Victoria Bolles, RIP

[Victoria from obituary]

Victoria from her obituary at the
local paper.

I mentioned a few
days ago
that I had two Memorial Services I wanted to go
to yesterday afternoon. The one I actually went to was for
Victoria Bolles, a friend from the West Gallery

[Victoria from facebook]

Victoria from her Facebook Page

I didn’t know Victoria that well until I started sending anyone
who wanted to read them long emails about Bonnie’s condition. She
was an enthusiastic member of the West Gallery Quire — I may have
first noticed her when she turned out to know how to pronounce
Welsh. She and her husband George were the first people who
started bringing food to share at the breaks, which is now an
established custom. There was a Shape Note Singing that would
normally have been small, but robust, but for some reason the day
I showed up there was only me, Bonnie, Victoria and George for
quite a while at the
beginning. This meant that I had to sing the lead without any
assistance, and they were all quite helpful about finding songs
that were suitable for that.

When I set up the bonnienews mailing list, Victoria subscribed
even though I don’t think she knew Bonnie any better than she knew
me. At one point she sent me a very supportive email:

I wish I could say how my heart goes out to you as you keep your
steadfast watch by Bonnie’s side. You are wise and strong, and Bonnie
could not be more blessed. I’m not sure what to do about visiting
Bonnie, as she does not know George or me well and might find our
presence unsettling. But I have a card I picked out for her recently,
so I’ll send that, and keep sending cards as I find them.

And I’ll think of her, and hold her in my heart, and be grateful for
the time I’ve known her, and send her love. I guess that’s the best
anyone who’s not close can do. Love is all we have.

That mail was sent on March 12, 2008, and the correspondence it
led to ended up with Victoria organizing a group of shape note
singers to go to Bonnie in the hospice and sing in her room for
over an hour. Unfortunately this didn’t happen until early May,
which was about two weeks before she died. A week or two earlier
she would have been able to show more signs of appreciation.

After that, there was a correspondence about what kind of
support she could give me with all the work I would have to do
about arranging the funeral. She was so sympathetic I complained
about all the phone calls that were involved, and she offered to
just do some for me. This is what I told her I appreciated most
when I saw her after she got sick, and what I told George I
remembered most fondly about her at the Memorial Service
yesterday. Everybody who wants to be sympathetic says, “Let me
know if there’s anything I can do,” but Victoria did enough
sympathetic listening to actually come up with a good plan for
something she could do that was helpful. Here’s how some of that
email went:

Victoria: Peace and strength to you,

Laura Thanks. So far, the strength has mainly been
necessary for yelling at Pioneer Investments customer support people, who don’t seem to know
anything about what they’re supposed to do with a Power of Attorney,
and they change their story if you yell at them hard enough. But I
will need strength to deal with undertakers, funerals, and real estate
agents in the future.

Victoria: I will be happy to do anything to help you deal with “undertakers,
funerals and real estate agents” when the time comes. Because I will
not have been subjected to the constant stress you’ve been handling it
might be a bit easier for me to take one some of that stuff. It’s up
to you; just remember that if you ask me, I’ll say yes. The one thing
you need to bear in mind is that I don’t drive, so anything that
requires getting someplace by car can become a problem. But a lot of
what you mention can be done via phone.

I had a close friend of Bonnie’s who was a member of the church
Bonnie wanted her funeral at helping me with those arrangements,
and undertakers turn out to be pretty good at not making
unreasonable demands on the recently bereaved. But Victoria did a
lot of research for me into how to go about donating Bonnie’s car
to WGBH, she ordered the floral arrangement for the funeral, and
found a name of a real estate agent.

I was glad to hear the remembrances of people who’d known her
in other contexts at the funeral. I’m sorry I didn’t get to hear
her Cemetery Tours of the Wyoming Cemetery in Malden where her
ashes are buried, or know more about the writing group she was a
founding member of. The biggest laugh of the afternoon (no, big
laughs aren’t what most people who give remembrances at Memorial
Services go for) was from someone she’d worked with at the
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. He said, “I was
Victoria’s boss — what a silly idea.” I was sitting where I
could see George, and he was laughing even harder than a lot of
other people.

People complained when I arranged Bonnie’s funeral that there
were seven hymns. They hadn’t been to a Sacred Harp Memorial Lesson,
which is what Victoria had. From the Interment of Ashes at 11:30 AM
until 4 PM, we were singing at least half the time, and we must
have sung 40 or so hymns. I headed this posting “RIP”, but the
Sacred Harp, “And I’ll sing ‘Hallelujah’, when I arrive at home,”
with which we ended the service,
seems more appropriate to how I imagine Victoria arriving in Heaven.

Marty Sasaki, RIP

[marty from post to his high school facebook page]

Marty from post to his high school facebook page

Marty’s death apparently happened about six months ago.
He stopped posting to his blog
on August 13. His recorder teacher, who told me about it, had
seen him at her student recital (which may have been the one on
September 12) two days before he died.

[marty from fellow photographer's page]

Marty from fellow photographer’s tripod page

We shared a cubicle in 1981-2, when we were both programmers in
the Radiology Department of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Although it was at that point one of the better jobs I’ve ever had
in my life, we both found some of the political aspects of it
frustrating. We would occasionally both get into his car and go
to a hill in Brookline and fly kites.

[One of Marty's kites]

One of Marty’s kites

He was at that point not long out of MIT, and in much better
touch with the cutting edge of programming than I was, so I
learned a lot from him. He was the first person I ever saw using
emacs, and it was his copy of The TEXbook that
introduced me to Donald Knuth and TEX.

When he left that job for another job in the Harvard Medical
Area, he was the first person I ever kept in touch with by email
and a “talk” program that ran on the Vax.

We eventually fell out of touch, but then when I was just
starting to be the Administrator of the Boston Recorder
, I got an email from him (in my capacity as
administrator; we’d neither of us particularly identified as
recorder players when we knew each other). He was thinking about
picking up the recorder again, and wondered if what the BRS was
doing would help. He must have decided that it wouldn’t, because
I don’t think he ever came to one of our meetings, but he did get
involved in other recorder-related activities in the Boston area,
and I occasionally saw him there.

The most recent real conversation we had was when he came as
part of the group that spelled the Cantabile Band at the Walk for
Hunger last year. He was looking quite a bit thinner than when
I’d most recently seen him, and seeming more mobile. We talked
about how much more energy blogging takes than you would expect,
and about the process of winding up the affairs of a dead person.
He was talking to me instead of playing because he’d gotten
frustrated by the playing — most of the other players in the
group were a lot more experienced than he was. But I had a bit
the same sense of returning peace that I remembered from flying
kites on the hill in Brookline.

He will be remembered at a recital on Saturday.
I won’t be able to go, because there’s a memorial service for
another friend at the same time. Having conflicting memorial
services makes me feel old, but that’s another post.

Another Chopin Concert

Judith Conrad, Fortepiano

with the Delight Consort

Sunday, March 7, 2010, 3:00

The Loring Greenough House

Celebrating Fryderyk Chopin’s 200th Birthday

with parlor music by himself and his forbears

Frederic Chopin, whose 200th birthday is March 1st, 2010, played a
square piano in his youth in Poland, and continued to perform on them
in salons and even in concert halls into the 1840’s. And much of his
music was written to be played in parlors which often were equipped
with pianos much like the Loring-Greenough House fortepiano. Judith
Conrad will play a program of the sort that would have been played in
such a parlor on March 7 at 3:00pm, focusing on the smaller-scale
music of Chopin and including music for cello, flute, recorder and
fluegelhorn with Otto Guzman, Frank Fitzpatrick and Paul
Ukleja. Composers in addition to Chopin include Handel, Beethoven,
Marya Szymanowska, Prince Michal Cleofas Oginski and Princess Anna
Maria of Dresden.

The Loring-Greenough House, built in 1760, is located at 12 South
Street (at the Civil War Monument) in Jamaica Plain, MA. It is
wheelchair accessible. For more information on the Loring-Greenough
House, see

Tickets are available at the door:
donation $17 ($12 seniors, students and JPTC members) which includes a
“preservation fee”. For further information call Judy Conrad at
508-674-6128 or e-mail


First Half

Oginski Polonaise ‘Les Adieu a la Patrie’
Maria Szymanowska Piano Fantaisie
Polonaise Chopin wrote for his first piano teacher when he was 11
Chopin Mazurkas
Etude opus 10 no. 2, Cello and piano
Chopin Songs: Smutna Rzeka; Dumka
Song – Maiden’s Fancy, played by ensemble

Second Half

Handel Polonaise
Three Dances from the Polish Renaissance
Beethoven Variations on Hail the Conquering Hero – Piano and cello.
Piano music from the Archives in Dresden, Polonaises and Sonatinas by
and for Princess Anna Amalia c. 1770
Bellini Costa Diva – Paul on Fluegelhornby
Chopin Waltzes, nocturnesby
Martini Plaisir D’Amour – Sung by the audience

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.

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


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


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.

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

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
, 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
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

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.

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

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
, 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.

Songs my mother taught me

A surprising number of them are under copyright. I thought
about it this morning because the BBC had a story that
hinged on Kookaburra
being under copyright.

Of course, everybody knows about Happy Birthday,
largely because of the suit
against the Girl Scouts
. This is why a family-friendly
restaurant I go to sometimes has its staff come out with the
lighted cake singing “Happy Birthday” to the tune of the
Hallelujah Chorus, instead of the tune the rest of
us use.

An example I noticed reading through a fakebook, that I don’t
know anyone’s been sued over is On Top of
. (No, my mother didn’t teach me that one —
I learned it in the gutter.)

Lohengrin at Bayreuth

I enjoyed this
quite a lot, although it’s probably a bit long to be a
good introduction to Wagner if you don’t already know you want
to watch him.

With my memory refreshed on my previous viewing of the opera by
my post
last Monday
, I could see that the Bayreuth organization
and Werner Herzog (who did the stage direction) had to struggle
with many of the same problems that the Met touring company so
flagrantly failed to overcome.

Of course, the DVD had electronic means of overcoming any
imbalance between the singers and the orchestra, but probably
they hire singers to sing live at Bayreuth who have the right
vocal equipment. This is less rare than the right vocal
equipment for Hynes Auditorium, since Wagner designed his
theater very carefully for exactly that kind of production,
whereas Hynes Auditorium was designed for something else. (I’m
not really sure what, but it wasn’t Wagnerian opera.)

They coped with the problem of opera singers not always
grabbing the right end of the sword in the heat of all the other
things they have to think about by giving them “swords” that were
like wiggly light-sabers, which could be held anywhere along the
length of the weapon. The sword fights weren’t particularly
elaborately staged, but they did always seem to attack with the
“point”. The light-sabre conceit made some good lighting
effects possible.

The Swan was a stuffed Swan head and wings on the actor playing
the non-singing
role of Gottfried. And lots of lighting. As I remember the
Hynes Auditorium production, it wasn’t at all clear where the
dopy looking boy came from at the end. In this production, you
wonder why you can see the boy with the stuffed swan on his head
when none of the characters can. It’s one of the places where
I’m sure Wagner would have loved Hollywood special effects.

I thought all the singing was quite good. The acting was a
little more variable — Elsa was very good; Ortrud was
monochromatically angry; the men all verged on being a bit
wooden, with Lohengrin the best of the bunch. In general,
we shouldn’t expect opera singers who have been trained to act so that the
third balcony can see what they’re feeling to suddenly be subtle
in a film closeup. And I’m not sure we have the cultural
training to reproduce 19th century depictions of ancient
cultural figures in their public personas. We might well have
thought King Henry was wooden when he was addressing his
people if we had seen the real thing.

The scenery, lighting, and camera work were all quite good,
which you’d expect with a famous film director in charge. The
costumes were what I’ve seen in other Bayreuth-produced DVD’s —
nightgowns in attractive colors. This is one of the areas where
the production ignores explicit text in the libretto —
Lohengrin should have been wearing shining armor instead of a
vaguely steel-colored nightgown.

In general, I don’t believe people staging an opera from a
century and a half ago should feel compelled to follow all the
stage directions, or even all the staging explicitly called for
in the libretto. But I do wonder why they don’t change the
libretto when they’re changing the staging. Another place where
this production ignored Wagner’s writing was in the final scene when Lohengrin is
leaving his Sword, his Horn and his Ring for Gottfried when he
comes back. He does leave the light-sabre, but his costume
doesn’t have a horn, so he just sings about it without actually
putting anything down. This isn’t as irritating as when Brünhilde
is calling for her horse, and then talking to it for several
minutes and there isn’t anything remotely resembling a horse on
stage. But I do think they should address the problem when they
change something.

I spent a good part of the third act thinking what lousy wife
material Elsa was, aside from being able to deliver the Duchy of
Brabant. Before the wedding, she goes on and on about falling at
his feet and worshipping him. Then as soon as the ceremony is
over, she starts nagging him about telling her his name, which
is the one thing he’s asked her not to do. The marital
relationship between Ortrud and Friedrich is actually fairly
well-drawn, but virtuous women weren’t really Wagner’s strong

There are other reviews: of this DVD at,
and of the production as seen live (with a different cast) in The
New York Times
. I don’t disagree with much that they say,
but I think the reviewer was a little harsh on
the acting.