Arias and Ales

My daughter, Rachelle, was interviewed, along with other members of the Seattle Opera on Tap chapter, by a local news station at one of their monthly performances.

Rachelle hosted the January 23rd event, billed as “Head in the Clouds” at the Cloud Room on Capitol Hill for “a program featuring the thinkers, dreamers, and maybe a few space cadets.”

Rachelle Moss, Contralto

For the last five years, Rachelle has participated, promoted and organized many of the monthly outings for the Seattle chapter of Opera on Tap. Previously, while studying for her Masters in Vocal Performance, she joined the North Texas Opera on Tap chapter there in Denton.

To learn more about Opera on Tap (OOT), please visit their website and find a chapter near you so you too can enjoy an aria over your ale.

Grande Finale to a Grand Weekend

I’m amazed at how much I accomplished this past weekend, especially considering my husband had major surgery less than three weeks ago.

Friday Evening

TalkingTolkienTwoTowersFriday night was our first venture out on a ‘date’ since the surgery.  I signed up for a free lecture and screening at the National World War I Museum and Memorial entitled “Talking Tolkien: The Two Towers.”  We arrived about fifteen minutes early to enjoy some hors d’oeuvres and drinks.  We retired to the auditorium and waited a few minutes.  At ten minutes or so after the hour, the lecturer strolled up to the podium and gave a meandering introduction of upcoming events in a clear effort to stall.  He wanted to give the people in the lobby time to finish eating.

His lecture on Tolkien’s experiences during the Battle of the Somme was quite brief and rushed, not at all what I had been hoping for.  He further devolved into a montage of photographs from the Museum’s collection delivered in the manner of a television show’s “Previously on …” wrap of the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring.  You could clearly see where Tolkien (and probably Peter Jackson) got his inspiration for scenes from Middle Earth and the conflict immortalized in the Lord of the Rings.   After the lecture, the screening of The Two Towers began, for which Terry and I stayed only about thirty minutes before deciding the movie viewing experience was better at home.

Once back home, I decided to break out the Celestron C8 I had recently borrowed from my astronomy club.  Despite dire predictions, the sky remained perfectly clear so I looked forward to an evening of planetary observing, since all five visible planets are ripe for the plucking at this time of year.  I got everything attached to the tripod and manhandled it outside to my lower patio, giving it a quick leveling and orientation north so I could get through a polar alignment swiftly.  Then I just had to wait for darkness to fall enough for me to see Polaris with my naked eye.  Continue reading “Grande Finale to a Grand Weekend”

Music to My Ears

I am thankful for my sense to hearing, and specifically music, which will be the focus of the fifteenth day of my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness.’

At age five, I started taking piano lessons from a close neighbor (close being a relative term out in the wilds of northwestern Leavenworth County).  Reading music came to me just about as easily as reading words.  Oddly (because I love mathematics), my only long-standing issue is my (un)willingness to count out a song in my head so that I get the rhythm and tempo correct.  I didn’t spend much time in a band environment (only played flute for two years before middle school), so I rely heavily upon a percussionist if I play and/or sing in a praise band.  And my audio memory of how a song should sound.  Yes, I’m lazy.  Probably why I’m not a professional musician.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is a hundred times, or more likely, a thousand times better musician than I will ever be.  He has impeccable timing and near perfect pitch.  He has the patience and technical skills to practice a piece to perfection.

Rachelle posing as a diva a couple of years ago

My daughter inherited most if not all of her musical ability and talent from him (I can still play piano better than her, but she knows more music theory than I’ll ever understand).

Rachelle started singing about the same time she learned to talk.  She surpassed my measly vocal abilities way back in early high school.  Along the way, she learned how to play violin, guitar, saxophone and piano.  However, her voice is her most finely honed instrument.  As she approaches her final semester as an under graduate at UNT’s College of Music, I look forward to attending her senior recital, which will include all of the following songs Rachelle recently recorded for her graduate school auditions (click on the song title link, then click on the play button):

The Nurse’s Song by Benjamin Britten
Rachelle Moss, Mezzo Soprano
Violetta Zharkova, Piano

Smanie implacabili from Cosi fan tutte by Mozart
Rachelle Moss, Mezzo Soprano
Violetta Zharkova, piano

Ah scostati!
Paventa il tristo effeto
d’un disperato affeto!
Chiudi quelle finestre
Odio la luce, odio l’aria, che spiro

Odio me stessa!
Chi schernisce il mio duol,
Chi mi consola?
Deh fuggi, per pietà, fuggi,
Lasciami sola.

Smanie implacabili, che m’agitate
Dentro quest’anima più non cessate,
Finchè l’angoscia mi fa morir.
Esempio misero d’amor funesto,
Darò all’Eumenidi se viva resto
Col suno orrible de’ miei sospir.

English Translation:

Ah, move away!
Fear the sad effect
of a desperate affection!
Shut those windows,
I hate the light, I hate the air that I breathe

I hate myself!
Who mocks my pain,
Who will console me?
Oh, leave, for pity’s sake, leave,
Leave me alone.

Implacable restlessness, that disturbs me
Inside this soul, doesn’t cease,
Until it makes me die.
A miserable example of fateful love
I will give to the Furies, if I live,
With the horrible sound of my sighs.


Auf dem Kirchhofe by Johannes Brahms
Rachelle Moss, Mezzo Soprano
Violetta Zharkova, Piano

Auf dem Kirchhofe

Der Tag ging regenschwer und sturmbewegt,
Ich war an manch vergessenem Grab gewesen,
Verwittert Stein und Kreuz, die Kränze alt,
Die Namen überwachsen, kaum zu lesen.

Der Tag ging sturmbewegt und regenschwer,
Auf allen Gräbern fror das Wort: Gewesen.
Wie sturmestot die Särge schlummerten,
Auf allen Gräbern taute still: Genesen.

English Translation:

In the churchyard

The day was heavy with rain and disturbed by storms;
I was walking among many forgotten graves,
with weathered stones and crosses, the wreaths old,
the names washed away, hardly to be read.

The day was disturbed by storms and heavy with rain;
on every grave froze the words “we were.”
The coffins slumbered calmly like the eye of a storm,
and on every grave melted quietly the words: “we were healed.”

Les Berceaux by Gabriel Faure
Rachelle Moss, Mezzo Soprano
Violetta Zharkova, Piano

Les berceaux

Le long du Quai, les grands vaisseaux,
Que la houle incline en silence,
Ne prennent pas garde aux berceaux,
Que la main des femmes balance.

Mais viendra le jour des adieux,
Car il faut que les femmes pleurent,
Et que les hommes curieux
Tentent les horizons qui leurrent!

Et ce jour-là les grands vaisseaux,
Fuyant le port qui diminue,
Sentent leur masse retenue
Par l’âme des lointains berceaux.

English Translation:


Along the quay, the great ships,
that ride the swell in silence,
take no notice of the cradles.
that the hands of the women rock.

But the day of farewells will come,
when the women must weep,
and curious men are tempted
towards the horizons that lure them!

And that day the great ships,
sailing away from the diminishing port,
feel their bulk held back
by the spirits of the distant cradles.