(UK) British Library - Medieval Manuscripts Blog: "Christmas Coronations" (by Becky Lawton, Dec 2016)
"Throughout the Middle Ages, Christmas was a season of festivities and celebrations, just as it is today. 25 December was certainly a high point of this festive season, beginning the twelve days of Christmas which would last until Epiphany. On three occasions in the early medieval period, the Christmas Day celebrations may have been more extravagant than usual: on Christmas Day in 800, 855 and 1066, merrymakers also celebrated the coronations of the very first Holy Roman Emperor and two English kings with interesting legacies. ...
"How many singers does it take to make an opera? There are single-role operas - Schönberg’s Erwartung (1924) and Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies (1969) spring immediately to mind - and there are operas that just require a pair of performers, such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart i Salieri (1897) or The Telephone by Menotti (1947). ...
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(US) The Conversation Article: "Scientists are trying to uncover what makes Stradivarius violins special – but are they wasting their time?" (by Bruno Fazenda and Trevor Cox, 19 Dec 2016)
Stradivarius violins are renowned for their supposedly superior sound when compared to other instruments. This has resulted in numerous studies hunting for a scientific reason for why Strads sound so good. A number of these studies have focused on the chemical composition of the wood in violins made in Cremona by Antonio Stradivari in the 17th and 18th centuries. Others have considered the violins made by Stradivari’s contemporary, Joseph Guarneri del Gesu, whose violins are widely considered to be just as good. ...
"Most people today think of a carol as any song or hymn related to Christmas. In its origins, it is something both more and less specific than this. It is derived from the Old French word carole, referring to a round of dancers, singing and holding hands. What they sung was not limited to Christmas music, and musicologists often identify a refrain repeated after each stanza as the key feature of an early carol. Not all medieval carols were overtly religious, but most focused on the Virgin Mary or the winter holy days. ...
"As a college student studying theatre in the early 1980s, I frequently paid 50 cents to take PATH to New York, stand on line at the TKTS booth in Duffy Square, and pay $12.50 to see a Broadway show. (A regular ticket was $25.) Venturing into midtown Manhattan during the Reagan presidency was an adventure, as you had to make your way through homeless people living in the street and avoid eye contact with the ladies of the night. Half the Broadway theatres were dark and shuttered. Tickets were relatively inexpensive, so young artists and enthusiasts had easy access to plays, which also served as an extended classroom for emerging artists. ...
(A growing trend in media outlets of releasing their art critic journalists and closing down these departments should worry us. Here again is another example of such a closure.)
"There is a continual conversation about the lack of support for the arts in Austin that is so pervasive at openings and afterparties that it serves as a sort of dark, loathsome substitute for small talk. While universally accepted that funds are in short supply, there are signs that the scene is by other measures healthy. ...
"My name is Tobie Miller, and I am a Canadian hurdy gurdy player based in Basel, Switzerland.
The music of J.S. Bach has followed me throughout my musical life as a sort of leitmotif. I grew up listening to and playing his music in so many different and varied forms - both original versions and adaptations - that it was a natural next step to adapt some of Bach's most beautiful solo works for my instrument. Bach's music is often described as "universal", and has been transcribed, adapted and adopted by and for numerous different instruments and musical genres. However, this is the first time that Johann Sebastian Bach's music has been recorded on the hurdy gurdy! ...
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