Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Early Music Christmas – Gift Ideas and Holiday Concerts

As the holiday season approaches, keep early music at the top of your wish list. The top of my list would of course be Catacoustic’s CD as a gift for friends and family, and at $10 per CD, that is a great deal. Another gift that people have purchased in the past is Catacoustic tickets. You will receive a discount for this gift offer, too! You may buy six tickets for the price of five. E-mail for more information.

If you would like to hear early music performed on period instruments, I strongly recommend a drive up to Indianapolis to hear the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra play Handel’s Messiah. Friends of Catacoustic will recognize Sherezade Panthaki (sang in February 2008 Couperin’s Lamentations of Jeremiah and January 2008 Music from the Movie concerts) as one of the soloists. There are two performances:
#1 is 7:30PM on Friday, December 5 at Trinity Episcopal Church, Indianapolis (corner of North Meridian and 33rd Streets)
#2 is 7:30PM on Saturday, December 6 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Church at 10655 Haverstick Road, Carmel, IN (northern suburb of Indianapolis)
Call 317.926.1346 for more information. Tickets are $25 preferred seating, $20 general, and $10 students.

If you are interested in a Christmas gift that will enlarge your library, I recommend the newly available DVD of Tous les Matins du Monde (All the Mornings of the World). Catacoustic performed a concert of the music from this movie last January. The DVD is available at

I have a substantial CD library of early music recordings, but I find that I end up listening to my favorites over and over. My picks are:

Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri performed by Les Voix Baroques on the ATMA label. Catacoustic soprano Catherine Webster is singing on this stunning album. This music is lush and incredibly moving.

Cavalieri’s Lamentations performed by Le Poeme Harmonique on the Alpha label.

Nova Metamorfosi performed by Le Poeme Harmonique on the Alpha label. Between these two recordings of this talented group, I have practically worn out my CD player!

La Tarantella performed by L’Arpeggiata on the Alpha label. This CD is all Tarantellas, which is a type of dance music that was done to ward off or in response to the bite of the tarantella spider. This is really wild, fun music!

Regardless of what music you have in your life, have a lovely holiday season!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Live Music versus Recordings

In today’s busy world, where both time and money are precious commodities, why should a person participate in live music concerts?
Recordings are wonderful additions to everyday life. They can be educational tools. CDs can help one relax and provide a background of soothing or exciting music to match or enhance one’s mood. However, the highly edited, embellished or smoothed-over nature of modern recordings can make live performances seem unnecessary.
A live concert allows you to be a part of the process. Chamber music, especially, affords this opportunity. Intimate venues and the relationship between audience and performer offer a dimension that I never knew could exist until I started Catacoustic. This is not something that one learns in music school. I have also discovered the importance of having a dialogue in concerts. Catacoustic’s audience has seen us grow from a small acorn to a healthy oak tree. I think that they feel part of that process, growing with us – in knowledge of music and history, and as active observers.
Live concerts have energy and a sense of spontaneity. You never know what to expect.
As a performer, I much prefer to play in front of an audience than in a recording studio. The music is much more exciting when I have the adrenaline of the live performance.
One uses more senses at a concert: sight (body language, dress, and facial expression), sound, venue, and background contextual information combine with the whole experience to paint a multi-dimensional imaginary picture of the music.
Finally, when I attend a concert, all my attention is on the music. Music is not in the background while I am doing work around the house. Instead, I am savoring each moment as the music brought to life – the interplay of the notes, the physical space, and the dynamic between the performer and the audience, and being part of the process.
What are your thoughts about live music versus recordings?