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Monday, December 24, 2007

Last Minute Potpourri of Music

In case you need last minute inspiration, Cathy and Michelle bring you...

Michelle: Whenever I finish a new book that's deeply engaged me, there is always a moment of sadness. As my youngest is fond of saying when a book is done, "It's empty, Mom!" Music never empties itself out in quite the same way for me. Listening to Handel's Messiah the other day, I realized I was still making new discoveries after 45 years! Here is some music I'm still enjoying discovering:

For hope in all seasons, listen to Esperanto (on Kaleidoscope by Sean Jones) I love the litany of Holies at the end of this song. Holy vision, holy mission....

Tripp at Conjectural Navel Gazing led me to discover Gaelic Storm this year. Their modern take on Celtic music has given me the energy to drive many miles this fall! Try Herding Cats or Special Reserve. My favorite, with songs in Gaelic, is How Are We Getting Home?

Relaxing with a mug of cocoa between the children's Christmas Eve service and the 9 pm service? All caroled out? Listen to the Mediaeval Baebes' Mistletoe & Wine - seasonal, relaxing but still sounds like Christmas.

For classical buffs, consider Jennifer Higdon's Piano Trio, Voices and Impressions. The pieces Grace and Quiet Art are soft, gentle but carefully layered. Lay on the floor and listen with your eyes closed! Higdon began as a flutist, but moved into composing, and I can hear this in some of her sparer compositions. Her compositions, though modern in their sound, are not atonal, but keep to the traditional tonalities. A chemistry colleague who organizes a chamber music society on my campus pointed me to these contemporaries of Brahms and Mahler: Walter Rabl and Josef Labor. Rabl composed in the style of Brahms and Schumann, and though considered by Brahms to be a talented composer, early on moved onto choral directing and ceased to compose. Hear Rabl's prize winning chamber composition for clarinet, cello, violin and piano on Twilight of the Romantics. Ecuadorian composer Diego Luzuriaga brings Central American rythyms to classical music. The vocals on El Munda da Vueltas are haunting. (Full disclosure, the composer is a fellow parent soccer player!).

For the younger set, try Rhinoceros Tap - with lyrics by children's book author Sandra Boynton. I have a fond spot in my heart for Boynton; when I was writing my doctoral thesis, one of her cards was a perfect illustration - and when I wrote to ask to use it, she kindly granted me permission. If you haven't discovered Trout Fishing in America, now might be the moment. My family's favorite song is Six - where even the math phobic can get it right. The answer's always six, no matter how hard the problem. Six is on My World.

Cathy: One of the investments I made this year is an inexpensive docking station for my Ipod and oh my goodness, it has opened up the possibilities for me and making my music more available. I can put all my music in one place and hit the shuffle button and be along my merry way!
This download is an easy listening CD of Celtic Harp music - the beauty of it to me is the diversity of their origin - music throughout the world and ages all played on a harp. Light a candle, sit by the fire and chill, Celtic Christmas Harp will offer you the opportunity to relax.

Many of you know and share my love for the sounds of Anonymous 4 - how come I missed this one? Christmas Music From Medieval Hungary If you like Christmas music you can play all year round and no one knows it is Christmas music, then this may be right up your alley. As for me, the mere fact it is Anonymous 4 makes it a winner for me.

And Christmas With The Rat Pack will offer a nostalgic blast for those of us who remember them on television. Nothing but the classic standards with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, and Frank Sinatra. I'll be Home for Christmas brings tears to my eyes every time.

I don't know how many of you have used Pandora to listen to an assortment of music from specific genres, but this is the way I have found many a CD in which I may have not been familiar - this particular CD kept up coming on my list and every time I heard the music I would want to know what is this? I like it! If I mention Seeger, it might pique your interest if you are a fan of Pete Seeger - and I believe these are family members who are featured on this Cd of American Folk Songs for Christmas. , this 2 CD set (again MP3 downloadable) has MANY American Christmas songs in which I was not familiar, but its simplicity brings a certain peace. Think of yourself on the porch with harmonica, banjo, concertina, dulcimer and jaw harp singing plain song - not a thing fancy or commercial sounding with this one.

What music accompanies your Christmas Eve - what's the background music? Are you making your own music around the piano? Share with us how music plays a part in your life during this most glorious time. You may share with us in the comments or post a direct link to your blog entry in your comment using the following formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to, click here

From our homes to yours, have a a most Blessed Holiday.

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  1. Just finished my sermon - whew- you can view it at

    Thanks to the navel gazer for his reading of the night before Christmas!

    peace -


  2. I remember borrowing that Seeger book from the library many years ago. I had no idea there was a CD! Thanks for telling me!


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