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Hey Folks.  This is a sad day for me.  It is a day of mourning, a day of grief, a day of loss.  Intransigentia as she is known here, my partner in life, crime, and marriage for the last 15 years and I are parting ways today.  The house is sold, the belongings divvyed, the transition… moving… only forward now.

Way back when, in a different time, we were neophyte singers and we really enjoyed singing together.  This was the first duet we ever sang together, it was extra special because she to arranged the counter-melody and scored the music for us to make it a duet.  Her mother, a master pianist and accompanist played with us.   The Bach Gounod arrangement of Ave Maria is staggeringly beautiful, and I shall always remember singing it with her as one of the most treasured shared moments of our existence together.

If nothing else, we are the memories we make with the people we love.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share this musical experience with her, it means so much more now that things have changed so much.

So, I’m sharing this with all of you now, as a quasi memorial to what once was and the beauty and happiness that was once found there.


Life is change, whether we like it or not.  Our life transition has been in the works since the beginning of the year, and I’ve been slowly digesting and processing the new context of what life is going to look like.  Ultimately we’re both going to be okay and stuff so don’t worry about us.


Thank you for listening.   We’ll see you tomorrow.

The Arbourist




Next on the list of pieces that I’m learning.  Super extra challenging aria because of the recitative in the beginning.  But, as they say, nothing worth doing is ever easy.



Ombra mai fu” is the opening aria from the 1738 opera Serse by George Frideric Handel.

In the opera, the aria is preceded by a short recitativo accompagnato of nine bars, setting the scene (“Frondi tenere e belle”). The aria itself is also short; it consists of 52 bars and typically lasts 3 to 4 minutes.

The instrumentation is for a string section: first and second violins, viola, and basses. The key signature is F major, the time signature is 3/4 time. The vocal range covers C4 to F5 with a tessitura from F4 to F5.


The title translates from the Italian as “Never was a shade”. It is sung by the main character, Xerxes I of Persia, admiring the shade of a plane tree.

Frondi tenere e belle
del mio platano amato
per voi risplenda il fato.
Tuoni, lampi, e procelle
non v’oltraggino mai la cara pace,
né giunga a profanarvi austro rapace.

Ombra mai fu
di vegetabile,
cara ed amabile,
soave più.

Tender and beautiful fronds
of my beloved plane tree,
let Fate smile upon you.
May thunder, lightning, and storms
never disturb your dear peace,
nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.

Never was a shade
of any plant
dearer and more lovely,
or more sweet.

Music is our great hope, the universal language, and the ultimate unifier. I can appreciate music from 1720 Venice just as easily as I can music from 1970 Toronto. Further, I’ve been doing so since before I could speak. Such is the power of music that distances of 7000 km and 250 years are rendered moot without the slightest effort. Yet, when one does apply effort, the tunnels of discovery are complex and endless. The study of music can reveal an immense amount about the people, the society, the generation, and the human experience involved in its creation. In nothing else is so much information so readily available to so many.

While these powers can be experienced and appreciated just by listening, their magnitude and influence grow exponentially when one partakes in the creation of music. Again, no special skills are required. Sure, instruments can take years to master, but anyone can take part in song. Indeed, in testament to its unifying power, any lack of singing ability is progressively rubbed out as more and more people join in a song. No one ever needed a voice lesson for a camp fire sing along.

As a wondrous demonstration of this limitless potential for connectivity and understanding to bridge the many powers of division in the world, I present Virtual Choir. Headed by visionary composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, it is an online community dedicated to bringing the world together through singing.

I cannot do justice to this fantastic project, nor can I match the charisma of the main man himself. So here, along with links to the glorious end products, Virtual Choir, Virtual Choir 2.0, and Virtual Choir 3, I will turn the stage over to Mr. Whitacre and his TED Talk, the inspirational video that introduced me to Virtual Choir, and the Kickstarter video for Virtual Choir 4.

One of the accomplishments of which I am most proud is taking part in Virtual Choir 3. Please join me in participating in, supporting, and spreading the word of Virtual Choir 4.

Virtual Choir 4 Kickstarter Page
Eric Witacre’s Site

    It is talent night for my choir this evening and gee-wilkers, I’m excited.  I’ve been practising my solo piece and my part for the group ensemble we’re doing.  Things went/and are going pretty well actually.  But then I got to thinking(cue foreboding music), we need something to end our night with a bash.  What is gonna be easy enough to put together so it doesn’t implode, involves the audience (our choir) aaaaaand makes everyone smile on the way home.

I let those thoughts stew of the week letting other things take precedence, little things like getting married and such.  :)  Then I remembered a song from one of my favourite movies…its catchy, easy to pick up and most people already know it… it goes like this:

I’m hoping we can pull this off.  If we can, it is going to be great!


Summer vacation is never complete without a trip to Kaslo, British Columbia.  Packing up the fiancee and parental unit we embarked on the 12 hour car trip (Oh, and a stop off at Radium Hotsprings as well) to the funky/quaint town known as Kaslo.  It is a week of intensive learning, singing and general revelry.  This year, as last, was a good time.   Let the photoblogging begin!

Getting to Kaslo from Alberta requires a ferry ride. Woo!

In a valley surrounded by mountains and lakes (Kootaney lake in photo), oh the horror.

The Moyie, one of the largest paddle wheel boats in existence. Now a museum.

Kaslo is a hamlet that sees some rain, evidenced by the mossy roof.

A sample of the flowers at the Kaslo townsite.

Ah, singing central, everyday from 10 till 3 of drilling and singing and more singing.

Our trusty steed and lodging for the week at Kaslo. The local ravens decided that our jeep was a great place for their bird-doo.

The beach was a five minute walk away from our lodging. It was lovely, except for the rain. :)

One of the singers brought her Shetland Sheepdog "Mcduff" along for the week. And as in most cases, the experience is always enhanced when dog is added.

Looking North at the continental divide on the Kootenay ferry, and so endeth our Kaslo trip for the year

The second group lesson is easier they told me.  They were correct.  I was pleasantly surprised as my body did not decide to turn into knee knocking pudding based entity.  I sang at an acceptable level relative to my skill.  I think I could have used more practice as my Italian text was misplaced at times, as well as my finding a tricky interval from C to G#, but overall I had good experience during my time in front of my peers.

The sour cream of the crop?

What was also nice was that we had time to sing Bridge over Troubled water to the group as well.  We snuck it in after Intransigentia’s fine performance in the spotlight.  Most of the students by the end were singing with us, it was such a great feeling, almost makes me forget that my voice melted on one of the high G#’s near the end of the piece.   Such is life, everyone seemed to have a good time and that was the important part.

Next up, a choral retreat in the misty land of British Columbia.  I cannot wait. :)

I am sorta-kinda looking forward to the third group lesson, whenever that may be.  I guess I’m starting to take to this whole singing thing.

My chosen ordeal by instrument.

I did it.  I went to my first piano recital and played not one, not two, but three pieces I have been slaving over for the last couple of months.

You know what?  I completely massacred two of the three.  What I did not do was stop playing, my left hand encountered landmine after landmine in the bass clef, but I just kept on going.  I think the wine had a lot to do with my confidence as I unskillfully added my musical renditions from J.S Bach’s Anna Magdalena’s Notebook: Musette BWV Anh 116, Minuet in G major 114,  and the Minuet in G minor, BWV Anh. 115.   It worked though, I kept a rough tempo and ended things with as much as a musical flourish as I am capable of.  Hence, the piano musical WIN!

The performance was another major milestone for me, along with the gruelling group singing lesson that I participated in with my vocal instructor.  You see, I also sing with Intransigentia, she has a beautiful soprano voice that she also happens to be honing with the same vocal instructor.  We sing a haunting duet of Ave Maria that Intransigentia arranged for us.

We sang the duet at the group lesson once through, then our teacher asked Intransigentia to sit down.   I was about to follow her, but was quickly waved back up to the music stand.  The next, oh million years (20 minutes), was spent meticulously going over the fine points of my part, especially the really high parts (my vocal folds were in full revolt by the seventh time the high G# came around).  This was the first time I had sung this song in a small group learning situation; my knees were jelly and my stomach was fluttering about trying to do its bit for chaos theory.

But I survived.  I sang in front of strangers and was corrected (repeatedly) while doing so.  I bent, but I did not break.  The confidence I gained allowed me to perform the next Sunday at a church much better than I could have without this Ogre of a lesson.

Confidence is a massive part of performing music, and it seems that I am gaining some small modicum of it.  It only gets harder from here, but I’m all over that.  :)

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