I Answer Crip Dyke’s Question

A while ago, Crip Dyke had a question. I answer it here: the performance.

It’s potentially a limited-time offer (up to 7 days!), also it might be a country-limited offer, but it’s worth a shot. I recommend not trying to figure out the story-line, because even die-hard fans of the epic poem had a tough time figuring it out (due to the lack of actual stage action – it was more concert than theatre). It’s two hours of odd and epic music, but skip the first 7 minutes, it’s a boring intro of people talking. See if you can guess my three favourite manly soloists (all the female vocalists were awesome, but my especial favourite is the one who shows up in the silver dress).

I’m standing pretty much in the middle of the choir behind the stage, third row from the bottom. I don’t clap when everyone else is clapping (for anyone who makes it that far).

I add a few photos of the light-show as viewed from behind the stage during rehearsal.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

I Had Plans

They didn’t include a break, but as it happens, ’tis the season.

Last y’all heard of me, I was becoming a star, and I expected to be back on track by now – turns out, two post-1am nights plus a workday plus a day of rogaining followed by a day of children’s tae kwondo tournaments isn’t exactly a recipe for recovery (after 22km and a record* 48 points in 4 hours on Saturday, I hope you believe me I was practically dead on my feet come Sunday, but parental duties meant I got to sit in a gym for most of the day, keeping a little person’s nerves calm)… and then there was the work trip to Vilnius, and then the centennial celebrations plus my mum’s birthday this weekend. That’s a long list of excuses, but there you have it, at my age, excuses is all you have. I’ll be back on track with a couple of more Macedonia posts (have to finish with those before the next trip comes up, and that, as it turns out, has come up a lot faster than expected, by request of the project leaders and I have two kinds of thoughts about that), I have at least one more post from Austria, and then a few randomly selected picture essays from the summer and early autumn.

In the meantime, please accept my apologies, some rather boring photos from the show (I am in the circle of light) and this lovely song by The Stars, which quite often reflects my ideas about life, planning, and my own expectations. I can write a script and set the scene as much as I want, but life provides its own twists and turns and cliffhanger endings. In other words, I am fine, and I apologize for not keeping up with the rest of you, especially with my forest raking. ‘Intermittent’ is my middle name.

  • A record for my team and I, since we’re not hardcore and we don’t run, we maintain a fast walk, preferably between 5  and 6 km per the hour, take breaks in picturesque locations, and collect as many points as we can. Previous high-scoring events have topped off at 43 or so.

Spotlight Fever

It’s what they call stage fright here. What’s comforting is that I’ll be among a thousand other singers and no one will hear which notes I miss.

In other words, yes, it’s performance day. Here’s a fragment as performed during the Song and Dance Festival, this same soloist is performing the main role tonight. Not as good as the other guy, but he’ll do. The rest of the cast is also quite stellar; I’ll share my impressions after.

(Less comfortingly, I will not have the anonymity of these thousands of singers. But I think one among a thousand is okay, too.)

 

A small child plays in the crossroads,

Beneath the cart wheels, beneath the hooves,

Beneath the iron footprints.

 

A small child plays in the crossroads

Like time, sand runs through his fingers – 

It is our freedom, it is our life.

 

Call me louder, child,

Call me, I still hear – 

I still have a voice and words.

Call me, child!

 

Call me louder, child,

Call me, I still hear – 

I still have a voice and words.

But call me louder!

 

A small child plays in the crossroads

Like time, sand runs through his fingers – 

It is our freedom, it is our life.

 

 

The Sun Rode Into the Sky

Saule Brauca Debesīs (see title for translation) is a neat little Latvian animation film coming out soon (November 15). It’s part of the ‘100 Films for 100 Years’ cycle going on this year, what with the centenary and all. I think it quite lovelily demonstrates the oddity that is Latvian animation and art – it’s got its own style that is distinctively, traditionally Latvian, and the story is taken from folklore: folk songs and folk story motifs are a heavy influence. I think it’s adorable. Here’s the trailer:

I don’t think you need too much of the language to get an idea of the plot.

[Read more…]

Migration

The other night I paused the TV to listen to the cries of migrating birds outside in the dark. There’s something very haunting about that song, so much distance and weather and effort ahead. And yet they fly, obeying a biological imperative. After all, it’s getting cold.

Moving on.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I was introduced to Jānis Ivanovs, Latvian composer, through choir, where we sang his Gājputni (“migratory birds”) one of the first years I was a member. It’s a very moody piece in minor key, and we performed it with great effect during our surprise performance in competition. Since then, his vocalizations (tone poems?) for choir appeal to me most simply due to emotional attachment, despite the fact that he has many symphonic works to his name.

Unfortunately, the migratory birds are too seldom performed to have video available online, so instead, here is my second choice, Rudens dziesma (“autumn song”). (You can always visit the National Library, they have all the vocalizations in archive!)

They Make Their Own Music.

The spheres, that is – the planets. It’s nothing new, but I recently came across: Spooky Space ‘Sounds’.

Juno Captures the ‘Roar’ of Jupiter: NASA’s Juno spacecraft has crossed the boundary of Jupiter’s immense magnetic field. Juno’s Waves instrument recorded the encounter with the bow shock over the course of about two hours on June 24, 2016.

Plasma Waves: Plasma waves, like the roaring ocean surf, create a rhythmic cacophony that — with the EMFISIS instrument aboard NASA’s Van Allen Probes — we can hear across space.

Saturn’s Radio Emissions: Saturn is a source of intense radio emissions, which were monitored by the Cassini spacecraft. The radio waves are closely related to the auroras near the poles of the planet. These auroras are similar to Earth’s northern and southern lights. More of Saturn’s eerie-sounding radio emissions.

Check it out. Creepy and amazing all at once.

Was There a Mosh Pit, Too?

Classical music has long been associated with heightened emotions, violent premieres, and composers escaping from disappointed audiences through windows and the like. But I thought those days were over, at least for classical music, until this headline caught my eye: Malmö performance of Mahler’s Fifth ends in brawl.

I leave you with the tension of the introductory paragraphs:

The conflict began shortly after the renowned Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons brought the bombastic introduction to the fourth movement to a shuddering halt, leading his Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra deftly into the movement’s slow, atmospheric adagietto, wrote the Sydsvenskan newspaper.
At this point that the rustling on the second balcony became apparent, ruining the effect of the gently soaring strings and softly plucked harp for all sitting nearby.

 

Wheat Kings

Sometimes my head has too many thoughts.

Today’s song holds more than just a nice melody for me. In a lot of ways, what it is about is a reminder of why I do the work that I do, and why it is important to do it well. If you google “David Milgaard” (the inspiration – what a terrible designation – behind the song), you can probably divine more than a hint of what I do. The why is a complicated mix of ‘I like it’ and higher values and the feeling that I can do something to make the world a little… better, I suppose. Or something that makes me feel useful on a daily basis. Anyway, here’s your music:

The Tragically Hip is a strange kind of band, they’ve been around since the 1980s and they really sunk deep into the Canadian consciousness. They were certainly a fixture of the music world in the 1990s and early 2000s. I don’t know if they ever tried (too hard), but they never made it big outside of Canada. Within Canada, though, hoo boy. Everyone knows them, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily like them. They have a very unique style that doesn’t always feel accessible. It’s taken me years to grow into my appreciation of their music, and they certainly have a rich collection of Canadiana that touches on stereotypes and themes and very specifically Canadian subjects, even though their songs that I do like are definitely among my favourites. Their lead singer, Gord Downie, is a whole other kettle of fish. He did their farewell tour 2 years ago (he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and was given about a year, he walked on later that same year) and it was one of the biggest things to happen in recent Canadian cultural history. Not least because in his final months he addressed the subject of residential schools (I’m a bit out on a white dude saying so much without hearing about him giving First Nations people a voice of their own, but I can’t say he did wrong). We’ll be hearing more from the Tragically Hip in the future.

In any case, enjoy the music. I have a very social weekend ahead of me and it’s tangling with new stuff at work that makes me feel out-of-step but has many possibilities for personal and professional development. I hope to recover soon. :)

A Soviet Heritage

So this happened. And yes, snowflake that I am, I find it offensive. Deeply so.

“We are disappointed that the largest retailer in the world and in the U.S., Walmart, does not acknowledge or respect the millions of victims of various nationalities, who suffered under the Soviet regime – those deported, including the elderly, infants and children, political prisoners, dissidents, members of resistance movements and all those who lost their lives, health or family in the Gulag or other repressions of the Soviet totalitarianism,” a letter to Walmart, signed by the chairman of the Estonian Pro Patria party, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Estonia’s minister of justice, Urmas Reinsalu, and the Estonian member of the European Parliament, Tunne Kelam, said.

It’s like some symbols of authoritarian regimes are verboten, while others… are hip and trendy? By virtue of being labelled differently? (And yes, the term ‘communist’ as applied to the Soviet Union bears little resemblance to its application to the underlying philosophy, but this is not that discussion.)

[Read more…]

Equus

One thing people may or may not know about me: I luuuuuurrrrve horses. Sorry not sorry, I do. And while some of us have had very varied experiences with them, I would like to share something that tends more towards the wondrous grace and amazing beauty of this magnificent animal.

Mari Lwyd by Rhyn Williams, at DeviantArt

Okay, okay, that’s not the subject of this post, but seeing as Halloween season is approaching fast, here’s more info via HyperAllergic on the Mari Lwyd phenomenon. (Very pagan, and I love to see these spooky traditions still maintained today.)

Anyway.

So, in short, I am both happy and sad: I recently discovered a new documentary series on HORSES! on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, ha) website.

Here’s the trailer:

And oh my gosh, it’s horses, and wild scenery, and people, and dramatic music and slo-mos, and wow! I thought it was a four-part, but it’s a three-part mini-series (part one, part two, part three). Why so sad? Because the videos are only available in Canada (as anyone not in Canada might have already discovered by clicking those links). The CBC does have a youtube channel, but it’s been no more helpful, because from what I can tell, this hasn’t been posted yet (or maybe it’s because I haven’t subscribed).

The article that led me to this find is here, unfortunately for some reason I cannot find the actual article on my computer so you have to settle for the mobile version.

Our ancestors settled every corner of the planet on foot. But when we harnessed horsepower — roughly 6,000 years ago — the human story changed forever. For clever-but-slow Homo sapiens, the strength and speed of horses was a perfect complement. Horses transported us, pulled our loads, plowed out fields, herded our livestock, and carried us into battle (or sped us away from danger). In ways no other animal could, horses were our constant and irreplaceable companion.

In the age of machines, we still talk about “horsepower.” But horses have lost their central place in human life; we now keep them as pets and companions.

But while their importance in the human world is fading, there are some horse cultures that survive today. In Equus: Story of the Horse, we meet some of them.

The documentary visits Kazakh nomads, the Yakuts of Northern Siberia, the Blackfoot of the Western Plains, and the Bedouin. Some of those horses (the northern ones) are seriously cute.

In honour of all horses who inspire us (in one way or another), here’s a fusion of Mongolian throat singing and traditional Latvian folk music. It is quite something. Don’t forget to enjoy the gorgeous scenery, too!

The Teeth of a Lion

The dandelions are still out and about in the lawn, in various guises.

via iguanamouth.tumblr.com

(More here, the second illustration is lovely.)

I know they were some of Caine’s favourites, so of course I stopped to take a few photos (did not see any dandy lions, though – sadly).

Bright yellow and sneaking around in the grass!

 

Pretending to be a star.

And on the subject of vague nostalgia, here is song I meant to share a while ago, from a new folk/fusion/? group of singers called Tautumeitas (“The Folk Girls”, although the term ‘tautumeitas’ is generally used as a collective term for unmarried women who are not kin). They have a few I will be sharing (love their stuff), I know Caine herself shared one a while ago. This song is called Sadziedāmi, and the chorus, in essence, says: Let us sing together, sisters, while we are still in one place – who knows where each of us shall be other years?