09 December 2012

day 9: melody

I discovered something today: that it isn't baking, or making, or writing cards, or shopping ( I have done none of these, by the way) or even the weather that make me feel like Christmas is really on the way.  It is hearing the first carol.  Somehow they have eluded me until now, but I caught a snatch of a folk version of The Holly and the Ivy on the radio this afternoon and it suddenly all felt real.  It coincided with the pruning of our holly tree, so there are snippets of leaves around the kitchen looking deep and glossy and ready to be constructed into something possibly christmassy.  It's not quite all coming together, but at least I'm in the zone.

We've also been along this evening to a concert of Brahms' German Requiem at a nearby church, home to a rather marvellous choir.  Now, a requiem might hardly seem like a precursor to festivity, but it was beautifully executed. and uplifting  According to the programme, Brahms was not religious but chose the texts from the Lutheran Bible to give comfort and consolation to the living and finally promise them rest. Maybe rather more apposite for the next few weeks than it first seems.

If your preference is for something more obviously seasonal you could do worse than find something in the Book of Christmas Melodies.  I bought it in a charity shop, attracted by the jolly cover - I do love a wall.  I was planning to cannibalise it to make cards but I just couldn't do it.  In my head a day will come when someone will play on an upright piano all the unheard of carols just to please me.  As that is somewhat unlikely, I have been amusing myself thinking how I might be able to illustrate some of the lesser known carols and include them in the calendar, like this for example:

Sketch by John from life drawing class with carol music

In other acts of silliness, the search is already on for an "Angel's Trump".  It was mentioned in a programme I watched about Tallis and Byrd this week and now I've got to find one.  If you'd like to commission or even contribute something not too unreasonable yourself for the advent calendar please do.  I am definitely up for a quest.  

Oh, and the other thing I learnt today is that I definitely need more music in my life.

Many thanks for your comments on the gold coins post about charity.  I very much appreciate your sharing your perspectives on such a personal topic, and it was some consolation to find that I am not the only one who has decided that lines have to be drawn somewhere.


Liz said...

A copy of Christmas Songs For All The Family is open on the piano here. I play for Boo who seems to be the only one to appreciate my efforts though even he has a tendency to cry along. I think the piano may need tuning.

60 going on 16 said...

We - as in the choir I sing with, Exe Valley Voices - sang the folk version of The Holly and the Ivy in a concert we gave as part of Dunster by Candlelight on Saturday. (We all love it!) We sang our hearts out in Dunster's ancient parish church to a capacity audience (standing room only), with queues snaking round the building.

I'm hoping to persuade our inspirational choir leader to include Gaudete in next year's repertoire . . .

Have always loved music, of all kinds, but actually making music and sharing that music with others has been an amazing and uplifting experience for me.

Anonymous said...

Really missing my dose of Christmas jazz this year - we normally go and see Abram Wilson (who taught my son) at King's Place. Abram died very quickly aged 38 of cancer six months ago and there is, of course, no possible substitution. But we get a lot of Christmas music in this house - two of the kids play brass instruments in various bands and so we start the season with Remembrance Sunday and finish up this coming weekend with Carols at the Crematorium (the one in Wanstead). At home, from 1st December, CDs from Sufjan Stevens, Carla Bley and this year the wonderful Tracey Thorn all bring us their particular take on Christmas. It's lovely.


Knit nurse said...

I try to get to a performance of Handel's Messiah every year; being taken to it every year as a kid it has become one of the parts of Christmas that I really love. I'm pretty sure the opening bars could be used if I ever needed to meditate to music, it takes me deep inside myself almost instantly.

rachel said...

A Requiem can be gloriously uplifting!

An encouraging post today, thank you. I'm off to dig out my carols CDs now. Proper ones, not the hideous Christmas songs inflicted on us in shops, that can render me either murderous in five minutes or heading for the exit.

And then I may think about a wreath for the front door....