Friday, July 31, 2015

Transfigured by music

I'm writing this on the last day of July, the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola for whom this prayer was composed:

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do Your will.

St. Ignatius of Loyola,
pray for us.


Front, back and front of the Maestro with some MSO members Photos by Kimi L. Fernandez

You can say today's blog is an offering to the ones who keep the music alive. They help us rest from our labors so we can be energized again to do the Lord's will.

If you grew up on what to others is the "fairy tale" of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph the Worker and Jesus Christ, the poem "Verklärte Nacht" or "Transfigured Night" by German writer Richard Dehmel makes you think of the Holy Family in a big and bigger way. I don't claim knowledge of the context in which the poet wrote it.

Thano Adamopoulos, the visiting Belgian-Greek conductor who led the Manila Symphony Orchestra, particularly its string section in Arnold Schoenberg's "Verklarte Nacht," first turned around to explain to the audience the sounds we were expected to hear to express the emotions going through the protagonists in the poem.

This is a case where a poem inspired the music. My eldest child Kimi, who's into contemporary and pop music, accompanied me to this concert. She was overwhelmed (okay, impressed) by Schoenberg's music despite its initially alien sound. She said of Maestro Adamopoulos's handling of the MSO--"hindi siya pa-sundot-sundot lang". What she meant was that after we heard a mini lecture followed by the performance, by George, we got it! The music wasn't that strange anymore. It was profoundly moving and yes, as the maestro said, cinematic or almost like a film score.

And it was to me the story of Joseph, Mary and the Son of Man in her womb. The two persons in "Transfigured Night" weren't plain sweethearts. I could imagine the expression on Joseph's face as Mary revealed she was with child, and it wasn't his. He is stunned before he accepts and tells her he will raise and embrace the baby as his own. Makes the few remaining hair on my arms go up.

Transfigured Night

Two people walk through a bare, cold grove;
The moon races along with them, they look into it.
The moon races over tall oaks,
No cloud obscures the light from the sky,
Into which the black points of the boughs reach.
A woman’s voice speaks:

I’m carrying a child, and not yours,
I walk in sin beside you.
I have committed a great offense against myself.
I no longer believed I could be happy
And yet I had a strong yearning
For something to fill my life, for the joys of
Motherhood
And for duty; so I committed an effrontery,
So, shuddering, I allowed my sex
To be embraced by a strange man,
And, on top of that, I blessed myself for it.
Now life has taken its revenge:
Now I have met you, oh, you.

She walks with a clumsy gait,
She looks up; the moon is racing along.
Her dark gaze is drowned in light.
A man’s voice speaks:

May the child you conceived
Be no burden to your soul;
Just see how brightly the universe is gleaming!
There’s a glow around everything;
You are floating with me on a cold ocean,
But a special warmth flickers
From you into me, from me into you.
It will transfigure the strange man’s child.
You will bear the child for me, as if it were mine;
You have brought the glow into me,
You have made me like a child myself.

He grasps her around her ample hips.
Their breath kisses in the breeze.
Two people walk through the lofty, bright night.


Saraza both at work and at play

The second part of the concert "Heart, Strings" featured violinist Diomedes Saraza Jr. as soloist in Bizet's "Carmen," Louie Ocampo's "Kahit Isang Saglit" and Willy Cruz's "Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas." MSO Executive Director Jeffrey Solares revealed that the former prodigy was just "Babes" to the MSO when he was a kid. Radio man Bert Robledo calls him "Junjun."

By whatever name he's called the whiz kid from Juilliard School of Music treated the audience to kilig to the bones music meant for drama-ramas or teleserye. Ayos ang gabi! What a good night the 15th of July was.

Souvenir with Maestro and my friend Joseph Uy who's my private music tutor

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