Thursday, November 12, 2009

A suite of poems

Today, in the usual Thursday-noon recital, a fellow-piano-major and I played Debussy's beautiful Petite Suite for piano, four hands. For the first two movements I played the upper part and he the lower, and for the other two, we switched places. We received a good deal of very flattering praise; it was, by all accounts, a pronounced success.

The suite, and some of the things Mr. Schene has said about it, were still turning over in my head after the recital; and when I got home I wrote down this little "suite" of verses. The music can be found on youtube (I'll put links in the titles). My readers may listen to them, and tell me how accurate my little images are.

Petite Suite
(Hommage á Claude Debussy)

I. En Bateau

The paddles slice the waters silently,
And in the peaceful golden light of noon
We glide along the river easily,
Far from the faintest thought of dark or ruin;
No ripples on the glassy water lie
To mar its softly pointillistic gleam,
And even the breeze sings, as it whispers by,
A tune I half-remember from a dream...

II. Cortége

The fairy-flutes are piping, far and high,
Sweet as the laughter of the elfin crowd,
And as their small procession marches by,
We cannot help but smile at them - so proud,
Tossing their braids, or curly-tops held tall,
Waving the spoil of a successful raid,
Flowers and nuts from some King Squirrel's hall,
Borne in a gay victorious child-parade.

III. Menuet

Cast off that melancholy from your face!
Upheld by an enchanting violin,
The pairs advance with charming ancient grace;
The minuet is going to begin.
The pipe and viol their harmonies unfurl;
Across the sward they sweep unerringly -
Balance together, step and step and twirl,
And we dream on, lulled by the melody.

IV. Ballet

One rich-voiced cello guides the airy tune,
And trippingly the children whirl away,
Carefree small fairy folk, beneath the moon,
Light-footed, lighter-hearted, bright and gay -
Until the waltz, with passionate romance
(That music is inebriety divine!)
Lifts us, who love, aloft into the dance,
Soaring on wings of song, of love and wine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breaking the silence...

I decided to come back to my poor neglected blog to tell a bit about the concert in which I sang on Sunday. The Webster Chorale joined the St. Louis Chamber Chorus to sing a concert which we called "Music of the Fall," referring not only to the season we happen to be in, but to the Fall of Man and death, as well as falling in love!

The Chamber Chorus (some fifty, I believe) took the stage first for a wonderful rendition of the Missa "Durch Adams Fall" by Christoph Bernhard (based on the motet, "Since Adam's Fall".) Then they filed off and the sixteen Chorale members sang our two Hungarian motets: Lajos Bardos' Libera Me, which moved with only a second's pause into Gyorgy Orban's Daemon Irrepit Callidus, a wonderful Latin rhyme about how the devil, the flesh and the world, despite all the fair things they give, are worth less to the heart than Jesus is. The Chamber Chorus joined us for Michael East's beautiful love madrigal, I Fall and Then I Rise Again Aloft, and they finished the first half with Mein Odem ist Schwach, (My Breath is Corrupt), the first of Max Reger's Drei Motetten, op. 110 - a huge work and seldom performed in its entirety. The second half began with the second motet, Ach, Herr, strafe mich nicht (Ah, Lord, strike me not.) The Chamber Chorus performed this and their world premiere of a commissioned piece, Slow Gold by Claire Maclean, alone; then we performed our Funeral Sentences by Henry Purcell, and all together we finished the program with the third motet: O Tod, wie bitter bist du, (O Death, how bitter thou art!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

what a gorgeous Sunday!

Today we all went to the church early for choir practice, and so that Mom could go get Dad at the airport. Choir practice went smoothly, though I'm still trying to get used to the fact that now I'm the one calling the shots. After High-Mass I practiced a Bach prelude-and-fugue in the choir room, signed the thank-you card for Father Alphonsus, CSSR, who preached us a MARVELOUS mission last week and heard our general confessions, and then we all headed for home. It was a brief stop, as we had open house, but I yanked on a dress I could ride in and Ignacio and I took the Vespa while everyone else went in the car, up to Barnes and Noble. We spent an hour there, then the family dropped Maria at school for volleyball and I flew off to the University.

I practiced on the Precious for a while, printed out the ballad I had written for Colleen, a dear friend and fellow-pianist, (based on a crazy dream she had,) and then raced over to Webster Hall, where I whipped on my concert gown and went into the hall to rehearse my duet with Andy Kenney. It sounded good, and Dr. Carter, our wonderful Department Chair, gave us some good advice for the actual performance. We sat outside and talked with a fellow Chorale member until everyone else showed up at half-past three. The Chorale warmed up in the conference room next to the hall, and then we all found our places in the hall. The Chorale took the back rows, but I went up to the front row with Andy, as our duet would come before the Chorale's performance.

Dr. Carter began the recital with a short speech and then turned it over to a freshman pianist and a trumpeter who gave us a beautiful rendition of two short pieces by Purcell, the Intrada from The Indian Queen, and the Rondo from the Incidental Music for Abdelager. One of our sopranos followed it with a lovely rendition of I Attempt From Love's Sickness to Fly, also by Purcell; another sang Music for a While. Then it was Handel's turn to dominate the program; one of our wonderful young baritones performed Del minacciar del vento, from Ottone, and then Andy and I sang our duet, Thou in thy Mercy from Israel in Egypt. Another soprano sang Mio caro bene, a glorious aria from Rodelinda that I'll have to learn sometime; and the last soloist was another great baritone who gave a spectacular rendition of Arm, arm, ye brave! from Judas Maccabeus. Then the piano was pushed to the back of the stage, and the Chorale filed on, led by Colleen and alternating soprano-tenor-alto-bass from there. We sang Purcell's Funeral Sentences for Queen Mary, which turned out haunting and beautiful, with Dr. Carter himself at the portativ organ and, of course, Dr. Bowers conducting.

Afterward, Colleen and I showed the dream-ballad to her mother, who was highly amused and somewhat shocked (it was a very intense and somewhat violent dream, haha!) While Colleen and her mother talked to Mr. Schene about the outfit Mrs. Johnson (who sews amazing formals) is going to make for his upcoming concert, Rhapsody in Blue, I chatted with Mrs. Johnson's friend Carmen, who happens to be from Guatemala, so we chattered away a mile a minute in Spanish. I walked Colleen to her car, mounted Tesla the Vespa and flew away home. And here I am, enjoying a lull before dinner.

Friday, September 18, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 13

It's been forever since I remembered to do one of these. Life's been crazy. But here we go.

Last Tuesday I acquired a lovely blue Vespa, which has been cause of much admiration and envy among my peers. Pictures can be found on TradCats.

Our grandparents, who have been visiting for the past two weeks with us and our sister Lucia, who is home from New Zealand, (witness the posts below!), left this morning. It was a lovely visit and I'll miss them.

I'm re-reading the memoirs of violinist Albert Spalding. He had the good fortune to live around a lot of awesome composers; he played for (and with) Saint-Saens, Respighi, Dohnanyi, and toured all over the place. Rise to Follow is humorous, charming, and paints a wonderful picture of life both as a child prodigy and a mature artist.

I'm enjoying John Mark Ainsley's rendition of The Trumpet's Loud Clangour, from Handel's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day. What a voice.

Among my many pieces, I'm working on Debussy's Petite Suite, for piano four-hands, with a fellow piano-major. Here is a rendition of the first movement, En Bateau, played by a recently graduated friend, Michael McElvain, with another friend of ours (not a student, though I used to see him often around the music building.) Enjoy... it's gorgeous!!!

Plans are beginning to heat up for the next Jam Session, over New-Year's. I can't wait. This one will be all the way up in New York! Some snow, for a change! I hope our voices survive the chill!

Telemann's woodwind concertos are amazing... right now, having watched O Brother, Where Art Thou?, we're enjoying his Oboe Concerto in E minor. Good stuff...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My new profile picture (my confirmation patroness)

Monday, September 14, 2009


I'm posting this as a kind of follow-up to the Viking's talk, though I wrote it long ago (when I was trying to persuade him to give the talk).

One of the first philosophical facts I learned about love, from something my mom said, is that love is to the will what a "light bulb moment" is to the intellect, because the good and the truth are both from God. The truth is correspondence with what is, and good is correspondence with He who Is. They are the ultimate focus of the intellect and the will, respectively, which is why St. Augustine says that we are restless until we rest in Him who is truth and goodness itself.

One implication that I drew from this correspondence of love with a "lightbulb moment," or understanding, is that, though love is a movement of the will, it is often involuntary--we can no more help loving something we perceive as good than we can help that moment of delight when we grasp a concept for the first time. Our will is made to seek the good, so on finding something good it turns towards it automatically, as for example most people's reaction to ice cream.

This applies to all or most meanings of the word love; one of the things you can learn from Tolkien the philologist is that when the same or a related word is used for concepts that seem different to us, it usually means that at some distant time and place they were connected in meaning as well as in name. Thus loving ice cream, loving your husband, and loving your enemy are all at bottom the same thing, though they work in different ways. When you taste ice cream, for example, your taste buds tell you "this is good," and your will says, "well, then I want it," and that is loving ice cream. You love a person when your will is moved towards the good you find in them.

The difference between the different types of love lies in the degrees of goodness in the object and the clarity of our perception of this goodness. God can have perfect love for even an imperfect creature, seeing all the good in it because He is the source of all good, but the kind of love anyone, even God, can have for ice cream is limited by the nature of ice cream, which is good in only a very limited way--in creaminess, sweetness, freshness--as opposed to a person who can be good by heroic faith, hope, and charity.

Another limit in our capacity to love is that we can only love what we know, and often our knowledge of a thing or person is limited or faulty, as happens to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Her prejudice blinds her to Darcy's good qualities and hinders her from loving him, even though they are the very qualities that she loves best. The difficulty of loving your enemies is that you have to move your will (often almost by force) towards the good God sees in them, for the very fact that He made them who can make no evil, rather than for any good that you personally can see in them.

In the case of "falling in love," on the other hand, the outstanding thing is that you perceive great good in the person without much effort in looking for it--and the movement of the will is instantaneous and effortless. For example, I easily recognize the good of a keen intellect and a certain type of humor, and would be likely to fall in love with someone who has these qualities, whereas other people might notice more someone's humility, mechanical skill, or other good characteristics. Your "soulmate" is the one who most incarnates the goods that you most clearly perceive, and vice versa--someone in whom you can always discover, and help to polish, new facets of good, reflections of different aspects of the infinite goodness of God.

Of course, love can also be a voluntary act in the ordinary sense. You can look for and love the good in anyone, and it would be easier to find it in a spouse because of the shared life of marriage, which places you in the best position to look for it--this is why arranged marriages can work. But I think it is ALSO possible for true love at first sight to happen--a person's face, voice, and gestures can tell us a lot about them, even enough to move a true and lasting love. The most important thing to remember, I guess, is that God is love, and ultimate love can only be found with and through Him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Dream of the Rood

Someone compared the Vexilla Regis to the Dream of the Rood in a comment awhile back, and when teaching them both for English class last Lent I decided to try to make an alliterative translation of the former--not directly from Anglo-Saxon, which I can't read, but from a literal translation. Also, there are sections left out where I got lazy; I might add them in someday.

The Dream of the Rood
Cynewulf, 770-840

Lo! I will tell of the best of dreams
What I dreamed in my bed at darkest midnight
When speakers were silent, all asleep.
It seemed I saw a wondrous tree
Rising aloft and wrapped in light,
Brightest of trees. That beacon was all
Covered with gold. Colored gems crusted
The ground it grew in, and five most flaming
Were set at its center. The saints in glory
Looked on the Lord's sign, light from heaven.
No grim wrongdoer's gallows this!
All holy spirits and heroes on earth
God's glorious works on Him all gazed.
Though stained with sins I saw it too--
For all my faults I knew its glory--
gloriously garbed and gleaming with joy
the Lord's tree lovely with gold and jewels.

Through ancient enmity of wicked men
its right side began to be red and bleeding.
Then feared I, for all its fulgent glory
for sometimes it seemed to be red with rubies
and sometimes soaked with the flow of blood.
Nonetheless, lying a long time there
troubled I gazed at the Savior's tree
until the tree began its tale.
So spoke the tree all trees excelling:
It was years ago, I yet remember
I was felled not far from the forest edge,
severed from rootstock. Strong foes seized me
set me as a spectacle, a gallows for grim ones;
high on a hill I was set and secured.

Then the Lord of all living came hasting here
afire with zeal to climb upon me.
I obeyed and bowed not down nor broke
when I saw earth's surface tear and tremble.
I stood firm and fell not to crush his foes.
The young hero, child of God almighty
stood strong and steadfast, stripped for the fight.
Willfully went he upon the gallows,
bold before many to liberate men.
I trembled when the man embraced me
but dared not bow down to the earth;
fall flat on earth's face. As ordered, I stood fast.
Climbing on high I lifted the King:
the King of the skies, and I could not bow.
They pierced me with nails. You can see my scars,
these wicked wounds, yet I would not harm them,
though they scoffed and scorned us both together.
Dripping I was, drenched with dark blood
from his speared side after he sent forth his spirit.
Many cruel sights on that hill I saw.
The Lord of hosts stretched out severely;
darkness draping the bright radiance
of His corpse with clouds. Creation in shadow
under dark skies wept for its King.
Though Christ was dead on the cross, there came
eager friends from afar to the prince, as I saw.
In bitter sorrow I bowed to their hands,
humble and zealous they haled God almighty
down from my torments; they took Him away.
The warriors left me, and wounded I stood
Pierced very deeply and drenched in His blood.
They laid him down there, weary-limbed;
gazed on the Lord as he lay awhile weary
resting from battle. But still in my sight
they carved a sepulcher from living rock
and laid the Lord of Victories within.
A song of sorrow then they sang,
but evening came and they wanted to go
leaving the glorious Lord alone.
We stood weeping, still for a while;
the corpse cooled, and we were cut down to the earth.
Oh dreadful event! In a pit we lay.
But disciples discovered us, friends of the Lord
decked and adorned me with gold and with silver.
Now you can hear, my beloved hero,
what wrongdoers on me have wrought.

Formerly, I was the fiercest of torments
hated of men, till I opened the heavens,
the path of life for all speakers of words.
Lo, the prince of glory, the guardian of heaven
honored me over all trees of the forest!
Just as he honored, over all mankind,
Mary his Mother, over all women
chosen to bring forth God almighty.
Now I lay it upon you, beloved warrior
See that you speak of what you have seen:
tell all men the tale of the Tree of Glory;
how upon it all-powerful God in his Passion
suffered for mankind's many sins
and the deed Adam did of old.

I still have to do the part about the Resurrection and Ascension!

Based on Mary Rambaran-Olm's parallel translation at
Thanks to Paul Deane, the author of "Linking Letters: a Poet's Guide to Alliterative Verse" at

Hymn to Saint Philomena

Translated and adapted from one to St. Catherine; #77 in the Oxford Anthology of Medieval Latin Verse

Daughter of a Grecian king
Now your household to you sing
Veneration, impetration
That your prayers for us may bring,
Us, sin-laden,
O pure maiden,
To the joys of heaven's King.

Sprung of noble stock and bright
With the virtues' heavenly might
Soon you said that you would wed
None but Christ, the King of Light.
O pure virgin
Make us burgeon
Soon in Heaven's joy and light.

Even in your tenderest years
You desired heaven's spheres
More than treasures or earth's pleasures
Eyes on heaven, despising fears.
Maiden, heed us
Martyr, lead us
Upward from this vale of tears.

Catholic faith in you withstood
Lashes' sting and waters' flood
Stood unbending, prayer upsending
Staunch in faith though shedding blood.
Martyr, heed us
Maiden, lead us
To enjoy the perfect Good.

Then the lictor's sharpened spear
After days of torments drear
Crowned your ending, all wounds mending
With the sight of Christ, your dear.
O pure maiden
Lead us to eternal cheer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Today I was listening to Schumann's piano concerto and once again I was awed at the pure glory of it. The first movement is really unusual because it was conceived as a Fantasie for piano and orchestra; Robert Schumann transformed it into a concerto at the instigation of his concert-pianist wife Clara, who premiered his works after his career as a pianist was spoilt by an injured hand. He added an "Intermezzo" and concluding Rondo, and the result was one of the most gorgeous concertos ever, if not the most.

Here is the beginning of the first movement, played by Amir Katz; as it is a very long piece, this version is split into six sections. Go to Youtube for the rest of them. It's well worth the half-hour it takes to listen to the piece.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

One Week in the Life of a Camp Counselor - Thursday and Friday

THURSDAY - Today, unfortunately, Mrs. Eastman was out with a sore throat, but we hoped to have her back the next day. For a change, the morning didn't begin with a recital, but rather with a class by Ruth in which we discussed interpretation - what image does this section of a piece give you, why, and how do you bring that across? She chose a good one for it, too - Debussy's Claire de lune - and we talked about what kind of moonlight each part might represent. It was very interesting how different kids saw different sections. They also discussed a sonata by Schubert, which was a lot of fun, though not so easy to think up images for, because, not being Impressionist, it wasn't meant to only convey an image. Then, of course, there were lessons; and at noon, as usual, we split up and walked to lunch. The kids voted for pizza unanimously this time so I was introduced to Raccanelli's while Matt took his bunch to Imo's.

We got back in time for a little practice, but then it was time for Mr. Schene's recital. To me this was the highlight of the whole week, if not of the whole summer, musically speaking. He started it with the Beethoven sonata I happen to be working on now, Op. 2 No.1 in F minor. There's really not much to say about it, it's Beethoven! He did it beautifully, as always (this is the second time I've had the good fortune to hear him play it.) The first movement sparkled, despite the piano marking which he followed perfectly; the second was wonderfully gentle; the minuet-and-trio danced, as all good minuets should; and the final movement had me watching his flying fingers breathlessly till the last arpeggio came whirling down the keyboard. Beethoven doesn't need huge chords for an effective ending - that arpeggio ends in a single note that is a perfect period to a swiftly-but-well-spoken sentence! He followed it with Reflets dans l'eau, from Debussy's Images. It sounded exactly like reflections on water look - softly shimmering. I haven't had a really good look at the score yet but it's definitely a piece I want to play someday. And then, he finished it off with Chopin's Scherzo in B-flat Minor. Every note rang like a bell; after the martial introduction, the second theme, rather like a dance, was delightful! I couldn't take my eyes off his hands - I love watching him play, because it's so obvious that every finger knows exactly where it's going next, and in this piece, which I am familiar with and fond of, it was awesome to watch.

After a well-deserved thunder of applause, he had time for a couple of questions, ("No, I am not going to tell you how old I am," he joked, and I laughed "I know!" which made him give me a mock-glare as he said, "Well, thanks!"). We discovered that he had begun to teach himself piano at the age of seven and started lessons at nine. "That was a long time ago," he added, which made us all laugh. (And he made his concert debut at the age of fifteen! I wanted to ask what that first concerto was, but never got the chance; I'll ask him sometime.) Someone asked him how long it took him to learn the Scherzo; and he left us all stunned by saying, "Well, considering I learned it when I was fifteen, (wow! that's quite a piece for any fifteen-year-old!) I couldn't tell you exactly. But if I tried to learn it now, let's say, with some hard work, it could be done in... ten days." The children were amazed. I wouldn't be surprised, knowing Mr. Schene, but - phew!

We had to run over to Winifred Moore Auditorium then (Winnie Moore, as we all call it for short), for the first run-through of the recital. We didn't have time for everybody, but almost all of them got to play before we walked back over to the Music Building at four.

FRIDAY was lots of fun too! They started off with lessons and "practice till you fall off the bench," as Donna instructed on the daily schedule I typed that morning (I made that phrase bold, italicized, underlined and extra big!) Even Matt and I taught a lesson each, because Mrs. Eastman's sore throat had become a violent case of flu and so there was, of course, no way she could come. At ten-thirty we had dress rehearsal, clad in our olive-green Piano Camp t-shirts, and the children collapsed laughing at the end of Matt's and my rendition of Randall Compton's C.S. Theme and Variations -- it begins like Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody, but turns into Chopsticks, thence the "C.S." And at one point, the secondo, or lower part, comes flying up the keyboard and the primo has to jump out of the way and come round behind the bench to take the lower half of the piano -- so maybe "C.S" stands for "change seats" too, haha! As we came back to the building to leave our things, Connor had a light bulb and said, "Why don't you run around the piano instead of the bench?" I thought it was a brilliant idea and so did Matt, so we determined to do it! And when we came back and had a bit of time to practice, we tried it with the lovely Steinway grand in the Recital Hall (a.k.a. the Precious!) and it worked splendidly.

The recital that afternoon was wonderful. Only a few small slips occurred, but in general it was perfect and the children really did us credit, from Matt's perfect Bach to Miriam's delightful "Golliwogg's Cakewalk", the grace of the trio and the sparkling duets, and Matt and I ended it with the hilarious Chopsticks duet. There was as much laughter as applause at the end, which was a good thing! Actually, it became even funnier along the way because I nearly miscalculated my dash around the piano, since I hadn't considered one thing: the Steinway in the recital hall is a model B, about seven feet long, while the concert hall's piano is a full ten-foot concert grand, adding about six feet to the distance I had to run! As it was, I managed to collapse breathlessly onto the bench exactly in time to hit the next chord, and we kept going without a pause! Even Mr. Schene said afterward that we'd performed it very well, which was a relief, because we two had wondered what he would think of two of his serious (haha) piano majors playing such a nonsensical piece, (though it takes a lot more technique than it sounds like it does!)

After Ted Drewes' ice cream (a signature St. Louis delicacy) and a lot of chatter and farewells, Matt and I helped the ladies close up the concert hall and headed off home. It was a lovely week and they said they wanted us next year if we wanted to come, so I'm already looking forward to it!

One Week in the Life of a Counselor - Monday to Wednesday

This past week, I served as counselor at Webster University's annual Classical Piano Camp, a sort of workshop for young pianists between grades 7 and 12, who need to have studied for at least three years before entering. It was loads of fun! Here's the breakdown of the whole week -- I'll divide it in two parts, as I know it will be long!

MONDAY I arrived at the Music Building bright and early, about half-past eight, and the first thing I saw was a quiet-looking, dark-haired boy and a small blond girl in two of the red armchairs in the lobby. The girl, Katie, greeted me with the most exuberant "Good morning!" it has ever been my lot to hear.

Some people find it hard to break the ice. Katie shattered it with a sledge-hammer. She greeted everyone with the same lively "Good morning" as they entered, introduced herself, and chattered non-stop until none of us could help but join in the chatter, laughing; and from there, the group knit together without a bit of trouble, and we were soon good friends.

When all thirteen students had arrived, we joined them and the three teachers, Donna Vince, Pat Eastman (who has taught me these past two years), and Ruth Price, in the recital hall. The teachers introduced themselves, as well as myself and my "partner in crime," Matt Pankratz, fellow piano-major; and then they called out names and the kids raised their hands to be identified. There were seven boys and six girls, all between thirteen and seventeen. The boys were Matt (the first I'd met), Ethan and his brother Elliot, Zev, Connor, Morgan and Sam; the girls were Morgan's cousin Miriam, Alexandra, Katie, Natalie, and Sarah (an old friend of Rocio's, whom I was quite surprised but delighted to see!)

No sooner were we all introduced than we sat back and listened to a delightful recital given by a girl named Jennie, a "piano-camp alumna" who just finished her freshman year at Oberlin Conservatory, who played a Haydn sonata and... I forget what else, perhaps Debussy... ack, my mind's a blank! But she did it very well and we enjoyed it greatly! After the recital we sent all the kids downstairs to the practice rooms, having handed out copies of a piece they had to look at for that afternoon, and Matt and I pulled them out by twos to play their pieces for the teachers and be sorted, on that evaluation, into pairs for duets (and one trio, as of course thirteen can't be divided into pairs without leaving one out!) I listened outside the recital hall in admiration; the most impressive performances at that point were probably Alexandra's amazing rendition of Chopin's beautiful Fantaisie-Impromptu, and Sam's wonderful Introduction and Rondo-Cappriccioso, by Mendelssohn. Then they had an hour's Musicianship class with Colleen, another fellow-piano major, and then it was time for lunch and Matt and I divided them into two groups - those who elected for Raccanelli's Pizza went with Matt, and the Subway-eaters with me.

After lunch, back at the music building, they started having lessons - four with Pat, four with Donna, three with Ruth and a lucky two with Mr. Schene. Matt and I made sure they were where they had to be and practiced when we found time, or chatted in the lobby while listening to Sam's fiery playing - I couldn't get tired of the Introduction and Rondo, which he played over and over. At three we all gathered in the recital hall for discussion of the charming little waltz they'd been given to sight-read, and we talked interpretation. It was a lot of fun and we got some really interesting imagery from the children. All too soon it was four and time to go home, but before I did that I took Donna's handwritten schedule for the practice rooms in the Community Music School building (CMS for short) -- which all have grands, as opposed to the uprights downstairs, and she wanted to make sure everyone got their fair share -- and typed it neatly into a table, much easier to read, and posted it on the recital hall door.

TUESDAY the morning recital was given by a sophomore at University of Missouri, also a graduate of the piano camp, who gave a wonderful performance of a piece by Villa-Lobos, Beethoven's amazing thirty-first Sonata, and finally a lovely arrangement he had made of "The Farewell" from Disney's Pocahontas score. The morning once again was taken up by rehearsal, lessons and Musicianship, and they were given their duets - Morgan with Zev, Elliot with Tara, Matt with Ethan, Alexandra with Miriam, Sam with Connor, and Sarah, Katie and Natalie had the trio. After lunch they had a session on technique in the keyboard lab with all three ladies. At three we convened once again to discuss the day's sight-reading exercise, another waltz, but one that was very different from the first in style. We talked about how they were alike, and how they were different; and the final consensus was that the simple, traditional harmony of the first was more pleasant to the group, compared to the dissonance and ambiguity of the second. When Ruth said the first seemed more "honest", an as yet unsuggested comparison sprang to my mind and I exclaimed, "Why, it's as if the first were... the true lover's waltz, and the second, the seducer's -- the Don Juan waltz, if you like." They all laughed and agreed it was a good way to put it!

WEDNESDAY the recital was given by a dear friend, Michael McElvain, recent graduate of Webster; and as I had the good fortune of being asked to turn pages for him, I could see as well as hear, and marvel at the perfection in his music. He began with the introductory ricercare from Bach's Musical Offering, a beautiful fugue; followed it (laughing with us at his own boldness in so doing) with three Nocturnes of his own composition, of unusual harmony but no little beauty; and finished off the concert with Mozart's tenth Sonata. After it, as the others had done, he answered questions - in this case, he was asked about the compositional process, and how he ties together his three arts: composition, performance, and conducting. After the recital, as the children had their lessons, he and Colleen, his wonderful girlfriend, talked with me for a while in the lobby. It was weird thinking I won't be seeing him for a long time, as he was leaving for Chicago on Friday to continue his studies at DePaul University.

When Colleen went to teach musicianship, I went to take advantage of Mr. Schene's room being empty and practice on the magnificent grand (or rather, one of them - he has two taking up most of the space in his office! Wouldn't I love to be the head of a piano department, if you can do that...) Michael came in to listen to my Beethoven and make himself a cup of coffee, and from then on he was in and out of the room, at one point helping me in a desperate hunt for the poem I'd written for Colleen's birthday last Friday, which he had forgotten in the office. As we discovered that it had utterly vanished in the chaos of his music and Mr. Schene's, I dashed downstairs, typed it out clean and printed it just in time to give her as she came out of musicianship class at noon.

We were back from lunch at one o'clock, and at one-thirty was Mr. Schene's master class. He was surprisingly free with praise and no less generous with corrections as needed; the fortunate (or perhaps unfortunate, haha!) four who played, Tara, Connor, Morgan and Sam, acquitted themselves well, and seemed to blossom under his hand, their improvement evident even in the short half-hour each one of them had to work with him. At one point, Mr. Schene had Sam playing a difficult passage which included a rapid scale of octaves alternating right and left hands, and finally had Sam do the right hand while he did the left. They were so perfectly together that it sounded like one player, and they did it so fast and accurately that when they stopped we broke into a spontaneous burst of mingled applause and laughter! They received the first with delight and heartily joined in the second.

Later, as I waited for Mom, I went out to the picnic table in the wide front yard of the music building, where Michael and Mr. Schene were having one more good talk before Michael's departure, and joined them to listen for a bit to Mr. Schene talk enthusiastically about hearing Claudio Arrau play, and other wonderful musical experiences. All too soon I had to go meet Mom at the library, so I gave Michael a warm embrace of farewell, as he wasn't sure he'd be back the next day, bade goodbye to Mr. Schene, and flew away.

That day was also the day that Matt and I were handed Randall Compton's hilarious C.S. Theme and Variations to play at the final recital. I had the advantage of having played it before, but Matt said he would look at it and we'd try it the next day...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An awesome sonnet

This one is not mine (would it were!) Rather, it is one written by the master of sonnetry (is that a word?), the great and only William Shakespeare, to his beloved at the harpsichord. Romantic that I am, I wish someone would write one like that to me someday... hey, a girl can dream, can't she?


How oft when thou, my music, music play'st,
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap,
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand!
To be so tickled, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more bless'd than living lips.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An adorable LOLcat...

My wonderful little sister Rocio C. just emailed me this LOLcat, which is perfect for me - a pianist often discouraged by small hands and, more recently, by the amazing brilliance of the kids at the piano camp I'm counselor for. They're all great young artists; the youngest is twelve, the oldest sixteen, and they play their hearts out and love it. This little picture boosted my spirits like nothing else. Gotta love lolcats. Enjoy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 12

Well, look at that. I finally remembered to do the Takes when it was Friday!

In the past couple of weeks we've discovered that not one but two of our Fathers are getting transferred... boohoo! Our good Father Trinh is off to Arcadia, CA, and Father Soos is headed for St. Mary's, Kansas, (unless something changes, which I'm still praying for. I'm afraid it's kind of a case of, "Thy Will be done, but can't you change your mind?" I'm rather terrible that way, I'm afraid...)

Well, the house is still not selling - actually, now that I think about it, we haven't had any showings this week. But we're keeping up the prayers and trusting the sale will happen when God wants it to.

I've been practicing the piano more this summer than any other of my life, and I'm thinking of doing my Junior Recital at the end of the fall semester. It should be fun. It looks, at this point, as if the program will be Beethoven's Sonata No. 1, in F Minor; Bach's Prelude and Fugue in G from WTC Vol. 1; and possibly, also, Chopin's wonderful Nocturne in C sharp Minor. I'm really looking forward to that and the concerto competition in November... fun, fun!

One more shameless plug for the new Blog: Come visit us!

Tomorrow, Feast of St. James of Compostela, two of our beloved Jammers (who met before the Jam, though,) will be united in Holy Matrimony in St. Mary's. Here's to Conrad and Erin; God bless them!

I managed to spend almost the whole afternoon playing the piano yesterday (or hearing it played,) as I was with one of my guy friends at the University, and we took turns playing for each other on the grands in Mr. Schene's room. It was wonderful! He showed me some very weird pieces he's thinking of playing for a service at the church where he'll be working in Chicago, (stuff by Ligeti and Stravinsky, completely lacking any real grace of melody or harmony,) and said he had to come up (for this weekend) with a couple of pieces related to the sermon topic, which was "The Nature of God and Evil in the World," or something similar. He showed me a pile of pieces and the one on top was Liszt's Pater Noster, which I'd never heard before. I said, "Well, with the deliver us from evil, the Pater Noster is perfect." He didn't understand until I began to recite the translation and he said, "Oh! It's the Lord's Prayer?" (It was funny... I guess it's obvious to me, but I found it amazing that not everyone knows that!) He agreed that it was indeed perfect and sight-read it for me - it's beautiful! After a fun afternoon of music and conversation, I headed off home on my bike and got caught in the rain, and so I rode home singing Mozart's Alleluia in the midst of splattering drops. It was a lot of fun, but I did make it home before the real storm hit. I do love storms! I guess it was a little bit crazy to go out riding in it, but I enjoyed singing and getting soaked...

I've been thinking... it's funny, being twenty. A lot of people have called me grown up and responsible lately; and I don't feel that way at all. I wonder if that's normal for twenty-year-olds. I guess I just have to try to live up to it. Being grown-up is hard! What happened to the days when all you had to worry about was coming inside for lunch and going to bed at a more or less decent hour?... Sigh.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

yet another update

direct quote from my Texas correspondent's last email:

Things are looking better for Marycatherine, and they are going to see if she can eat or drink yet. And she will be going home as soon as she can handle solid foods, and water. As well, Maryanna (Ed: big sister) will be going home today ( I believe ), for the time being until her final surgery.

Te Deum Laudamus... Let's keep the prayers up! And once again, thanks a lot to all who are praying!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Update on the Accident

The latest news on my friends in Texas seem to be that little MaryCatherine will be going into surgery for her internal injuries; the doctors were waiting and monitoring, hoping to avoid it, but apparently it has to happen. Her big sister, however, is going home soon, in a wheelchair, and in a couple of weeks will return to the hospital for the final surgery on her ankles. Their brother is recovered... laus Deo.

Thanks to those who prayed, and please keep it up... God bless!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

St. Joseph Novena

We are in the process of making this novena to St. Joseph so the house showings go well and it sells soon. Any prayers are hugely appreciated!

O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A shock

I just found out this morning that three friends of mine in Texas - not Jammers, but very close friends of many of the Jammers - were in a terrible head-on collision two or three days ago. The oldest girl had both ankles so badly broken that they had to be set by surgery, but couldn't even be given morphine because the surgery was the next morning; so she passed one night in agony, poor creature. Her brother, a quiet, brilliant young musician, had his knees badly bruised and a slight concussion and could remember nothing of the morning before the accident. Their little sister, a child of ten, was hit worst - ruptured spleen and small intestine, damaged livers, punctured colon, and a broken collarbone. The poor little one could eat or drink nothing for three days, because the doctors didn't know whether surgery was even possible. From the account of the friend that gave me the news, she suffered heroically. Let me give it to you in his own words.
It is a pitiful, heart-moving sight to see her lay there in her hospital bed, very quiet, except the occasional " my stomach hurts", or " I wish I could drink." She's only 10 years old, very innocent little girl; I can't help but think, why her...

God works in strange ways to show us how small we are. My reaction, after the shock of horror, was a feeling of selfishness. My best friend is leaving for India early this morning - we said our farewells last night - and though I couldn't cry then, I was thinking I'd be really miserable today. And now, having woken up early and been hit by this news, I think, "and I thought I had it hard? Wow, I'm selfish." I had to echo my friend's wondering, "Why this innocent child -- why not me?"

Some relief came instantly as in an email sent an hour later the same friend told me that Maryanna, the older girl, is in much less pain; Carl, her brother, is also much better; and little Marycatherine is at least stable, if far from well.

Please pray that they all recover, and, as always, that God's Will be done.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Two Poems from the Texas Trip

Here are two poems written during the recent trip to Austin, to show that the Steel Lily's Poet-in-Residence has not been idle despite her vacation to faraway lands.

The first poem - a ballad, if you will - was written for the pianists of the Jam -- Billy, Domenico, Bibiana and me, and all the other piano-players.

Song of the Jam-Pianists.

Our hearts are strung with piano wire,
And when our fingers touch the keys,
Our being is engulfed in fire
Of light and love and great desire
For music's deepest mysteries;
Yet we would have not only these,
But long for glory that is higher.

And this desire for holy things
Is source of sweetest melody,
Sending it pulsing from the strings;
And rising on undaunted wings,
Sweet harmony with harmony
Blends, as the waters of the sea,
And sadly sobs or richly rings.

O music, heartbeat of our soul,
That rends our hearts and fills our eyes
With tears of pain or deepest dole,
Or strengthens us to reach the goal,
Or makes us laugh in glad surprise;
True gift of God thou art, and prize
To us, that makes our spirits whole!

Our music let us boldly raise
To Him that gave us Song and Love,
And as we lift our hymn of praise
Through all our nights and all our days
To Father, Son and holy Dove,
We pray that we, at last, above
The stars may sing more worthy lays.

--June 25, 2009.

As we drove toward the airport early in the morning, Albuquerque-bound, the sun was rising, a cirle of blazing red leaving bright streaks on a violet-tinged sky. For a moment I could look straight at it; but though I thought better of it in a moment, I remembered the picture and this sonnet took shape on the plane.

Austin Sunrise.

The sky is violet-blue, and easterly,
A glow of red and gold begins to rise -
A flame to dazzle all unwary eyes;
The day begins, the dark again must flee.
The frightened shadows turn and race away,
Not standing on their order of retreat,
Fleeing the dreaded light on silent feet,
While we with music greet the newborn day.

The day is young, as we; with merry heart
And soul, refreshed and rested, up we start,
To fill its time with actions good. No wrong,
God aiding us, will dim its golden light
Till, as it deepens into dark of night,
We end, as we began, with joyful song.

--June 26, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Blog is Born

Tonight, in the midst of an online conversation, a friend from Syracuse and I decided to start a new blog. Check it out. Its name is TradCats. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Sam from was kind enough to invite me to include a sonnet in his e-book collection Sonetti. So here is the book - enjoy all the wonderful work of my fellow-sonnetteers out there!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jam 3.9 and A Week in Austin

The Jam Sessions, which I may have mentioned before, seem to be dividing themselves into 'decimal jams' as well as the "real Jam Sessions," which are the x.0 Jams. If I haven't mentioned them, they may be defined thus, in dictionary form:

Jam Session, n. A gathering of young musical parishioners of SSPX chapels (see Jam-Sessioner), at which a pre-rehearsed polyphonic Mass is put together and performed, along with, random acts of music between rehearsals and keeping impossible hours. Hikes, bonfires and other such delightful activities may also be included.

(Jam Session 1.0 was in Dickinson, 2.0 in St. Louis, 3.0 in Dickinson again, and the Texans have managed to have a couple of decimal jams as well, culminating in Jam 3.9 the weekend of June 20-21. )

Well; let the tale be told! On Friday evening I arrived at little Hobby Airport in Houston and was picked up by the Emerson family. We promptly went out for ice cream and then went to their house, where I would stay that weekend. Despite the late hour, we spent a while enjoying videos of their traditional German Festival, and they attempted to teach me one of the dances.

The next morning after eight-o'-clock Mass, I was enthusiastically welcomed back to Texas by the Dickinson contingent of Jam-Sessioners, as well as Domenico and Bibiana Gattozzi, who had joined us from Austin. After a while of chatting, a small group of us went down to Denny's for breakfast. Dom and Bibi and I, Heather Dunsheath, Bobby Murphy, and the Emerson girls crowded around a table and chattered happily; and then Bobby, Dom and I, who had ridden together, dashed madly back to the church, for they were already late for chant practice. I played the piano in the parish hall for a while, then joined the others for choir practice, and we rehearsed the wonderful Missa: O Magnum Mysterium which we had performed with such success in St. Louis at Jam 2.0 last summer. Then we rehearsed a bit for the Bishop's concert in the parish hall, and Bibiana showed us a hilarious video of her recent graduation.

Surprisingly soon we were off to Theresa Abbey's house for her combination graduation-eighteenth birthday party; and it was in the car that Heather and Bibi gave me the shock of my life when they told me Father Stanich was going to be transferred to Syracuse, New York. The party swept it out of my mind, though; fortunately there was so much to do that there was no time to get miserable thinking about it. We chattered and laughed and ate and played Taboo and volleyball and kickball, and when the music began it didn't stop. Everything from Bach and Mozart to jazz and show-tunes rang from the piano, and it was nearly eleven when we cut the cake and Theresa opened the presents, and then we headed for home. Once again, I didn't get to sleep till past one. This was a bad thing, because with a concert to play the next day I needed all the sleep I could get! The fact that I woke up at six the next morning didn't exactly help...

The news of Father's transfer, officially announced at the early Mass, spread immediately and several of the girls gathering in the choirloft, myself included, dissolved in tears. But when the music started, I was lost in it at once and heartily enjoyed the lovely hymns we sang during the confirmation ceremony. The very first confirmand was Domenico, who also sponsored one of the Dickinson kids; and all told there were fifty-nine confirmands, so it took quite a while! It was nearly noon when Mass ended and we all crowded into the parish hall to find places, and we had a delicious lunch sitting quite near the stage where Father Stanich, Brother Gregory and Father Post flanked Bishop Tissier de Mallerais. I scribbled Domenico an impromptu acrostic for his confirmation, which he enjoyed, and we decided at the last minute to perform Summertime, rather than his original choice of Cole Porter's Ev'rything I Love, for the Bishop's concert that afternoon. Bibiana and I went to photocopy the programs I had designed for the occasion and then we spent the last little while before the projected recital reviewing our pieces one more time. The program was as follows:

  1. Antonio Vivaldi's Mandolin Concerto in C Major -- Father Stanich at the mandolin; Domenico and Bibiana, violins; Bobby Murphy, euphonium; and I (Inés) at the piano for the basso-continuo
  2. Scott Joplin's The Entertainer -- played by Catherine, another Jammer
  3. Giuseppe Giordani's Caro mio ben -- sung by Heather, with Bibi at the piano and Dom on violin
  4. Joaquin Turina's El Circo -- Bibiana at the piano (one of her senior recital pieces, and wonderfully done!)
  5. Beethoven's Sonatine for mandolin and piano -- Father Stanich and me
  6. Albert Pieczonka's Tarantelle in A Minor -- me
  7. Francesco Durante's Vergin tutto amor -- Heather, Bibi and Dom again
  8. Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata -- Bibi at the violin, me on the piano
  9. Beethoven's Adagio for mandolin and piano -- Father and me
  10. Gershwin's Summertime -- Domenico at the piano, me singing (his improvisation was wonderful to hear, as usual!)
  11. Bach's Prelude and Fugue in F, BWV 880 -- with me back at the piano, finished off the program.

To make the day even more awesome, I got to play the organ for Pontifical Benediction, and then His Excellency gave a wonderful talk about Archbishop Lefebvre and his vow of Romanitas. After that, the Gattozzis and I piled our things into their big car and headed homeward to Austin. It was a surprisingly short four hours. Dom, who had threatened to make me listen to hours of music during my stay, played me Schumann's melting Piano Concerto in A on the road, of which he had said to me, "If this doesn't reduce you to tears you have no soul." Unfortunately, as we were all talking at once, the effect was somewhat spoiled so he said, "You'll have to really listen to it at home." We got home about 12:30 and after a quick tour of the house and an introduction to their wonderful old grand (from Vienna, 1851!!!) we all crashed, dead tired from our long day.

On Monday Bibi had to go play a class at the Ballet Austin (she and Dom were recently recommended as rehearsal pianists by their former teacher, who is music director there.) So Mommy Gattozzi and I went to the beautiful state Capitol, which was built in 1888 and is a good bit taller than the Capitol in Washington, DC (because, as I often joked to the Gattozzis, in Texas everything is bigger and better!) I got to see the Senate and House chambers, took pictures by the statue of Stephen Austin and inside the dome, and admired the beautiful coats-of-arms inlaid on the floor of the rotunda, the "Six Flags of Texas". They represent Texas under Spain; Texas under France; Texas under Mexico; the Republic of Texas; Texas as one of the Confederate States of America; and last, Texas as one of the United States. After our little tour of the Capitol we went back to the Ballet to pick up Bibi, and met Dom for lunch at the Magnolia Café - he had been working on a violin he's making with the Italian luthier who always mends the violins for Dom and Bibi when they need it. Then we parted ways - Dom headed off to the ER where he volunteers (he wants to be a doctor, so he's getting some practical experience), and Bibi and I went shopping with their mother and then went home. We sight-read music and played some stuff we already knew, and then we piled into the car and headed for San Antonio, where we had decided to go to Mass that evening. It turned out that Bishop Tissier de Mallerais was confirming there that day, so I attended my first Pontifical Low Mass (all the others I've seen were High-Masses), and then we drove merrily home.

Tuesday: was another awesome day. I woke up and went with Dom to the violin shop, where we spent a delightful morning working on his violin. It was fascinating to watch him scrape at the curve of the instrument with meticulous care, getting both sides exactly alike. I was reading P. G. Wodehouse's hilarious A Damsel in Distress, but as I finished it quickly, speed-reader that I am, I went to stand and watch Dom. In a moment Sandro asked me, "Do you like working with your hands?" I answered, "Well, yes, I like sewing and embroidery…" at which he proudly showed me a new sewing machine he had just gotten, and remarked that he's had some trouble threading it, which made me laugh, because it's the same problem I always have. Then he gave me one of the bands of wood that would be the side of the violin, and I set to scraping it carefully so it would end up all the same thickness - just one millimeter! Before I knew it, it was one o'clock and Bibi was there to pick me up and take me home. We sight-read music and more music, and when Dom finally came home from the ER we had a merry dinner and then he vanished to work on his applications while Bibi and I did the dishes. Around eleven we called Dom, who had asked us to give him till then to work on his essays, and all went downstairs to have some ice cream. Then we came up and piled onto the floor in the master bedroom to watch The Philadelphia Story, a hilarious, delightful old movie starring that wonderful couple, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Unfortunately, we didn't finish it that night, but it gave us something to look forward to the next day.

Wednesday: I went with Bibi to UT, where she showed me the music building which has been her haunt for the past four years and will remain so for two more as she plunges into her Master's in musicology. I spent a happy hour in the practice room next to hers as she taught a lesson, and then we headed for home. We made a stop at Cavender's, which sells cowboy gear galore, and I came home richer by a very nice cowboy hat and belt which I promptly put on and came down to show Domenico and Mommy (I ended up calling the parents Mommy and Daddy, and they never minded it, so I may as well use the names here.) They were delighted with the effect and then, as Bibi had to go teach another lesson and her mother had errands to run, they left me chatting with Dom, who was sprawled on the sofa, exhausted from a late night and early morning. I offered him a game of chess (he had been his high school champion three years straight, so I knew I was going to lose) but he suggested that instead, we listen to some of the music he'd promised me.

So I dug out Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and put it on, curling up in the big armchair between the two speakers. He fell sound asleep before the end of the first movement (and accused himself of sacrilege for it later, haha), but I sat and listened, and ended up in tears. When he awoke with a start at the beginning of the second movement, berating himself for sleeping, I had to laugh through my tears as I asked, "So, do I have a soul, Dom?" He answered mock-solemnly, "You must." But I cheered up listening to Lalo's wonderful Symphonie Espagnole for violin and orchestra, and as we listened we played three or four matches of chess, until the ladies showed up and we had to set the table for dinner. That evening we played foosball - kids against parents - and got smashed, (the shame, the shame…) and then went to finish The Philadelphia Story, which is a really funny sweet story. I loved it.

Thursday: was the last day in Austin, and it was pretty full! Bibi and I did laundry and started packing, made photocopies of the piece we had composed for the Jammers, (words by yours truly, music by her, revised by both), and, of course, played music and more music - violin and piano, piano four-hands, and we even improvised counterpoint -- major FUN! We also picked out all the pieces we were going to take to Albuquerque (what musician travels without her scores?) In the afternoon we watched the Confederation Cup game between South Africa and Brazil (which, sadly, South Africa lost… those Brazilians play a pretty dirty game!) In the evening, we three youngsters went to the house of Bibi's astronomy professor, who hosts a chamber music group (members of the Association of Chamber Music Players, a worldwide organization.) It was like falling back into the Baroque days, sitting down to sight-read a piece by J.C. Bach on my recorder and then switching to a wonderful wooden alto recorder for a Corelli concerto-grosso, and finally taking the harpsichord for a Telemann "Tafel-musik" suite. It was amazing! Afterwards we had strawberry shortcake for our host's birthday, and between conversations I played bits of Bach on the harpsichord, which the host had built especially for these chamber-music reunions. It's a lovely instrument, and I had the time of my life. All too soon it was time to go home and finish getting ready - which ended up taking us till past one in the morning, with all the distractions we had, and how tired we were... And the next day, we got up at about six and headed off to Albuquerque for the real Jam!

Arghhhh... Life!

Life's so annoying. Here's the result.

I've broken every rule of sound and rhythm as we know 'em,
I can't write poetry worth squat (as you'll see from this poem.)

I can not draw, no, not at all! My singing's kind of iffy-
But baking, cooking, that's one thing I'll beat you at in a jiffy!

Now, I can dance, now that's for sure, My sewing is all right,
My hearing's good, I love the rain, I see real well at night,

I love adventures, need my space, and long to be a gypsy,
But home-sickness once in a while sets that plan sort of tipsy...

I long to be a teacher, psych, a doctor and a dancer:
I can't be all, so how does that help me get an answer???

How is all this stuff supossed to make no contradiction?
How can this all fit into a single job description?!?

Adults don't realize the pressure they put on ones so young
"What to be when you grow up?" should be enough to get one hung!

Our future, lovely future, which no one understands-
If you want to make God laugh, go and tell Him all your plans!

--Rocio de Erausquin
Thursday, July 2, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 11

Here we go again!

I am off to Texas tonight, there to help some friends play a concert for our good Bishop Tissier de Mallerais. I can't wait. "The stars at night - are big an' bright - deep in the heart of Texas," as we sing at tournaments; and I can't wait to see them, and my friends, again.

The house continues to progress. The girls painted the basement yesterday and now, instead of the old dirty yellow, it is a fresh cream-white, and looks bright and airy. (It doesn't smell airy, it smells paint-y, but hopefully time will remedy that...)

Next weekend I will be in the Land of Enchantment, where I and the other St. Louis and Texas kids will be singing Vittoria's lovely Missa Quarti Toni and some wonderful motets by Byrd and Palestrina for Sunday, as well as Monday's Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the chapel.

Here is the beautiful exterior of the chapel of the two Apostles.

And here is the simple but equally lovely main altar.

I rediscovered my score of Bach's Italian Concerto for unaccompanied keyboard, and had the time of my life sight-reading it, the other day. Another of those insanely awesome pieces I need to memorize and perform sometime.


My little brothers are having a tussle on the sofa next to me. Why do little boys have fun pounding each other? Some guy want to explain it?

I just managed to teach a piano lesson with the kids screaming at the top of their lungs in the library (hockey with plastic lightsabers!) Ah, big families.

The first two pizzas got burnt because I was teaching and the other sisters were talking to my student's dad, who is a lot of fun... and my little brother just came in with a splinter in his foot... and my littler sister just followed him hopping on one foot and clutching the other, to get some attention... heehee...

Ah, big families.

Friday, June 12, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 10

I missed last Friday... I don't remember even why! Let me see, what, of all that has passed in these two weeks, shall I tell? The poems beneath are part of what happened - finding my muse again - but what else?... Hmm. I think this time I will enumerate adverbially. Maybe I'll make that an official part of my seven takes. How often do you see the word "seventhly" any more? I love it.

Dad started at Harvard on June 2; and now his schedule is seeing patients in St. Louis on Monday, then heading off to Harvard, where he remains Tuesday through Friday, coming home for the weekends. He came home last night this time, though, because he had to go to Scott Air Force Base to arrange for the transportation of an MRI machine for his project in Argentina, which has been giving him and his folk trouble since it was donated to them. It couldn't be taken by highway, for it's so immense it wouldn't fit under the bridges; a ship couldn't handle it; it was finally arranged that the USAF would get it to Buenos Aires (or I believe this was the destination), and the Argentinian Air Force would take it from there to Salta. And only now, after a year of planning and paperwork and overall mess, is it finally getting over there... phew! We laugh every time the subject of "that famous MRI machine" is brought up at the table. It'll be a byword for the family, that's sure.

Yesterday, Corpus Christi, we spent the whole morning at the church, doing sawdust paintings on the sidewalk for the evening procession. They came out gorgeous. I started with the Sun of Righteousness, with the aid of my best friend Michelle; and since we finished it really fast, we helped the others with theirs. Ours was to the left of the church steps, (facing the church), a great golden sun with IHS in red in the middle, surrounded by orange flames; directly beneath the steps was the Lamb of the Apocalypse, lying on a blue book with the Seven Seals in scarlet, and a green oval for the ground. (The choice of the oval was slightly infelicitous, given that the way the Seals hung made it look exactly like a football... hopefully not too many noticed the unfortunate similarity!) Beyond this lay a vibrant Pelican in bright blues and greens; farther on a colorful Chi Rho, on a dark-blue field. Still farther on was a Trinity knot woven of three fishes in all the colors of the rainbow; and at the corner of the sidewalk lay the SSPX's "Cor Unum" symbol, in shades of red, crowned with gold, and with the words in deep purple above and below. And out in the street, surrounded by cones for safety, where the altar for Benediction would be set up, lay a great red carpet with Alpha and Omega and a golden crown. Father Young, parish shutterbug, came out and took lots of pictures, which I will ask him for so I can post them!

The Mass and procession were absolutely awesome. I discovered recently that my piano teacher lives two blocks from the church, somewhere on Hickory Street, along which we passed; so as we walked along I said a prayer for him. I wondered in a moment of distraction what he would think if he saw us. I love Eucharistic processions; there's nothing more wonderful than Our Lord passing by in the arms of the richly-vested priest, the little girls throwing flowers before Him and the rise and fall of the choir's chanting... Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar!

In a letter to Michelle, (she read this part to me,) my sister Lucia remarked something like this: "We need a philosophical definition of "Cool" or "Awesome" so we can apply it to God!" Michelle remarked that since "Awesome" means "full of awe, or awe-inspiring", it used to be applied only to God, and we should take back the original use of the word. Now, "cool" is a little less historically supported, but considering how interchangeably they're used these days, why not?... I often get the urge to exclaim something like "Oh, God is so AWESOME!", anyway (and sometimes succumb to it!) Saying He's "cool" might get some weird looks, I suppose...

Today we spent the morning wrapping up all the breakables. It was fun, though a bit nerveracking when the baby kept trying to bounce onto my lap when I was cutting tape for Rocio and Maria, who were wrapping! Oh, the babies... gotta love 'em, but they do keep me holding my breath sometimes!

I saw Pixar's new movie, UP, on Wednesday evening, with my brother Ignacio and three other friends. I laughed till I could laugh no more, yet there was one place where I cried. It's a beautiful movie and I'd recommend it to anyone; it has its bittersweet moments, a lot of silliness, and the good clean humor that is so often lacking in today's world. A movie for every family to watch over and over again! (That and its Pixar predecessor, Flushed Away, though that one is pure comedy, more slapstick in style.)

Next Friday I will be off to Texas for a week, to help the parish talent of Queen of Angels in Dickinson play a concert for our good Bishop Tissier de Mallerais at Confirmations on Sunday, and spend the rest of the week with my dear friends Dom and Bibi Gattozzi in Austin. I have no doubt it will be a blast! And then the next weekend we will be heading to Albuquerque for Jam Session 4.0! So if the Seven Quick Takes are missing the next two Fridays, my faithful readers know why. I will see you when I get back, if not before!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Three Flowers

Well, what do you know; just as I begin to think that inspiration's fount floweth no more, I come up with two poems in two days! The first is in the post just below this; and here is the second.

My Three Flowers

In my garden grow three flowers,
Lily, Rose and Passion-flower,
And I love to look upon them
As they flourish in my bower;
Sure, what need of wealth or glory,
With these blossoms as my dower?

Lily is the first fair flower,
Continence and purity;
White and bright as steel new-tempered,
Strong against the enemy
Do I keep my shining Lily,
Holy Mary helping me.

Rose is second of my flowers,
Red and white and gold is she,
Love of God the golden blossoms,
Red for those who well love me,
White for love of foes commanded,
Holy Joseph helping me.

Passionflower wild and brilliant,
Blazing as a torch I see -
All my passion for my music,
Rich in rainbow harmony,
Praising God in every cadence,
St. Cecilia helping me.

Mary, Joseph, sweet Cecilia,
Pray, I pray, to Christ for me,
That my flowers, never fading,
Evermore may blossom free,
Till, in God's own garden planted,
I may bloom eternally.

--June 9, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

A new sonnet

Last night I was up far too late, as usual in the summer; and as I lay on my bed scribbling, this sonnet took shape. It ended quite differently from what I thought it would be at the beginning; but I rather liked the result, as did the friend to whom I sent it when it was done. The title is the name I always give to the beautiful Steinway grand in Webster's recital hall - a truly glorious instrument, in itself (or herself, as Mr. Schene says) a work of art. It's a name that has caused much amusement among teachers and fellow-students alike, but it fits so perfectly that I can't help but use it. I'm sure I'm not the only pianist who has found in her instrument a vent for emotion and a beloved friend; and be they musicians or no, I hope my readers enjoy

"My Precious"

When clouds are grey and glowering above,
And my dark mood rivals the ragged sky,
Or when the summer heat is burning, I,
To find at once a vent and comfort, move

To where, amid the golden-gleaming wood
And creamy whiteness of the little hall,
There stands the thing that is my earthly all,
My love, my torment and my source of good.

In smooth black satin clad, she waits for me,
Her smile gleaming white, but slow to speak
Till at a touch, a whisper or a shriek
Pours out my heart, in wealth of harmony,

Responding as true friend to friendly hand --
My dearest girl, a comrade simply grand!

Friday, May 29, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 9.

1. Well, the biggest news of the week is explained in the post below - the surprise nominations for the Catholic New Media Awards! I'm still getting over the surprise!

2. Another big thing that happened this week was my fourteen-year-old sister Maria's graduation from eighth grade at Queen of the Holy Rosary Academy, last night. She and her classmate looked awesome in their blue gowns and Maria's valedictory speech was beautiful and well-delivered. I felt outrageously proud of my little sister. :)

3. The third big thing this week was that I got all four wisdom teeth pulled Wednesday! I was expecting to be in utter misery, judging by my older sister's reaction (she was out of it for nearly a week); but lo and behold, after the bleeding stopped at some point early Thursday morning, and I slept till about noon, I was perfectly fine! I still can't eat real food, which is annoying; but oatmeal and yogurt are not that bad. My little song of the moment: (let's see who guesses before hitting the link...)

4. The room in which I'm writing looks so weird to me now! Imagine, if you can, a large family room with a bay window and a little fireplace, with every wall lined floor to ceiling with books and CD's; and now imagine all those books just - gone, not even bookshelves left. The library seems to no longer merit the name; I guess I'll be calling it the "ex-library" from now till we move!

5. I am working on a wonderful awesome piece by Beethoven. (That could be any of them, huh?) This one is the "Rondo a Capriccio, Op. 129", better known to the world as "Rage over a Lost Penny." This spectacular rendition is by that wonderful young Russian, Evgeny Kissin.

6. Besides the Beethoven, my Mozart concerto continues to blossom. I'm working on the second and third movements, under the sharp eye of Mr. Schene. It's amazing what a difference one lesson with him can make to a piece.

7. Partly because I need to upload it for something else, and partly because it's just cool, here is my sister Lucia's beautiful icon of St. Lucy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wow! What a surprise!

My friend over at Catholic Perspective just notified me that this little blog of mine has been nominated for the Catholic New Media Awards! Whoever nominated me, thanks you very much; and all voters, thank you in advance! Apparently I can be voted for under the following categories:

People's Choice Blog
Best Group Blog (although I think it should probably be switched to Best Blog by a Woman, because I'm really the only girl who posts here anymore...)
Most Spiritual Blog
Most Informative Blog

So anyone that thinks I fit into any of these, thank you very much and vote away, here!

Friday, May 22, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday - vol. 8

1. I went to a tea party today! It was my second time at the home of my fellow-pianist Colleen, who besides being a brilliant musician and an excellent painter and singer, is a brilliant entertainer. Her mother, a true lady in the old sense of the word - sweet, warm, gentle, a truly excellent cook, and making us feel very much at home - was the perfect hostess, and they loved the apple pie I brought along as a surprise. The other guests were a few of the music majors and a trio of professors who are as close to us as our fellow-students: our recently retired orchestra director and his wife; Mr. Schene, our beloved master of piano studies, who is always the life of the party; and the counterpoint-professor/accompanist extraordinaire, one of the youngest professors and a really great guy. We spent the afternoon sipping various amazing teas and talking (what else?) music. In the end, of course, we started playing, and Colleen and I sang arias and chansons by Handel and Faure and played Bach preludes-and-fugues, and were very silly -- there was one point where we just couldn't stop laughing over the music; we were laughing so hard we could hardly play.

2. This morning I also had a really awesome lesson with Mr. Schene. We worked on the second movement of my Mozart concerto and I found out a lot of wonderful ways to practice -- I can't wait to put them to use!

(These next are actually written on Saturday... I'm late... but o well!)

3. The house is getting ripped apart and put back together, getting ready to sell for the move to Boston! The basement has no ceiling at the moment, and the upstairs bathroom no wallpaper; both of which are going to get replaced very soon... :)

4. Today our SSPX chapel had its pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Kaskaskia Island. The river was unusually high so the water was right up to the levees and some of the fields below us were flooded. The sky was overcast for the first half, which was great, because there is no shade at all on the levee, along the top of which we circled the island to reach the beautiful chapel built by Father Marquette for his mission among the Kaskaskia Indians. (Here is a bit of history and pictures.) The fine old organ, built in the 1800s and restored in 2003, is one of only three of its kind surviving; it has a very good sound! I love playing old instruments, and this one is glorious, though I had to omit the trumpet stop, which was horrendously flat this year (last year all of them were in good tune). I pulled together a schola cantorum of boys from LaSalette Boys' Academy, one young man from St. Louis, and a gentleman from Kansas City who directed the chant; and several girls from Springfield and three from St. Louis made up the feminine section. We sang Mass IX, for feasts of Our Lady; the propers were those of Our Lady on Saturdays; "O Mary of Graces," Arcadelt's "Ave Maria," "Panis Angelicus," "O Esca Viatorum", and "Hail, Holy Queen" were the hymns and my volunteer choir sent them soaring to the rafters! There's nothing like a well-sung High Mass and these young folk did a wonderful job -- God reward them!

5. Ultimate Frisbee is a lot of fun. It has become the traditional post-pilgrimage-and-picnic game at Kaskaskia. We didn't have too much of a game this year, alas, because we didn't think anyone had brought a Frisbee along. Next year, though...

6. My eleven-year-old sister is teaching my sixteen-year-old sister how to crochet next to me. I haven't done that in ages... I might start again. If not for the risk of tendonitis, which I got last time I crocheted something rather large, I'd do it all the time; but I guess it's a matter of caution.

7. I find it amazing how hard it is to think of seven random little things to put that wouldn't bore readers out of their minds. Of course, I don't know that I'm not doing it anyway... am I?... I hope not. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

what a concert!

Last night I went to the Sheldon, a lovely old building downtown which now houses a concert hall and art gallery, to hear two dear friends and one acquaintance from college play a "Prelude Performance" for the Artist Presentation Society. It was magnificent. Alyssa Santoyo, guitarist, led off with a wonderful group of pieces from a Bach Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, followed by a piece that will always hold her signature for me - Heitor Villa-Lobos' Choros No. 1. This was the fourth time I'd heard her play it, and it still held the magic and delight of the first. She finished up with a duet with her teacher, and though I don't remember the name, I remember it was lovely!

Michael McElvain, pianist, followed; and he held me as spellbound as he always does. He started off with two preludes by Rachmaninoff. The first, in D, was sweet and rich; the second, in B-flat, a fortissimo firestorm. Not to stop with this, he came back with our beloved teacher, Daniel Schene, to play Schubert's four-hand Fantasie in F Minor. I leaned over the edge of the balcony, watching them. They looked like a fine machine - perfectly in unison. I don't know how long the piece was, but I could have watched and listened for hours; so flawlessly calculated was every crescendo, so perfectly matched the tone, that they were one musician, rather than two. Afterward, I slipped backstage with Michael's girlfriend to congratulate them both, and when she commented on their perfect coordination, saying, "It was as if your minds were linked," he said, "Well, there's undoubtedly a connection, somewhere." I said, "Somewhere in the heartstrings of the piano..." and he gave me an approving look and said, "Why, yes, that might be it."

The last section of the concert was jazz. This one was by far the longest, due to the typical improvisations in the four pieces, including one original composition by the guitarist of the group. The featured performer was the drummer, Kevin Neyer, who went all-out on his complicated solos. We sat downstairs for this part, and I was fairly deafened by some of it; but I was certainly impressed by their musicianship. I'm no lover of jazz; but there was no doubt that every musician in the group was excellent and I joined heartily in the applause.

Taken altogether, it was a marvelous night and one I wish I could repeat sometime. As the three performers graduated this year, I doubt I'll get another chance to hear them all at once like this; but I certainly plan to keep listening to them -splendid musicians as well as dear friends.

Monday, May 18, 2009

St. Cecilia does it again...

she answered my prayers for a good audition for the Ladies' Musical Club (see the last Friday takes) and I got a hundred-dollar check from them... "towards your music of the future", said the lady who called to let me know. Blest be St. Cecilia! She's never failed me yet; and to her, I offer this little ballad.

Seventeen hundred years ago
She lived, and yet it seems as though
She were a friend who shared with me
Her sorrow, joy, solemnity...
She died for God, wide worlds away,
That I may have that grace I pray.
She with the organ gave Him praise,
I with the piano music raise,
That I, a maiden as was she,
May keep like her my purity,
Defended by my angel's sword,
With honor honoring our Lord.
She guides my hand to play aright
The truest music, to delight
The ear of God as well as man,
As best our earthly music can;
My thanks to her I truly owe,
Who oft and oft has helped me so!
Cecilia, dear, my friend and aid,
Who for our King such music made,
May you, who sang with heart ablaze,
And I, who strive to rightly praise
The Lord we love, be joined someday
To intertwine our loving lay.

Friday, May 15, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday - vol. 7

It's amazing how hard it is to find something to do when you're not on a schedule. I almost wish I was back to school so I could know what I had to do in the mornings.

My last grades are up on my web-page... and I got a B+ in Music History, to mar an otherwise straight-A semester. Darn. But well... my GPA is still 3.74, well above what I need to keep my scholarship, and not so bad.

I am anxiously waiting for my Well-Tempered Clavier to arrive in the mail so I can set to work on that awful (in both the old and new senses!) prelude and fugue in G Major... awful in the old sense of flippin' sweet, and in the new sense because the prelude is insanely fast and the fugue is very long. Another of those instances of leaping before looking in choice of music; I was warned about the prelude, but didn't look at the fugue, so it is my own fault. If fault it can be called. I enjoy the challenge. (And yes, I am a musical nerd -- and proud of it! My name should have been Cecilia!)

Yesterday some kindly mothers from the school came to help Mom pack our library. No small feat, as the so-called library alone contains at least 1200 books and probably more. Yet they managed it in less than three hours, with my younger sister helping and me keeping an eye on the small fry, who ran madly from dining to living room where I was playing the piano to our musically insatiable baby sister. I'd swear, the kid gets high on music! She gets all tensed up and her eyes and mouth fly wide open and her little hands wave when I play a particularly brilliant passage, and at the end she yells for more. I guess the other girls will have to play to her when I am still here and they're in Boston!

Last night I was reading an incredible book called Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, by Oliver Sacks. Here is a quote from a review on Sacks' website.
Oliver Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people--from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome who are hypermusical from birth; from people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds--for everything but music.

I'm a musician, not a neurologist, so some of the complex explanations were a bit over my head; but the book held me enthralled. I couldn't put it down. I would recommend it to anyone; I get the impression that this will be one of those books I will find more and more fascinating in years to come.

This afternoon I went to college to return some books and then spent at least a couple of hours (I didn't really keep track) practicing at one of the few grand pianos in the music building, the fine Boston grand that I had the good fortune to work on all this semester. It may not be the best piano in the building; but it's a very good one. I only stopped when my hands started aching. Remembering the mixed feeling of exhaustion and triumph, my former voice teacher's Gmail "status" today, a quote from Muhammad Ali, seemed very appropriate.
I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."
I understand it from a musician's point of view too. Practicing can drive us crazy (it often does me); but in the end the glory of music makes it oh, so worthwhile!

7. Tomorrow I'm auditioning for the Ladies' Friday Musical Club of St. Louis' annual music prize. I wonder how the competition will be. If the other pianist from Webster that I know is competing is a fair sample, it'll be tough. But it'll be fun, no matter what. Amusingly enough, we are playing the same two composers: Bach (she has the Prelude-and-Fugue in F minor from WTC II, I the Prelude-and-Fugue in F major from the same book) and Debussy (she one of the Images, I the first piece from Children's Corner.) I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, May 11, 2009


My little sister (see post below, #2) came home on Sunday and is doing great, though we still have to be careful for a week or two. Laus Deo

Friday, May 8, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday - vol. 6

1. I owe Our Lord, through his Mother and St. Cecilia, a really huge vote of thanks! I had my sophomore candidacy, a sort of progress report/mid-major checkup, yesterday afternoon. For me, (not everyone else), this doubled as a re-audition to switch from the Bachelor of Arts in Music, with piano emphasis, to the Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, a much more performance-oriented major, as evidenced by the title. I had attempted this last year and been told, "Give it another year." I did, practicing, listening and learning; and this time, I played my Mozart concerto (the Concerto in A Major, K. 414) and my wonderful Bach Fugue in F Major (from the Well-Tempered Clavier Volume II.), and after answering a few questions about grades, what I wanted to do with my major, and such, I went out and waited (rather tense, but less so than I'd thought I would be), listening futilely to the faint murmur of voices within the recital hall. My teacher whispered me that I had passed, entre nous, but the official notice came from our department chair, Dr. Carter, this afternoon, and I didn't have to pretend my delight, despite its being no surprise - I couldn't keep my most brilliant smile off my face! Two years of hard work have paid off - Laus Deo!

2. In contrast to the delight of the first take, my three-year old sister has not been well... she had her tonsils out about two weeks ago, and Tuesday the cut re-opened and she lost a lot of blood. She spent Wednesday in the hospital, came home yesterday morning and that very afternoon was bleeding again... so now she is back at Children's till Sunday. Prayers would be hugely appreciated, though the last news is that she was doing okay.

3. The school-year is over. I am now officially a junior. It feels so weird... it doesn't seem like two years ago that I was introducing myself to Professor Chamberlin, who registered me for my first semester and taught me two semesters of theory this year... wow, two years are short!

4. Somebody introduced me to a marvelous poem by G. K. Chesterton, Gloria in Profundis. A must read!

5. This afternoon was the honors ceremony for the whole College of Fine Arts. Quite a few of my dear friends at college are graduating with honors this year, and three of five performances were theirs. It spoke well for the Music Department! The first performance, following the Dean's introduction, was by one of our piano performance majors, who, with the aid of one of the junior piano-majors, gave a spectacular performance of his own two-piano arrangement of Philip Glass' Rubric, from Glassworks. I had not heard the original chamber piece before (I am no lover of minimalism), but on listening to the beginning of it tonight in original form, I like Michael's version much better! I fell in love once again with Elisabeth's blazing rendition of the Prokofiev Toccata, Op. 11, and Alyssa's Choro by Villa-Lobos was every bit as splendid as I remembered it from her senior recital and the departmental-honors ceremony. At the end I found tears rising to my eyes... Shakespeare was wrong. Parting is no sweet sorrow.

6. Tonight I was introduced to a new brand of ice cream, Blue Sky, made here in St. Louis. It's excellent - made by a nitrogen-freezing process, I was told. Somewhat expensive but absolutely delicious!

7. This summer will bring a new adventure - house-hunting for the school year! My brother will be staying here in St. Louis with me (he at WashU, I at Webster), and we will be looking for some comfy little apartment near my university (as he drives and I don't), and settle in together for the school year. It will be very different living without the family, but it should be fun!