If we were having tea or coffee right now…

 

worthington

If we were having a cup of tea or coffee right now… just like we do on Fridays at Gracious Goods CafeI would be telling you, but wait, I got this all wrong, at this time of day, or night for that matter, it would be a glass of red wine, but lets pretend.

If we were having a cup of tea or coffee right now… I would be telling you all about last night’s concert. As most of you know, I have long enjoyed choral singing and I sing with Harmonia as well as Edmonton Metro Chorus. We performed twelve songs, either arranged or composed by Trent Worthington, whose music is quite clever, as well as often amazingly humourous, which is the case of the Three Cowboy Songs from the beginning of our program. My personal favorites were the three Canadian folk songs: Un canadien errant, Huron Carol and the Log Driver’s WaltzUn canadien errant is a song that always has an emotional impact and at times move people to tears. It tells the story of a Canadian exiled from his homeland, who roams, weeping, through foreign lands. Although a folkloric song, it might be at the same time quite relevant when we think of today’s Syrian refugees in search of a new home. To hear the song, just go to a previous post entitled Come Sing a Song with Me. What made this song even more special this time is that it had a totally new sound when accompanied by a throat singing duo of two Inuit women, Jenna Broomfield and Malaya Bishop, known as the Sila Singers. Later, when I have access to our recording of the evening, I will attempt to re-post that song. If I had access to the said recording I would also share Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah as arranged by Trent but that too will have to wait.

If we were having a cup of tea or coffee right now… I would have to admit that I have been blabbering long enough without passing our talking stick around. Perhaps, I shall give you a break and allow you to listen to members of the University of North Texas College of Music performing Trent Worthington’s Three Cowboy Songs.

 

If we were having a cup of tea or coffee right now… I would mentioned that we also did two of the Beatles’ songs, Michelle and Drive My Car, both penned by Lennon and McCartney. The Beatles might not be everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended) but, they have long been popular with members of the Edmonton Metro Chorus. A couple of years ago we had a cabaret concert entirely devoted to the Beatles, and beyond the formal programming, we had small groups and individuals performing their own Beatles favorites. The audience was invited to sing along for a number of pieces and did so with joyful enthusiasm. Did you know that in Canada we knew about the Beatles more than a year before they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, in 1964, which created a scandal in America, perhaps equal to the reaction to Elvis Presley’s gyration on the same show a decade earlier. From February 1963 to the end of 1964, more than a million copies of the Beatles’ records were produced by RCA Victor in Smith Falls, Ontario. Wow! what can’t we learn over a cup of tea or coffee.

 

“Dance Me To The End Of Love”

When writing, either a blog post or poetry, I often use some form of free association and follow the thread till I reach the story in the labyrinth of my mind. There are always prompts and clues along the way. In my last post I started with Carolyn McDade‘s Come, Sing a Song with Me, which led me to expand on the choral work I am involved with at this time. The song going through my head at that moment was Un canadien errant and I posted a video of Ian and Sylvia Tyson’s rendering of the famous exile song. My colleague Soso of Un pied ici, un pied là-bas, having listened to the Tyson’s version then followed the thread on YouTube, and came upon Leonard Cohen’s interpretation of the same song. Cohen is one of her favorite artists of all time so I was delighted to share with her that at  The Edmonton Metro Chorus we will be performing Cohen’s famous Hallelujah in our November concert.

Soso had attended Cohen’s concert at the Olympia in Paris during his world tour of 2012-2013 and has only fond memories of what she sees as a once in a lifetime experience. Following up on this rave review, I got hold of Leonard Cohen Live in Dublin recorded on September 12, 2013, and promptly watched the 3.5 hours video, 30 songs live, absolutely moving. The audience was captivated, on the edge of their seats, totaly engaged in this man’s sublime performance, delivered with grace and without pretence. This somehow felt like a farewell concert, and it probably was if one considers that the artist was 79 at the time of this recording. Much could be said about many of the songs offered that night, however, I have settled on one, and only one, and the reason will clearly appear in a moment.

Dance Me To The End Of Love was the first song of the evening and immediately struck a chord. The song was first performed in 1984 on the album entitled Various Positions. In 1995, Stewart, Tabori & Chang published Leonard Cohen’s poem with reproductions of Henri Matisse paintings, the third book in a series entitled Art and Poetry. I have long been interested in the relationship between literature and the visual arts and had made it one of my academic specialties. I also always had a penchant for the work of Henri Matisse and was attracted to the boldness and sensuality of his nudes, I found his work to be an inspiration to me. I had not known of this particular publication until Brenda, my wife and best friend, offered it to me in 1996, with the following inscription: After 10 years you still “Dance Me to the End of Love”. We have since danced our way to the Okanagan then, with à pied-à-terre in Switzerland we danced all over Europe for 4 years, after which we danced our way to Malawi for one year before returning to Canada. Come next March, we will be dancing into our 30th anniversary. And beyond…

I would like to leave you with a poem of my own, largely inspired by Leonard Cohen so, thank you Mr. Cohen for lending me some of your words, and most importantly, your spirit. Thanks also to Mr. Ric Masten for the one line from his hymn Let it be a dance, it just kept creeping in. So be it.

You danced me to your side
with burning desires
You danced me to places
near and far

You danced me to your heart
over land and water too

And when I danced near
the edge of time
You danced me “tenderly”
back into your arms

You danced me “through the good times
and the bad times, too”
You danced me “on and on”
You danced me “very long”

Yes, do “dance me to the end of love”

Dance me