fourth week in Advent: music and meditation
Advent is a time of reflection, a time for seeking peace. It is a time for the work of solitude and the work of being in company. A time for preparation, quiet, and connection. Whether Advent is part of the faith you mark or not, winter is a good season for such things. Music is a way into into and through these ideas, as well.
Wintersong by Tammerlin makes a good gateway and companion for these journeys. From the opening song Winter’s Grace though the carol Silent Night, Lee Hunter and Arvid Smith. invite the listeners along on a journey well suits the contemplative nature of winter, with room for consideration of its changes and challenges along with its comfort and peace. In keeping with the music they’ve chosen, their arrangements are spare and rich at the same time. Hunter, who does most of the lead vocals, has a natural and relaxed storyteller's style which finds her moving through music from France, Appalachia, and contemporary folk as well as traditional carols which focus and grace. There are four brief spoken word selections included within the program as well, two from the writings of Henry David Thoreau and one each from Annie Dillard and Wendell Berry. In Hunter’s voice and in the duo’s choice of music, these prove natural extensions of their winter ideas, as they illuminate the the music and the music adds dimension to the words.
The music on Fine Winter's Night from Matt and Shannon Heaton illuminates the season, too. Sacred and secular aspects of winter dance with each other through the original and traditional music the two offer. Matt sings lead on his original take on a Christmas encounter a century or so ago in First Snowfall of December, and on the Wexford Carol, a hymn from twelfth century Ireland. Shannon takes a light touch with the tale of Julius the Christmas Cat preparing for the Holy Family, and offers a new setting to sixteenth century poetry for winter in her version of Star Song. There are a number of sessional instrumentals with Matt on guitar and Shannon on flute, as well as more carols, and original songs. These frame the centerpiece of the album’s idea and music, the title track Fine Winter’s Night, in which the connection and solitude of winter’s journey meet.
the photograph on the upper right is of holiday lights on Harvard Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is copyrighted. thank you for respecting that.
you may also wish to see
Klezmer: Music for the Festival of Lights
Song of Solstice: music for changing seasons
Another Fine Winter's Night: Matt & Shannon Heaton
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