An Experimental Life

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sublime singing & clandestine craft

Last night I went to the most amazing concert. I went to hear the Newman College Choir perform a whole range of mostly early music including Tallis' Spem in Alium, the stunning 40-part motet (with one person per part). It must be one of the great all time works of choral music and I have always wanted the opportunity to perform it, but to hear it live was pretty special too. Because the college choir itself only has about 18 singers, they invited other ring-ins to make the numbers up to forty. I was so close to being invited! Jenny was singing and apparently they needed someone else at the last minute, but between her speaking to me and then ringing the conductor back to let him know I was available, it turned out that he'd found another person. But it doesn't matter - I actually do far too much performing with choirs and no where near enough going to hear them perform (though I probably go to more concerts than a lot of other people in choirs I know. But don't even get me started on this!)

Anyway, being an audience member for last night's concert felt like such a privilege. The Newman College Dining Hall is a stunning domed octagonal building (designed by Walter Burley-Griffin who is famous, chiefly, for designing Canberra), with a first floor corridor that runs the whole way round the building and has big arched windows and four balconies. The choir stood all the way round the corridor/balconies so they were entirely surrounding the audience, who were in the middle below. The sound just reverberated round the room, and because of the nature of the work, you'd often hear a short phrase come from one part of the choir and then be echoed again by someone on the other side of the hall, and again a few bars later by someone else. And if you ask me, that's the only way this piece can really be performed to do it justice. Ah, English rennaissance polyphony! Going to hear a really good choir sing music like that is probably the closest I get to a truly spiritual experience.

They also did Arvo Pärt's Nunc Dimittis which I'd never heard, although I'm familiar with a lot of his earlier works. And a sublime setting (in 6 or 8 parts, I think) of the well-known Sibelius melody Finlandia, sung as an unaccompanied hymn with the text 'Be Still, My Soul'. That was the encore, and it was a simply perfect way to end the concert. All the other music was new to me, but I have a heap of things to go look up on eMusic now!

In other general news, it feels like it has been a week of excesses: excess spending, excess eating (oops!) and excess working. I worked probably 5-6 hours more than I do in an average week, including 3 hours yesterday when I went in to help pack a newsletter that goes out to five hundred people. One of the clients had a 4-hour planning meeting with their committee in the morning, and it would have been so easy for the dozen of them to stay round afterwards and do the newsletter together (it probably would have only taken 45 minutes with that many people) - it is their organisation, after all. But no, apparently the president has a 'policy' that the committee shouldn't be expected to do that kind of thing. And yet she complains frequently and loudly about how much the administration costs. Well she really can't have it both ways!

Oh, I meant to post this earlier in the week. Here's the mirror frame I mosaiced for Mum for Mothers' Day:

The photo's a little fuzzy, but I love the way the mirror turned out. I think this may be my best effort yet out of all the mosaic things I've made. I was paranoid at first that Mum wasn't going to like it, mostly because I wondered whether she would have wanted a say in the colours and the design. It had initially been a request, after I did the one for Ann a year or so ago, but Mum hadn't mentioned it in ages so I figured I'd make it a surprise for Mothers' Day. It goes perfectly in the bathroom, and she seems to really like it, which is what counts. Do you know how hard it is to mosaic something in secret though?! Apart from cutting the glass, which I did outside, I mostly worked on it in my room in the evenings for an hour or two at a time, and then hid it under my bed. But when it came to getting it outside to the garage in order to grout, I had to sneak it past her when she had her back turned, and I'm sure she knew I was up to something when I spent an hour out in the garage last Saturday afternoon!

Anyway, today I'm hoping to have a fairly quiet day. I have to return some library books and get a few groceries, and if I have the energy I'll make some yummy vegetable soup to take for lunches during the week. I need to have lots of low-point days to make up for a few high ones lately...

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home