Monday, 28 June 2010

Do you like magic with your music?

Last night I attended an evening at our local Arts Centre to listen to the sweet and dulcet tones of Cara Dillon. Cara is a very talented folk singer from Ireland. I’ve listened to her albums and attended several of her performances over the years and with each performance she gets better and better. Her voice has a soothing, endearing and dare I say, magical quality about it. For me, her Gaelic songs are particularly haunting and beautiful. It’s as if she sings every song from her heart and soul. When she sang last night, the whole theatre seemed to embrace the magic of her words and music. I felt that we had been given a very precious gift to hold, we had, her beautiful singing voice! She sang and encouraged us to do so too. Her songs and music accompanied by her talented musician husband Sam Lakerman, told of joy, happiness and sadness too. She engaged her audience as she performed. I enjoyed how she shared something of herself through her stories, a truly authentic performer. This was Cara’s first visit to our local Arts Centre and somehow I don’t think it will be her last. If you have the opportunity to listen to Cara’s music, I encourage you to do so. I know you won’t be disappointed.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Who invites you to skip down memory lane?

Last week I was at school helping a class of eight year olds. We were learning all about the concepts of past, present and future. The teacher was explaining how the present became the past and how this became history. We talked about current events and happenings and how they would in turn become past times and history. She highlighted various events that the children could relate to and understand the nature of the lesson. She cited the local town festival that had now had a history of being fifty years old. Fifty years old! That’s quite a concept for an eight year old to grasp. This in turn generated discussion about how life was fifty years ago. What was school like then? Did children use computers? Did the children travel to school on the bus? What did they watch on television? Thanks to the internet we were able to access one or two children’s programmes of that time so long ago.

Remember Andy Pandy and Loobyloo or Bill and Ben the Flowerpot men? Like our eight year olds some of you won’t recall these delightful Watch with Mother programmes. (The short video is purely for educational purposes you understand!)

The class were rather bemused that the programmes were in black in white and not in colour. This was a novel experience for today’s eight year olds.

And when we watched together I could feel myself skipping down memory lane …

Ahhh … those were the days.

Who or what invited you to skip down memory lane recently?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A special kind of play

One of the many beautiful Oberammergau wood carvings taken by me. Artist unknown.

I’ve gone AWOL again, this time to the beautiful town of Pertisau in the Tyrol, Austria and a couple of days in the delightful village of Oberammergau in Germany. The trip was planned two years ago by my best friend and me. It seems like a long wait for a trip but this was due to the fact that the trip included a special theatre visit. We had organised to see the renowned Oberammergau Passion Play. There is a waiting list of two years for tickets to see this particular play. It is performed every ten years as per tradition and custom of the area. It had been on my ‘to see and do list’ for some time now and this year, 2010 was the year! I recall my parents going to Oberammergau some thirty years ago when I was a student at university.

The Oberammergau Passion Play originates from a vow made by the people of the village in the year 1633. It was during this time that many people in the region died as a result of the Black Death. The people vowed to portray the ‘Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ’ every ten years. Having made this particular pledge not one person in the village of Oberammergau died of the Black Death.

What’s so special about this play is that at least half the village (2500 people) are involved in the production, children as young as three and adults as old as ninety. Occasionally several members from one family may be involved in the production. All the actors are volunteers and prepare for the play at least a year before the season starts. Men will grow their hair long and acquire beards for their respective roles long before the season starts in the May. The season finishes in October and the play is performed five days a week. That’s a lot of rehearsals and performances.

To witness a production of the Oberammergau Passion Play is truly a wonderful experience. The choir, the music and the cast capture the drama, emotion and dignity of this story in the most fitting of ways. The setting, the ever changing scenes and the costumes capture the atmosphere of the event beautifully. Minutes into the performance I felt that I was no longer a spectator but someone caught up in the story of the time. The whole performance took us through varying levels of emotion. I was pleased that the two year wait for tickets was worth it. I would certainly recommend adding it to your ‘places to see’ list for 2020 and remember to book in plenty of time.

Ludwig Modl (theological advisor of the Oberammergau Passion Plays) wrote,

‘Once again they (the people) keep the vow of their ancestors in a way that remains true to the original promise. The play of redemption seeks to capture the fears and longings of the people of our times and gives them the kind of hope offered by faith. Consequently, the play is not a museum-like folk theatre, it is a theatre of the people for the people that reaches deep into life and seeks to convey hope.