“The Christmas season is something that takes up a lot of head-space here at King’s from quite a long time before October, primarily due to our service on Christmas Eve, the famous ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s.’ Andrew Hammond, Chaplain of King’s College, gives us a behind-the-scenes peak into famous for their annual live broadcast Service of Nine Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve.
Katie Paterson has always wanted to shoot Beethoven to the moon. In Earth-Moon-Earth (2007) the Scottish conceptual artist translated a performance of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata into Morse code, sent the radio signals to the moon, and recaptured the reflection.
“It’s like a favourite carol or particular descant is a member of the family that comes once a year and gets the prized spot at the dinner table.” We caught up with composer Sarah Quartel to find out what she loves about Christmas, how the season inspires her composing, and how she spends her Christmas day.
Sometimes personal and professional lives get tangled in unexpected ways. As I was writing an article on the nineteenth-century celebrity soprano Jenny Lind (1820-1887), a colleague who’d been asked to send comments on an early draft alerted me to a problem: I wasn’t writing, or so they thought, with my “own voice.” Their comment got me thinking—first of all, about the basis for their claim.
Alan Bullard is a highly respected composer of both instrumental and choral music. He has written many well-loved carols and Christmas works and edited a number of volumes of Christmas carols. To mark the start of the Advent season, we asked him to tell us a bit about his Christmas traditions and what it is about Christmas that inspires his writing.
When two young veterans came to our elementary school to give a talk and show slides about their experience in Afghanistan, the children were captivated with their presentation. The slides brought to life much of what the soldiers saw and experienced. As the music teacher, I planned to have the children say thank you in a musical way. I didn’t choose a patriotic song, but a song that exemplified the love and appreciation we all had for these soldiers. I chose one song that the entire student body of the school could sing together.
“This is why I dedicated Little Babe Born of Mary to my son Mason, so that I might be reminded of the part I play in helping him reach his fullest and brightest potential.” James Kevin Gray is the composer of the Christmas Carol Little Babe, Born of Mary. He is also one of our newest composers. We had a chat with him to find out more about the motivations, inspirations, and his process behind this piece.
Nepal’s rural hills are famous for the all-night songfests in which conversational dohori and other folk songs are sung, much more so than the Kathmandu Valley. But there are a few places in the capital city and surrounding valley that also have long traditions of gathering and singing at religious festivals.
What is a chorus, what is an insect chorus, and why might we be interested in how and why singing insects create orchestral productions? To begin, chorusing is about timing. In a chorus, singers align their verses with one another in some non-random way. When singing insects form a chorus, the alignment may only be […]
If asked to recall a melody from Gone with the Wind, what might come to mind? For many, it’s the same four notes: a valiant leap followed by a gracious descent. This is the beginning of the Tara theme, named by composer Max Steiner for the plantation home of Scarlett O’Hara, whose impassioned misunderstandings of people and place propel the story.
Noted psychologist and educator Erik Erikson has written about human development from a biological, psychological, and social perspective encompassing the entire life cycle. His famous chart “The Eight Stages of Man” is in his book Childhood and Society (1950). I have found his ideas particularly helpful to understanding the importance of development in musicians, particularly so since children begin to study musical instruments at very young ages.
The figure most closely identified with the Protestant Reformation is, of course, Martin Luther. But after him probably comes Johann Sebastian Bach, who spent much of his musical career in the service of Luther’s church. As the world marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 31 October 2017, we can remember that Bach and his contemporaries also took careful note of Reformation anniversaries, commemorating them in liturgy and music.
William: I played in a violin recital a couple of weeks ago. I had played the music many times before but in that concert I really messed up my finger work passages – one in particular – and then I started feeling that my memorization was shaky. I was a nervous wreck and couldn’t wait to finish. I cannot figure this out. I feel haunted that it is going to happen again and again.
JJN: This sounds terribly upsetting – both your concerns about your playing and your worries about trying to figure it out on your own and not being able to do that. Has this kind of thing happened before? Do you typically try to figure things out on your own?
Village echoes (and reverb, and delay): the drums of Nepal’s rural festivals and the booming speakers of urban dohori restaurants
Nepal’s dohori restaurants aim to reproduce festive rural environments in urban areas, with folk music and dance performances onstage, and opportunities for restaurant guests to sing and dance themselves. One of the first things that newcomers notice is how loud these restaurants are.
Sarah Quartel is a Canadian composer, conductor, and educator known for her fresh and exciting approach to choral music. Her music is performed by children and adults around the world, and celebrates the musical potential of all learners by providing singers access to high quality and engaging repertoire. We spoke with Sarah about why she composes, how she approaches writing, and the pieces that mean the most to her.
Cymbals are a highly versatile instrument of ancient origin. In the West, they have been used not only in orchestral music, but also in jazz and popular music. From being played very quietly to making a striking splash in the orchestra, composers and musicians have found the instrument to be widely adaptable.