Art, Creativity, Music, Uncategorized

Royal Wedding – Jerusalem, inspires you to greatness

Kate Middleton enters Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011

I was so touched by the words of the anthem/hymn, Jerusalem by William Blake (1808) music by Sir Hubert Parry (1916) during the recent Marriage ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  Poetry is not written like this anymore, where the words are so powerful, they move you not just through emotions, but with the desire to become something greater than you are now.

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant Land

Beneath this poem, William Blake inscribed an excerpt from the Bible: ‘”Would to God that all the Lord’s people were Prophets” (Numbers 11:29).

Please see more of the interpretation of this poem here.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge exit Westminster Abbey

Much has been made of whether this is a Patriotic Anthem or a Hymn, to me it’s both.

So here’s my challenge.  Try writing poetry, not in the Modern style (devoid of rules, rhyme, meter, or sense)  but in a Romantic or Classical style that can be seen as an anthem or hymn.  Something that is moving, both with words and phrases.  It’s harder than it looks.

We have come to a time when mediocrity is celebrated.  When people scoff at attempts to live enriching principles.

There was nothing mediocre about the wedding that was celebrated last weekend.  Extreme lengths were taken to prepare for this wedding in the name of perfection and the celebration of Marriage.  It was simply, Historic.

I want more from the art that comes from our time.  I want Art that speaks to the inner goodness inside mankind.  Words that don’t mock or deride a person for trying to be more than they are now.  Creations that breathe life, action, and a desire to be better into our minds and hearts.

When people desire to undertake worthwhile challenges simply because it builds the soul, we will be better people on this earth.

Here is a video of the event –


Top Ten Opera Favorites

I think that Opera gets such a bad wrap!  It can be so beautiful and powerful when sung correctly.  It takes so much talent and vocal power to sing like that.

As I was finding the music for this post, my two year old was on my lap and she wanted to hear the Hansel and Gretel over and over again.  So we’ll begin with that one.

1. Abendsegen or Evening Prayer from Engelbert Humperdinck’s  (I know, I love the name too!) Opera Hansel and Gretel, first performed in December 1893.  The Opera is in German, but the one here is in English.  I chose this version, because it was my little daughter’s favorite.

2. Der Hölle Rache or the Queen of the Night Aria from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  Another favorite song from this Opera is the Papageno-Papagena duet (my daughters really love it).  This version is Erika Miklosa’s performance, and while  she looks a bit creepy singing into the camera, the character is crazy and creepy.  More importantly, her voice is SO beautiful.

3. O Soave Fanciulla or Oh Gentle Maiden from Giacomo Puccini’s beautiful La Bohème, probably one of the most well known Operas worldwide.  The entire opera is worth a listen. The last few notes of this piece almost always make me cry, no matter the rendition.  This performance was Live from Berlin 7 July 2006, and the entire concert (The Berlin Concert: Live from the Waldbuhne) can be purchased on Amazon –  here.

Anna Netrebko is fast becoming my favorite and I really enjoyed Rolando Villazon.

4. The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves by Guiseppe Verdi found in his Opera Nabucco. I thought that this performance was particularly touching.  The tempo and power with which it is sung, and the photographs from the opera are fantastic.

5. Flower Duet from Leo Delibe’s  Opera Lakme. All I know about the concert is that it is from Baden Baden in 2007, sung by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca.  This duet is heavenly.

6. In the early 90’s as an impressionable teenager, I saw the movie A Room with a View (1985) and there was a scene when Lucy Honeychurch is walking through a tall wheat field, and this man, George Emerson, that she has just met grabs her and kisses her.  It was a moment that has stayed with me for years.  The scene was set to Giacomo Puccini’s  Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from his Opera  La Rondine. Though this performance is dated (1982) it is sung so superbly by Leontyne Price.

7. Another song, used in that movie was O Mio Babinno Caro or Oh my Dear Papa, from Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. This performance is  Norwegian soprano, Sissel Kyrkjebø singing the aria  from her 2002 DVD concert All Good Things.

8. Sempre Libera from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. This is again Anna Netrebko & Rolando Villazónin concert at the 2005 Saltzberg Festival.  The performance has a very interesting modern set and costume design, which you may or may not like.  I have always loved the Tenor part singing from offstage.

9. Au Fond Du Temple Saint a duet from George Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. This is one of the reasons that I love to hear men sing.  Listen to the beauty and power of this duet.  Eric Cutler and Nathan Gunn are the performers in this 2008 production in Chicago.


Here is a more complete performance (see comments on this post) –  Jonas Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky sing in a 12/16/08 concert in Moscow.


10. The Master of Opera, Luciano Pavarotti and the song of all songs – Nessun Dorma, from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot. There is nothing like it, this is the reason that I fell in love with opera.  Just listen to the final notes – phenomenal!

A final shout out goes to Britain’s Got Talent’s 2007 winner Paul Potts.  This video is truly brilliant.  They all think that he is going to tank as he begins to perform Nessun Dorma. The look on the faces of the judges and audience members is priceless.


Musical Memories

Singing to your child can do a lot of wonderful things.  Calm down babies at night.  Have fun interactive play.  Stop meltdowns in the car (well maybe not full-blown meltdowns, but it can stave off some, if used early enough).  Teach rhythm, poetry and mental recall.  It can also bring back happy memories of worry free days.  Give your kids the gifts of music and song – not from the radio (they will have PLENTY of teenage memories of what’s on the radio) but from you singing together.  Begin by making a list of all of the songs that you remember from when you were a child.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star 
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • There was a little house in the middle of the woods
  • I’m a Little Fire Engine
  • How much is that doggie in the window?
  • The Grandfather Clock
  • Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree
  • James, James – hold the ladder steady!
  • Any Disney Song
  • Children gospel/church songs (i.e. This Little Light of Mine)
  • Christmas songs – Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, etc.
  • Fifty Nifty United States.
  • The Candy Man

Don’t worry about the words (most are listed on the internet if you must have them or have forgotten) create new words if you need to.  Make the song uniquely about your child or children.  Very young children will love the songs with actions.  Use songs for silly things like keeping them quiet and entertained while changing diapers, bathtime, brushing teeth, etc.  Use old melodies and write new words to help kids learn and get things done.  For example, a dear friend made up songs that taught her grandchildren how to spell their names. 

(To the tune of L.O.V.E by Nat King Cole – A is for your pretty Angel eyes, N is cause I’ll Never leave your side, one more N is cause you’re Nice to all who pass you by, and E is for a girl who’s Extra super cute and fun – (skip to the last line in the song here) oh Anne you’re made to be my friend! )

What songs are your family favorites? Have you done any word rearranging to favorite tunes?  When do you sing at home the most?