Following up on last August’s arrest

I spoke to my neighbor who was arrested
last August when a neighbor called the police because his dog
was barking.

He’s still not completely out of the woods, but his lawyer made
a motion last month to have the evidence thrown out on the basis
that the breakin was improper, and the judge granted the
motion.

So the DA can still go through appeals and drag it out, but
they may just drop the case, if they accept that they don’t have
any admissible evidence.

I asked him if that meant he would get his computer back, and
he said he’d asked that too. His lawyer said the next thing the
police would do is apply for “destruction of the evidence”, which
will certainly apply to the alleged marijauna plants, and might
apply to the othe items seized in the breakin. (Not just the
computer, but his camera, printer, monitor…)

I can see claiming that a hard drive is evidence, but I really
don’t see how a printer can be.

Anyway, the lawyer’s advice is that he can fight the
destruction of evidence application, but he advises against it,
on the grounds that it might well cost more time and money than
the equipment is worth.

I’m glad I set up my offsite backup system.

Cantatas, Sonatas and Moral Tales: Songs and Instrumental Music from 18th-century Germany

Last night I went to another concert in the Viols
and Friends series.
This one was of eighteenth
century music, which we’re on the whole more familiar with than
we are the seventeenth
century music
that I heard last October. Although the
performance included composers as familiar as Telemann and
Handel, it was in general the same kind of exploration of
little-known and delightful byways that characterizes this
series. Lutenist Olav Chris Hendriksen and Gambist Carol Lewis
were joined by mezzo-soprano Pam Dellal.

The first half included a humorous song by Telemann about
Fortune, written to be performed in the parlors of Hamburg. I
was reminded that the last concert I heard with Telemann parlour
songs had made me want to look them up, but I hadn’t yet gotten
around to it. There was also a lute-viol duet reconstructed by
Chris Hendriksen from the lute part. Again I marveled at how
well Chris and Carol Lewis (his wife) play together.

The second half ended with pieces from the end of writing for
viol and lute. Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787) was the last well-known
composer to write for (and play) viol. One of the pieces was
written for Thomas Gainsborough, better known as a portrait
painter, but apparently also an impressive amateur musician.
When I was in school, they skipped from Bach to Haydn when they
taught music history, leaving you to wonder what there must have
been in between. The music on this half of the program is part
of the answer.

[Gainsborough portrait of Abel]

The program ended on a note of hillarity, with Die Schlauen Mägdchen
by Johann Christian Beyer, who is known only because he
published one of the last treatises on the lute before modern
times in 1760. This piece is a humorous song about two girls
who are tired of being woken by their elderly aunt when the
rooster crows, so they kill the rooster. Their wicked plot
fails to benefit them, because the aunt, not being able to count
on the rooster waking her, wakes up at all hours of the night
and awakens her nieces. The piece was published entirely in
lute tablature, so probably originally performed with the
lutenist singing it.

You still have one more chance to appreciate this series, when
they perform French Renaissance music from the court of Louis
XIII with guest soprano Anne Azéma on April 17th and 18th.

Start of the Winter Olympics

[fiddler competing with shadow]

I spent last night watching the Olympics opening ceremony on
NBC. Then I spent 15 minutes over coffee this morning reading
what the New York Times had to say about the death
of the Georgian luger
and the opening
ceremony.

If I hadn’t watched the show, I wouldn’t have seen the music
and the dancing, but otherwise, I would have been at least as
well-informed about what had actually happened.

In fact, NBC apparently decided for reasons of taste or
something to not keep showing the video of the luge crash.
They spent 10 minutes at the beginning of their show, which I
missed because I was still eating dinner. But I watched it this
morning from the NY
Times link
, and I’m just as glad I didn’t have to see it 6
times the way you always do when a football player gets
injured.

The NBC report did mention that the track was very fast and
other people have crashed. They didn’t mention that it had
already been controversial as too difficult for the
less-experienced lugers who can be expected at the Olympics, or
that the Canadians had been criticized for trying to up their
medal count by providing less access to the course for training
than has been traditional.

So I might go on watching coverage when I have the time, but if
I miss it because of another commitment, I won’t feel bad if I
have to watch the videos on my computer instead of seeing things
live.

Chopin Concert


[Photograph of Chopin]

I gave the basic information about this Wednesday, but didn’t
include the program, or performer’s bio. Here’s what’s on the flyer:

Music of Fryderyk Chopin

on the occasion of his 200th birthday

born March 1, 1810, Żelazowa Wola, Poland

died October 17, 1949, Paris, France

Judith Conrad, Pianist

Sunday, February 21, 2010, 3:00 PM

First Baptist Church

228 North Main Street, Fall River, MA

open to all – Polish pastries will be served after the concert

Suggested Donation $10

donations beyond expenses will go to the Partners in Health hospital in Haiti
and to the Iraq Family Relief Fund – concert supported in some
part by a grant from the Fall River Cultural Council

For further information call (508) 674-6128 or e-mail JudithConrad@mindspring.com

Program

Polonaise in A-flat, written by the 11-year-old Chopin for his
first piano teacher, 1821

Polonaise in A-Flat opus 53, 1843

Waltz in E, 1829

Grande Valse Brillant in a, opus 34 no. 2

Waltz in D flat major, “Minute”, opus 64, no. 1

Nocturne in c-sharp minor, 1830

Nocturne ni f minor, opus 52 1844

Fantaisie-Impromptu, opus 66 (posthumous) 1834

Intermission

Ballade in g minor, opus 23 1831-5

Mazurka in B-flat, opus 17 no. 1

Mazurka in a, a Emile Gallard

Mazurka in C, opus 24 no. 2

Mazurka in A-flat, opus 59 no. 3

Mazurka in c-sharp minor, opus 41, no. 1

Etude in E, opus 10 no 3

Etude in e, opus 25 no. 5

Revolutionary Etude, opus 10 no. 12 1831-34

Ms. Conrad studied piano with International Concert PIanist
Theodore Lettvin in Boston, and with Freeman Koberstein at Oberlin
Conservatory, nad holds a degree from Harvard University. She has
upcoming concerts in Boston, Millis, Beloit, Wisconsin and
Almeria, Spain. She is Organist/Pianist at Good Shepherd Lutheran
Church in Kingston RI. A specialist in early music and performer
on clavichord and harpsichord (both of which Chopin played), she
is also the Founder/Director of the Delight Consort, which
specializes in music of the Renaissance and Baroque, and of the
Fall River Fipple Fluters, an amateur recorder-playing group. She
is accompanist of the Allegro Glee Club and secretary fo the Fall
River Symphony Society, and she gives piano and recorder lessons
and tunes pianos locally.

“Buying” a cell phone


[Ada and Richard]

It’s time for me to acquire a new cell phone. Actually, I
should have gotten one 2 years ago when the current one acquired
its intermittent problem. It stops hearing what I say. I can
make phone calls, and people can call me, but they all hang up
on me because they can’t hear me saying anything to them. I did
some ill-considered fiddling with passwords, so now the only fix
for this problem is to take the battery out for a few minutes.
This only happens every few months, so I haven’t done anything
about it, but now that I’m eligible for a new subsidized phone,
I figure I should get one.

The two features I’d like are a better camera and an ability to
read books. The better camera looks doable for a few tens of
dollars. This is frivolous, since I already have a better
camera, but it doesn’t fit easily even into my jacket pocket, so
I often don’t have it when I want it.

Reading books costs several hundred dollars, though. If you buy
from the T-Mobile store, any of
the phones smart enough to run reading software require a data
plan, which costs $25/month. So for the two year life of the
contract, that’s $600, plus whatever the phone costs.

I really don’t see that I want internet in my phone $600
worth. I need a phone that’s capable of internet, as a backup in
case the cable goes down, but that’s a few days a year at most.
Since I got Comcast instead of Verizon, I’ve had only a few hours
of down time, which happened at night so I didn’t need to use the
cell phone. When I’m at home, I have an upstairs desktop and a
downstairs laptop, and most of the places where I go and have time
to browse the internet have WIFI (so I can use the internet tablet). I know the people who have
iPhones do use their internet access, and maybe I’d wonder how I
lived without it if I got it, but right now I don’t feel like
spending the money.

Of course, you can buy an unlocked phone from Amazon or Newegg,
and probably you don’t need to get the data plan if you do that.
But the unlocked phones are all $300 more than a subsidized
version that comes with the data plan.

And again, this would be frivolous, because I already have my
Nokia N810 Internet Tablet for reading books. And it does fit
easily into a jacket pocket, so it’s only bad organization when
I don’t have it.

I investigated whether I could use the camera on the Internet
tablet for better pictures than the cell phone gets me, and it
turns out that I can’t, although it’s possible someone
could use it for something. It’s a fixed focus, intended for
doing video calls, so taking anything but yourself is difficult,
and the software seems to be pretty flaky. I managed to get an
out-of-focus shot of something unrecognizable, but never managed
to get the dog (my usual test subject), even though he’s taking
his morning nap and not difficult to shoot with a normal camera
at all.

So I’ll probably just upgrade to something similar to what I
have, maybe spending the $40 to get a better camera. In two
years, maybe the cost analysis will be different. Or maybe the
unlocked phones will get cheaper in less than two years.

There’s a character in Dickens’ Bleak
House
who is described thus:

He immediately began to
spend all the money he had in buying the oddest little ornaments and
luxuries for this lodging; and so often as Ada and I dissuaded him
from making any purchase that he had in contemplation which was
particularly unnecessary and expensive, he took credit for what it
would have cost and made out that to spend anything less on something
else was to save the difference.

One of my friends who bought an iPhone justified the expense
because his cell phone plan was $30 less per month than someone else’s he
knows (although it’s $30 more than mine). I do a certain amount
of that kind of thing, too, but I’m resisting the temptation in
this case.

Results from the January 30 concert

I thought I’d write a coherent account, instead of throwing you
dribs and drabs like I did in December. The previously posted
information is all in this post, except that I posted the picture later.

It was one of the nicest spaces we’ve played in. We’ve played
there twice before, but because it’s an art gallery, and they
put the art in different places for each exhibition, we end up
performing in different spots. It’s an old factory building
with stone walls and tile floors and high ceilings, so it’s
always fairly live, but this was an ideal spot for our
instruments. I played one note on the serpent and said, “O,
good, the serpent likes this space,” but the recorders,
especially my Prescott transitional soprano, liked it even
better.

We had about 25 people, which was good considering how short a
lead time we had for publicity after scheduling it. They seemed
to enjoy it, and stayed around for crackers and cheese afterwards
and asked questions about the instruments and the music. There
were a few people we knew, but it looked like most of them were
people who come to events at the gallery.

The opening piece was We
be three poor Mariners
. We’ve been using that as a
beginning piece, as have at least two other groups I’ve heard play
it in the last 5 years. It doesn’t make large technical demands,
and is a good warmup for the harder pieces later, and both
performers and audience enjoy it. This is the current state of
the solo serpent playing; not as good as I wish it were, but
better than it’s been in the past. The recorder playing on the
middle verse was a debut recorder performance by someone who is
usually a singer.

We had to take the two French drinking songs off the program in
December to keep the length under an hour, so we put them back for
this. It was a mistake in the case of Changeons
Propos
, so I won’t inflict the recording on you, but Quand
je Bois
was good except for the beginning.

We’ve concentrated on the Weelkes Aires and Phantasticke
Spirits
about spring and birds singing because we
usually do them at the Walk for Hunger in May,
but both of the ones that made it onto this program were
successful. Here’s Strike
it up, Tabor
.

I’ve always wanted to do whole concerts full of the Morley
Canzonets, and this half concert was the best chance I’ve had so
far. They went well; here are some of the better ones:

As I was making up this list of greatest hits, I realized that
none of the three-voice ones are on it. They’re about as easy
to sightread as the two-voice ones, but at least twice as
difficult to perform, and while none of the performances was
bad, they all had at least one section where somebody wasn’t
quite on the same beat as the other two people. Cruel
you pull away too soon
has the shortest such
section.

The ovation at the end definitely justified an encore, so we
sang He
that will an alehouse keep
. Some of the audience
joined in.

How the Burns party went

I’m just now getting to hear the recordings from the concert on
January 30, so I’ll write about that later. Yesterday’s Burns
birthday party was quite pleasant.

My sister, the hostess, read an article from the Manchester
Guardian pointing out that the custom started within a few years
of Burns’ death, when there were still people around who had known
Burns. She discussed the history of the 19th century parties
where the guests provided the entertainment. At the Burns
parties, everybody contributed, whether professional or not.
Later, at the parties where Chopin played and George Sand read her
works in progress, it was the professionals who performed, but
they were doing it in their own social context. Later still, the
professionals were asked to perform for other people, and either
were paid, or felt they should have been.

There was an animated discussion of the “Question” — Resolved:
that candidates for public office *should* want to stand in the
cold outside Fenway Park and shake hands. Everyone agreed that
Coakley had not been a good candidate, but none of the
political activists in the room wanted to discuss my point
that there had been no Get Out the Vote.

People enjoyed my selections from Judith. A friend who has
usually played recordings of folksongs he likes this year sang an
Irish lullaby from the Clancy Brothers’ repertoire, and turned out
to have quite a pleasant voice. Someone read a newly discovered
poem by Burns, and someone else sang his setting of a lullaby by
Yeats. I got a chance to play my Mexican Polka with piano
accompaniment. My sister read the whole of the Wordsworth poem on
the death of Lord Nelson that President Obama had quoted the last
three lines of in his eulogy of Edward Kennedy.

The food and drink were all good. Monte began the procedings
by making off with the whole wedge of the most expensive cheese.
After that it was mostly humans enjoying the food they’d cooked
for each other, including “neaps and tatties”; a casserole with
barley, shrimp, and chicken; and lemon squares.

More Judith

I had to spend most of the morning producing the handout for
the
party
, so I’ll give you the rest of it today.

I’m reading parts of two sections — the one I gave you
yesterday about Holofernes cutting off the water supply to
Bethulia, and the one about the death of Holofernes.

Here’s the version in the Apocrypha:

And Holofernes was made merry on her occasion, and drank exceeding
much wine, so much as he had never drunk in his life.

And when it was grown late, his servants made haste to their lodgings,
and Vagao shut the chamber doors, and went his way.

And they were all overcharged with wine.
And Judith was alone in the chamber.
But Holofernes lay on his bed, fast asleep, being exceedingly drunk.

And Judith spoke to her maid to stand without before the chamber, and to watch:

And Judith stood before the bed praying with tears, and the motion of her lips in silence,

Saying: Strengthen me, O Lord God of Israel, and in this hour look on the works of my hands, that as thou hast promised, thou mayst raise up Jerusalem thy city: and that I may bring to pass that which I have purposed, having a belief that it might be done by thee.

And when she had said this, she went to the pillar that was at his bed’s head, and loosed his sword that hung tied upon it.

And when she had drawn it out, she took him by the hair of his head, and said: Strengthen me, O Lord God, at this hour.

And she struck twice upon his neck, and out off his head, and took off his canopy from the pillars, and rolled away his headless body.

And after a while she went out, and delivered the head of Holofernes to her maid, and bade her put it into her wallet.

The version from the program notes for last June’s concert is
interrupted by two soliloquies, so I’ll give it to you straight,
first:

Holofernes was barely able to stand
on his feet, and sleep did overtake him.
Bagoas closed the tent and ordered the others to leave.

Holofernes’s strength melts away,
the filthy deeds of lust dilute it,
The bed was in the middle of the chamber,
soft, clean, white.
Entering, Holofernes collapsed upon it,
he began to snore louder than a sea lion,

Judith moved aside the curtains of the bed
while her heart beat fiercely,
She joined hand to hand,
fell to her knees, poured forth tears;
and prayed to herself:
O God,
remove from me all fear, guide my arm
that it accomplish what my mind has plotted!

Now, now I pray, free Your city Jerusalem,
smite the arrogant who elevate themselves,
give peace to the virtuous who humble themselves,
Give me Your power, and deign to assist me.

This she said, then silently she took the sword from the pillar of
the bed,
and drew it; with one hand she seized Holofernes’s hair,
with the other she smote him.
He groaned, shuddered, lying on his back, then
he expired; he had no strength; from his throat dribbled blood:
thus the hero perished, thus he closed his eyes.

He lay there like a log,
God did help Judith
that her work was not in vain,
she struck him again and took off his head.

I believe these soliloquies are not from the original epic, but
are what were called “Agonies” in Croation poetry. The first one
is inserted between Judith’s prayer and her actually taking the sword in
her hands:

[At that moment, the mind of Judith got up and spoke to her soul]

Why are you so sad, my soul, and why are you confusing me…

The soul answered: oh, how greatly you confused my heart…
I have been given to the body to live with it, and the body
cheated me…

The mind: My soul, your excuse isn’t good,
Because your body is made of earth, and you are made of wisdom…

Therefore I am so surprised that your heart is so petrified…
Overcome your body…

Then the soul said: Woe to me, I hoped to receive from you a
consolation, and instead I received even bigger sadness… You
know that I have been living on this world for many years… I
cannot overcome my body. It is older, cannot move, and cannot do
any good…

O, my soul, how bitter are your words, don’t lose hope if you are
losing your mind, I pray you… weep and fall upon your knees…

And then there’s one for Holofernes right after he dies:

[Then, Holofernes’s soul stood up and spoke ot his body angrily:]

Where are your lands and vineyards?

Where the pearls and Stones?

Where are your golden rings?

Where all the money that was your god?

Where are the delicious spices, that you prepared and forgot about
the poor?
There is no more fowl or wine on your table, now you are the drink
of disgusting worms,
that will crumble your body into dust.

It will be God’s decision,

do you want to cry in this chaber, where you lie with your nose
up?

Your beautiful eyes now stay closed,
your tongue is now silent, speechless.

[Then the evil Holofernes’s body, parting from the world, started
lamenting in a death rattle:]

Alas, where is my pride,
alas, where is my life?
Alas, where are my friends?

Alas, where are all my riches?

Oh, my dear companions, look at my body which lived with you
not fearing death,

My arms are still here,
but they don’t help my soul.
My eyes are closed
and all my arms killed.

Why has God created me?

Cursed be the day when I was born;
cursed the place when I was fed!
Be lost the paths that I crossed!

The Book of Judith

I’m going to a Robert Burns Birthday Party tomorrow, where
people read poetry that’s impressed them. We’ll also song some
Burns songs and read some of the standard Burns, but people
mostly pick poems that mean something to them no matter who the
poet is or
when they were written.

I thought over what poetry I’ve run into this year, and what
impressed me most was the Croatian
poems based on the Book of Judith
that I heard at last
year’s Boston Early Music
Festival.

I’m going to just read a couple of short passages from a Bible
translation, and some slightly longer passages from the
translation in the BEMF booklet. But I’ve been looking at some
of the information on the internet about the original, and why
it’s in Apocrypha.

Here’s an article
about how it’s been perceived in several religious traditions,
and here’s the Wikipedia
article
, which includes a list of literary, musical, and
artistic works based on the story, including the Croation Juditha,
which was part of the basis for the concert last June.

My brief summary is that the Rabbis who decided on the Hebrew
Canon decided not to include it because it was clearly not a
contemporary account. It seems to have been written during the
time of the Maccabees, and set during the reign of
Nebbuchadnezzar. So it’s a historical novel.

One of the aspects of it that struck me last June was the
description of the Assyrian atrocities against the civilian
population, like this one from chapter 7:

Now Holofernes, in going round about, found that the fountains which supplied them with water, ran through an aqueduct without the city on the south side: and he commanded their aqueduct to he cut off.

Nevertheless there were springs not far from the walls, out of which they were seen secretly to draw water, to refresh themselves a little rather than to drink their fill.

But the children of Ammon and Moab came to Holofernes, saying: The children of Israel trust not in their spears, nor in their arrows, but the mountains are their defense, and the steep hires and precipices guard them.

Wherefore that thou mayst overcome them without joining battle, set guards at the springs that they may not draw water out of them, and thou shalt destroy them without sword, or at least being wearied out they will yield up their city, which they suppose, because it is situate in the mountains, to be impregnable.

And these words pleased Holofernes, and his officers, and he placed all round about a hundred men at every spring.

And when they had kept this watch for full twenty days, the cisterns, and the reserve of waters failed among all the inhabitants of Bethulia, so that there was not within the city, enough to satisfy them, no not for one day, for water was daily given out to the people by measure.

The Croatian version of this is shorter and more vivid:

Holofernes approached Bethulia and diverted the water that
flowed into the city.

The water finished, there was thirst in the town,
Nothing to moisten their mouths,
their tongues began to dry out,
their lips to crack, and people waxed pale.