FLY WITH YOU

My spirit has been flying these past few weeks! Evenings and weekends I’ve had the joy of listening to my son as he composed FLY WITH YOU. As if by magic the melody appeared and the layers of instruments gradually added to the composition. 

It’s been a privilege to follow the stages of the song till its completion, along the way I’ve been taught how to attune my hearing to the individual instruments and sounds, shown how the piece sounds with and without the different elements! Who knew that the slightest hint of an instrument helps to build the foundation of the whole?! 

Although, I should not be surprised … isn’t it just so in life? As Vincent Van Gogh believed: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

So it’s with great pride that I present FLY WITH YOU. 

“You were born with potential. 
You were born with goodness and trust. 
You were born with ideals and dreams. 
You were born with greatness. 
You were born with wings. 
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. 
You have wings. 
Learn to use them and fly.” – Rumi

May we at all times recognise and remember the truth of Rumi’s words!

Many thanks for reading and listening to this post – and wishing you a wonderful final day of March and a beautiful April ahead! 

‘TO GLASS UNSHATTERING’*

Music is an integral part of our lives, winding its way into our souls even before our birth. The array of sounds touch us to the core, reflecting our emotions, creating unique feelings, supporting us through crises, lifting us to new heights of joy. The variety of music is infinite and the range of reactions it creates within us is never-ending. 

Lately I’ve been lucky enough to come across three pieces that sparked absolute awe within me, carrying me beyond the realm of the conscious to purity of just being. 

The first one is a favourite for buskers around the globe, with the haunting refrain echoing around shopping precincts, tumbling down cobbled alleyways. For some reason many see this as a ‘simple’ tune to sing. Nothing could be further from the truth; it demands deep soul-searching  from the singer, one so raw that the unadulterated passion is etched on the singer’s face, until the searing intensity of the song is felt by all. Jeff Buckley brought this Leonard Cohen song to millions around the world, and it was my favourite version until I saw this one below. 

Many thanks to Laurie Buchanan at Tuesday with Laurie  for introducing me to this breathtaking and heart-stopping ‘Hallelujah’ by K D Lang, which had me in tears in the end as the singer greets Leonard Cohen who is seated in the front row.

To lighten the mood my next tune is from on of my all time favourite songs; one that saw me through university and beyond. The first time I heard it was on a sunny day in Scotland (a rarity in itself as many of you will know) and it was one of those perfect days. Sitting on a window ledge with my legs dangling out I listened to this song for the first time as I watched the golfers at the 18th hole in St. Andrew’s. As I heard ‘Africa’ by Toto my spirits soared, life was technicoloured glorious!

Recently, I came across a new piano version of the song. The energy and vitality of Peter Bence, the pianist, is contagious, his enjoyment totally absorbing and fervent. Who knew the inventive sounds of a grand piano? For many musicians the piano lid bangs and the pulling of the piano strings might be cringe-inducing … but wow! The ultimate sound is spellbinding and unforgettable! 

The final offering is one of the most original and eye-catching lyric videos I’ve come across. It is particularly apt for all writers out there and has a marvellous retro feel to it. The message of the song is both stirring and heartfelt, the tenderness and beauty of both the music and lyrics merging to the sublime. I hope you enjoy ‘Taste’ by Sleeping at Last as much as I do and many thanks to Sue Dreamwalker who introduced me to this song on her post Fixing From The Inside ~ To fix the Outside.

Before the video, here is just a taste of the chorus:

‘To fists unraveling, to glass unshattering.
To breaking all the rules, to breaking bread again.
We’re swallowing light, we’re swallowing our pride.
We’re raising our glass, ’til we’re fixed from the inside.

Thank you so much for listening to this musical interlude, and as always I look forward to your comments and discussions! 

*From ‘Taste’ by Sleeping At Last.

SEASONS DEFINED: A REVIEW

dsc01041

Like the birds on the cover of ‘Seasons Defined’ my soul has taken flight this summer, and with various twists, turns, swoops and sweeps my inner consciousness has been on a mysterious journey. It is an intangible experience, an inexplicable sensation without one specific cause.

Along the way two creative art pieces have become my friends; both affecting me deeply and I’ve returned to them often.

The first is a unique poetry book which I won in a Giveaway by Khaya Ronkainen. This chapbook * travelled from Scandinavia, leaving Finland early summer, only to return with me to Sweden where I savoured it in peace and serenity.

Beautifully bound with golden ribbon and tag, I unwrapped ‘Seasons Defined’ with reverential care and with sweet expectation dipped into the book. Within are sixteen exquisite poems capturing the magic of the seasons in Finland; there follows an exploration of the wilderness, the landscapes, the weather, the wildlife.

‘Hoppers chirp
Bees hum

Fostering species
Flowers bloom

Cotton clouds
Blot the sky’  (From ‘This is Country’)

Furthermore the poems become an exploration of oneself and ultimately love! This collection is a moving tribute to a country Khaya embraced as her own, as well as recognising her roots, and some poems tenderly capture the loving couple of Khaya and her husband.

we quench our thirst from a well of love
and agree, love is a beautiful thing

we dine outdoors with birds singing
and agree, it’s time to dance’  (From ‘Wilderness, My Friend’)

Life in all its facets is celebrated throughout!

As Khaya wrote in a personal handwritten inscription to me, I did indeed recognise a little, or rather a lot, of Sweden and its wilderness within the poems. I related directly to the natural world she so eloquently and vividly describes and through her words I saw the wonderful nature anew.

Whilst depicting the enchanting and bewitching seasons, Khaya’s work struck a deeper chord with me as she spoke of the solitude of the wilderness. Not to be confused with loneliness; this is an enriching, rewarding solitude that brings deeper understanding of the world and oneself.

‘I embrace silence.’  (From ‘At the Crack of Dawn’)

‘Deep in the wilderness, I stumble
The track under a canopy of spruce
Draped in snow leads to paradise

Only imagination stands between
man and reality, for in dreamland
Solitude is tangible.’  ( From ‘Winter Dream’)

The very solitude that enveloped me in its soothing arms during the summer and one which is not yet ready to release its clasp.

img_2750

Photo by Irina Kolomijets

Throughout the poems, Khaya’s sense of wonder and joy at the nature of Finland is captured with  awe and exhilaration. Her unique insight and approach is explained by the fact that Khaya is originally from South Africa. The variances of the Finnish seasons is a world away from ones experienced in the southern hemisphere. Furthermore, her poetry is influenced to a certain degree by the strong tradition of oral storytelling of the Xhosa people. I feel that within the beats of the poems there is a song to be heard, the pulse of the phrases take on a life of their own as they become all-encompassing, over-arching each other. This becomes more evident with each reading, when hidden depths are slowly unfurled.

I cannot thank Khaya enough for this precious Giveaway of both her first poetry chapbook and also of the highly unusual broadside ** of the poem ‘Summer’ with original artwork.

img_2742.jpg

To read more about Khaya & her poetry as well as to buy the print version of ‘Seasons Defined’ click here to go to her website.

‘Seasons Defined’ is also available as an ebook on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

* If like me, you’ve never come across the word Chapbook before, this is an expression from North America and refers to a small paper-covered booklet, typically containing poetry or fiction.

** Broadside were traditionally posters, announcing events or proclamations, commentary in the form of ballads, or simply advertisements.

Finally just as Khaya’s poetry moves me so does the instrumental composition below. Just as the poetry embedded itself within me, so did the music of ‘Awakening’.

From the initial crackle of an old vinyl, the quiet haunting tones of the first bars rise to a hypnotising melody that never fails to lift my heart and mood. The musical ‘Awakening’ mirrors a shift and rekindling of my conscious self.

One comment on youtube writes of ‘Awakening’:

‘Absolutely beautiful, both music and cover. The title is so apt as the shining melody, gently and persistently get brighter. The darker background fights but loses. Five stars Sammy.’

THE 3 DAY QUOTE CHALLENGE #2

Theatrical-Lighting-Stage

Welcome to the 2nd day of my 3 Day Quote Challenge which I’m thrilled to take part in following the kind nomination by Laura at laurabrunolilly.com .

To the challenge…The rules are as follows:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a quote on 3 consecutive days.
  • Share why this quote appeals so much to you.
  • Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day.

aviciiA week ago a star in the music world passed away at the far too young age of 28 and upon learning the news of Avicii’s passing a wave of sorrow was felt around the world. Tributes poured in from the famous to the young, all touched by his music and lyrics; poetic lyrics which became part of so many people’s lives, my son’s (and mine) included.

Below is a quote from ‘Wake Me Up’ as well as a video of the entire song with all the lyrics.Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 14.27.45

My son wanted to honour Avicii’s memory in his own personal way and put together a piano medley covering some of the songs. I”m proud to include Sammy Perry’s video; first his introduction to the music.

‘This is a piano tribute to one of my favourite electronic artists, Avicii, who unfortunately passed away a few days ago. He has inspired me and countless others to make music and he will be missed by millions. This is a piano mix of some of my favourite songs by him and I hope you enjoy listening to it.’ Sammy Perry

My 3 nominees for day # of this challenge are:

THE 3 DAY QUOTE CHALLENGE #1

calm-waters-2178324_1280

Sometimes a challenge arrives at the perfect time and this one – The 3 Day Quote Challenge – caught me when I find myself surrounded by quotes, absorbed in collecting them, reading through old ones, finding new ones.

For the next three days, I will be posting a quote and explaining why it’s made an impression on me.

To the challenge…The rules are as follows:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a quote on 3 consecutive days.
  • Share why this quote appeals so much to you.
  • Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day.

Many thanks to Laura at laurabrunolilly.com for nominating me.

Rules and I don’t always mix well; so my quotes may be a bit longer and my first foray into the challenge begins with a ‘Blessing of Solitude’.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 16.26.24

The above is an authentic Celtic blessing found in a book written by John O’Donohue called ‘anam cara’ (soul-friend) and sub-titled ‘Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World’.

This book resides on my bedside table and one I dip into now and again. Its pearls of wisdom, gems of inner-understanding ensures it’s a book that not only has meant a lot to me but continues to do so. In recent weeks some of my friends are going through hardships and I found myself seeking solace and clarity within the pages.

My 3 nominees for day #1 of this challenge are:

Quick Aside

C00Us1oA.jpg-large

I’m stunned and very honoured to have been nominated in the Best Pal category of the Bloggers Bash Awards! There are only a few more days to vote until the virtual box closes at midnight on April 30th (BST) so head over to the ballot – there will be lots of familiar names there in a whole host of categories … and towards the end is the Best Pal nominations. Press HERE to vote.

BEST PAL: Which blogger do you want to go to the pub with? Or maybe have dinner with? Who never fails to reply to comments, and has thoughtful things to say? Maybe they encourage the community through weekly challenges or blog parties. A blogger who makes the blog-o-sphere a better place is what makes the Best Pal. (This description courtesy of Bloggers Bash Awards)

INTERVIEW WITH A MUSICIAN

Note: This is a post that was published earlier in 2018 and which I recently has somehow ended up in my draft box!! I have no idea how this is possible but wanted to return it to my blog along with its 80 likes and 160 wonderful comments! Thank you everyone again!

Sammy, I know you have studied music for a long time, since you were ten I believe. I have even had the great joy to listen to your performances both at your home, at school and in Covent Garden in London.

To me your music always express so much vitality, joy and sensitivity and I often wondered where it would take you as you grew up and took your own place in life.

Would it become your hobby and the sciences your priority? Would it become your hobby and the sciences your priority? I guess you still wonder yourself.

So Sammy, you have surprised us all by creating your first single, “MY FRIEND” whilst still 16. I am enthralled with it, its advanced musicality, its depth and also the sad but yet comforting lyrics.

I feel honoured to do this first interview with you and without further ado, we dive straight into our chat.

When did you first think about writing your own music? Was there a moment that stands out?

Sammy: I got serious about writing my own music whilst in Sweden last summer. I was walking through the forest up to a viewpoint;  standing at the top, listening to “Without You” by Avicii and felt a strong inspiration to start creating my own music in a way that would make people feel the same way as I did at that moment.

When did you start creating “MyFriend”?

Sammy: I believe I started composing that in November 2017. The first thing I messed around with was the piano chords and melodies which I recorded on my phone. Whilst trying to figure this out I also was working on the lyrics which was by far the hardest part of the process for me.

Would you mind giving us an idea of what inspired this song?

Sammy: The main inspiration for this song came from both my own experiences and those that my friends had and told me about. This song was also inspired by helping friends through hard times in their lives and wanting to help in any way possible

You are a pianist so I wonder how you created all the harmonies and layers to orchestrate the song in production?

Sammy: There was a lot of trial and error with choosing the instruments and percussion sounds. Most of the chord progression and melodies the instruments are doing; such as bells and violins, echo what the piano is doing so these were quite easy to produce. I had more creative freedom with the drums because, although there was trial and error, I had a lot of fun composing the drums in a way that made the piano and vocals stand out and sound more interesting.

Are you working on any new song and if so would you mind telling us about your plan?

Sammy: I am already half way through composing my next song which I plan to release some time in May or June this year. I don’t have much more to share at this point.

Sammy, is there anything else you can add about your music and how it makes you feel?

Sammy: The response from people listening to and hearing their opinion and reaction to it has been overwhelming and makes me more confident and excited about releasing more in the future. I am very happy with the way this song has turned out and my hope is that people will continue to enjoy the song in the future.

Thank you, Sammy, for letting me do this for me unique interview. It is a first for you and for me so it is pretty special.

Sammy: Thank you for having me and I have enjoyed answering all your questions.

To read the lyrics in full press this link. My Friend:Sammy Perry:Lyrics

“My Friend” is available on all streaming services including:

Spotify press here.

Google Play press here.

Youtube press here.

And to buy via iTunes/apple music press here.

Connect with Sammy Perry on:

Twitter:         @SammyPerryMusic     

Lucia visits St. Paul’s Cathedral

IMG_8367

Very little stops time in its tracks. Takes one back to our roots of dark and light.

As the vast and magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral was cast into complete darkness, a hush descended over the crowd. The usual shuffles, sniffles, and coughs were awed into silence by the depth of dark and then the distant tones of Sankta Lucia could be heard. From behind us, she appeared and with her maids, they slowly made their way down the three aisles. All around us the glow of candles lit up their faces, the singing clearer, louder as they passed up to the front of the cathedral.

As photography was strictly forbidden (ignored by a few) this video from 2011 shows the entrance of Lucia at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

An overwhelming sense of purity and joy filled the building, the singing, still only lit with candles, wondrous and at times spine-tinglingly glorious. Too beautiful, tender, moving for words.

For once everyone was fully focussed, caught in the moment, no distractions. The wholeness was complete and utter.

As the bitter chill of outside penetrated the cathedral (it was minus three centigrade outside) people huddled closer to their loved ones.

This was the final song of the evening before Lucia and her maids walked back down the aisle…listen with some volume and wait until the moment the choir joins in. A shudder of emotion shook us all…many moved to tears. The pettiness of the world ceased to exist as the song carried us to new levels.

Lucia is celebrated on the 13th December in Sweden and I wrote about the festival here two years ago. For the first time this year, my family and I went to see the celebration at St. Paul’s Cathedral – a most unique and special occasion.

The Church of Sweden organises a series of Sankta Lucia services across London during December and the Ulrika Eleanora Church Choir takes part in them all. We were lucky enough to have internationally-renowned Swedish Soprano, Miah Ovenden, singing this year. Also, we enjoyed a Christmas Service with guest speakers including The Ambassador of Sweden who was joined in the congregation by numerous other Ambassadors, including those of Finland, which celebrated its 100 years of independence last week. I’d read about this on Khaya’s lovely blog and you can read ten things she loves about her second home here

I know we will be back next year to Lucia at St. Paul’s Cathedral…hopefully some of you might be able to join us.