Thursday, November 09, 2006

In Which You Might Ask: Is Today Melina's Birthday?

And if you did, the answer would be, why, yes, it is. She is twenty-three.


At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!

I think the follwoing only works in IE, but it's a fun listen, even if you do have to download a plug in. If you come to Paducah, I'll get our brass quintet to play it for you.


At 1:22 PM, Anonymous alma said...

You will share a birth date with my new nephew, who will be born ANY MINUTE now! Happy happy birthday!

At 6:12 PM, Blogger kenju said...

Happy Birthday, Melina! You share it with a good friened of mine and Badaunt.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger melinama said...

Happy bththuthday my dearest girl! Enjoy your takeout dinner and trying to expunge itunes from your hard-drive (better to leave that till the next day perhaps).

At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Your blog recaps on Alborada were excellent, have you seen Alondra? Also produced by Carla Estrada who produced Amor Real & Alborada. I bought Alondra, all 80 episodes on DVD from ebay after i fell in love with Amor real and Alborada, I recommend you try obtain it if you havn't seen it, i think you will fall in love with it too, it is also a period piece in the same style & class like the Alborada + it also stars Fernando Colunga and many other actors that acted in Amor real and Alborada, the costumes are excellent in Alondra, the Balls and dancing is breathless, the storyline is just as gripping as Alborada and intense Amor Real was.

Have you seen it?

Sorry, got carried away, just thought i'd drop a message to say i really enjoyed reading your Alborada recaps.

Oh, Happy birthday!


At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Hypatia said...

Woohoo! Happy birthday!

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Thomas Williams said...

I chanced upon your excellent blog by accident, and noticed that you had a review of the King's Singers from last October. I am so glad that you like me enjoy the work of the King's Singers; I am very familiar with their discography and performances and agree that the Sacred Bridges concerts were special occasions indeed.

However, I am saddened by some elements of your review, as they display an unfortunate misinterpretation of what the King's Singers are about and how they perform. I hope that my post will help to explain some of this, and that you will forgive me my input. After all, blogs are all about opinion and discussion so as to better inform our lives, right?

First, I find the link between the three monotheistic religions in terms of their reverence of the Psalms of David, an extremely strong (as opposed to tenuous) link, and with the modern-day tendancy to emphasise differences, the incredible convergence of these three otherwise diametrically opposed faiths is extraordinary. Using this incredible link in a concert programme shows great inspiration and a unifying ideal that is sadly missing from the programmes of most modern musicians. That is of course just my opinion - but calling it "tenuous" is a bit strange.

Secondly, when the King's Singers was formed, in 1968, there was no such thing as "crossover," and so it's factually incorrect to label any of their music using that term. They simply took the two elements of their daily lives (evensong in King's College Chapel, and the popular arrangements they performed as dinner entertainment to earn some extra cash) and put them together. Sir David Willcocks (their director of music) said that it would never work, but because nobody else had ever attempted to be good at everything, the world sat up and took notice. From the beginning, then, the brief was never to ignore or be cynical of any form of music, as long as it displayed virtuosic elements in its own right. "Crossover" is a word that has been invented to gloss over the less-than-virtuosic performances of attractive yet relatively untalented musicians who seek to bastardise wonderful classical music to make it more saccharine for the masses. The King's Singers are unique - they have never ventured into the world of "Crossover" music because they have never needed to. Pop music is presented as just that, with no apology, and classical music (whether Machaut, Cornyshe, Tallis, Byrd, Palestrina, Brahms, Reger, Sibelius, Nkosi, McCabe, Ligeti or otherwise) is presented on its own merits as well. Comparisons are often fruitless, but who are we to judge what music is "good" and what is "bad?"

I find that the comments on the music of the Beatles and "Black Gospel" (the latter hardly a politically-correct term in itself) smack of musical snobbery; in their own way, the Beatles are the modern-day madrigalists, equally as important in terms of their compositional originality and sheer volume of work as Mozart or Bach were in their own time - just think about Mozart's avant-garde compositional style and its subdued reception at the court of Vienna. The way that the King's Singers approach all these more popular forms of music is with the same humility due to any of the "great" classical composers - sympathetically and precisely, using the same clarity of pitch, diction and intonation as you enjoyed so much in Sacred Bridges. The word "cheesy" is incredibly wide of the mark - this implies either a lack of taste, a lack of excellence or poor pastiche. The music of the Beatles can never be accused of this, and seeing as George Martin himself worked on the King's Singers' album, and they have worked with Sir Paul McCartney as well, I think we can give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. Their arrangements are sympathetic and capture perfectly the mood of each song, in true professional style.

Likewise yor comment on the "effete" nature of the "Fa la la la las." Again, I think the point is missed. The poets did not put these phrases in for lack of thought, or as a "filler," but for very good reasons of censorship and as an emotional tool. Elizabethan madrigals are the "pop" music of their day; to deride them as being invalid is simply not comprehending their purpose. They speak of everyday life, and love. Innuendo was as popular a dramatic tool then as now, and one can easily imagine the listeners rolling around with mirth during each "fa la la la la" as the previous phrase's innuendo was embelished and the audience left to imagine exactly what the lads and their bonny lasses were getting up to. To sing such phrases in a straight way without emotion or stagecraft makes for a simply tedious performance which entirely negates the purpose of the piece. You mistake the emotion that the King's Singers put into their madrigal performances, describing them as "effete," which is complete nonsense! Effete means "without force, vitality or emotion" yet it is the very emotion in the performance to which you object. Again, musical snobbery rears its ugly head.

To imply that the current group has "excellent taste" because they presented Sacred Bridges is not only highly patronising and insulting to one of the finest chamber groups ever to grace the stage, but it again shows a lack of understanding. Do you know, for example, that on their subsequent tours to the US they have performed shows made up exclusively from the songs of Paul Simon? Or that one of their best-loved encores is a hilarious version of "Old MacDonald had a farm" - either in Italian or Greek? Does this mean that their taste is somehow questionable? The audiences didn't seem to think so. Would it be "unworthy" of their voices if they happened to make a recording, say, of "world folksongs" or "the music of Lennon & McCartney?" The latter's music knocks the socks of that of Salamone Rossi (hardly a High Renaissance composer of note when compared with Gesualdo, composing at the same time just down the road).

I feel terribly sorry for those fans of classical music who are so blinkered that they can only appreciate tiny proportions of the rich musical heritage that this world has to offer, all for the sake of appearing "high-brow" and "knowledgeable." They appear bitter to me, and are missing out on a broader experience and appreciation of music as a whole. I also think it a great shame that people could ever mistake the breadth of repertoire of the King's Singers, and their attention to detail in relation to all of it, as anything other than an extreme dedication to the love and performance of music. They simply cannot be compared to "crossover" artists, or indeed anybody else.

I would hope that you found yourself able to be more open-minded about popular repertoire, in the same way that I'm sure you extol the virtues of obscure and little-known "world music" to those who prefer pop music. It's all a balance.


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