For the love of L.A - Vox Sings!
On this St. Patrick's Day performance, EVERYONE was Irish for whatever reason for this evening. Vox Femina's bi-cultural event, not only united classic Shakespeare sonnets with authentic Irish music sung in Gaelic, but included guest appearances, and lovely unadorned Irish dancing (NO Riverdance allowed - whew!) To make the evening available to everyone, there was signing for the hearing impaired done with such elegance and fluidity of movement that it was a lovely performance within itself.
The concert began with "Fie, Fie, Fie" (from "The Merry Wives of Windsor) in which Falstaff receives a chiding accompanied by the pinches and pestering from the Fairies that he well deserves. It was a great way to set the tone and mood for the evening; forty women's voices so sweet and pure without affectations. It's not often that there is the opportunity to hear Shakespeare put to music although he certainly made music a part of his plays. There is an interesting program note explaining how these compositions came to be using Shakespeare's words from his plays and sonnets. Known as "parlor songs", these songs were composed mainly by women and performed in private meetings or parties. "In a society in which women were not supposed to work or engage in any kind of intellectual activity, these parlor songs were the only outlets many of these women has to express their art." Well, that can't be said anymore and especially not of this evening since this was the first half of the program.
The second half of the program opened with two Scottish folk songs - waulking songs Scots Gaelic: Orain Luadih. It turns out "waulking" is not Scots Gaelic for "walking" but for the process of "beating newly-woven tweed rhythmically against a table of similar surface to soften it." Knowing this before hand, it was possible to relate this kind of music to many activities in all cultures that have music to create a rhythm for repetitive tasks.
This second half of the concert also included the return of guest Moira Smiley who had performed a solo briefly in the first half. Her return included finding out how she fell in love with Irish music while studying to be a concert pianist. Upon going to Ireland for an extended period of time studying with the "master's of Irish music" in remote locations, she returned with this as her new musical focus. Her performance was mesmerizing in its purity, and simplicity, as was the solo performance of step dancing by Maire Clerking accompanying Ms. Smiley's a cappella performance.
In this evening that included classical works to folk songs, traditions new and old from England, Scotland and Ireland in the acoustically sophisticated Zipper Concert Hall at The Colburn School, the evening continued in the foyer of the hall after the concert. The members of Vox Femina came to the foyer and chatted with the audience, which included a large fan following, and also friends and family.
It was a lovely, lovely evening. There is an opportunity to see Vox Femina performing their 15th Anniversary Gala Saturday, May 12th and the Highland Ebell Club. This has to be another wonderful evening.
L I N K S:
- Vox - http://www.voxfeminala.org
- Vox FB - http://www.facebook.com/VoxFemina
- press release - http://www.greengalactic.com/2012/vox-femina-shakespeare-to-shamrocks
- images - http://gallery.me.com/lynnhasty#100263
- venue - http://www.colburnschool.edu