Although I can’t see it through the opaque winter sky I can feel it: the moon is full.
With the able help of cellists Carol Mulder and Sibylle Ruppert my excellent mom and I performed David Popper’s Requiem for three celli and piano for our Industrial Ancestors yesterday evening. Folk came out to witness as we played to a photo of two-term Mayor of Owen Sound, Matthew Kennedy Sr, my Great-great Grandfather, and the man who ran the shop at Kennedy Foundries, where 90 % of the propellers for the Merchant Marine were made during the wars. Matthew didn’t believe in libraries or higher education, just in hard work. He died from the cancer one gets from spending long hours in a big foundry.
This event was the final of Tom Thomson Art Gallery’s ‘The Wave Passes’ series, which Gallery Director Virginia Eichorn describes thus:
…an ongoing project involving art installations, video and performance that connect the stories of Owen Sound’s past with the present. Tonight, from 6:15 to 7pm, outside of Council Chambers on the 2nd floor, there will be a concert honouring two of cellist Keira McArthur’s ancestors, one who was a former Mayor of Owen Sound (Matthew Kennedy), and another who served many years on City Council (David John Kennedy, who also ran Kennedy Foundries through the depression years). The quartet will perform the Popper Requiem for 3 cellos and piano in their honour, as well as seasonal songs everyone can sing to. All are welcome; bring your voices. Admission is free.
So we played Popper and Bach for Matthew and his sons & daughter (who was brilliant), for their sons and daughters, for my Grandfather and the woman he married, whose family came here from Pennsylvania. I never met Lois Keebler, but I have her watch, which still works. In photographs she is beautiful.
Here’s a YouTube version of the Popper. It’s worth listening to.
I went straight from that lovely event to play with the Georgian Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra – a short program since we are in a re-building year, but deeply satisfying, nonetheless. In talk afterwards, the GBSYO String Quartet decided to take on a new challenge for the spring….
This morning at 5am I wake to messages from 3am until now about Ravel String Quartet in F, including pdfs of the cello part. It’s been playing on loop since then : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNVVONYkivM
While Ravel played on, and without much forethought I wrote and sent a window-rattling note to a dear friend of mine …. This is full-moon permission – to shine an uncomfortable light in dark places. Not all is harmony, which Popper and Ravel knew. Sharp edges and tender places will always co-exist, as will the learned ability to disengage and fortify against both. Playing music well requires that all of these things are conscious, and revealed in a way that makes it good and right to feel human.
To my ancestors: rest in peace. It was an honour to play for you.
To my Friend: … with great love, always.
To the moon: thanks for the light in the dark.
God I love music and what it does.