Friday, December 7, 2012

The holidays and a fiery serpent - Music is less confusing than religion for Al...

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 12/7/12

Friday afternoon I was invited to listen to choral music by a group known as Seraphic Fire. Prior to the presentation someone asked me if I knew the meaning of their name. Not being the shy type I nodded my head in the affirmative, mumbled something about it being Hebraic in source, lowered my head and shuffled off. I was not embarrassed. I thought I pulled it off pretty well. Me being me, I took the time to do the little research necessary to find the true meaning. Well, to the Greeks a Seraph was a three winged angel. To the ancient Hebrews it was a fiery serpent.

Talk about what the Lord sent to his believers.

The performance was an exceptional example of choral vocalization. The first number presented was a Gregorian chant which put me in an almost hypnotic state. I listened harder. It was celestial. Sopranos, mezzo sopranos, baritones and tenors, all wonderfully schooled in their art. In the second set, during a song named "Never Fear" I heard a sustained bass note for an extended period. I saw one of the baritones with his lips parted and wondered how long he could hold the unwavering note. I later found out that he and another baritone shared the extended note, spelling each other using eye signals. It was seamless. Last week I wrote about some old and new time signatures being used by JAZZ musicians. I listened as hard as I could but no time signature was recognizable----Why??? you ask. Because there were none. The timing, phrasing and musical lines are mostly written without bars, giving the melody the chance to be free in a very structured environment. They closed the performance with an appropriate "Silent Night" The program was Holiday in spirit and song but not held down by what most of us consider Christmas Carols. The group has been nominated for Grammy awards and stays on the charts at I-tunes. It wasn't JAZZ. It wasn't BLUES. It was MUSIC. Now I don't care if you believe in three winged angels or go to bed frightened by fiery serpents (or, the other way 'round - cb), HAPPY CHANUKAH--MERRY CHRISTMAS--HAPPY NEW YEAR--And may lots of new joints come along with live JAZZ & BLUES. 

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