll have her priorities straight in the Prima Vox vs. Employment arena.

We're sure of it.

We revisited our Hildegard repertoire tonight with gorgeous results. We decided to do something novel -- RELAX -- and it flowed. Came up with a new approach to Caritas Abundat. Soared into O Pastor Animarum. Filled our cup with O Cruor Sanguinis and let it overflow. Looking very much forward to singing at the service at First Presbyterian on October 18th.



I first put my fingers on the strings of a harp at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. It was the very harp that Jack McGowan would take home and later give to me.

Ever since that day, I've toyed with the idea of being a performer at the Festival. I even auditioned while I was still in college, but a shoulder injury that still plagues me sometimes prevented me from going ahead with the plan. Then life got in the way of the dream, my schedule got crazy and my performances went in other directions.

I still think the Renaissance Festival is a magical place. So when the Festival entertainment committee put out a call for Irish performers and exhibitors to participate in Irish Heritage weekend at the Festival, I decided this was my chance to be a part of the magic.

I dusted off the Renaissance girl costume that Mom made me about 15 years ago. I begged Mom and my Auntie Sheila to go with me for moral support and general entertainment. I told them they had to dress up, too. Their costumes were a mixture of craft store chic, closet raiding and frantic sewing on the drive to the Festival.

Auntie Sheila was kind of Mother Superior...of the Dungeon.
Mom looked like an escapee from the harem.
I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long time.

Despite the rain and the chill in the air, it was a wonderful experience to finally perform at the Festival. I even reconnected with a harper I've admired since I first started playing. It was a little nerve wracking when he stopped to listen to me play.

Children loved the harp.
This little one even danced to the music.

The harp sounded so sweet out there in the open air,
with a costumed, jolly crowd going by.
I think it knew it was home.