Video
0

Creative People: The Ostlers – a family creating together

One of the things that I admire most about my sister (and there are a lot of things) is that she has a TOTAL mother-heart. She and her hubby LOVE their family and they love to be together, which is wonderful, but can be problematic when you are trying to make your artistic dreams come true! Both she and her husband are incredibly creative people. Fiona writes novels and has a theater background (including acting, writing and directing) and is amazingly musical (songs just pop into her mind – wow!) Bret is an artist, I mean everything that the man touches turns into art! He does photography, draws, writes poetry, and is very musical. As a married couple, each has supported the other in their aspirations – he has a band, she a writing career.

But recently, they came up with a BRILLIANT idea. What would happen if they created together? What if they involved the whole family in creating together? That way they could work on their dreams, talents, and passions, but have family fun as well (and teach the kids valuable lessons about creativity). The solution? The Bret and Fiona Show. It’s a YouTube family comedy sketch show. They involve everyone, create original songs, write and produce, film and edit.  It’s truly amazing to think about how much those kids are going to learn about the creative process!!!

Here’s their first season –

1. Family Band: in which Bret quits his job in order to start a family band.

2. We Have Cookies: in which Bret is unable to get his job back, but finds a silver lining in a bad situation.

3. Fiona Strikes Back: in which Fiona uses her musical ability to slap some sense into Bret.

4. The Mommy List: in which Fiona goes back to work and leaves Bret in charge of the home.

5. Staycation: in which Bret can’t stand being a stay-at-home dad and moves the family into a hotel.

6. Travel Agent: in which Fiona loses her job and only writing a song can bring her out of her sadness.

I put in my favorite videos, although they’re all fun and there are some holiday special songs as well. Check out all of their shows through the links above.

It led me to think for a long time about what I could do with my girls. What would be a creative activity that we could all do together? One that will be fun, teach them some skills, help us to learn to work together, and fit into our time and money budgets – but most importantly be something that I am passionate about creating. I think I’ve come up with the right fit, which I will write about soon.

What about you? What can you and your family to create together?  With summer coming up, this is the perfect time to do something wonderful together!

0

Handel’s Messiah

As promised, I wanted to write in more detail about Handel’s Messiah in connection with the Christmas season and the previous post about George Frideric Handel in the composers section, then I read an article that perfectly stated the things that I wanted to share, and added much more.  An excerpt from it is as follows:

After all the music he had composed throughout his lifetime, Handel would eventually be known worldwide for this singular work, Messiah,largely composed in just three weeks during the late summer of 1741. Upon completing his composition, he humbly acknowledged, “God has visited me.”5 Those who feel the touch of the Holy Spirit as they experience the overpowering testimony of Handel’s Messiah would agree.

To the sponsors of the first performance of the oratorio, Handel stipulated that profits from this and all future performances of Messiah “be donated to prisoners, orphans, and the sick. I have myself been a very sick man, and am now cured,” he said. “I was a prisoner, and have been set free.”6

Following the first London performance of Messiah, a patron congratulated Handel on the excellent “entertainment.”

“My lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them,” Handel humbly replied. “I wish to make them better.”7

The full article, Handel and the Gift of Messiah, by Elder Spencer J. Condie can be found here and is well worth a read.

Then today, I had a discussion with a friend about the Messiah, and he said that he didn’t know it.  I sang a few bars from the Hallelujah Chorus, which of course he had heard.  So, in honor of that friend, I will post a few of my favorite pieces from that Oratorio.

If you ever go to a Messiah sing-along, they are amazing!  The entire Messiah can be as long as three hours, (there are 52 movements, or sections, total) and it typically is performed by an Orchestra and Soloists, and the Audience sings with the soloists on the major ensemble pieces.  Here is a site that lists the movements and the text for each of the sections.

I’ll just share a few of the more familiar parts of the Oratorio –

For Unto Us a Child is Born the text comes from Isaiah 9:6 This is a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The Hallelujah Chorus the text comes from Revelation 19:6, Revelation 11:15, Revelation 19:16.  This is a Flash Mob performance at the The Welland Seaway Mall, in Niagara Falls, Canada on November 13, 2010.  I chose this performance because I was truly touched by the emotion of  both the singers and the observers in the mall.

I Know that My Redeemer Liveth the text comes from Job 19:25-26.  I searched for a video that I thought did it justice, and though this is just a live recording, I love the ethereal sound of the soprano and the way that her voice sounds with the acoustics is just lovely.  It was sung by soprano Luísa Kurtz, accompanied by the UCS Orchestra on December 12, 2007, Catedral de Santa Teresa, Caxias do Sul, RS – Brazil.

(There is also an up-tempo, “pop” performance by Sister Gladys Knight.  I love it because she is singing her testimony.)

Some other lovely movements from this work are:

  • Comfort Ye My People
  • O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion
  • Glory to God in the Highest
  • Worthy is the Lamb and AMEN
0

Ombra Mai Fu and Water Music – AHH Handel

For Joyce –

I actually hadn’t heard of Ombra Mai Fu, and had to do some research (so thank you, because I found a new favorite).  It is is the opening aria from the 1738 opera Serse by George Frideric Handel and is quite lovely.  I don’t think they sound too similar, but then again, some of his work seems, at times, repetitive (forgive me, Handel).

I just wanted to post three more selections from Handel, in honor of  Joyce.

Ombra Mai Fu – This is Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Cardiff 1989, bad video quality and it cuts off abruptly, but it’s a little taste and WHAT a voice!

Water Music – Performed by The King’s Consort and Conducted by Robert King

Finally, if you don’t have time for anything else – THIS is worth a listen and a watch.

Music for the Royal Fireworks – From the Queen’s Jubilee Concerts, Buckingham Palace(2002) conducted by Andrew Davis.

2

George Frideric Handel

Handel in a 1733 portrait by Balthasar Denner

In honor of the Christmas season, my third composer is George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), born in Germany (Halle, Brandenburg-Prussia) and settled in London, becoming a naturalized British subject. He was trained in Italy and influenced by Italian Baroque and German Choral traditions.

A few interesting tidbits from his life are as follows:

  • According to John Mainwaring, his first biographer, “Handel had discovered such a strong propensity to Music, that his father who always intended him for the study of the Civil Law, had reason to be alarmed. He strictly forbade him to meddle with any musical instrument but Handel found means to get a little clavichord privately convey’d to a room at the top of the house. To this room he constantly stole when the family was asleep” (taken from a Wikipedia article on Handel).
  • He was a very good businessman, investing in the South Sea Stock, and starting three Opera Companies.  Even though, as business does, there were financial ups and downs  for Handel, he died a wealthy man.
  • He was a philanthropist, setting up a yearly benefit concert of the Messiah to benefit the Founding Hospital and giving to a charity for impoverished musicians and their families.
  • He wrote 42 Operas, 29 Oratorios, 120 other Choral works (cantatas, trios, duets, etc) and 16 Organ Concerti.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) stated  –  “Raphael paints wisdom, Handel sings it, Phidias carves it, Shakespeare writes it, Wren builds it, Columbus sails it, Luther preaches it, Washington arms it, Watt mechanizes it.”
  • Handel committed a lot of plagiarism, and when asked why, he said, “It’s much too good for him; he did not know what to do with it.” Another composer, William Boyce (1711-1779) said of it, “He takes other men’s pebbles and polishes them into diamonds.”
  • ” The figure of Handel was large, and he was somewhat corpulent, and unwieldy in his motion; but his countenance, which I remember as perfectly as that of any man I saw but yesterday, was full of ire and dignity; and such as impressed ideas of superiority and genius. He was impetuous, rough, and peremptory in his manners and conversations, but totally devoid of ill-nature or malevolence.” (Charles Burney, An Account of the Musical Performances…in Commemoration of Handel (1785))

Here is a sample of his work, Zadock the Priest, Coronation Anthem No. 1 (the most famous of these Anthems) and one that has always touched me.  This one was performed at the Queen’s Concerts, Buckingham Palace for her Majesty the Queen during her Golden Jubilee in 2002 – BBC Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Chorus conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.  I loved the video in the background of Queen Elizabeth’s actual coronation.

I have a list of some more of his works on the music page.

Research from this post came from the following sites –

http://www.gfhandel.org (for an in-depth look, and the source of many of the quotes)

Wikipedia (for a quick overview)

I will write more about his work, The Messiah, in the next post.

1

Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach in a 1748 portrait by Haussmann

My next composer is Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) a German composer who wrote during the Baroque period.  Bach was a proficient musician, playing the organ, harpsichord, violin, and viola and wrote and improvised copious amounts of music.

J.S. Bach came from a long line of musicians and four of his children became famous composers as well.  In three decades, over 50 Bachs were known musicians, several of them notable composers.

He was famous in his day as an Organist and Organ tester and constructor.  As a musician, a composer, and in his ability to take a musical theme and improvise on it.

Constantin Bellermann described his playing as follows; His feet seemed to fly across the pedals as if they were winged, and mighty sounds filled the church.

Another Musician of the time stated; His fingers were all of equal strength, all equally able to play with the finest precision. He had invented so comfortable a fingering that he could master the most difficult parts with perfect ease [using 5 fingers instead of the then normal 3]. He was able to accomplish passages on the pedals with his feet which would have given trouble to the fingers of many a clever player on the keyboard.

JS Bach had 20 children, though only ten lived to adulthood.  The first seven were with his first wife, Maria Barbara who suddenly died at age 35.  His second wife Anna Magdalena, was a gifted Soprano and 17 years his junior.  They had 13 children and a very loving relationship.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was that they would often have giant family musical parties and Anna Magdalena organized regular musical evenings featuring the whole family playing and singing together with visiting friends.

Another thing that I loved in researching his life was the fact that he would create notebooks of music for his wife (Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach) and children (many keyboard works for their instruction).  What a wonderful idea, to create something for the benefit and instruction of your own family.

I also found some quotes attributed to Bach that left an impression on me;

  • There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself. 🙂
  • I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed . . . equally well.
  • The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.
  • Where there is devotional music, God is always at hand with His gracious presence.

Here is a youtube video of  Julian Lloyd Webber plays Bach’s Air on the G string with pianist Rebecca Woolcock.

My research for this came from the following places –

http://www.baroquemusic.org/bqxjsbach.html (for a very in-depth look)

Wikipedia (for a quick over-view)

Mr. Bach Comes to Call, The Children’s Group, 1988 CD