Thursday, December 25, 2014

On the first day of Christmas

 At Mass today we got to sing the medieval chant "Puer Natus Est in Bethlehem." I was able to find it on YouTube, sung by the Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos.

Such a beautiful melody! The chorister next to me pointed afterward to the date of the music. It is from the fourth century.

This is the reason I get myself up early on Christmas morning, which trust me is not easy. Getting up is worth it to hear beautiful music. To be able to sing timeless chants, thousands of years old. We got to sing four verses of this chant and when it was over we all kind of sighed.

So beautiful!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Met tenor meets a theater organ legend

Listening to theater organ legend Jesse Crawford today I went foraging on YouTube to see if I could find the Christmas music that was on the records I was playing. And I found a performance he gave in 1929 (I think) with the tenor Richard Crooks.

That is a name widely forgotten today, Richard Crooks. I might not have known about him had Leonard Pennario not mentioned him to me. Pennario had a picture of himself with Richard Crooks and so we were talking about him.

Richard Crooks was big at the Metropolitan Opera. I love how he also sang with "The Poet of the Organ," as Crawford was called. What a beautiful voice Crooks had. What a beautiful recording.

That name Crooks is beautiful too. It is like something out of Dickens. When my husband's mother was still alive she told me that when she was a little girl she used to work in her father's cigar shop on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. She said she used to roll the kind of cigar known as crooks.

I am sorry, I had to throw that in! When else would it be relevant? When Howard's mother passed on, I wrote her obituary for The Buffalo News and I put in what she had told me about the crooks because I thought it was so sweet. At the funeral the rabbi read the obituary aloud to the congregation and he made that little detail sound thrilling and important and historic.

Like the voice of Richard Crooks!

With the great Jesse Crawford.