July 14, 2011

Day 6 - York: York Minster Cathedral, Too Much Fish & Chips, The Harp Concert, and The Brabant Ensemble

Well, after being here for 4 days and going to a concert and a church service in York Minster Cathedral, we finally got a chance to actually explore the place!  It kind of feels like our "home church" in a city of churches because it takes 39 seconds to walk there (I timed it.) (Allison's Note: Nerd)  I feel bad gushing more about how beautiful it is, but it really is a breathtaking sight. 

 The inside has a really nice museum in the basement/crypt area telling you where the original Roman basilica was in the first century AD, then where the Saxons (ancient English) built a small church in the 600s, then where the Normans (ancient French) built a large church in the 1100s, and finally when the cathedral was built in the 13-1400s.  Each new building was basically built on top of the previous one, so there are layers of stone and foundations under the cathedral that chronicle its' 1,900 year history.  (There are parts in the crypt where you can see the Roman and Norman architecture merging... so cool!)

The organ

The Quire (where the choir sits :-)

My gratuitous Lord of the Rings shot

Daniel and I took the long walk up to the top of the central tower, which consists of about 250 tiny stone steps in a tight spiral staircase to get to the top.  It's pretty intense - several times I couldn't fit through the passageways unless I turned my shoulders!  

This x 250 = the top of York Minster

The view from the top is amazing, though, (Nope!  I didn't go.  I had a tour by one of the 200 volunteers around the minster itself.  Heights + Allison = puke) and you can see all of York 360 degrees around and even into the farmland outside.  I do believe my knees and legs are killing me now but it was worth it.

Then it got cold.  And windy.  So we changed and I used a gift that I bought for someone as layering to keep me warm.  Sorry Lindsey.  We met Daniel after his concert for authentic fish n'chips.  It was so good that we didn't take any pictures because we were too focused on eating.  Mmmmm.

Then I got my ear pierced again.  Don't worry Fund for Teachers, you didn't pay for it :-)

Allison's York souvenir is in the top left of the picture :-)

Then we headed to our next two concerts of the evening.  The first one was the Harp Ensemble - 4 players playing all sorts of instruments...the violin, the hurdy-gurdy, the triple harp (earlier version of our current harp), the Psaltery (like a strummed dulcimer or auto harp), the guitar, the bagpipes, the shawm, and the cornetto (an instrument that sounds like a mellow trumpet - made of wood with a mouthpiece and finger holes.  Think a long recorder that you buzz into!)  The concert involved not only music, but dancing and poetry, too.  It was very diverse and very entertaining.

This is pretty much what this guy did the whole time - no lie
The second concert was the Brabant Ensemble, a 12 voice vocal group who have been around since 1998.  They did a beautiful job - they focus on lesser know composers of the 15th & 16th centuries.  Here's the program:
*Mater floreat - Pierre Moulu
*Mater Christi sanctissima - Tavenrer 
*Gloria (from Missa 'El Ojo') - Francisco de Penalosa
*Quam pulchra es - King Henry VIII (Did you know that Henry VIII probably wrote two settings of the Mass Ordinary?  They did not survive, but this piece is his only surviving Latin piece.  The words are from Song of Solomon...actually pretty racy!)
*Salve regina - Cristobal de Morales
*Sanctus (from Missa 'Tu es Petrus') - Jean Mouton
*Aspice Domine - Phillip van Wilder
*Agnus Dei (from Missa 'Alma Redemptoris mater') - Pierre Moulu  (this piece became famous as a "telescope canon" - where the music can be sung either with rests or without them!)

The conductor had interesting interpretations on some things - the sopranos had no vibrato throughout the concert, but the other parts (particularly the men) used it at least sometimes, but never on the final note of the songs.  Also, the sopranos were VERY loud on several of the pieces.  I argued that it was not a balance problem; that the conductor must have a musical reason for doing that on certain pieces.  After all, they are a professional group and the conductor was a Choir Scholar at Cambridge and has a doctorate in Early Music from Oxford.  The guy knows a thing or two!  Any professors out there want to shed any light on these observations in the comments section??

1 comment:

  1. I, sadly, am not a professor. Heck, I'm not even in the music business. And, I will not even attempt to shed any light on your last concert, Andrew. BUT, I want to send a shout out to Allison for that awesome nose ring! LOVE it! :)