Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wax On, Wax Off

Sorry for the lack of updates! Doesn't mean I haven't been busy being a Homo Faber (well, more like Homo Conservator). Earlier this week we took down the arms and armor hanging up in the Oak Hall of West Dean College for an assessment and cleaning. They hadn't been touched in about twelve years, so there was a lot to do! This is me buffing micro-crystalline wax on a sword with a lovely leather and velvet lined basket hilt.

P.S. In December, I put up a post on the West Dean College student conservation blog about one of my projects. It's about the making of a steel and brass padlock and key (which was subsequently tossed outside by my tutor to get all sad and rusty). Read all about it HERE!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rite of Spring in Winter

I recently started listening to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and found myself incredibly moved by the Pina Bausch-choreographed version of the ballet.

When Stravinsky's piece was first performed in 1913 with Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography, half of the audience hated it so much that they laughed and jeered and threw rotten vegetables at the dancers and musicians. Forty people had to be removed by police from the concert hall. The piece doesn't sound so strange to modern ears, but I imagine at the time it must have been like dissonant noise to people used to music with a discernible melody.

The piece tells the story of young men and women participating in an ancient pagan ritual, which descends into a bacchanalian frenzy and ultimately ends with one woman being chosen as the sacrifice to Spring. The last seven minutes of the half-hour long piece is called "Sacrificial Dance" and it just shreds me apart!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Home

I've survived my first week at West Dean College with spirits high and self-esteem intact! Though there have been a few snags (mostly to do with my housing situation, hopefully to be resolved tomorrow- leaky ceiling in first room, persistent and strong odor of cat piss in second and current room), it's hard to feel anything other than grateful and excited when one lives and studies in a place that looks like this:

And of course, the interior is as impressive as the exterior promises:

More soon!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Prince Philippe and Baroque Love Songs

As one often does when one is procrastinating (in my case, from packing to move to England), I found myself in a section of youtube that I little expected to be. Discovered an incredible French countertenor named Philippe Jaroussky.

Here was the first video I stumbled into- a Vivaldi aria called Vedro con mio diletto:

Damn. I like how he sings "l'alma dell'alma mia" (soul of my soul) in the second half, with that little lilt.

And then, I found this video of Prince Philippe singing with French-Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, whose velvety, dulcet tones meld so perfectly with his. So sensual it's almost obscene. This is Pur ti miro by Monteverdi from a 17th century opera about the pyromaniac tyrant Nero and his ruthless and calculating lover Poppaea. This opera totally goes the opposite route of a morality play, with these illicit lovers triumphing over everyone who tries to stand in their way of being together. And not only that- they get such a sensual, gorgeous love duet at the end. But I guess the dramatic irony of knowing that Nero kicked Poppaea to death after the story ends just makes it more bittersweet?