is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

While My Ukulele Gently Weeps

"Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more."

Sherri Phelps offered me this quote to comfort me today,
she's the soloist in the photo with
Music Director Michael Rintamaa & orchestra above. I love her!
I had to seek consolation in my ukulele today, had to grab it and play my entire playlist to cheer myself up, give myself a hopeful boost.  I still water up as I sit here and type, kitty asleep in my lap (finally) -- but the uke took most of my tears away as I played, it sent my spirit singing again ... sometimes I need the ukulele to remind that it's okay to be happy, and it's okay to be's okay to weep every now and then.  

Why, you may or may not ask, or what would make me so tearful?  Well, I went looking for Christmas this afternoon in my closets.  I have two, they are inaccessible and I don't use them for anything but storage...and I use the world "storage" loosely there.  I sometimes tuck stuff away and either it's because I'm trying to forget about the memories associated therein or I'm trying to protect them from loss because they're so precious.

When I went looking for Christmas in my closets, I found instead both regretful and precious remnants today...and even though the photos and letters that I'd bunched together and put in an old leather briefcase I used when I wrote opinions for Judge Harkins (he liked to play golf, I liked to write, so I asked him if I could find his facts, put them in order and he could decide accordingly.  It was fun solving the cases as a fact-finder so I carried paperwork home and did research, it was the best job I ever, ever had) -- even though the paper trail of evidence was not all that voluminous, in its contents were boundless memories that I had conveniently tucked away in the far corners of my brain.  At any rate, I found papers I'd written in college about Reincarnation being a prime example of Bacon's Idol of the Theatre, my philosophy professor apparently was impressed, I got an A/A- - A for the idea, A- for the execution (story of my life).  

I also found a photograph of my brother, Marshall, who is ill now and who lives in North Carolina, and he was about 10 years old in the picture and is the all-American healthy looking's a school portrait, and I have no idea how it ended up in my briefcase, but it did.  I also discovered snapshots of honeymoons past, and some very sweet letters from both my grandmothers. 

Another great find was my Mom's weekly calendar from 1986, with a Feb. 14 notation: Karen, Kelli and Kim went to the Billy Idol concert...are going to Morehead to see him again in a few days.  -- then down a few lines was another notation: Tom slipped out with Ad to get beer tonight.
My Best Tenor Friend Forever, Tom Bragg addresses the Altos

Hah!  She was all over us like a bad suit...Pearl didn't miss a trick.  She did not keep a daily journal, but the occasional notes are amusing and insightful.  This glimpse into one of the last year's of my mother's life was a truly golden find, but it does make me weep to remember the holidays when all of us were alive and healthy.  I miss my parents. I miss my son. I miss my brothers.  I am fortunate to have my sisters, though, and eternally grateful that we have been reunited after so long.  It has made my entire year to have Karen and Kelli back in my life, full force.  As a set of sisters, we are a force to be reckoned with, especially when there are three of us.  It's a musketeer mentality, it's powerful and it works and I love it.

Betty Cecil and me - two altos in a world of sopranos.
Still, seeing all my family's thoughts expressed in word or in song or in their countenances on the photographs that keep falling out of folders has made me happy; it's made me I have cried into my ukulele with my kitty on my lap, who just lets the tears fall upon his little fur and licks them off, looking at me as if to say, "what the hell is wrong with you?"  I also think I'm uber-emotional since our Vivaldi Gloria performance is tomorrow, we've been rehearsing since August!  I want to sing this piece, but then again, I am already missing it, I love it so much and am so happy singing it, I am grieving over it -- does that make any sense? 

In case you're interested in listening to this gorgeous12-movement work, it begins at 11am at Central Christian Church, on the corner of M-L King & Short, there's plenty of parking and it's a beautiful sanctuary -- or simply tune in to 1580 AM and you can hear it from the comfort of your couch :)   We are combining our Chancel Choir with the Midway College Chorale, directed by Dr. Johnie Dean, and the orchestra is made up of some of the area's best:

Violins: Brice Farrar, Katy Van Fleet, Eloise Lewis, Kristen Kline, Margie Karp, Jonathan Karp
Violas: Ned Farrar, Elizabeth Dickey-Jones
Bass: Dan Harris
Cello:  Patrick Binford
Oboe: David Powell
Trumpet: Joseph Van Fleet
Harpsichord: Kate Covington
Michael Rintamaa and Johnie Dean

Our vocal soloists are all virtuosos as well: 
Amelia Groetsch
Mary-Hollis Hundley
Anabelle Wright-Gatton
Sherri Phelps

For those of you who do listen on the radio, here's some cool information about Vivaldi and his Gloria, which was lost, but found, sort of like me, like my memories.   Gloria, indeed!

From the program provided by Director of Music, Michael Rintamaa:

"The Gloria in excelsis is known as the hymnus angelicus since it begins with the angelic hymn sung at Christ's nativity ("Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will" - Luke 2:14).  And it is also called the Greater Doxology or "Ascription of Glory" (as distinguished from the Lesser Doxology, the Gloria Patri,  which we sing at Central most Sundays). Along with the Credo, it is one of the longest texts of the Ordinary.
Anne McGregor with Chris Teesdale

This hymn of praise addresses itself to each Person of the Holy Trinity: God the Father (Gloria in excelsis Deo..., movement 1), God the Son (Domine Fili unigenite..., movement 7), and briefly, to the Holy Spirit (Cum Sancto Spiritu..., movement 12).

The Gloria in excelsis is an ear, ly prose hymn whose origins have been traced back to a "morning prayer" in the Apostolic Constitution (c.380) and to a Greek version of the 2nd century.  It is along with the Te Deum, one of the psalmi idiotici, a psalm-like text composed by an individual rather than being taken from the Biblical Psalter.  The first extant Latin version appears in the Bangor Antiphonary (c.690), but it differs significantly from the version we have today which is first found in Frankish sources of the 9th century.  It is found in the Roman rite by the 6th century, but was generally reserved for special occasions (especially Christmas).

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) is an Italian Baroque composer, a contemporary of Bach, Handel, and Scarlatti.  He was a priest (nicknamed il Pret Rosso - "The Red Priest," because of his red hair).  Vivaldi composed voal and choral works, but is best known for his music to be played by string instruments.  Between the years of 1703-1740 Vivaldi worked for the Ospedal della Pieta in Venice, an orphanage for poor and illegitimate children.  There were four such institutions in Venice, whose purpose was to give shelter and education to children who were abandoned or orphaned, and the institutions were financed by the Republic.  At first, Vivaldi was the maestro di violino (master of violin) for the female music ensemble, but gradually acquired other musical responsibilities, eventually becoming maestro di' concerti (music director) in 1716.

After Vivaldi's death, his music was mostly forgotten.  In 1939, an historic Vivaldi Week, held in Siena and organized by Alfredo Casella, sponsored the revival of the rediscovered Gloria


Today and tomorrow will be the culmination of a journey that began with our choir just 4 months ago, but the true story of Gloria began over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.  It is comforting to know that no matter how many Christmases go by, "we are all redeemed and forgiven children of God, and will evermore rejoice in singing his praises, so that by being doers of the word and not hearers only, we may receive everlasting life. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."

pray for peace, people, everywhere,

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