history, dance and of course music

Sir Winston Churchill

I have always found Winston Churchill a fascinating figure.  A man who overcame a stutter and was an artist as well as a statesman of the first order.

So I was tickled when I ran across this interesting article online:  “Finest Hours: the making of Winston Churchill” by Adam Gopnik (link to New Yorker article)

I like this quote:

Churchill “… is, with de Gaulle, the greatest instance in modern times of the romantic-conservative temperament in power. The curious thing is that this temperament can at moments be more practical than its liberal opposite, or than its pragmatic-conservative twin, since it rightly concedes the primacy of ideas and passions, rather than interests and practicalities, in men’s minds. Churchill was a student of history, but one whose reading allowed him to grasp when a new thing in history happened.”

Ideas and passion rather than interests and practicalities…. I like that quite a bit.

This book came in the mail yesterday. I ordered it as an Xmas present to myself to sort of balance off Eileen’s Xmas gifts to herself.

I somehow ran across Toni Bentley’s review, “Taking Flight” in the New York Times and became interested in knowing more about the cultural history of ballet.

I have long owned Arbeau’s Orchesography.

I value this book as a resource for understanding Renaissance and Baroque dance terms that are used in music like Pavanne and Galliard.

And I love dance and see physical movement as integral to an understanding of music.

Not to mention becoming more involved with ballet class accompaniment in the last decade or so.

Thus I look forward to learning more about ballet even though I am approaching this book with my usual skepticism exacerbated by letters in the Times responding to the gloom and doom of both the book and the reviewer (link, link).  I always find gloomy predictions a bit suspect. Since history is full of people bemoaning how things are the worse they have ever been and why couldn’t things be the way they used to be.

I have been working on an arrangement of this hymn from the Southern Harmony collection. The melody is the middle line.

It’s in Walker’s Southern Harmony. And there are several versions in the current Episcopal hymnal including the original harmonization above with the melody in the tenor. I have begun an arrangement for saxophone, marimba and 2 part choir.  Today my colleague and friend Jordan VanHemert, saxophonist extraordinaire, is coming by to help me finish it.

I am seriously considering emailing a pdf file of the music and a (shudder) midi mp3 to my choir members so they can get a bit of a heads up on it for Sunday.

When I am reduced to midi renderings of music I usually say "Let's have Mario sing it for us."

Jordan has graciously consented to come and play this Sunday at my church while he is on college break.  At this point I think we are going to do compositions by him for the prelude and postlude. The prelude will be his “Todo Para La Familia” which is a charming little jazz piece. He has some other compositions he thinks will work for the postlude. We will be deciding today which one to use. I am very happy to be using some of his work.

I haven’t been doing too much practicing piano or organ. I think I’m sort of on vacation. But yesterday I spent some lovely moments with Prokofiev’s first piano sonata. Seemed to be just the thing.

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