Wednesday, 11 September 2013

'Sure on this Shining Night, and a quick visit to nuns

Once again in my favourite Costa just on the M6 a few miles south of Gretna. I am off to Yorkshire to teach the Benedictine sisters at Stanbrook Abbey. It is one of my favourite occupations, and I always feel so privileged to be welcomed with open arms into a closed community of contemplative nuns.

At the Yorkshire Stanbrook, I will be staying in one of the holiday log cabins and so will have a small and cosy woodland house to myself for three days. How lovely is that !

Peace and quiet, great company and pupils who are always hungry to learn and improve. Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder, I only visit abbeys three or four times each year, and they so look forward to it, which means complacency never sets in, and we always really make a difference in the overall and individual tone quality. It is a joy to work in these places, and I get my fix of contemplative peace and come home de stressed ! It is a win win situation !

I am not sure if I will have any wifi or phone signal, so I thought I would post now as the ability to do so at Stanbrook may not be available !

I have had a very very busy Monday and Tuesday this week as some people who would have missed out today and tomorrow wishes to be fitted in for lessons so I found myself teaching 10 pupils on Monday and eight yesterday and then moving swiftly on to the Inner Sound AGM. So in essence I packed for this visit in about 3 minutes before bed. I am sure I have forgotten something vital, but until I arrive in the middle of nowhere on the moors, I won't know what ! Lets hope it's not spectacles or underwear !

We had another gob smacking Queen of the Night lesson yesterday, and I wish to report officially it just gets better and better.....but today I want to also mention my teenager N. She is fifteen and an immense vocal talent. Sensitive, warm toned and just so creamily musical, it is quite magnificent. I gave her the glorious, yet very mature song, Sure on this Shining Night by Samuel Barber a week or so ago, knowing it would both tax and delight her in one swoop.

Yesterday evening she arrived full of it, brandishing the copy with such excited glee it was a joy to behold. She sang the long legato lines with a totally gorgeous legato, and with a tone reminiscent of the best cappuccino cream. The poem is both complex and beautiful, and I was amazed she sang with such understanding, although I don't know why I should be amazed, she sings everything with wondrous maturity, from Handel to Gilbert and Sullivan.

In conversation about her week of learning she said something very profound, yet perfectly simple. Remarking upon how tricky some of the rhythms are, she looked at me and said with a broad smile, ' I just decided to forget about the counting, and sing the words, and it worked!'.

Oh to be able to make many of my lovely students believe it.

Out of the mouths!

Just flipping sing it, the way the man wrote it, don't get hung up on numbers!


Sure On This Shining Night

Sure on this shining nightOf star made shadows round,Kindness must watch for meThis side the ground. The late year lies down the north.All is healed, all is health.High summer holds the earth. Hearts all whole.Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring faraloneOf shadows on the stars.

Cheryl Studer singing the soprano version most beautifully



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