Archive for the ‘SACRED’ Category

Postcard from Switzerland

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Romainmotier, Improv #1

My friends had gone ahead and were sitting in the distant shadows, somewhere down this gently sloping main aisle, a path barely discernible to me as my eyes valiantly tried to adjust to the gloom. It was this central, downward slope that left a lingering impression perhaps even more than the incredible acoustics, as I found its incline pulled me inexorably from the world, drawing me down and away into the depths of time.

Having arrived late in the day as the afternoon light was fading, it turned out we had the place to ourselves, such a remarkable gift to find ourselves alone and undisturbed; after all, we weren’t sure if the 1,500 year old abbey would even be open when we set out by car a couple of hours earlier.

Tucked in a quiet vale of the Swiss countryside north of Lac Leman, Romainmotier is extraordinary in so many ways…and our Time Travel, as we later observed, was about to begin!

Entering the atmospheric abbey space, I was immediately enveloped by darkness, save the oddly comforting glow of the large stained glass window hovering before me and the steadfast presence of a single, unwavering candle in the middle-distance. The high, vaulted ceiling soared far above, to the point of invisibility.

I remained toward the back, deftly assembled my silver flute, and sounded some notes, tentatively at first, exploring the living echoes and history of the cavernous space. Reaching out with the sound of my flute, I awakened the centuries-old mystery of the place. At times I tried closing my eyes as I played; however even with eyes wide open I could see only dim shapes.. such a strange sensation!

Improvising as I peered into the inky depths, I allowed myself to be guided by sound alone like dancing with ones eyes closed as described in the movie Pina. A dialogue gently emerged with the overlapping notes, a conversation with the invisible generations who remained in the dark, pressing in and reverberating all about me, ineffably beyond the grasp of my physical senses.

Mystery and gloom prevailed.

As we drove away into the twilight, we were left in a profoundly contemplative state, long after getting busted by the nun who came to check on the place as we were hanging out, lost in our time travel reveries!

Here’s a quaint, pre-wikipedia link that describes Romainmotier and provides a little more background info.

Nada Surf? Nada Flute!

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Nada Surf

With all of this talk about raves and amphitheaters…

One of the musical highlights of my 2008 was finally having an opportunity to go to a concert at Toronto’s Opera House. What a great venue, especially for a band like Nada Surf! I had always heard about the place but didn’t even know where it was, so now I know what all the fuss is about, and this explains the snaking line-ups that I occasionally crane my neck at as I cut along Queen East in my old ‘Benz. I’ve been wanting to get this killer photo to you for months now, taken from the balcony of the Opera House, not to mention a sampling from the concert.

Sure, nada flute in this particular soundfile, but they did feature live trumpet – something not all rock bands can brag about! The sound might be a little boomy, but I think you’ll get the basic idea. From their full-on, three hour concert, this isn’t necessarily my favourite of a handful of recordings from that evening, but the others are just a little too big and unwieldy to upload, so you’ll just have to wait!

Hey, maybe this is what they were checking out at Stonehenge or Thingvellir (see previous posts)!? After all, can the The O.C. be so wrong, deftly showcasing some of the finest pop acts of the day, including Coldplay and the Beastie Boys? For more Nada Surf’, check out Always Love or Weightless – played towards the end of the show, these songs sent the crowd into heights of ecstasy as I headed from the crush of the main floor up to the balcony. Sure, maybe a little middle of the road for my tastes, but these guys simply blew me away: this was a phenomenal concert, and a wonderful introduction to Toronto’s historic Concert Hall.

And credit where credit’s due: today’s bands wouldn’t sound the way they do without those who have gone before, so check links below.

Iggy & The Stooges, hang in there, what can I say…

Ron Asheton, RIP

Oh, btw, did I mention Iggy Pop? Takes me back to the first Police Picnic in Oakville, circa whatever.

Urban Bansuri

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Raga Shivranjani, Banusri

About 5 weeks ago I dropped by the busy worksite of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandira just north of Pearson International Airport to see if I might don work boots and lend a hand, and was welcomed onto the site with a wonderful, friendly and informative tour. This temple, a cultural & architectural jewel – and very much in the news with its grand opening just last weekend – is simply indescribable. Although only able to catch the festivities after sundown, I was impressed by the incredible enthusiasm and excitement still in the air. (more…)

Trinity Treat

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There was a treat awaiting at Trinity College Chapel last week, with a concert presented by Fresca.

More details and links soon!

Palestrina on the Beach

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Trinity College Chapel

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Berbiguier, Etude

How sweet is this? Listening to Palestrina by the lake!

Music History Instruction at the RCM’s Mississauga location could not possibly be any more delightful than this totally chilled class ‘en plein air’ and completely away from the hustle and bustle of the city; extension cords courtesy of Canadian Tire and on-line resources provided by NAXOS.

What would Palestrina have thought? I’m sure that absolutely dumbfounded and with a silly grin on his face, he would have silently nodded his wholehearted approval! (more…)

Independence Day, 2007

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Oh, Say, Can You See

The percussive thudding and boom of sanctioned July 4th fireworks have stilled themselves now for another year here in Toronto. Night after night recently it has been one wonderfully protracted festivity, with the intermittent crackling and rapid-fire pop of firecrackers (more…)

St. Bart’s Sanctuary

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The Swan

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Deep Midwinter

On a bitterly cold day last December, I stopped in quite spontaneously to warm up at Saint Bart’s in the east end, enroute to record at the Riverdale Zoo’s old Monkey House. The welcome I received was just what I needed this particular day!
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