Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Singing: American Cathedral Choir

Way back in June, when we found out we would be moving to Paris, I wrote to the Choir Director at the American Cathedral here, because it had occurred to me that I could sing with a top-notch choir again on a regular basis. At that time, I thought we would be in Paris in September already. Ha! We finally showed up in Paris at the end of November and didn't even make it to a church service until late January.

I know a member of the choir, Bill Ickes, who had also encouraged me to join the choir and he wasn't there the first two times we attended services, but the next time he was and he introduced me to the choir director, Zachary Ullery. By that time, it was already close to Easter and so we agreed that I would be in touch after Easter so he could hear me. It took me a little longer to get in touch because I was super busy preparing to sing Mozart's Requiem in Dillenburg and I was traveling every weekend in April.

Finally, 2 Sundays ago (May 2013) we were at church and so Bill reintroduced me to Zach. He didn't appear to remember me, but we made arrangements to meet prior to the choir's regular rehearsal in 2 week's time. That was last Thursday. I appeared at the appointed hour, wondering how to get inside the church. Luckily, some construction workers and people who looked like they belonged to the church staff or similar came out and let me inside. Zach took me through some vocaleses and had me sight-read a few things, including Anglican Chant. Oh no! I hadn't done Anglican Chant since my days at Christ the King in Frankfurt and while I know how it works, I was never very masterful at sight-reading it. Well, it went pretty well despite that, and so did the other sight-reading he had me do. I was relatively pleased, because for me, it's a matter of practice, and I've been woefully out of practice sight-reading in the last few years.

He invited me to join the rehearsal by way of continuing the audition. I met the other
members during the break (complete with red wine, baguette, cheese and sausage!) and they were excited to hear I'd likely be around for a couple of years. I guess some people show up and are only staying in Paris for a few months.

I must have passed the test because Zach said I could join them on Sunday (Pentecost). We sang Tallis' "If ye Love Me", Gibbons' "Song 44" and Grayston Ives' "Listen Sweet Dove". Lovely music. My two closest Mom-friends, Francesca and Elisabetta, came and sat with Magnus while Dante went to Sunday School. The choir sits in the (unsuprisingly uncomfortable) choir stalls at the front of the nave and we get all gussied up in cassocks and surpluses!

All in all it was a lovely experience and I will enjoy singing with them on a regular basis. Next week is a big celebration instating the new Dean and Rector, Lucinda Laird and in two weeks the choir sings Evensong! Yippee! I love Evensong.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Amazing Stories: Reviews: Inhuman / Edible Zoo

With that uninspired title (That was the working title of the post and I simply forgot to come up with something more interesting), I've published my next set of reviews for Amazing Stories. This time - Zombies and exotic animal fare.

I've reviewed collections by two Science Fiction Poetry Association members: Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, by Joshua Gage and The Edible Zoo, by David C. Kopaska-Merkel. The latter is a collection of poetry for children, silly in the manner of Dr. Seuss.

Here's a teaser:

OK, imagine yourself witnessing the dawn of a zombie apocalypse, then as the Living Dead begin to outnumber the Living Living and then as the surviving uninfected band together (or not, as the case may be). What kind of horrors would you see? Joshua Gage, a poet specializing in the short short forms, has plentiful suggestions as well as a few looks through the eyes of a zombie.

This slim volume is broken into four sections, or acts and really does tell a dramatic story. It contains only haiku, of which Gage is a master (not that I’m much of an expert but It Is Said). Gage edited the 2011 and 2012 Dwarf Stars Anthology produced by the Science Fiction Poetry Association and showcases the best poetry under 10 lines. I talked a little bit about haiku/scifaiku in my last post when I reviewed Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness. To be honest, I was slightly distracted by all the poetry that was NOT haiku in that collection, but in this one there are no such distractions and you really get a sense of what haiku is and can do, even with the mono-theme of ZOMBIES.
 Please head over to the Amazing Stories website (here) for the full review! I hope you enjoy!


Friday, May 03, 2013

Amazing Stories: Review: Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness

 My latest review of a volume of Speculative Poetry went up today (three cheers for timeliness!)! It's of a volume of poetry, mostly haiku and other short poetry and fiction based on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. It came out several months ago, but I always said I would do a proper review (such as I'm capable of) one day.

Here's a teaser:

Cthulhu HaikuI mentioned Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness, edited by Lester Smith (popcorn press) in a previous post, promising to review in full here in the future. The future has arrived.

First let me give you a little history. Cthulhu Haiku was a Kickstarter project, the first that I backed as a matter of fact. It was mentioned on SF Signal in their Crowdfunding Roundup column. The publisher, Popcorn Press is in Wisconsin and I like to support things from my home State. The theme also immediately made me think of one of my favorite poets alive, Ann K. Schwader, who is a celebrated Lovecraftian poet (see her collection of weird poetry Twisted in Dream), so I wrote her an email to make sure she was aware of the project. She wrote back thanking me for the heads-up (she hadn’t been aware, after all) and that she’d submitted a couple of weird poems and they’d been accepted for the volume! That was that, I jumped in and backed the project. In addition to “Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness” I also received e-book copies of the 3 previous volumes in the “series” (a Halloween publication): “Hungry Dead”, 2010; “Vampyr Verse”, 2011; and “Halloween Haiku”, 2011. PLUS a wonderful full color ebook of “The Very Hungry Cthulhupillar” by Ben Mund and Signal Fire Press. It is not intended for young children!

Now, I have read precious little of H.P. Lovecraft’s actual fiction. I’ve probably read more Lovecraftian poetry and fiction by other people than by the man himself. The problem with doing it this way, is that most of it assumes that you’ve read Lovecraft widely and know to whom and what the various terms apply. Not having done that might leave you a little puzzled, with plenty flying over your head unaware of the significance.... H. P. Lovecraft 1934
To read more please head over to Amazing Stories here.

Enjoy! And listen to the audio all the way to the end. The last poem, by David C. Kopaska-Merkel is a stitch!