I got the job… I got the job… I got the job…

I've been looking for a new job more or less since my mother died, and applied for one with the State chapter of my women's club.  (We give scholarships to young women…)

And I got it!  I'm so tickled.  I've been climbing the walls since Mom died, not exactly bored, but under-challenged, I guess.  This will be a very responsible position with an organization I'm proud to belong to, and it pays pretty well, too.
Yay!!!! 

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What I did with my summer vacation…

Well, what I'm doing right now, actually.  Since I'm retired, it's not exactly a vacation, but I've been working JU for 16 years, and I started costuming with our last production of Robin Hood.  This video is intended to attract money (ever known of an arts organization that didn't need money?), but it's a pretty good synopsis of what we do:

Junior University Musical Theater Video

I was costume designer for the Jungle Book and Aladdin shows the last two years, and in charge of props for Alice in Wonderland the year before.  I actually put the news guy into that costume and helped him onto the carpet, and that's my SSOO's back on the right in the bit with the orchestra rehearsing during the day.
I'm not the costume designer this year, because I'm also doing the wedding and bridesmaid dresses for my niece's wedding right in the middle of the run.  I'll post about that when I have some pictures…
I really want to know how I had time to work

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Since we were talking about Handel’s Messiah earlier…

Herewith the program notes I wrote on the subject for my chorale's performances last year:

“For the relief of Prisoners in the several Gaols, and for the Support of Mercer’s Hospital in Stephen’s Street, and of the Charitable Infirmary on the Inns Quay, on Monday the 12th of April, will be performed at the Musick Hall on Fishamble Street, Mr Handel’s new Grand Oratorio call’d the MESSIAH, in which the Gentlemen of the Choirs of both Cathedrals will assist, with some Concertos on the Organ by Mr Handel.”

Announcement of First Performance

Dublin Journal, 27 March 1742

Messiah was controversial from the very beginning.  After the announcement of the premier, the choristers of St. Patrick’s (the Church of England cathedral) were forbidden to participate.  (The prohibition was later rescinded, and 26 of them did perform.)  Letters to the editor, both in Dublin before the premier and in London when the work was first performed there, condemned it in no uncertain terms.  Early performances in London were not identified by the title ‘Messiah’, but merely as “a new sacred Oratorio”.  No score appeared during Handel’s lifetime, although the engraved plates had been ready in 1749.  And Handel, whose other oratorios were enormously successful, never wrote another contemplative, Messiah-like one.  Why should a work which has come to be revered as a sacred masterpiece have been an object of such criticism in its own time?

The twenty-first-century listener must remember that religion in the mid-eighteenth was a very different thing than it is today.  Religion and politics were deeply intertwined:  Non-conformists – Catholics, Presbyterians, and other non-Church of England Protestants – could not hold public office, attend university, or become lawyers, doctors, or other professionals.  Non-Church of England services could be held only if permission were obtained from the local government.  The pulpit was the main source of news, and clergymen did not hesitate to express their opinions on all issues of the day, including that of the succession to the British throne.  It is no accident that the Catholic claimant was passed over in 1714, and the crown offered to the Lutheran Elector of Hanover, Handel’s earlier patron, who became George I:  the king was the Supreme Gouvernor of the Church of England (and Queen Elizabeth still is, which is why royal marriages, divorces, and relationships with divorcées and adherents of other denominations and religions have been such issues even recently).  Loyalty to the established church had been absolutely equated with patriotism and loyalty to the king or queen since the time of Henry VII – and the British Civil War, pitting Puritans against both Establishmentarians and the Crown and leading to the execution of King Charles II, was less than 100 years in the past.

At the same time, however, Biblical scholarship was beginning to take a new direction, viewing both the New and Old Testaments in an historical perspective, and the Bible as merely one among many sacred texts.  Deism sought to develop rational explanations of Biblical events, and denied that God would (or could) interfere with the laws of nature and science.  No member of the reading public could have been unaware of the debate between those who saw Christianity as but one religion out of many and those who argued for the truth of the Redemption as proved by New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.  Voluminous, minutely detailed discussions, accompanied by tables showing parallels and correspondence between the Old and New Testaments, were published by the score.

Charles Jennens, the eccentric millionaire who wrote the libretto for Messiah, was squarely in the Christian camp, as were others of Handel’s closest friends.  His selections of texts do not constitute a dramatic story – there is no plot as such – and cannot be staged, as others of Handel’s oratorios can be.  Christ does not speak directly:  portions of the text which in the Bible are Jesus’s first-person statements are transformed to the third – “he” rather than “I”.  Much of the story is told only by allusion.  Only once, near the very end in the rarely-performed chorus ‘Thanks be to God’, is the name of Jesus mentioned.

Instead, Jennens and Handel followed a more subtle plan.  The oratorio is divided into three sections, encompassing the life of Christ, yet not providing a narration.  Part I is a prologue, the opening dozen numbers setting Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah’s imminent arrival.  The second half of this section tells the story of Christ’s birth and the promise of his miraculous power.  Part I is the longest section, and the most direct in its telling of the Biblical story, which accounts for the modern association of Messiah with Christmas, although it was originally intended for the Easter season; the premier was during Holy Week.

Part II alludes indirectly the Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.  The expressive content of this section follows a clear development, beginning with an opening lamentation on Christ’s suffering, and moving gradually towards joyous acclamation of his resurrection in the “Hallelujah”.  Part III, setting texts drawn from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and from Revelations, is an epilogue, a meditation on Christ’s second coming and his role in humanity’s salvation.  “In … theatrical terms, God is the chief actor in the drama of events, the protagonist of the salvation history of the race and of the individual self.”  (Hamis Swanston, Handel.  London: Cassell, 1990.)

The text is primarily from the Book of Common Prayer, and not directly from the Bible.  The passages from Isaiah and the Gospels are partly from the Christmas services, much of Part II is taken from the Holy Week, Easter, Ascensiontide, and Witsunday services, and Part III comes largely from the Burial Service.  The material, and the underlying structure, would have been familiar indeed to Handel’s audience, and, as realized in his music, was profoundly spiritual and emotional to many.  In Dublin, response was so great that the promoters requested ladies to leave their hoops (and gentlemen their swords) at home so that more people could fit in the hall.  “… the best Judges allowed it to be the most finished piece of Musick.  Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crowded audience.  The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adopted to the most elevated, majestick and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished heart and ear.”  (Dublin Journal, April, 1742, in a review of the premier.)

Others, particularly in London, found it a direct affront.  “A correspondent who cloaked himself under the name of ‘Philalethes,’ [‘lover of truth’ –Emc2] and who declared himself ‘a profess’d Lover of Musick, and in particular all Mr. Handel’s Performances’ thundered thus in the Universal Spectator of 19 March 1743:  ‘An Oratorio is either an Act of Religion or it is not; if it is, I ask if the Playhouse is a fit Temple to perform it in, or a Company of Players fit Ministers of God’s Word.  … But it seems the Old Testament is not to be prophan’d alone … but the New must be join’d with it, and God by the most sacred the most merciful Name of Messiah; for I’m inform’d that an Oratorio call’d by that Name has already been perform’d in Ireland, and is soon to be perform’d here. … [A]re the most sacred Things, Religion and the Holy Bible, which is the Word of God, to be prostituted to the perverse Humour of a Set of obstinate People …?’”  (Watkins Shaw, The Story of Handel’s Messiah, 1741-1784.  London: Novello and Co. 1963.)

The earliest London performances of Messiah were at the Covent Garden and King’s (Haymarket) Theatres, not in churches.  The soloists were frequently drawn from the stage.  Conservative thinkers at the time were distrustful of music in general, feeling that it was dangerous, even subversive, in its power to move the emotions.  Worse, several sections of Messiah were adaptations of Handel’s previously-composed secular music.  To have sacred texts allied to music, in that supremely decadent and immoral venue, the theater, “a principal purveyor of vice and encourager of vicious habits”  (Ruth Smith, Handel’s Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995), was seen by many as nothing short of blasphemous.  It was only in 1750, when Handel began to give annual charity concerts at the chapel of the London Foundling Hospital, that Messiah came to attract real applause.  Handel conducted a performance there shortly before his death, and left the autograph score to the Foundling Hospital in his will.  But as late as the 1860s, the Bishop of London would not permit Messiah to be performed in Westminster Abbey.

By the end of the eighteenth century, however, Messiah had become the perennial favorite it is today.  Its first performance in the New World was at Boston in 1770, followed in short order by Charleston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  In England, Handel Commemorative Festival concerts began in 1784, under the sponsorship of George III, the first of which featured a massive performance of Messiah by over 500 singers and instrumentalists.

The Victorian Age saw the peak of the English tradition of large-scale performances.  The 1859 Handel Centennial performance of Messiah, in the opulent Crystal Palace, featured a chorus of 2,700 singers and more than 400 instrumentalists, and a London performance at the turn of the twentieth century had a choir of more than 4,000.  What these elephantine forces did to the sixteenth-note runs and the counterpoint, originally sung in Dublin by a chorus of 32 and eight soloists, is best left to the imagination.  In addition, Romantic-era performance standards crept into the tradition approach to the work, further distorting Handel’s original material.

Maestro Duffer’s approach in this concert owes a good deal to modern scholarship into Baroque musical practices and Messiah’s early performances, although the Master Chorale’s may in no case be considered period-style performance.  (Indeed, it is impossible to identify a ‘definitive’ version, since, in his own performances, Handel often changed the number and voicing of soloists, reassigned pieces to different voices, and used his soloists as a chorus or pulled small ensembles from the main chorus to provide contrast and interest.)  The Chorale will, in accordance, use harpsichord (electronic) for the continuo, and include certain changes in emphasis and accent, and restore some note and tone values distorted by nineteenth- and early twentieth-century editors.

PART I:  Prophecy and Advent of the Redeemer

Jennans prefaced Messiah with a Latin motto from Virgil’s Eclogue IV, and quotations from I Timothy and Colossians suggesting the purpose and structure of the libretto.  Handel added the instrumental overture.

Majora canamus.  (Let us sing of great things.)

And without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh, justified by the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.  (1 Timothy 3:16)  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  (Colossians 2:3)

The chorus “And He shall purify” and three others were adapted from music Handel originally wrote for two sopranos, in Italian with ‘love duet’ lyrics (eg:  “Life too is a flower; it comes with the morning and dies with the spring of a single day.”  The music for ‘purify’ was originally sung to ‘primavera’.)  The chorus “For onto us a Child is born” is another of these love duets, originally with the text “No, I will not trust you, unkind love!”, and the music later appeared as an instrumental work.

Jennens was not above selectively adapting his material, however sacred the source.  The original verse from Malachi of “And He shall purify” (Malachi 3:3) is much longer, and speaks of refining the Levites like gold and silver, so that, as in former times, their offerings will be acceptable to the Lord.

Handel’s original title for the instrumental Pastoral Symphony (‘Pifa’) has been interpreted to indicate that the music represents Italian shepherds’ pipes (the piffaro, a double reed instrument like the shawm, and/or the piva, a Northern Italian bagpipe), playing an instrumental movement popular in his time called a siciliano.  The later air (for alto) “He shall feed His flock” is in the same meter as the Pastoral Symphony, and also in the style of a siciliano, perhaps a reference to the shepherd of the text.

The first soprano soloist does not appear until the recitative “There were shepherds abiding in the field”.  Handel often used several sopranos in a performance; one of them, especially on this recitative and the three which follow it, might be a boy.

PART II:  The Suffering and Triumph of the Redeemer

Mrs. Susannah Cibber (or Cibbert, pronounced ‘KIHbuhr’) was a actress, specializing in dramatic roles, with limited vocal range, breath capacity, and musical training, but she was one of Handel’s favorite soloists for her expressive, dramatic approach.  Handel accommodated her limitations and took full advantage of her strengths, and her interpretation of the aria “He was despised” moved the Reverend Dr. Delany, who was present at the Dublin premier, to say of her, “Woman, for this alone thy sins be forgiven thee.”

PART III:  Thanksgiving And Praise To God

The fifth and sixth measures of the soprano air “I know that my Redeemer liveth” are traditionally thought to have been used in the composition of the Westminster Quarters, the familiar clock chimes associated with Big Ben.  The statue of Handel on the monument above his grave in Westminster Abbey holds the musical score for this air.

One interpretation of Hebrew texts of 2 Corinthians 1:20, Revelation 3:14, and Isaiah 65:16 is that the word ‘Amen’ is a form of the name of God (“the very name of Messiah”, according to the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary,1871), and the final two choruses (“Worthy is the Lamb” and the lengthy “Amen”) can be approached from this perspective.  Literally, however, ‘Amen’ means ‘I confirm it,’ and these texts, and the choruses, can also be seen in this sense:  Christ is praised as the confirmation of God’s covenant, bringing Messiah full circle to the prophesies with which it began.

Amen.

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0% of 10708 people are like you…

… at least according to 43 Things.  I'm an Extroverted Traveling Self-Improver, whatever that means.


The 43 Things idea seems interesting, though.  If I follow up on it, I'll let you know.

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You call that a rainbow….?

Your rainbow is shaded violet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is says about you: You are a creative person. 

You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. 
You are patient and will keep trying to understand something

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I’m not a vegetarian…

… nor do I play one on TV, but sometimes I cook like one.

This is the recipe for my end-of-summer casserole, mentioned over on Teho's blog.  It turned out seriously yummy.  Not necessarily the healthiest dinner in captivity (cheese is about 100 calories an ounce, most of it from fat), but with all those veggies, I think I can get away with it.
Theo suggested adding andouille sausage and serving with some wine (even with the sausage – which, if you're not familiar, can be quite spicy), it still feels like white.  Gewurtztraminer is good with spice, but a little sweet; somehow I'm thinking something fuller, maybe a Chardonnay…  Or beer…  If I'd had a few more tomatoes, I might have made some of my 'Salsa Bruschetta' (just what it sounds like:  spread homemade salsa on crunchy toasted artisanal bread) to go along with it.
End-of-Summer American Southwest 'Ratatouille'
Serves 6 – 8
5 ears fresh corn
3 large fresh tomatoes (preferably home grown, but heirlooms from the farmer's market worked great)
3 smallish fresh zucchini (we're not yet to the baseball-bat stage…)
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2 pasilla peppers (the blockish but pointed very dark green Mexican peppers I originally learned to call poblanos – they're anchos when they're dried – very mild, but with a much more pronounced flavor than bells)
1 orange bell pepper ('cause it was there)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound grated cheese (your choice; I used a mixture of five California cheeses, including some Mexican-style ones, mostly pretty dry and salty, but about 1/3 essentially mild cheddar)
a couple of handfuls of crushed tortilla chips.
Using your preferred tool, remove the corn kernels from the cob.  (I have the Oxo corn stripper.)
Cut the tomatoes in half across the 'waist', and use your finger tips to remove all the gel and seeds from the interior.  (This keeps them from making the dish too wet.)  Chop the tomatoes into about 1/4-inch dice.
Trim the zucchini, cut them in half lengthwise, and then into about 1/4-inch half-rounds.
Chop the onion into about 1/4-inch dice.  Mince the garlic.  Cut all the peppers into about the same 1/4-inch dice.
Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pre-heated pan.  Saute the onions until they start to get translucent.  (You may add salt, pepper, and fresh basil if you have it – I didn't; my hydroponic system is between crops - or any other herbs you fancy at any time in the following process.  Put dried herbs in early, since they need to absorb some of the juices from the veggies to reconstitute.).  Add the garlic and saute another couple of minutes.  Add all the peppers, and sweat about 5 minutes.  Throw in the zucchini and tomatoes, and stir until about half-cooked.  Add the corn and all the juice, and stir until warm (but not really hot).  Taste and season, remembering that all that cheese will likely be pretty salty.
Spray a big oven-safe pan or casserole with olive oil.  Spread about 1/3 of the veggies in the bottom, then spread a little more than 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat the layers, ending with the last a-little-less-than-1/3 of the cheese.  Bake about 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.  When everything is hot through, crunch up the tortilla chips and spread them over the casserole.  Put back in the oven until the chips are lightly browned and crisp.

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Food meme

OK, foodie that I am, I can't resist this one…

Directions:

    * Copy this list of 100 foods (ranging from the mundane to the exotic) to your blog
    * Bold any items that you have eaten/tried
    * Star (*) any items that you love/consume regularly

    * Cross out any items you would never consider even trying

and I'm going to add italics for dishes/ingredients I've actually cooked myself, since cooking's sort of a hobby for me.

For me, this list is far from inclusive.  For example, I made it a point to visit a 'bush tucker' restaurant when I was in Sydney to sing at the Opera House (very good food, actually), and one of the great joys of living in Southern California is the wide ethnic spread of our population, and the number of people who've opened restaurants and groceries so they can eat 'like home'.

The List

1. Venison * (best I ever had was in Yucatan, years ago, and was brought in by hunters who worked for the – then, at least – best restaurant in Marida…  Carne asada style…)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros *
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue *
8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush *
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi *
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (and mead – from honey – made by friends)
19. Steamed pork buns *

20. Pistachio ice cream *

21. Heirloom tomatoes * (made tomato sauce with heirlooms from the farmer's market on Saturday, actually)
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (but probably will never do so again; way too rich, like eating butter, aside from the possible cruelty issue…)

24. Rice and beans * (many variations, from Louisiana-style red beans and rice, to Cuban Moros y Cristianos, and a bunch of others in between; legumes and rice is one of those combinations that can be played with infinitely…)

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (if it's a pepper, I've consumed it… and probably cooked with it… but, no, I didn't bite into the pepper itself.  It was minced into salsa, OK?)
27. Dulce de leche *
28. Oysters (As cooked by an Aussie chef who had a local - now unfortunately closed – restaurant, they were terrific.  Raw on the half shell… not so much)

29. Baklava *  (I have a friend, of French/Egyptian descent, who makes the best.  Mine – although from her recipe – isn't quite as great, but is certainly edible…)
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (but other soups/stews/chouders/chilis in bread bowls, yes…)

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut (there are a number of neat things you can do with it, but I buy it already made…)
35. Root beer float *

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea (Hey, folks, I do a presentation for women's clubs and such on British types of tea – the meal, not just the beverage. High tea isn't what you think!)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (How about champagne jelly/gelee *???)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat (nothing against it; just haven't had it curried.)
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more  (Ok, I rarely drink – Mom and my SO are both teatotal – but I've got a stash of good wine and liquor that runs to roughly 20 bottles at the present time.  All of it is for cooking with, though, and whiskey is about my least favorite tipple, anyway.)
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala *** (Yum…)
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (vastly overrated…)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (see #45…)
58. Beer above 8% ABV (see #45 – beer comes in a very close second to whiskey on the 'no, thank you' list, anyway)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips (in my wasted '60s-vintage youth…  I go for the Sharfen Berger, now…)
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst (well, an American version…)
65. Durian

66. Frogs' legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (all of the above…)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe (see #45)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill

76. Baijiu (see #45)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie ('fried pies', yes, but I don't know if any of them were actually Hostess)
78. Snails
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Lutefisk
81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict (try Sauce Maltaise instead of the Hollandaise – just use orange juice instead of lemon… Maltaise is also seriously yummy on asparagus and broccoli.)
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (and, no, you don't want to know what it cost – for just me; I was alone – but, yes, it was wonderful!)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (does rabbit count?)
87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (ok, the harissa I familiar with doesn't have rose in it – it's a North African hot pepper condiment – but I've infused rose petals and used rosewater in a lot of things.  In medieval and Renaissance times, it was used pretty much any place we would now use vanilla, and I worked at Renn faires for years…)
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano * (in the style taught to me by a lovely lady in Oaxaca when I was working there…)

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta *
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake (we caught it ourselves, too…  Crazy archaeologists…)

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