electricland: (Default)
Listen here.

Bells of Dublin again! I can't seem to find a video of this version, but here's one featuring an ACTUAL BOAR'S HEAD (or reasonable facsimile thereof):



Mainly Norfolk says:

The ancient ceremony of the Boar's Head Carol was performed for many years on Christmas Eve at Queen's College, Oxford, but now on a Saturday shortly before Christmas, when old members are entertained at a “gaudy”. The College Choir processes into the Hall during the refrains, stopping each time when a verse is sung. When the boar's head is set down on the high table, the Provost distributes the herbs among the choir and presents the solo singer with the orange from the boar's mouth.

Does it not just seem like a very Oxford carol? Mainly Norfolk also quotes John Kirkpatrick thus: "Interesting fact: Songs like this which combine workaday English and scholarly Latin are called “macaronic”. Blessed are the pasta makers!"

Sang this in choir last year - the men did the verses and we all chimed in on the chorus. Great harmony parts.

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Listen here.

Now we go secular again! This one is great fun to sing - in fact I suggested it for our choir this year because I like singing along to this version so much. (And we're singing it twice - once on its own, and once in a Vaughan Williams medley.)

We've already heard from Loreena McKennitt with Emmanuel, and we've had another type of door-to-door carol with the Old Waits Carol. Apparently wassailing is done by farm labourers while waits were night watchmen.



A couple of tidbits: this is roughly 18th-century, and in at least one written version the names of the horses & cows were left blank so singers could fill in the appropriate names for where they were.

Many kind people have written more than I can possibly quote about wassailing:

Sorry, that's a terrible cop-out, but it's late on Sunday night. (And yet as I write this, I'm watching A Victorian Farm Christmas and they are singing this very song. Thank you TVO for tying this whole evening together for me!)

Your very good health. Waes hail!

*Mumming isn't limited to England either: Newfoundland mummers

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electricland: (Default)
Listen here.

Here's another entry from The Bells of Dublin. I believe this is the first time so far we've repeated an album; I warn you now that it won't be the last.

I loved Thelma & Louise when it came out. (Still do.) I saw it a bunch of times in theatres and bought the soundtrack. The song I liked best was Marianne Faithfull's Ballad of Lucy Jordan, which I wrote out and memorized. I'd never come across her before (of course I was 17, there were lots of things I'd never come across before). Later, in university, I bought Faithfull: A Collection, which is a fantastic compilation and also has excellent liner notes (I slightly regret mainly moving over to iTunes for my music purchases, because I love liner notes, and not all artists make them available online).

If you listen to Faithfull: A Collection, what's perhaps most striking is the contrast between most of the songs on the album and the last track, As Tears Go By, released when she was 17. Her voice is so clear, almost carefree, compared to the magnificent wrecked growl it became. What a life the woman has had, and good on her for surviving Mick Jagger and a struggle with drug abuse.

Anyway, here she is with the Chieftains, in great form.



She collaborated with them again on their Long Black Veil, singing Love is Teasin' (which, incidentally, has the same tune and some of the same lyrics as The Butcher Boy, which Kirsty MacColl sang for the audiobook version of Patrick McCabe's novel of the same name).

Wikipedia points out that the tune is a variant of "Greensleeves"/What Child Is This. I NEVER NOTICED THIS BEFORE, and this version doesn't play it up. But I kinda see it. Not quite as strong a family resemblance as some. We sing this (surprise!) for choir.

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electricland: (Default)
Listen here.

Everybody's heard of Great Big Sea, right? Legendary Newfoundland band, they've been around for 20 years, Alan Doyle was in that terrible Robin Hood movie with his buddy Russell Crowe, I don't need to introduce them, right? Good. I'm fond of them.

For videos today, we have the option of good sound quality with boring album cover visuals, but I think instead we'll go with crappier sound quality and a live show:



You could call this a standard. I have versions by the McGarrigles, Maddy Prior and June Tabor, and Loreena McKennitt (as the Seven Rejoices of Mary), and there are many more. I've sung it in choir as well, although my fave version probably remains the one my choir director and two friends did (with bodhran) - heavily based on this version, but with women instead of men.

Mainly Norfolk doesn't have a lot to say about it:

June Tabor and Maddy Prior sang this English Christmas traditional in 1976 on their album Silly Sisters. The album's sleeve notes commented:

Learned from Vic Legge of Bodmin. Arrangement by John Gillaspie, folklorist of this parish, who informs us that verse six is an interpolation from the Seven Dolours of Mary.

(Incidentally, I came across a used copy of Silly Sisters for cheap quite by accident two years ago in Montreal. It's great.)

I love all the versions. I confess I partly used GBS's version to get a little more male-female balance onto this mix, but it's also a really striking arrangement, and again, harmony vocals!

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electricland: (Christmas tree ohi)
Listen here.

This lovely tale of a little prenatal miracle really appeals to me. We sang it for choir last year.

Mainly Norfolk says:

The Cherry Tree Carol is a ballad with the rare distinction of being both a Christmas carol and one of the Child Ballads (#54). The song itself is very old, reportedly being sung, in some form, at the Feast of Corpus Christi in the early 15th century. The versions eventually collected by Francis James Child are thought to be a combination of up to three separate carols that merged together through the centuries.

...

Waterson:Carthy recorded The Cherry Tree Carol for their 2006 album Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man. Martin Carthy commented in the album's sleeve notes:

The Apocryphal Gospels are full of all sorts of stories about the Christ Child; stories of miracles performed as a child, and, in the case of The Cherry Tree Carol, pre partum from the womb.

The first time I really became aware of Emmylou Harris, I was driving back to Montreal after a Christmas in Toronto. If you don't drive like a maniac but don't stop, it's about a 5-hour trip. The radio station I happened to be listening to played most of the tracks from Red Dirt Girl and I was blown away; I drove straight to my local music store and bought the CD before I even went home to my apartment.

Her Christmas album, Light of the Stable, was recommended to me several years ago by, of all sources, Real Simple. They were right.

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electricland: (Default)
Listen here.

All right, time to get a little more traditional! For me Loreena McKennit is one of those artists who's always balancing right on the edge of cheesy and overdone without ever falling over it. Her Christmas albums (this is from A Midwinter Night's Dream) are particularly lovely. This is a comparatively well-known song but she has many more obscure ones as well. And she does know how to rock a simple yet powerful arrangement, doesn't she?

Mainly Norfolk, a great resource for traditional and folk music, quotes A.L. Lloyd on the Watersons' version and the history of the song:

Smashing tune, baffling words. A bit before the ninth century a set of antiphons used to be sung for the week before Christmas. About the thirteenth century an anonymous author made a Latin metrical hymn out of five of these antiphons, and this hymn was translated by J.M. Neale (1818-66), the author of Good King Wenceslas. Most modern hymnbooks prefer the later translation by T.A. Lacey but the Methodist Hymnbook and the Salvation Army stick to Neale, and it's his words - more or less - that the Watersons offer here. The tune, first printed in 1856, is credited as “adapted by T. Helmore from a French missal in the National Library, Lisbon.” No-one has been able to find it there. Quite likely it's a mock-medieval confection of Victorian times. But a good 'un.

Here's a video:



Trivia: this is the longest track in this Advent calendar, but if you add yesterday's two together it's only the second longest. Enjoy!

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I slept a lot this weekend and was not wildly productive. I did make it to [livejournal.com profile] lostvoice's birthday pub night, also to chamber choir practice. I had fun at the former and think I'm going to enjoy the latter -- it's a nice group (of whom, bizarrely, three people plus me are from my choir and four are from my mother's choir; small world) and the music is tricky enough to be interesting, but not impossible. Granted, we were only doing four parts yesterday, not eight, and when we get to eight I will be all alone at Alto 2, but I have hope. The conductor seems really nice.

[Edit: The reason I slept a lot on Saturday was I went to the Rivoli for [livejournal.com profile] monkeycommando's birthday on Friday night and drank a lot and played pool, which I haven't done in far too long. It was great, although Dan and I had something of an arms race of ass-grabbing that, in retrospect, may have been a little disturbing to the casual onlooker. I am not sure why I forgot to mention this in my original post; possibly my brain was searching only the "Saturday" and "Sunday" archives.]

I attempted pot roast, but fear it may have been overcooked. We didn't actually eat it because [livejournal.com profile] pariah_ink came over and I'd made it with wine, so that was no good. Jen made curry instead.

Still obsessed by Killer Sudoku.

Books read this week:

The Ill-Bred Bride, Rosemary Edghill, of which more later.
Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware. Have to admit I only skimmed this -- I may go back and read it properly. Technically impressive and surprisingly moving, but I didn't actually like it very much.
Magic Lessons, Justine Larbalestier.
Jennifer Government, Max Barry, which was uneven but hilarious.
Flirting in Cars, Alisa Kwitney, who has apparently been gone from Vertigo long enough to have written 7!!! books. I liked this one very much. (It also made an inadvertent single-mother diptych with Jennifer Government.) I don't, however, think much of the cover.
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1, Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. Fun -- I'll hope the movie is decent.
electricland: (Electric Landlady)
This weekend I:
  • went to choir practice
  • found a yarn store new to me just north of where the choir practice was (Bathurst south of St. Clair)
  • admired the store's budgie
  • bought some perfectly gorgeous rose cotton-silk blend yarn with which I will be making a sweater if I can get my tension sorted out and decipher the pattern (in the round, with short rows interspersed with increases for one's boobs; at least I don't need to worry about that part for a good, oh, foot or so)
  • since I had already started spending money, went to Joe's next to the big Loblaw's up there and bought a skirt and a dress and three tops and a set of pyjamas for $86.50 including tax
  • discovered that the new lampshades I bought at Ikea do in fact work perfectly well on my bedside lamps now that I've cut down the cardboard bit on the socket so that the bulb can make contact
  • banished the old floor lamp with the metal half-cylinder shade and the very harsh light to the yard sale pile in the basement
  • discovered what an incredible improvement that made to my bedroom, and wondered why I hadn't done it sooner
  • wondered where the other bedside lamp is
  • walked Bender (twice)
  • saw Fracture
  • stayed up way, way, way too late reading The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN
  • wore my new skirt
  • went to two family parties
  • played badminton with my small cousins
  • was urged to visit some other cousins while they're still in Malawi, which kind of makes sense
  • ate way, way, way too much
  • wondered where the weekend went
electricland: (Tardis Christmas)
Friday's house report from my aunt:

Today for lunch, Gill, John, Robin, Dan and I had tuna fish casserole with salad, and bread and cheese. At The House. Cooked in Jen's kitchen. Why would anyone keep the salt and pepper in a cupboard six feet from the ground?

Read more... )
Friday evening we had our choir recital -- went pretty well, except we were horribly off-key on one of the songs (that one is a problem for us). And it was LONG. There were more kids than last year, I think, mainly piano but some violin; they were all incredibly adorable, but it's a bit of a marathon even when they're doing really short pieces.

Saturday I had a civilized morning lolling about on my [livejournal.com profile] pariah_ink's sofa drinking coffee and doing Sudoku and ignoring the piles of boxes scattered all around. Then went and did some Christmas shopping. Then went to my parents' neighbourhood open house -- wasn't really in the party spirit, unfortunately, because I was later than I said I'd be and felt guilty, but it was still fun to catch up with a few people. Wandered home and made another penguin while [livejournal.com profile] crankygrrl attempted to make sense of Jen's tax homework.

Around quarter to 10 we all headed west (gotta love taxis) to the TUIAS show at Cameron House, which I've passed but never been into. Fantastic, fantastic show. I would say this even if Panthea wasn't [livejournal.com profile] raithen's little sister. ;) Note to self, however: do not drink oatmeal stout, it gives you a crappy hangover.

Sunday I lay in bed and read for ages, then went for brunch, then a marathon of shopping on Queen Street -- it's surprising how much you can get done if you put your mind to it. I am now mostly done. Weird. Also bought groceries and made chicken tikka out of a bottle for dinner.

Did not make it to the gym.

Did not do any work on the house, aside from unpacking the odd box.

A good weekend, though.
electricland: (This Is Wonderland)
Choir was excellent. I met [livejournal.com profile] crankygrrl for a drink and (in my case) dinner at the Village Idiot beforehand, so was actually there early for a change and did the stretching part of the warmup. Which is good, because we did the whole two hours without a break. Mainly the Fauré (Cantique de Jean Racine), which is gorgeous but not easy. (He wrote it while still in school.) It's one of those pieces that's much easier to practice with the whole group -- you need the other parts to hear where yours fits in. At which point it's still discordant, but lovely. She wants us to memorize it (eep).

Also did the second verse of Since First I Saw Your Face, which I'm loving. Very Elizabethan. Sounds like a harpsichord. Again, you need all four parts for it to really sound kick-ass, because each voice has long notes on different words (and I have no musical theory so can't tell you the name for the effect).

This morning I sewed sequins on the streetcar. Let me rephrase that: this morning I sat on the streetcar and sewed sequins onto a piece of felt. Gradual progress shall be our watchword.

This evening I shall be volunteering at Planet in Focus. And it's Friday! Hurray!
electricland: (Sigh no more)
(I see I inadvertently discriminated against those of you with children over 18 in that poll. Apologies!) Thank you all so much for the answers and please keep 'em coming!

Just in case you haven't watched the hockey game yet and care )

I see Maggie the Macaque has picked Edmonton to win. Her record seems pretty solid.

Concert this evening -- we were the guests of the Riverdale Youth Singers, with whom we share a conductor. They were great, and the little ones were OMG so adorable! We were pretty good too, I think.
electricland: (me by ohi)
Excellent choir practice. Started with Alex the cute Russian (or something) pianist, ended up in Grange Park as the light slowly faded, singing from memory because it was too unbearably hot in our room. (It wasn't too hot out there, quite the contrary -- quite windy in fact.) Quite beautiful. The Canada Life tower was showing green and steady when we started but red and going down when we finished. Walked up McCaul -- rapidly becoming a favourite street -- and caught the streetcar.
electricland: (Default)
Choir on a Tuesday feels odd. Tomorrow should be Friday, but it isn't.

Kiwanis was fun! Arrived 7ish at the wrong hall (the Armenian Cultural Centre) and were redirected to the right building, across the street (the Armenian Youth Centre, or high school, or possibly both). In the wilds of nowhere (well, Vic Park and 401, close enough). Warmed up in the hall, waited in the lobby until throngs of children started leaving, went in and sat. Two choirs before us, one children's and one adult, VERY good. We were the last choir to sing, and we did our two songs and the adjudicator (who'd been there since 9 a.m.) gave us our feedback -- basically either stuff we knew about and had done not so well, or stuff that was a choice we'd made and that I guess he didn't like. So that was good. We were first in our class (also only -- there was laughter, but he said the rules were very strict and we needed to achieve a certain mark to be first even if there was nobody else in the competition, and our mark was 86, so that was nice).

And then we came home. Two more practices, then March Break.
electricland: (me by ohi)
Side benefit of a late night and bed gravity keeping me out of the shower this morning: my hair was so filthy I decided to go get it cut at lunch just so I could have it washed. (Sorry, that's probably more than you wanted to know about my personal hygiene.) It looks great and I've had many compliments, except from my parents, who haven't noticed. So here's hoping it still looks great tomorrow.

Gave my dad an emergency Outlook tutorial last night. When I entered the room he had 3 instances of Outlook and about 20 message windows open and was complaining that things kept disappearing. Turned out he was minimizing the Outlook every time he wanted to close a message in the preview pane, and then wondering where it had gone. Suddenly these complaints make a lot more sense. I explained about the bold-with-blue-numbers indicating unread messages and he was indignant. Still, I feel we've made some progress with the parental Luddism.*

Choir good. New Mozart, not filthy this time. I have Thoughts on choir which I may share at a later date. It'll probably involve pontification, so don't look forward to it too much.

Last night's candidates meeting made the paper. There was a photo in the print edition. I don't think I was visible, but I'd only have been about 2 pixels high in any case.

*He claims it's not being a Luddite, as the Luddites smashed things because they worked. I say, if you can't bother to figure out how they work and then complain about it, isn't that just as bad? Although not, of course, to his face. Ah, parents.
electricland: (Triplettes)
So, Friday was my choir concert. More exactly, it was the end-of-term recital for the music school of which my choir is a part. This meant that we were the only adults performing; the other performers were an array of (mostly Asian) small children who were all OMGSOCUTE. Some of them could barely reach the piano keyboard, but they all did their thing -- not that I know much about it, but I thought their pieces were pretty well matched to age and ability, so you'd get one kid doing something very simple with only a couple of hesitations while the next whipped off a little flawless Bach. Which I guess is the point. (They were mostly piano students; we also had one violinist, one vocalist, and the children's choir.) Fun to watch; some were very happy to get up there and bow and do the stage-presence thing, and others sort of dashed back to the audience as soon as they reasonably could.

It was all pretty informal -- before it started our choir spent some time figuring out how to line up to get on and off stage in the right order, and there was a call for audience help moving the piano, and none of us was entirely certain where to sit. We were at St. George the Martyr Anglican Church, which is lovely and a wonderful place to sing. My parents and Jen came and enjoyed themselves very much (at least, they said they did). I think we did well; I spend so much time frantically trying to remember stuff like "OK, breathe like this, aim your voice here, shape the note like this" that it's always hard for me to notice how we're doing while actually in the midst, and it's over terribly fast. But it was fun, as it always is, and it was nice that it was SO relaxed and informal. (Especially compared to Wednesday night, when I did front-of-house for my mother's choir and about 700 people came and the choir alone has to be 200.)

Our program:
Aralo - trad. Georgian
Nana - trad. Georgian
Yedid Nefesh - trad. Jewish
Thula Kizio - trad. Zulu
When the Stars Fall - Stephen Hatfield (with a soloist who hadn't rehearsed with us, but who was incredible)
Shouting, Whispering Sea - Mark Patterson (I think)
Come, Let Us Sing - not sure who the composer is, but it's a fun song which we do with the children's choir (did I mention OMGSOCUTE?)

The rest of the weekend:
Friday night: dinner with parents (Peruvian restaurant); The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with [livejournal.com profile] crankygrrl, which made us both very happy (disclaimer: although I read and enjoyed the books as a child, they weren't and aren't favourites in the same way as, for example, the Swallows and Amazons books -- as a result I don't think I bring as many expectations to the movie as I might otherwise. I enjoyed it very much.)
Saturday: took the dog for a walk; started rereading Pride and Prejudice (necessary to reassure myself that it was still there); went over to the house and swept the floors and watched my new window being installed; got parents to drive me out to the wilds of Scarborough to pick up a package which, it turns out, Canada Post didn't leave at that postal outlet at all; dinner with parents (Swiss Chalet); home; bed.
Sunday: socialized a bit with hosts who have returned from frozen North; more Pride and Prejudice; house, vapour barrier (Jen scraped paint off our heat registers); walked over to aunt & uncle's house, meeting real estate agent along the way (he seems slightly horrified that we aren't living in the house yet); admired newly tidy basement and burgeoning Christmas decorations; copied down selections from posted Christmas wish lists; back home for dinner with Italian family who have been in Canada for 6 weeks and were very sweet but had varying amounts of English. Generally more than my Italian, though. My brain kept trying to default to French and then hauling out Spanish words. It's not like I speak Spanish. However, goodwill got us all through.

Christmas cards written: 1 (today at lunch). I had nearly given myself permission to slack off this year and everything.
Number of people for whom I have finished Christmas shopping: 2. I think. Sorta. It would be more, but I'm waiting for some deliveries.
Number of people for whom I am moderately stumped for a present: 2. Hey, that's not so bad.
electricland: (Triplettes)
If anyone is feeling in need of Christmas cheer, the Toronto Choral Society is having their annual Christmas concert tonight. (My mother is a member, and says it's going to be great. I see no reason to doubt this as it's always been great in the past.)

The program features Navidad Nuestra and Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramírez, which celebrate traditional stories and ceremonies with the captivating folk music of South America.

With special guests Cassava Latin Rhythms.

Eastminster United Church
310 Danforth Avenue
(1 block west of Chester subway)

Wednesday, December 7, 2005
7:30 pm
Tickets: $20
Also, my choir (University Settlement) is having our end-of-term recital this Friday at 6 p.m. at St. George the Martyr church. I believe it's free.
electricland: (Default)
but before I go, as promised, I shall post the lyrics of the Mozart piece for [livejournal.com profile] mrs_cake and [livejournal.com profile] pariyal (we are doing the "definitive text" version on p. 2):

One of my fellow altos did give us a rough translation last week; cut in case she was paraphrasing )

There you have it!
electricland: (Flash Girls)
In other language news, we started learning a Mozart round last night at choir. I don't understand German, but a choir member who does assures me the words are absolutely filthy. Am intrigued yet slightly scared. May have to post the text for [livejournal.com profile] mrs_cake.

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