Heading out to Canada Day celebrations in my super-patriotic hair bow which I sewed the other day:
My plans are a bit up in the air at the moment because the weather isn't too promising, but I'm planning to head over to the Halifax waterfront where there are all sorts of events going on, then meeting up with some family members to spend the afternoon and watch the fireworks in the evening, if they're not cancelled. In the meantime, here's the national anthem from the N.S. Tattoo a few years ago. The Tattoo is going on this week and I'm planning on going although I haven't got my ticket yet. I'll update later but for now, happy Canada Day (cough, Dominion Day) to all my fellow Canucks.
The theme of our choir's spring concert was "Journeys" and one of the songs we did was taken from composer Randall Thompson's work Frostiana. Frostiana is a collection of seven songs which Thompson wrote in 1959 for the bicentennial of Amherst, Massachusetts. He wrote his music to accompany seven poems by Robert Frost, who had lived in Amherst for a number of years. The song we sang from Frostiana was "The Road Not Taken," Frost's most well known work. It's very pretty, and grew on us, but at first no one in the choir was particularly fond of it due to the fact that our director was taking it at a very slow tempo. For a while, we just referred to it as "the dirge". Eventually our director took the hint and sped things up, and we performed it at about the same tempo as the choir in the video below.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
A little Dog that wags his tail And knows no other joy Of such a little Dog am I Reminded by a Boy
Who gambols all the living Day Without an earthly cause Because he is a little Boy I honestly suppose –
The Cat that in the Corner dwells Her martial Day forgot The Mouse but a Tradition now Of her desireless Lot Another class remind me Who neither please nor play But not to make a ‘bit of noise’ Beseech each little Boy
I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal, these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
I read the poem Ozymandias for the first time in grade eight English, during our poetry section of the class, and it was one which I found instantly memorable. It was written by the Romantic English poet Percy Shelley in 1817 as part of a poetry contest. It was a common practice amongst Shelley's literary acquaintances to challenge each other to writing competitions; his wife Mary's novel Frankenstein had it's start in a ghost story challenge suggested by Lord Byron. Earlier in 1817, Leigh Hunt, Percy Shelley, and John Keats had written competing poems about the Nile River. In December of that year, the author Horace Smith spent Christmas with the Shelleys and the two men engaged in a friendly rivalry to write the best poem on a chosen topic. They picked a passage from 1st century BC Greek historian Diodorus Siculus' Bibliotheca historica, which describes the inscription on an ancient Egyptian statue: "King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work." The word Ozymandias isa Greek form of the name of Ramses II of Egypt, who reigned from 1279-1213 BC. It is thought that Shelley and Smith may have chosen this topic because a huge statue of Ramses II had been purchased by the British Museum the previous year, although it wouldn't actually arrive in England until 1821. The poem Ozymandias is a sonnet: a 14 line poem with a defined rhyme scheme, although in this case Shelley's iambic pentameter is somewhat irregular. There are three voices in the sonnet: that of the author- "I", the traveller who relates what he saw, and Ozymandias himself, whose words are inscribed on the crumbled statue.
Shelley's Ozymandias is a meditation on the transience of the power and influence of even great rulers and tyrants. Shelley's distaste for such tyrants is obvious in his description of the "shattered visage": "...whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command", and it has been suggested that Shelley may have been thinking of Napoleon, who had been defeated and exiled to Saint Helena in 1815. The hubris of Ozymandias led him to believe that he would never be forgotten, that his works would never be surpassed, and the edifices he built would stand forever. Yet, as the traveller reads the arrogant pronouncement on the base of the colossal ruin, it is obvious that the broken statue is all that remains of the tyrant's once mighty and imposing empire. Even his power and prestige could not withstand the ravages of time.
I'm off for a few days to our annual family gathering... should be a good time! The internet connection may be a bit spotty out in the willy wags where we'll be staying, and I'll be otherwise occupied most of the time anyway so I'm not sure how much I'll be posting, but we'll see... In the meantime, here's another song which we did in our travel-themed choral concert: I'm A Train. The song was written by Albert Hammond and Matt Hazelwood in 1967, and has been performed by various artists, including Albert Hammond himself. The version which we did was the one performed by The King's Singers- a British a cappella group- in 1978. Although we sang it a quite a fast pace, we didn't do it as quickly as they did, because it would be insanely difficult to get an entire choir to sing all the parts that fast- at least not without a lot more practice time than we had. In any case, here are The King's Singers with I'm A Train; it's pretty impressive.
Well, yesterday was a very full day. I spent Saturday night at my parents' place along with two other sisters so that we could make Mum breakfast on Sunday morning- crepes with fruit & whipped cream. After that, it was off to church and then back to my parents' place, this time with more family and friends, for a Mother's Day lunch. On top of that, our choir spring concert was in the evening, so I and my sister who is also in the choir went to the church which was the concert venue early in the evening for sound checks, warm up, etc. The concert started at 7:30 pm and lasted a couple of hours... everything went pretty well. Afterwards, we went out with family members for ice cream, which has become our tradition on concert nights.
A rather off-kilter picture of our choir, taken from the balcony.
I enjoyed most of the songs we were performing, but I think my favourite was probably Omnia Sol, which is a fairly modern piece by composer Z. Randall Stroope, and very pretty. Here's a choir- not ours- singing it, followed by the lyrics:
Omnia Sol (Let Your Heart be Staid)
Somewhere far from nowhere, I grew both strong and tall; longing to become, but knowing not the path at all. But the footprints of the winter melted to fields of spring. One last embrace before I cross the threshold. To life we sing. Oh stay your soul and leave my heart it's song. Oh stay your hand, the journey may be long; and when we part and sorrow can't be sway'd. Remember when and let your heart be staid. Omnia sol temperat, absens in remota. Ama me fideliter, Fidem mean noto. Weave the dance and raise the chorus, grieve no more. Through the strength of Orion, find refuge from the shore. Let courage be your oar, let passion be your sail. Wisdom and truth will guide your deep heart's yearning, through all travail. Oh stay your soul and leave my heart it's song. Oh stay your hand, the journey may be long; and when we part and sorrow can't be sway'd. Remember when and let your heart be staid. Omnia sol temperat, absens in remota. Ama me fideliter, Fidem mean noto. Omnia sol temperat. And when we part and sorrow can't be sway'd. Remember when; remember when and let your heart be staid. (Translation: The sun warms everything, even while I am far away. Love me faithfully and know that I am faithful)
Fair Daffodils, we weep to see You haste away so soon; As yet the early-rising sun Has not attain'd his noon. Stay, stay, Until the hasting day Has run But to the even-song; And, having pray'd together, we Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay, as you, We have as short a spring; As quick a growth to meet decay, As you, or anything. We die As your hours do, and dry Away, Like to the summer's rain; Or as the pearls of morning's dew, Ne'er to be found again.