Friday, August 22, 2008

Amber Waves of Grass

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Sharing a little late summer beauty with you.

Meet my geek with a heart!
Notice the pedometer (10,000 steps a day) and the cell phone on his belt.
Notice the Dick Tracy wristwatch and Garmin Personal Trainer on his arm.

Notice the sweet bouquet in his hand. All Geek. All Heart. All the Time. I love dat man!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Banner Day!

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My, my, my!!!
I hardly know where to begin tonight!
In door #1, we have Amos and Cara. They have set a date and place for the wedding: November 28 at the Gilliam Mill Park in Sanford NC. Here are some shots I found on the web:

How fitting that we did the engagement shoot at Mabry Mill.

Behind door #2, You will find the wonderful FRONT PAGE story about the JoyBell Ringers featured in our humble hometown's newspaper: Fellowship of the Ringers
You all know how silly proud I am of my ringers; There won't be any decorum of restraint left now! It's immensely satisfying to see them receive some well-earned recognition.

And lastly, waiting behind Door #3, There is a slideshow from music camp. This is an absolutely marvelous event sponsored by the Virginia Baptists each summer at Eagle Eyrie.The theme this year was "Whatever" You know, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure…think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

Those are the doors, but there's more good stuff hiding in the corners, too. Larry, the lawn guy showed up today to start the healing of our landscape. We're looking for greener days ahead in the near future. There's some sporadic activity at the building site of the new wall. Perhaps, that will become a regular occurrence this week.
And finally, (yes, really finally) here are some more accolades from the Symposium for "Saint Debbie" written on the Handbell-L mailing list by Valerie Stevenson.

"Not sure anyone has said much about these fantastic events in hot and rainy Orlando, FL from Aug 3-11. It was quite a feat for AGEHR to pull off at one time, but they did it.
I had never been to a symposium, and this one was in my backyard. What a delight to meet, ring and try to speak or understand in many different languages. BUT, as usual, making music made it easy as that's the one code we could all understand, and the conductor's gestures also made lots of things quite clear with little verbal explanation.
Besides the quite miraculous concert with the Orlando concert band, some pianists and our wonderful president Debbie Rice on a vocal, the most fun was "the trinket exchange", which gave us all a chance to exchange small gifts and meet those from around the world. Photos, autographs, trinkets and ice cream made that a great night.
The walks from the hotel room to the ringing site were exhausting for all but Olympic runners, who were also starting into action in Peking whilst we were at these events.
Tim Waugh about did it all, from unloading equipment at the loading dock (yup, saw him there too), to conducting our first Distinctly Teen (and they were great), to being the high Priest at our Renfaire luncheon, to teaching at seminar, and I'm not sure what else.
That could only be topped by our President, Debbie Rice, who conducted what can only be considered a miracle with Carmina Burana (arr by Bill Griffin, also miraculous). But Debbie also gave opening, closing, in between-ish speeches IN Japanese as well as English; sang for numerous things, and generally became "Saint Debbie" for all of us."

The most abundant commodity at music camp are the smiles. Here's a few to brighten your day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Just Ducky

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Amos and Cara weren't the only two love birds at Mabry Mill yesterday.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Fine Proposal

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It's officially official: Amos has asked the father and asked the girl, so he and Cara will be tying the knot Thanksgiving weekend! We couldn't be more delighted!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Distinctly Teen Live on TV This Morning!!!!

Sorry about the goofy voice over; I am trying to learn how to use photo booth to record video. And of course, the picture is backwards. That's what happens when I just hold the computer up in front of the TV. BUT, Look for The Golden Girl, Briana, playing one of her fave pieces of handbell music!!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rejoice Wows at the Symposium

I am currently attending the 13th International Handbell Symposium in Orlando. Rejoice played one of our favorite numbers, Grazioso, for the concert yesterday. Following is a review by the Handbell Podcast guys, Paul Weller and Dean Jensen:

Dean: The fifth piece was performed by Rejoice Ringers (USA) under the direction of Debbie Rice. They performed Grazioso by Arnold B. Sherman. I LOVE this piece. The group is watching the director and following every move she makes. The addition of Silver Melody Bells was a nice twist. Something I was not expecting. Again, I am coming back to how well this group watches their director. The pauses, stretches and slight tempo changes really make this piece wonderful. It is rare that I am brought to tears by handbell music, especially songs that I know. This was the performance of this piece I have ever heard. They added the 6th and 7th octave of chimes. WOW. Chills, tears and a sense of awe. I am so glad I was here to hear that performance.

Paul: Next comes one of my favorite pieces, Grazioso. As is the custom of Debbie Rice, she uses many different “voices” in the handbell choir. The second time we hear the melody it is played on silver melody bells creating a very shimmery sound. This group is doing an absolutely amazing job of watching their director and following every little nuance that she has given them. The addition of the silver melody bells gives this song a sort of old-other-worldly quality. Doubling the last chord on bells and chimes was a nice touch, it rounded out the sound and made it feel a bit softer around the edges.

All we want to do is please Debbie; I think we made that happen!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

News from Florida

Briana got to play with Ring of Fire and Jason Wells tonight!!!

See Briana and Ring of Fire!

The slideshow music is from the Rejoice Ringers' brand-spankin' new CD!!! (Does anybody here remember the recording session a year and a half ago???)

Here is the trailer for the Ring of Fire DVD that Jason gave to all the Distinctly Teen participants: (the music is Carmina Burana, which I need to get dressed to go play for Debbie RIGHT NOW!!! It's the opening number of the Symposium final concert.)

Here is a review of the entire concert by the Handbell Podcast guys, Paul Weller and Dean Jensen:

Review of the Ring of Fire Concert
By Dean | August 6, 2008
Dean: The concert is about to begin. The room is quieting down as the lights dim. Introduction by Jenny Cauhorn.
Dean: Tempest by Kevin McChesney. Jason’s command of the group is amazing. They watch and respond to every motion. WOW they went from pp to ff in a single measure. You hear EVERY dynamic change. The energy flowing through this room is intense. As the dynamics change the motion of the ringers change. With softer moments they are close to the table and moving slowly. When the crescendos happen, their movements get bigger and more wild.

Paul: I am attempting to photograph them as they play this song without any real success because they are moving way too fast. What energy!

Dean: Carillon by Dean Wagner. The synchronized movements really add to this piece. You can really see the moving eight notes. You can follow the melody. WOW, a crescendo with marts. The way they build this piece up is amazing. The last chord was played identically from every ringer.

Paul: sense the wind flowing through the bells. This is a slower tempo then I’m used to hearing Carillon played at. Jason is directing it in 2 which makes it flow better, but the tempo is about quarter note=120. I am really enjoying Jason’s artistic choices with this piece. The middle section with the martellatos was done very softly and gently whereas I usually hear it very bombastic and loud. Usually when I hear this piece it is an exercise in Forte and how loud a group can play. ROF made this song a lesson in how to play softly and with delicate precision.

Dean: Jason just called for 13 volunteers from the audience. (Briana was one of the volunteers) He is having the kids play through Carillon. Counting out and commenting on the different musical lines. He stopped after about two pages of music. He started working with the bass, then moved up to the battery and treble singing the different lines. This is the third time through the piece and it will be the last time with the music. He is already working with dynamics. The group has moved past reading the notes into making music. Now the music has been removed from the tables. Here they go. A little shaky but very well done. The kids are a little scared but relaxing as the realize they know this piece already. In just 8 short minutes they went from just seeing a piece to playing it memorized. As the kids returned to their chairs, Jason handed them a copy of the Ring of Fire DVD.

Paul: At this point Jason asks for 13 volunteers from the Distinctly Teen kids to come up on stage. The unwitting volunteers stand at the tables with the members of ROF behind them. Jason says the challenge will be to memorize a chunk of Carillon in 8 minutes. They begin by just sight-reading the piece 3 times…and then the music went away.

Dean: Capriccio by Kevin McChesney. This piece opens with a very loud series of chords. Then the music backs off into a very soft melodic part. They transition many times between the loud and the soft parts, never slowing down or losing energy. The middle of the piece is a very open lyrical section. What amazes me about this part is the crescendos with off the table malleted bells. WOW, they just moved from ringing to marting to mallets so fluidly I almost missed it. Once you give a group permission to move, they take the music and add a whole different dimension.

Paul: The song that helped give ROF its name because at the top of the music it says “with fire” and this has become one of ROF’s signature songs. The second section of this piece has a beautiful suspended mallet part in which the group plays each note as part of a crescendo and lifts their arms up. The overtones on the C5 (I think) that is malleted over and over during this section are a bit funky. Not sure if it’s because it’s malleted or if because the casting itself is a bit “off”.

Dean: They are taking a few minutes to introduce all the different members of the group.

Paul: Now the ringers come in front of the tables and sit on the edge of the stage and introduce each other. I’m amazed to hear that this is someone’s first year in ROF. The two new ringers are from a group in Vermont that Jason knows and has been in contact with. They fit seamlessly into ROF.

Dean: Siyahamba – this is a piece with a conga drum. The malleted bass is a great foundation for the melody. The bass ringers are changing places. Again, their dynamic control is amazing.

Paul: They start this song VERY softly, as if from far away. It crescendos to about a Mezzo Forte and begins to sound very stately. Then it jumps up to a fortissimo and the energy increases. The song ends the way it began, soft from far away. The entire song was a big crescendo then decrescendo.

Dean: The group just went into the audience and picked 13 ringers to play a piece. They have the volunteers holding the mallets while the member of the group move their hands to Pick A Winner. What a fun piece to watch.

Paul: Again Jason asks for another 13 brave souls to come up to the tables to ring a piece from memory. One of the people picked is Jason’s 3 year old daughter. This time they are not given any music, the members of ROF are standing behind them using the volunteers hands to play the mallets for “pick a winner”

Dean: Jason is highlighting the new Ring of Fire DVD. He just announced that everyone who is participating in the Distinctly Teen event will get their very own copy of the DVD.

Paul: The big announcement was that every Teen in Distinctly Teen is going to receive not only a free copy of the new ROF DVD but also a copy of Tim Waugh’s newly published piece that he wrote for ROF.

Dean: Fire Dance – Kevin McChesney. This piece includes a guitar. I am just sitting here in awe listening to this amazing performance. I cannot emphasize enough the dynamic control of this group. AMAZING! The members of Ring of Fire own the music in every sense. They are a part of the music. The music is inside them and they are sharing it with us. With some groups, its the director that makes the group, but with these ringers, they are the complete package. I really get the feeling they are there to support each other an share their gifts and talents with us.

Paul: Adapted from the show Riverdance. This is a piece with handbells and guitar. I am disappointed in the audio settings for the guitar, it is much too bass heavy and it gives the guitar a sluggish feel. After the a-section of the song, the guitarist puts down the guitar and they move into a fast a furious b-section

Dean: If there was a mistake in this concert, I could not find it. This was a flawless concert. It had everything that I would want in a concert. It was fun, entertaining and the music was exceptional.

Paul: As I watched this concert I noticed the similarities between ROF and many of the Japanese choirs that I have seen here at the symposium. It is clear to me that this is the way handbells will achieve success in the music mainstream…ringers without barriers between themselves and the audience. It’s the only true way to use this instrument as others use their instrument. Since we have broken apart the melodic lines, we need to move as one instrument and connect as one instrument and not 13 individuals.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Musings from the Mayor of Mudville

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As you can see, there has been a little progress the last two weeks, but still no end of the mud in sight. In fact, the basement has been completely replastered with a fresh coating of mud by the fellas repairing the plumbing (damaged when they lifted the house with their forklift); and today, by the heating and AC guys.
So here's the progress notes:
The old driveway has been laid to rest in the race track. The bed for the replacement driveway has been graded to get rid of the tail- dragging steep pitch and covered in gravel.

The most dramatic change of all: The race track is now a bygone era!!!
The Hole has been filled with all the deconstruction debris and covered with the left-over mud . . .er . . .dirt.
Signs of hope for a more comfortable future!!
The Official Seal of the Mayor of Mudville!
Everything around here bears the Kitties' stamp of approval. (I refuse to post a picture of the toilet.)
So that's the news from Mudville, where all the shoes and kitty paws and workermen's boots, and our barefeet are a nice rosy red.

Tomorrow, I'm off for a week in Orlando for the 13th International Handbell Symposium with Rejoice and about 900 other ringers from all over the world.

Summertime Hang-Ups

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