Yesterday afternoon I did a matinée with sort of modern songs-
paart of a vocal dance suite I wrote several years ago for my husband
and a wonderful gospel piece called Father Abraham,
that usually has everyone up on their feet swaying,
and that reminds me a lot of Peggy Lee’s Fever.
originally, I even started practicing a piece called “The Boy from….”
as part of the list.
and basically the girl from Ipanema,
with a text telling the marvelously comic story of a girl falling in love,
under warm tropical skies,
in a Spanish village with a name so complicated,
and so full of th sounds,
she sells sea shells
or she sat upon a slitted sheet upon a slitted sheet she sat
are nothing in comparison,
and ends up with her discovering that her boy,
is now going back to his home in
get ready for it…
a town in Wales,
that starts something like LLanPwyl…
and then goes about three times through the Welsh alphabet,
with lots of w’s as vowels.
Like I said, it’s marvelous fun,
if I work at it,
and take a few private lessons,
from a Welshman,
or perhaps a comparative linguist-
(hint hint, nephew of mine)
I might even manage to some day be able to pronounce either the name of Spanish village,
or the place in Wales I hope to visit some day
that I can neither spell nor pronounce.
And then, of course, there is the thank you to the pastors and the church council members
of the church of Maria Empfängnis, Maria Himmelfahrt und Heilige Sankt Christophorus-
Maybe I can do it in a May concert somewhere-
about 2020 if I work hard)
there I was.
Dealing with the vocal dance suite,
and father Abraham,
when it suddenly dawned on me:
It’s the time of year when singers have just finished doing concerts
in gorgeous unheated baroque churches,
in long sexy black,
with long unsexy ski underwear underneath.
And three sets of knee-high nylons-
just be careful when you bow,
otherwise you end up looking like the Michelin tire guy.
Or you are “resting”,
curing the bronchitis you got from overheating
while singing Mozart,
or the Messiah.
And since the carnival season is in full swing here,
and since most good Gutenberger are Catholics,
who do religious services full of Canterbury Tales style jokes,
and in the local dialect no less-
(Latin not allowed, but once per year Gutenbergish)
And who do not do religious concerts in the big blow out party hearty time-
which, of course, leads he 51 percent Lutherans “minority”
to do demonstratively more services,
German Lutheran style,
plain, loud, and often off-key,
but usually hooked to family style church services-
where the communion,
and I seriously did experience this,
in the attempt to take the authority out of the services,
to fill the mostly empty churches,
(30 is a big haul on a Sunday over hear)
was a whole two-pound loaf of organic whole grain,
which was lobbed softly across the aisle of the pew rows.
or carried around by the boy scouts-
scouts here are either church scouts,
you can tell, cause the church scouts wear neckerchiefs.
the others don’t.
And since the Lutherans here in the carnival capital of the world-
their words, not mine,
do everything they can to show disapproval of carnival…
(You should have seen the sparks fly here in the Rhineland,
when a carnival group from Cologne
tried to put a carnival military unit hat-
those ship shaped air force and army base caps,
with enormously long peacock feathers sticking out of the back-
on the previous Pope, a good German,
but not wiling to go that far,
during a papal audience.
here we are in Carnival season,
where the ones who don’t go to pubs due to smoke,
are singing jazz and pop,
in small halls,
or for large “round” birthdays,
(birthday number forty, fifty, sixty, etc)
or are resting,
or recovering from the religious concert you did in a freezing church
in a non-carnival city-
(Not on the Rhine, and not on the border to Switzerland or France)
wrapped in a white scarf,
and dealing with fever,
one kind or another,
or at home,
with cabin fever.
Or are fevering madly for the start of the fasting season,
when people get so hungry,
what with all the fasting rules here,
that they stuff all the things they aren’t allowed to eat-
eggs, beef, pork,
into giant ravioli,
and pretend that they just happened to fall into the chicken broth somehow.
After, of course intoning the correct formula:
“once was chicken, now is fish”
or the more popular in this area:
“the pig in this pork steak ate nothing but fish.”
Yup, that’s Gutenberg Land all right.
So the next time you eat a jelly donut,
(I’ll tell you about donuts and cannon balls in the next blog)
or someone shoots a confetti cannon at you-
or you are in a church singing songs that sound like Peggy Lee,
played to lute or acoustic guitar,
or even on the organ,
by a very clever organist with a great sense of humor,
think of us over here in Gutenberg Land.
Fevering for the start of the summer concert season,
or the football season,
or the end of carnival,
when the Gutenberger pull out their canoes,
and badminton sets,
or start grilling-
hey, wait a minute…
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Teacher, Musician, Composer, Conductor, Writer. Sometimes the one, sometimes all. Life is good.