Outdoor wedding

Yes, you read the post title correctly. A friend of mine was dreaming of a winter wedding and decided to take the ultimate step. She would have her wedding outside. In January. The invitations read, "Bundle up!" And believe me, we all did.

We arrived to a path of icy candles.

We were greeted with hot chocolate. With marshmallows.

Then the harp started playing "Canon in D"
and the bride made her entrance.
She was all sparkly, and looked as beautiful as an ice princess.

WAIT A SECOND...did I say, "the harp played...?" At an outdoor wedding in January?

Yes, I did. I couldn't let the opportunity to add my harp music to this winter wedding, so I recorded the bride's favorites and a DJ played them over the sound system.

Despite my ice-cold toes and the little tear of joy that froze on my eyelashes, the evening was entirely romantic. The spirit was friendly and adventurous, and there were big, strong gentlemen just waiting to help us damsels in cute shoes over the ice back to the warm cars.

It ended with an indoor (thank goodness) reception and dance.
Still sparkly, still romantic.
Warm hearts.


Ecstasy among the cappuccinos

Prima Vox was asked to perform at a benefit for one of the original owners of The Coffee Hag coffee shop. So we put together an eclectic set list including Hildegard chants, medieval love songs and a siren song.

A pocket of peace amid the clinking cups.

Yes, that's the Reverend Ursula Christ on the far left.
She'll be our reader at the concert on February 13.
And what a beautiful reader she is.
She made Elizabeth Sargent's poetry...almost...make sense.

The audience was as eclectic as the set list. Sisters from Good Counsel, artists, poets, musicians, families, dacing children.

Altogether a successful benefit. We were happy to have been a part of it.


January thaw, then January freeze

It results in this.
If there were a contest for the longest icicle EVER,
I think this would be a contender.

Really, it would be pretty if I had a little gingerbread house
in the forest and this were just frosting.

It's almost magical.
This kind of reminds me of a hand with fingers pointing downward.
(Or an icicle giving me the finger, depending on the angle...)

There's going to have to be a lot of melting
to get through this winter.
And I don't even want to talk about a new roof...


How I kept it together, I'll never know

Sometimes I think I've heard it all during my harp career. Drunken groomsmen requesting "Wipeout" or the theme song from Monday Night Football (really). A little girl getting the courage to get close enough to me to ask where I got my shoes. One genius asking, seriously, how long I'd been playing the cello. And another asking how I was related to Harpo Marx. Whaat?

But this one took the cake.

I was asked to play for the Rotary Club's Service Above Self Luncheon. Mankato's business elite were there, the esteemed winners were being interviewed for television, and Don Shelby (WCCO-TV anchor and reporter) was prepping his keynote speech.

Suddenly there was a hand on my right shoulder and a deep voice whispering right into my ear, "Young lady, I'd like to have you..."

(and dramatically paused right there, I kid you not)

"...in church."

You can't imagine what went through my mind, first being that I hope the news cameraman didn't catch the look on my face or the reflex clench of my fist getting ready to deck the guy before I turned around to see that it was just a kindly older gentleman holding his heart and clearly moved by music.

Whew. I managed to keep it together through the rest of the luncheon but called several friends on my way home in hysterics.

Always interesting.


Prima Vox Creative Process

All the music for the Prima Vox Sacred & Profane Love concert at the Arts Center of St. Peter is being helped along by many things.

1. Our favorite readings (shown in the piles above and read for inspiration) so moved us we decided to include them in the program. Catherine of Sienna, Emily Dickinson, Margery Kempe, Hildegard von Bingen...each whispering to us from another era about finding the sacred, even in the secular.

2. Harry. He's become the Prima Vox mascot. Sits on the piano, even reaches down and bangs out some notes for us. Jumps on Momma when things sound really good (which is often, according to Harry). I've always longed for the "gather around the piano and sing" experience, but it's just never been a reality. Until now. A little different from the Currier & Ives version of my fantasy, perhaps. But better.

3. Hula hoops. Seriously. Ann made one for each of us, nicely weighted and very artfully decorated with colorful tape and shiny stuff. It makes us feel like whirling dervishes. Warms up the body core for some serious singing. Gets us in touch with the divine circular.

Since we have a mascot, we must have a motto. How about "whatever works"? There is no standing around properly just singing at Prima Vox rehearsals. We move, we sit on barstools with knees touching, we stand in a line, we stand in a tri-circle, we sing in the kitchen, we sing in the living room, we even went to the basement to sing (thank you, girls, for kindly ignoring my scary cobwebs). We take turns conducting ourselves. We sing quietly, we sing loudly. We hum. Ann drones.

A friend of mine once said, "I think you girls just formed Prima Vox so you could drink whiskey and talk about boys once a week." Then he came to hear us sing. And realized, I think, that though Ann and Sara and I are friends and we're girls that of course we'll talk about hairstyles and proper nail buffing techniques and Sara's cute shoes du jour and hand lotion and even boys sometimes, it's all about this music. We know it, we've rehearsed it until there are overtones every time, we have made it our own. Each of us has longed in some way for some time to make this music ourselves.

Our finding each other and founding Prima Vox allows us to seek out the sacred power of making music together, holy or secular. Can't wait to share it on February 13.



It's kind of hard to explain, why I wanted to see the Vatican Splendors exhibit at the Minnesota History Center. Of course I wanted to experience the art and the dazzling, ancient treasures. But this seemed personal somehow. Due in part, I'm sure, to having been raised Catholic. Whatever my experience with the church, whatever my current beliefs or spiritual practices, that will never leave me and I will always have immediate response to it on a soul level.

I tried several times to get to the exhibit. Minnesota January weather wasn't very cooperative. Unbelievably cold, snow, wind, more snow, more wind. But Mom (my ever-adventurous travel companion) and I finally found a weekend to head north to St. Paul and take in the splendor.

The art was magnificent, of course. The history sent me reeling: there I was, standing within two feet of tools that were handled by Michelangelo. I kept saying to Mom, "Here we are, standing within two feet of something Michelangelo touched." Finally, she said, "Yes, Amy. I know." And to think that this was just a sampling. Such riches.

Mom and I spent a good deal of time with our noses pressed to the glass cases holding the gorgeously embroidered and beaded and jeweled copes and robes. Mom's a wonderful seamstress and tried valiantly for years to teach me what came so naturally to her and Grandma. And, alas, failed. However, she did succeed at teaching me embroidery so I'm not completely disowned. Standing in front of Pope Pius IX's red robe, she said over and over, "Look at all those tiny stitches! Just look at them." And then I got to say, "Yes, Mom. I know." Hee hee.

But what stopped me in my tracks were two things: the robes Pope John Paul II wore later in his life, altered shorter in the front to accommodate his very human, stooping posture and the bronze cast of his hand, which attendees were encouraged to touch. Which I did, several times.

Which I think is exactly what he would have wanted.

Mom and I completed our girls' weekend with lots of good food, organic wine in our hotel room, a fairy tarot card reading (definitely NOT Catholic, but still fun), some shopping and so much laughter my neck hurt the next day.


Voxing reunion

A bright, sunshiny morning. Still sparkling under a layer of ice from the storm Saturday. And three Voxes got up early, put on their Sunday best and their warmest coats, scraped their cars and went to church.

We were asked to sing for the morning service at First Presbyterian Church. We repeated the Hildegard pieces we sang there in October and added four more.

The view from the choir area while we were warming up.

It was our first performance since Ann got back from Africa. Yes, Africa. Her husband is working with a school in South Africa and she went to visit during December. It really messed with our Voxing routine, but we were happy she got to have that experience. Just as long as she doesn't leave us for that long again...

We shouldn't have worried. The music clicked just as if we'd never taken a break. The congregation was very complimentary — one sweet woman held my hands afterward and said, "You sounded like one voice. It was like hearing one voice."

Three Voxes, one voice. Just the way it should be.