I have always loved James Taylor's version of "In the Bleak Mid-Winter." The lyrics are from a poem by Christina Rossetti which she wrote while sick with Graves disease. She died before it was published. As my mother noted in an email to me reflecting on this advent song: "we are all waiting for better race relations, waiting for hurting people, waiting for children with cancer...waiting for 'Joy to the World.'" Receiving this beautiful reflection from my mother made me think of mothers and their love for their children. But, also, of the grief of mothers who are separated from their children or whose children are sick, have died, or were murdered. Oh if only we could all be healed by a mother's love. And so I recorded this song in my home on my own piano, and I dedicate it to my mother and my mother-in-law who have supported, encouraged, nurtured and loved me for so many years. Winter pictures for the video were taken by my Dad, Jack Oates (a talented photographer and painter) and by me. http://youtu.be/d7voq9P1vtQ
Filtering by Category: Classical
Anthony Abbott (a former professor of mine at Davidson College) and I have collaborated to add music to his most recent poetry collection and narrative titled "The Angel Dialogues." A montage of the July 2014 performance with Marla Brown can be viewed here.
Several months ago I wrote a song about the experience of waking in the middle of the night and being filled with doubt and existential angst (as the poet in Tony's book is bereft of inspiration and filled with doubt). I based the melody on the Westminster Chime--which any insomniac with a grandfather clock knows by heart. As I researched the piece, I discovered that the chimes (with its play between 4ths and 5ths music intervals) also inspired Handel's "I Know My Redeemer Liveth". The juxtaposition of Handel's aria declaring absolute theological certainty and the haunting chime was an intriguing setting for 2am angst--and a perfect musical riff for Tony's poet's crisis of faith.
Two pieces from my CD Going Over Home also fit perfectly: "He Shall Feed His Flock/Come Unto Him"--continuing with the Handel riff--and "Wayfaring Stranger". I'm also excited about premiering one of my favorite original songs that I just finished: "When Dragons Were Real." My friend and co-band mate, Cheryl Hoover, requested that I write about the experience of watching our oldest children say goodbye to childhood and leave home. It took half a year, but I finally finished it just a couple months ago.
You never know where a class, a friend, a song, a poem will lead you.
Singing this song (when it goes well!) is like flying. It takes so much breath control and strength to sing all of the fast notes that build to high notes, but when the notes take off it feels like I'm levitating. My body literally shakes with the power of the notes bouncing around my body. Maureen and I recorded all 10 piano songs in one day...and this one was (unbelievably) the last song we recorded. I had no idea if the high note at the end would be there, but there it was...singing is always an act of faith.
Raymond’s photographs are truly works of art. Represented by the Doma Gallery, he frequently photographs people in strikingly unusual settings. For the pictures on my website, I am lucky that Raymond happened to come to a gig I was playing at the Dunhill with camera in hand. He took impromptu photographs just using the light and setting on hand. Amazing. Be sure to check out his website for examples of his exquisite photography and to find out when and where he will be showing his work next.