Andy M. Stewart–A Tribute

Damn! Damn! Damn! Yesterday, I was listening to Andy M. Stewart’s version of ‘The Loch Tay Boat Song” on YouTube and then later cranked it up for “The Queen of Argyll.” I hadn’t played any Silly Wizard for a long time, and I missed the music. I started reading the YouTube comments. One person wrote: “RIP Andy.” I wanted to cry. I did not know until I read this obit from TheScotsman that he passed away on December 27, 2015 after numerous health problems. He was only 63.

I discovered Silly Wizard’s recordings just a few years after they disbanded. It all started at a Schooner Fare concert during their Signs of Home tour. That CD has a gorgeous  cover of “Golden,Golden.” Before they performed it, Steve Romanoff asked, “Has anyone ever heard of Andy M. Stewart, the Scottish folk singer?” I hadn’t, but after the song I decided to find out. That led to owning all of Silly Wizard’s recordings, his own By the Hush. and Johnny Cunningham’s Fair Warning. I still have them.  Stewart’s version of “Golden, Golden” is best; after all, he wrote it.

It wasn’t just his interviews, his humor, or the beauty of his singing voice. His concert with Manus Lunny was the first concert I attended by myself–ever. It was November 1990, and I heard they would be appearing at Ireland’s Four Provinces, a pub in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. (This location closed several years ago; now there’s one near where I live.) Anyway, they were doing two shows–at 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. I wanted to go to the early show.

I was 26, so I knew I would likely be okay because I tried my best to be watchful and wise. However, as a motorized wheelchair user and a woman, so many people feared (and still fear) for my safety at night. I told my aunt of my plans, and she was against it. We had a prolonged disagreement for about three days. But I couldn’t let go. She didn’t want to go with me, and no one else was available to ask. No way could I manufacture a boyfriend out of thin air to go with me. I thought about hiring a bodyguard, and then wondered exactly how to do that. I knew it was up to me. The next day at work, I made the arrangements. That evening at dinner, I told my aunt: “I’m going to the show.” She didn’t like it, but relented.  “For God’s sake, be careful!” she said as she hugged me on concert day.

The workday was typical. After I left the office I rode the Metro to Cleveland Park. It was raining, but I had my red rain cape.The line was long getting in, but several people assisted me with directions and answered my questions. I went in, put my purse, cape and the novel I was reading on a nearby chair and looked around. It was crowded, but felt very homey. A server handed me a menu. I ordered an Irish coffee–for the one and only time–with dinner. I chatted about folk music and Celtic instruments with the people around me.

Then the show started. It was great seeing Andy in person!  He did many of the familiar songs, including “Dublin Lady” and Silly Wizard songs, but much of the program was from the new recording, At It Again. I bought a copy, and I still have it, too. He was so funny!  My only regret is not attempting to approach him to say hello and “great job!” Once the show ended, I gathered my stuff, went to the Metro to ride to my bus stop to get the bus home.

When I got home, I couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. My aunt enjoyed my running commentary, and said she was glad I had a good time. That led to many other concerts, plays, night classes and events by myself. But I liked it better going with my aunt and other people. As a friend says, “Concerts are better shared.” A few years later, my aunt and I saw Andy M. Stewart again–this time with Gerry O’Beirne–as part of Wolf Trap’s Irish Festival.

I also miss his bandmate Johnny Cunningham, whom I had seen at The Barns of Wolf Trap once, with Christian LeMaitre and the fiddler from The Chieftains.. Johnny appeared with his brother, Phil, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which would have been around 2001. Johnny died in 2003.

Here’s a recording of “Golden, Golden”:

 

Here’s Silly Wizard’s 1988 live performance of “The Banks of the Bann/Willie Archer.” The other day while doing errands, tunes from Live Wizardry were in my head as I went up and down the sidewalk.

My own concert days are limited now for various reasons. But I still would like to go to something special one day again. I would love to go to a concert with my aunt again, but it’s not something she finds enjoyable now. But I keep hoping…

And I also think of the Righteous Brothers’ song about rock-and-roll heaven. Much sadness and loss is happening in the wider world these days. Music may not heal in some situations. But it is comforting to think that musicians who are no longer here of every stripe have a hell of a band.

I’m Already There –Lonestar

My assistant was humming this song this morning. When her daughter was young, she used to sing it to her. I was glad for the reminder. Here is background on what inspired the songwriters. I always enjoyed hearing it on the radio.

 

Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata”

It’s well into spring, and past the really cold weather has finally passed, but it’s still cool, cloudy and rainy.I heard the  Violin Sonata No. 5  by Beethoven the other day on the radio. It’s more familiarly known as the “Spring Sonata.” Here’s a little background.

All I can say is that I really like it, and it strikes me as cheery.  Enjoy!

Felix Mendelssohn, artist

I’m now listening to Mendelssohn’s piano works, I had no idea he painted. This is cool!

EdwardianPiano

Felix Mendelssohn, artist

Felix Mendelssohn wasn’t just a musical genius, oh no..he was an artist as well! Some people are just that talented..

If all the music he wrote wasn’t enough- he produced over 300 artworks!

Just look at this masterpiece he painted of a view of Leipzig in 1838:

800px-Mendelssohn_Thomaskantorei_Leipzig_Watercolourhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mendelssohn_Thomaskantorei_Leipzig_Watercolour.png

What beautiful use of colours and shades!

One wonders how he found the time to create all this art and music! I suppose not having tv and internet they had more time to devote to art…

Here is a nice website-Mendelssohn in Scotland, which shows some of his artworks  he did whilst in Britain- his watercolour of Durham Cathedral is beautiful!

http://www.mendelssohninscotland.com/journey-north

And another website exploring his artworks, The Mendelssohn Project:

Mendelssohn’s artistic imagination was by no means limited to the world of music; from an early age he expressed his ideas in drawings, watercolors, and even…

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Ella Fitzgerald — Moonlight Serenade

I’ve always liked Ella Fitzgerald. I have two CDs of her “American Songbook” collection, but I haven’t played them in a while. A friend posted the following YouTube video recently–her version of “Moonlight Serenade.” I have only heard instrumental versions of the song before now. Enjoy!

Fauré (1845-1924)

The other day, I heard Faure’s “Pavane” on the radio, which has always caught my ear. “It reminds me of the song “Dream a Dream.:” I had a post planned. Fortunately, blogger Kaz discusses the composers life and work thoroughly here. Have fun listening to the compositions.

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“Music exists to elevate us as far as possible above everyday life.” – Gabriel Fauré

My favourite class in college was an elective called “Music 1B: Introduction to Western Music from Beethoven to the Present”, to which I owe so much of what I’ve written in this blog. Strangely enough, one of my most vivid memories from the class was a remark made about a composer that didn’t appear on the syllabus: Fauré. Our professor, who was deeply passionate about the subject matter and talked about every composer as if they were his favourite, explained that there was no time to cover Fauré,  but urged us to “run, not walk, to his music.” And what great advice that is! Fauré is not a name a casual listener of classical music is likely to hear too often, a great shame as his music has broad appeal and is easy to listen to. Classic FM writes that “His distinctive harmonies can be savoured…

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Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony- period instrument performance

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony never gets old, And I’m intrigued by the period instruments here. Beautiful!

EdwardianPiano

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony- period instrument performance

00:00 • Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
14:55 • Scherzo: molto vivace – presto
27:07 • Adagio molto e cantabile
40:32 • Recitative

• Christiane Karg: soprano
• Carolin Masur: alto
• Charles Workman: tenor
• Alain Buet: bass

La Chambre Philharmonique
Conducted by Emmanuel Krivine

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More Exhibitionism

I enjoyed this piece about a section of one of my favorite piano pieces and orchestrations–the whole thing.

Good Music Speaks

Continuing my look at “Pictures at an Exhibition”, I picked one of the movements for which we still have the original image.  At the memorial exhibition of the works of Viktor Hartmann, there were several sketches of ballet costumes he designed.  The title of the music inspired by one of these images is variously translated as “The Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks” or, “ The Ballet of the Chickens in their Eggs”.  The sketch was made in 1870, portraying some costumes for children to be worn in a ballet entitled “Trilby”.  The choreography of the ballet was done by Marius Petipa, music by Julius Gerber, and the plot of the evening taken from a short story by the Frenchman Charles Nodier.  There were four sketches of the costumes included in the exhibition, and the one that caught Mussorgsky’s eye was described in the catalog as “Canary-Chicks, enclosed in eggs as…

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Waltz with Me!

I like waltz music, especially those from the Strauss family, I still have my one CD and record album.

Here are four waltzes I especially enjoy from different composers.

The first is “The Skater’s Waltz, Op. 183” by Émile Waldteufel in 1882. I don’t recall this one from my childhood. I heard it on the radio this morning and thought it very pretty:

Next is “Waltz of the Flowers” by Tchaikovsky. I like the flowers and nature photos and paintings throughout this video. I first heard it on a kids’ program years ago. When I was in high school, I got my own complete recording of the ballet. I saw it onstage at Lisner Auditorium with friends, Earlier that night, we had gone to the lighting of the National Christmas Tree and concert.

“The Carousel Waltz” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. I have a collection of carousel horse music boxes, and one of them plays this tune. That’s where I first heard it.

And “Tales from the Vienna Woods” by Johann Strauss II.

“The Blue Danube” is a close second.

Here’s a montage of waltz music:

Enjoy!

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Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is another Bach favorite. I’ve heard it many times in my life, but never could keep the title in my head until recently. Inspired by a Jacquie Lawson Easter e-card where it was the musical accompaniment, I like it even better now. It always makes me think of new days to start over in, hope rising,  peacefulness, and early mornings.

Here’s the orchestral version:

And the piano version:

And one with vocals:

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