11/23/2008

The Christmas season has officially begun

I broke out the Christmas music today to play for Old Main Village's Victorian Christmas Tea.

There were Christmas decorations.

Servers in costume.

And from the balcony where I was playing, I could see
two of my favorite people having tea: Ethel and Mom.
I bought them tickets as an early Christmas present.

I love playing at Old Main, which is a 1920s building that used to serve as Mankato State College's administration center and library. It's been turned into apartments now and the entire place is beautiful. The Heritage Dining Room, where the tea was held, has been the site of many harp performances during wedding receptions, parties, dinners and events.

The harp sounds so beautiful in that room. It's two stories tall with huge windows and lovely lighting. The music carries effortlessly.

The harp LOOKS beautiful in there, too.

When I came home, the house was so cold and decidedly undecorated. I quickly lit some candles and concluded that it was time to call my brother and schedule our annual Christmas-tree-getting night.

I'm sure he'll be thrilled.

11/22/2008

SamTheCat gets confused

SamTheCAT plays with sparkle balls and catnip.
SamTheDRUMMER plays with finger cymbals.

Note the difference.
Bad SamTheCat.

11/20/2008

Music, singing, dancing, merriment

I feel so much better after our rehearsal tonight. The music came alive. Joy filled the room.

SamTheDrummer was being camera shy, but as you can see he has
all he needs to be percussionistically creative.

Megan the beautiful Irish step dancer
had her tape recorder and notes
and her beautiful smile at the ready.

If you're planning on coming to the concert, get there early to get a good seat so you can see Megan's feet. I wish I could play and watch her feet at the same time, but I do need to keep my eyes on the strings or there will be disastrous results.

Martha and Marti had their music
all lined up across the living room.

Martha and I managed to crack ourselves up again. It's a tradition. Marti and Sam and Megan sat there patiently waiting for us to be done.

Every time they leave after a rehearsal I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have such talented, generous, wonderful musical friends.

I'm ready for the concert now.

11/19/2008

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life"

10 days until my holiday concert and right now I'm taking a break from practicing. Music has been streaming steadily from the harp corner of the living room all evening.

It's been more than just practice for me, though. I've been seeking the harps and the music we make together for solace. It's so hard to watch the news about the world. Harder even to hear bad news closer to home. My heart goes out to everyone who is struggling in any way, anywhere because of the ways of the world. Today, especially to friends who have lost their jobs.

I am blessed to have music in my life. I turn to it privately so often when I'm trying to work things out in my head, express emotions beyond words, to make things right in my world for a little while.

The leap from private musical musings to public performance has grown shorter and shorter over the past couple of years. I'm finding that what I love to play for my own enjoyment, meditation and peace, others find enjoyable, meditative and peaceful, too. And so my job has become more than performer — I feel at times like a translator. I consider the swirling emotions of the world and find music to express them in another way, find music to counteract them, find music to help people forget them for a few hours.

And that's what I promise for this year's holiday concert. Like the quote in the title says, this music will wash away "the dust of life." I will provide a space to simply relax and enjoy. We will perform music to support peace, joy, hope.

And perhaps for just a while, the world will be a little better for a lot of people. Including me.

11/16/2008

Prima Vox theme song

Voices resonated during a four-hour
Prima Vox rehearsal tonight.
We found our theme song.

And we sang it until the candles burned down.

Prima Vox will be taking a couple of weeks off because I need to hyper-focus on the holiday concert music. But the Voxes will be making an appearance during that concert. They'll be my angelic backup during "The Basque Carol." While I'll be playing the sound of wings, they'll be echoing "Gloria."

Glorious. I can't wait.

11/07/2008

Rose in winter

Bending under the weight of the snow.

I've been trying to decide between two final songs for the holiday concert program. "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" may just win out considering this beautifully fragile sight.

11/06/2008

Waiting for wassailing weather

Earlier this week it was in the 70s. Like, the upper 70s. Raking, clearing off the garden and hanging new twinkle lights was hot, sweaty work.

Here's the evidence.

Remember, it's November. And I really shouldn't be complaining. Ethel tells me that I should be enjoying any warm, sunny weather I can get considering what's in store until March. Or, if next year is anything like this year's spring was, late April. I still shudder to think of that interminable dark, cold, bleakness.

And I know Ethel's right. But this week, it was just so hard to sit in the living room with the windows open, barefoot, a fan running and rehearse music for the holiday concert. No matter how many candles I lit, I couldn't get into the mood for playing "That Night in Bethlehem" or "Christmas Eve Air." Sure, I played the notes, but there was just no FEELING the music. And I was getting alarmed.

Because we're at 24 days and counting until concert day.
Seems that "driving the cold winter away" is working, anyway.

Martha, Marti and I rehearsed last night and their cheerful attitudes and senses of humor helped. It's magical to hear them play my arrangements for the first time, always better than the way it sounds in my head. Because the girls are just that good. It was exactly the moral support I needed. Martha smiled and Marti said "oh!" and put her hand to her heart when I sang them the opening song. They loved the new pieces and were so excited to be learning them. It almost made me forget that it felt more like late August than early November.

So imagine my happiness when I woke up to this today:
a world kissed with snow,
every branch and blade of grass covered
in fluffy white.

Back to the harps with new-found enthusiasm for songs about cold, starry nights and wassailing.

Just please don't remind me about this happiness come March...

11/04/2008

I voted yes

Yes to hope. To change.
To supporting the arts.
The environment.
The future.

11/02/2008

Black and White Gala

October 25th. It was a beautiful evening.
The Twin Rivers Center for the Arts building absolutely glowed.

As it should. It was a gala event. Laughter rang throughout the grounds as everyone showed up to celebrate the arts in Mankato. People mingled in their black and white finest. Champagne glasses clinked. Inside, there were hors d'oeuvres, a great art and poetry show in the gallery...

...and a harpist playing her heart out.

It was a lovely place to perform.
Definitely one to keep in mind for my own concerts
and for Prima Vox performances.

The atmosphere, the art, the supportive energy
made it an exciting event to be a part of.
I was honored to add my music to the night.

One more step forward for the arts in Mankato.
Here's to much future success!

11/01/2008

Artistic friendships

My friends Marianne and Kay are part of an art show at the Carnegie Art Center. The opening was tonight and I roared over there after playing at a lovely wedding reception just in time to celebrate and wander the show. I am so proud of them. It was a visual feast.

Marianne paints these big, textured woods and canvases that look like the landscapes of a lush, fantasy world. I love how her mind works and how she sees things.

Her art is a gorgeous extension of her gorgeous self.

"Back of Butterfly"
It's like a whole world in a butterfly wing.

"Almost Moon"
See the hint of the crescent moon,
hanging in the sky like a jewel?

Kay has a unique and quirky sense of style that ALWAYS works. It's kind of vintage, a little mod and so creative. And it shows in her art.

Kay wore vintage tonight. Cute.

I loved her paintings of girls wearing dresses.
You could almost see the fabric moving and hear it rustle.

So pretty. I wanted them all to hang in a line in my house.

Such talented women. I'm honored to be part of their circle of friends.