Such a lovely holiday present just arrived in my Dec. 23 morning email and it's about bells! It's an article written by Maureen Buja, a musicologist and music editor whose friendly acquaintance I've made via the internet, and she writes about the composition "Carol of the Bells" by Ukrainian composer Leontovych: https://interlude.hk/carol-of-the-bells-by-mykola-leontovych-history-and-recordings/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_23_Dec_2022
Incidentally, Maureen's former article on music composed about cats, inspired a poem in my first anthology of poems, available in a few days on major online distributors' websites (Poetical Musings on Pianos, Music & LIfe - Vol I.) You can read the poem below.
As I listened to Maureen's collected varieties of instrumental and vocal arrangements of this well-known holiday song, I loved best (of course!) the clear-toned "cascading snow" solo piano version seemingly arranged by Serge Yushkevich played by pianist Marina Baranova. I hope you take a moment to listen to that piece, and all of Maureen's selections. (This arrangement would have been even more lovely played on a Celesta!)
I was reminded by both Maureen's article and the article "Monster Talent" by Jordan Kisner in the December 4 New York Times Magazine about Irish actor Jessie Buckley, of the voice, and its importance in my life, that my piano gives to me. I bless her every day for that!
We surely don't need human voices and words to speak. It's long been known, and by me only recently re-experienced, that music can speak in a more powerful, intimate manner to our inner hearts of desire, gratitude, and longing, and the pathos and glory of life. It can speak to and be a powerful influence for the good in the outer world of our friends, lovers, and wider community. For the power of music in the political arena and perhaps a lovely Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve treat, watch the wonderful movie, "The Singing Revolution," about how in 1987 the Estonians repelled a Communist take-over threat, with community song: https://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/estonias-singing-revolution-1986-1991/
There are two things I wish for the New Year for my family, friends, Music Tribe, wider community, and myself. First, I wish that we find courage and opportunity to take our love of music and our natural voices and shower the world with them, as if tossing a handful of rainbow glitter into the air where it turns into a million, gently wind-blown doves of peace and soulful prosperity, relationship and kindness to others. Music can be our voice of hope and our inspiration to overcome sometimes dampened spirits about dismal times and challenges.
I also wish for the continuing amplification of women's voices in music, in hearth and home, and in the wider community and political world. We have so much to say, but a patriarchal society has engineered our silence during adolescence and our historical disappearance in art and politics, until our recent blossoming (The best book ever on this early loss of the female voice is Dr. Carol Gilligan's book, In a Different Voice; highly recommended!). Early on as a young person, actor Jessie Buckley felt she "might explode," but like her, we women must break free of self-imposed and societal suppression in order to speak the truth of our lives and experiences, both personally and professionally.
For the New Year I wish for a blossoming of each and every single individual's creative, positive natures to become more fully who they feel, know, and wish themselves to be.
You might start by listening to the beauty of the bells as they speak...and pet your kitty who surely enjoys the music you express!
Were I a composer and especially endowed
With talents such that you would be wowed,
By writing notes of incredible import
That represent my subject of a cat-like sort,*
I’d choose something soft but also sinuous,
The paw held in air, the next step so tenuous,
The pounce that will come just as smile follows tears,
The bravery that follows the deepest of fears,
A back raised in hackles, the serious warning kind:
“Don’t touch me, you fool, or I’ll make you go blind!”
Or creeping around in the darkest of night
Just watching and waiting for the very next fight,
Or lolling in dreams curled up in a ball,
Or preening in sunlight, the quintessential femme fatale...
Were I that composer of the sweetest of dreams,
At piano I’d sit, lost in thought, as it seems,
And scribe a score so perfect in tone and in taste
That a cat would come through–if that were the case.
*Inspired by a delightful online article by Maureen Buja concerning composers who wrote pieces about cats. Dr. Buja is an international musicologist, writer, and editor; https://interlude.hk/cat-music/39
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