In which we go to the symphony

We are just lately back from an outing to the symphony — the kids’ first time going and my first in far, far too long — where our local orchestra performed Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf as part of its children’s concert series. We had a minor snafu when it turned out that Tertia isn’t heavy enough to keep a theatre seat from folding up on her (!) but once she was safely installed on my lap instead, all was well. There’s something very fun about seeing a performance in a room full of children! And all of the wiggling and murmuring and in-seat or aisle dancing that would get you some dirty looks at an adult concert were just evidence of the audience’s very honest engagement with what was going on. It was great fun, and Anselm and Perpetua left the theatre talking about when we could go to another one.

I had half-forgotten what a difference it makes to be right there where music is being made, not listening to it through the mediating factors of digital compression and electronic speakers. The brass was so warm, the strings so lush, the cellos and the kettle drums so menacing. A recording approximates that — and don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for recording tech — but it doesn’t replace it. (I think vinyl records are supposed to be closer to the sound experience of live music? I don’t know; I haven’t heard a real vinyl record more than once or twice in my life.) Live music has a presence to it that’s easier to feel than to explain. I’d missed that without even realizing it.

Beyond that, it was just really nice to get out and experience something new in our city; although we’ve been here nearly four years, the timing was such that we’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what there is to do. I conceived Tertia just a month or two after we moved, and between a difficult pregnancy and a single vehicle that my husband needed for work, it was hard to get out and do things with Anselm and Perpetua. And then Tertia was born just a week or two before the first lockdowns back in 2020 and, well, you know. Between pandemic restrictions and inertia, we just kind of lost the habit of going out. My parents visited us after Christmas for a few days and I realised that it was the first time Tertia had ever been left in the care of someone who wasn’t her parent. Which is wild! (She was fine; I was an unexpected wreck.) Anselm and Perpetua had babysitters and went to church nurseries well before their first birthdays. But when you have a baby during a global pandemic… things change, sometimes in ways you don’t notice until much later.

All of which to say: it was a great experience for all of us — for the kids to see a real orchestra, for my husband and I to remember that events and attractions, um, exist — and I think there will definitely be more concerts in our future.

Signal boost: this one’s for the folk lovers

You know those people you meet and instantly you know they’re a kindred spirit? That’s how it was with my friend Jill. Although we only got two years or so of in-person friendship time before I moved away, we’ve kept in touch through the intervening years and all the changes they have brought.

Jill is a gifted singer-songwriter, currently based in Arnprior, Ontario. Recently she guest hosted an episode of Canadian Spaces on CKCU, highlighting a number of Ottawa-area folk singers, interviewing and being interviewed, and playing two of her original songs. The whole program is worthwhile, but of course I want to particularly highlight Jill’s interview and singing, which start at around the 42-minute mark. Listen here!

Apparently Les Mis is like Sugar Crisp

For those who also can never get enough:

(We saw the new film on Saturday — and I rooted this out today since seeing it only once in three days would be just too sad — and here is all 2:49:55 for your enjoyment. Now you too can wash the dishes while bawling like a baby as Eponine sings her last duet.)

Update: Apparently NBC has pulled this video for copyright violations. Which is understandable. But also: boo.

Update to Update: But here’s the 10th anniversary concert! Hooray!

Music to live by

I have a tendency these days to get stuck on an album or two, and play them on constant repeat. Sometimes a particular mood or theme or what-have-you of a song or an album just fits my life so well that I become a little obsessed.

I’m okay with this. (Stan has yet to comment.)

Here are three albums I’m living by lately:

1. The Longing, by All Sons & Daughters. This was a birthday present from my maid of honour, which came with chocolate and tea and sympathy at a time when I desperately needed all of them. If you click through on the album link you can hear all of the tracks; there are only six, so it’s only about twenty-some minutes long, but all of those minutes are pretty near perfect. Called Me Higher may be the best of the six.

2. In the Town of David, by Ordinary Time. This is the album that has me breaking my strict “no Christmas music before Advent” rule. A facebook post from a former priest of mine led me to their website, which sat neglected in an unopened tab for a week or two. But I finally had a listen (as above, you can hear the whole album off their website) and I was hooked. Their vocal harmonies are beautiful, and I love their renditions of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis, tracks 3 and 11, respectively. I’ve asked for this and their two other albums for Christmas.

3. Ghosts Upon the Earth, by Gungor. This was sort-of a present from two people: one put me on to Gungor in the first place, and the other (my roommate at the time) took a hint from my incessant grooveshark repetition and got me the physical album (as well as Beautiful Things) as a wedding gift. The blub on their website says this: For their third major release, Gungor has composed a concept album that celebrates the beauty of life even in the midst of darkness and pain. Starting with a startling musical imagining of the creation of the universe and traversing subjects like the “fall of man” and the imperfection of our religious systems, this album leads the listener through a roller coaster of emotion that eventually leads us back to wonder and thankfulness to this beautiful gift of life. I’m not totally sure what “concept album” means, but I can tell you that this is one to listen to all the way through with the lights off.