Posts Tagged 'epiphany'

Some last-minute gift ideas…

Obviously it’s Thursday, and Christmas is Sunday, so this isn’t even last-minute but last-second. Last-millisecond, even. Nonetheless, here are some suggestions for those of you foolish enough to think that my taste might be the slightest bit relevant:

Consider giving a gift to International Orthodox Christian Charities. Their mission: “IOCC, in the spirit of Christ’s love, offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination, and strengthens the capacity of the Orthodox Church to so respond.” They do a lot of wonderful work throughout the world like Palestine, Syria, Romania, Ethiopia, and more — including the United States.
A Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer. My Samsonite leather satchel fell apart on me over the summer, and I contemplated whether or not I could swing a Saddleback classic briefcase (my godson Lucas has one and it is a thing of beauty), but then Larry Anderson suggested I check out the options from Tom Bihn. I got a great traveling laptop briefcase for about a third of what the Saddleback bag I was considering would have cost, it’s got a lifetime guarantee, and it’s been perfect for when I’ve needed to travel with my 15″ MacBook Pro. Of course, the day after the bag arrived I bought an iPad 2 (yeah, yeah, earlier than I said I would, but no regrets, let me tell you), so I have tended to need to transport the laptop less (short version: to the extent that laptops have become desktop replacements, iPads are laptop replacements), but it’s stil been exactly right for what I need. It’s very elegantly designed, and it’s very good at making sure there is a place for everything. The one caveat I might add is that while the bag is plenty sturdy, the stretchy shoulder strap may feel like it’s more stressed than it actually is if you overload it. Not an issue if you don’t, well, overload it, and the bounce the shoulder stap provides makes the bag a lot easier to carry once you get used to it (it basically seems to function as a shock absorber).

Cappella Romana’s new disc Mt. Sinai: Frontier of Byzantium. A full review of this is forthcoming, but for right now suffice it to say that it’s a beautifully-sung account of medieval Byzantine chant manuscripts from St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai. Repertoire includes material for Vespers of the Feast of St. Catherine, as well as from the Service of the Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace, which used to be served on the Sunday before Nativity. Some of this has been recorded before by Lycourgos Angelopoulos and the Greek Byzantine Choir for a disc called “Byzantine Hymns” (and one can find the audio on YouTube but I can’t find out anything about the disc, so if anybody knows anything about it, please let me know), but Cappella Romana is a very different ensemble from GBC in a number of ways, and their rendering of the material is very much worth hearing. Like I said, full review coming, but this is a great stocking stuffer. For that matter, so is the reissue of the Epiphany disc under their own label. And, of course, their recording of Richard Toensing’s Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ is a must-have. One can also make a gift to Cappella Romana, either to their general operating fund or to support one of their several in-the-works recordings.

If you’re an iPad user who thinks that the soft-tipped styli that you’re likely to find at Best Buy don’t really do what you need them to do, I highly recommend the Jot-Pro. It makes handwriting and drawing much easier.

For another music suggestion, Marcel Peres/Ensemble Organum’s recording of Christmas music from the Old Roman Chant repertory, Chant de l’Eglise de Rome: VIe-XIIIe Siècles, is a fascinating and beautiful reconstruction of a time when East and West had a lot more in common, culturally and spiritually, than we’re used to now. “Reconstruction” is often a euphemism in early music circles for “making nonsense up”, but as I’ve noted before, I think Peres (collaborating with Lycourgos Angelopoulos) makes a pretty compelling case.

If you’re a Mac user and a writer who needs to manage a decent amount of research, notes, ideas, dates, etc., Scrivener and Tinderbox are a pretty powerful one-two punch. If you’re already a Scrivener user, there’s also deal on Tinderbox. I’m new to Tinderbox myself, but I’ve been using Scrivener for several years now, and I find it to be fantastically helpful in terms of its set of writing tools. I’ve written (and am still revising) a children’s book and several academic papers with it. The only thing I wish it had was cleaner EndNote integration, and I also have to make sure I remember to not send compiled *.rtf documents as finished drafts (must save as a Word doc or a *.pdf), lest the person on the other end simply open it in a text editor by default and think I’ve made the rookie mistake of not including any footnotes. (Yes, this has happened. Recently.)

Horrified as I am by the K-Cup craze, I’m going to suggest the paleocafephile route (I think I just invented a word) — the briki/ibrik, with which one makes Greek/Turkish/Arabic coffee. You don’t have little plastic containers that keep you from ever handling grounds; nonononono. Heh. No. Instead, you grind the beans to powder, boil the grounds directly (no filter), pour it into a cup, add sugar (and maybe cardamom if you’re Cypriot), and then you deal with the sludge at the bottom of the cup. It’s the only way to fly in a word that wants to make your coffee experience as safe and plastic and single-serving-sized as possible.

Michael Uslan is, without doubt, the comic book geek made good to end all comic book geeks made good. His memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman, is tremendously inspiring, and is a must-read for anybody, whether they’ve read a comic book or not, who has ever been told, “Kid, you can’t get there from here.”

All right — may the last few days of the fast treat everybody well!

Coming soon: Cappella Romana’s Greatest Hits, Vol. I (330-1453)

Well, sort of. Mark Powell tells me that to some extent, Music of Byzantium was the first “greatest hits” collection, but to me that’s the live album with some bonus tracks. This is a compilation of selections from their studio recordings of the late antique/medieval Byzantine repertoire, released as a companion to the Byzantium: 330-1453 exhibit now running at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. I don’t know that this is the kind of thing that will really scream for a full-on review since it’s all previously-released material, but we’ll see. It certainly looks like a disc that will be a terrific introduction to medieval Byzantine chant as well as to Cappella Romana, and worth recommending on that basis at least. This will only be available in the UK for a bit yet, but it will eventually be out here, I’m told. You can order it online here, but shipping from the UK will double the cost. I’d just wait for the US release (or, if you’re going to the exhibit anyway, buy it from the gift shop in person).

Here’s the press release. I have taken the liberty of linking the recording titles to the pages where they may be purchased. I have them all and can recommend them all; I will say that The Fall of Constantinople and Byzantium in Rome tend to have higher production values than the other two in my opinion, and Music of Byzantium contains live versions of much of the same repertoire as The Fall of Constantinople, sometimes with interesting differences (and sometimes with a door slamming right in the middle of a number — ah, live music). Don’t let the price for Epiphany scare you; it’s out of print at the moment, but Mark says that it will be re-released at some point.

CAPPELLA ROMANA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Powell, mobile 503-927-9027; msg line 503.236.8202; E-mail mark@cappellaromana.org

London’s Royal Academy of Arts
Releases New CD Recording by Cappella Romana
for its Mega-Exhibition “Byzantium 330-1453”

25 October 2008 — PORTLAND, Ore, USA; London, United Kingdom — Cappella Romana announces the release of its 11th recording, the official companion CD commissioned for the exhibition, BYZANTIUM: 330-1452, at London’s Royal Academy of Arts (25 October ’08 to 22 March ’08. http://www.royalacademy.org.uk)

The Royal Academy calls this new CD “A glorious collection of choral music which traces the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire, all sung by the world’s leading performers of Byzantine chant, Cappella Romana.” The ensemble’s first museum exhibition CD, Music of Byzantium, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2004, sold 12,000 copies.

The new CD, Cappella Romana’s third release in 2008, is a compilation of earlier recordings. It features tracks from Epiphany, Cappella Romana’s first full-length recording of Medieval Byzantine chant, as well as from the CD titles The Fall of Constantinople, Byzantium in Rome, and Music of Byzantium.

The disc will initially be available in the UK and Europe exclusively through the Royal Academy. Beginning in November 2008, the title will be distributed and sold in North America through Cappella Romana (www.cappellaromana.org) by special arrangement with the Royal Academy.

The Royal Academy of Arts in London is the fourth major world museum to have engaged Cappella Romana for its expertise in Medieval Byzantine Chant, joining these three institutions:

* The Metropolitan Museum in New York (Byzantium: Faith and Power, 2004; with CD selling 12,000 copies)
* The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles (Byzantium and the West, 2004 and Icons from Sinai, 2006)
* The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. (In the Beginning: Bibles before the Year 1000, 2006)

The first evening lecture of “Byzantium: 300-1453” will be given by Dr. Alexander Lingas, Cappella Romana’s founder and artistic director, on 7 November. Titled “The Heavenly Liturgy: Byzantine Psalmody to 1453, ” it will be enhanced by sung demonstrations by Dr. Lingas, Cappella singer John Michael Boyer, and three cantors from Hagia Sophia Cathedral, London.

The Royal Academy’s exhibition has received major press coverage in the UK and throughout the world, including a review and photo essay in Time magazine (Fri., 24 Oct. 2008).


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