High Holidays

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 08:11 am
chanaleh: (leaves)
My two favorite friends from synagogue are MH, the president, and EHF (hereinafter SCO#4), the chair of the ritual committee. Between them, they have been talking to me for ages (since I was pregnant with Aria; possibly even before that) about training me up to lead High Holiday services.

notes from the life of an amateur cantorial soloist )

I figure, if I memorized the entire Hamilton soundtrack in less than 2 months, I can do this. It's just Shacharit, right? Right? #17tammuz #tishreiiscoming
chanaleh: Snoopy in a Santa hat (xmas)
My husband is a music teacher. He was a music teacher when I first met him 20+ years ago. I've gone to see him perform in bands. More recently, I have performed with him in bands. I've seen videos of him playing in high school talent shows. He made me this recording for my birthday last year. We have in the house an entire room dedicated to housing what must be 20 musical instruments (piano, organ, accordion, numerous guitars and bass guitars, an upright bass, ukulele, mandolin, percussion...), where he receives students two or three days a week.

But somehow, it's discovering him in the music room one December evening after dinner, noodling around on the piano playing jazz Christmas carols, that really makes my heart go "Holy shit, I married a musician." :-)

chanaleh: (scream)
(1) Those of you who have heard me talk about the annual Popcorn Festival in my hometown (the Saturday after Labor Day)? This year's headline band is the Spin Doctors. I am so there! ([livejournal.com profile] etrace isn't impressed, but hey, he wasn't going to get within 10 miles of the Fest anyway.)

(2) Robert Downey Jr. started a legit personal Twitter feed back in April. Somehow, I only just found out about it this week. Seriously.

I suppose this is also a good time to mention for posterity the loss of Robin Williams on Monday, which hit me in a way that celebrity deaths almost never do. My deep and abiding affection for him dates back to the Mork & Mindy days -- and then particularly Dead Poets Society. This week, every time I saw someone preface a comment or headline with "O Captain, my Captain!", it about broke my heart. If only we could have all gotten up on our desks for him.

(We happened to watch the second half or so of The Birdcage recently, since it turned up on TV one night after our episode of Game of Thrones finished. And while I almost turned it off in the middle because of the aggravation of watching them all try harder and harder to be their false selves... I couldn't actually do it, because both Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are just so charming and brilliant even in the depths of their desperation. And then there was the happy and tolerance-affirming ending, if that's not a spoiler for anyone, so it all came right after all.)

In unrelated news, we finished watching Season 3 of GoT, which means I have now seen all the episodes to date (we watched all of Season 4 as it came out, intermingled with my first time through the series from the beginning). But of course we now have to watch Season 4 over again.

Okay, off to finish making Friday night dinner :-)
chanaleh: (breathe)
I beg you all will pardon the somewhat rambly nature of this rundown:

- Remembered to call my mom and check in. She had knee surgery a few weeks ago (she'd had both hips replaced previously, but this is her first knee operation). Then, while recovering (somewhat poorly, it turns out) at home, she fell and smacked her head on the bathtub (!), and thus got admitted to the rehab hospital for several days after all. Now she's back at home and doing better. We are playing a lot of Facebook Scrabble.

- Made a couple different loaves of bread in the bread machine, and also Cheesecake Brownies which may be the new favorite thing around here. Recipes to come later. (Like, when it is done being a fast day OMG.)

- Done a bunch of website work on two different freelance projects. It's remarkably enjoyable. One because it's actually fun, and one because I am charging them hourly so even when it's tedious I feel like it is worth my time...!

- Done a bunch of updating on my own design portfolio website, with more to come.

- Played my first official gig with [livejournal.com profile] etrace on Saturday night: mostly our usual band, except that we were backing a local guy with an Elvis tribute act. (I sang backup vocals. Which I don't think of as a major feature of an Elvis act, and they hadn't either, until their first rehearsal, which [livejournal.com profile] etrace went to without me, then came home and said "We need you!" Turned out to be surprisingly important on a bunch of the songs.) It was for a private birthday party, so just an hour-long set, but it was fun. And if we do more gigs with this guy, I will also get paid, not just [livejournal.com profile] etrace. :-)

- Observed my little brother's 40th birthday on Sunday. 40! (By "observed" I mean "forgot to mail his card until the day before, so it would be late as usual, and then thought all day about texting him but never when the phone was at hand, so that didn't happen until the next day either". But it sounds like he had a good time anyway.)

- Finished rereading Book 2 and watching Season 2 of Game of Thrones, and begun rereading Book 3 and watching Season 3. a little nattering, nothing spoilery, I think )

- Attended the Eicha reading (that is, the Book of Lamentations, for Tisha B'Av) last night at my new synagogue in Munster. [livejournal.com profile] etrace regretfully stayed home because his back was hurting and I was afraid we'd be sitting on the floor the whole time (turned out more than half the group sat in their regular chairs, though). But I walked in and several people immediately went "HEY GREAT TO SEE YOU WELCOME BACK", which was nice. And the reading was good, though it also made me miss the [livejournal.com profile] tremontstshul experience, squeezing 80 people into the basement vestry with dripping wax candles and no air conditioning and several of my favorite people doing the readings. Also, here they did the whole book in the same standard Eicha trope instead of doing chapter 3 to its own trope. I take this as a sign that I am supposed to learn it for next year the way I want to hear it done. Y'know.

- Opened an Etsy shop for my Judaica prints. :-} This is basically a retread of the items for sale on my own Judaica page, but I thought it would be interesting to experiment with the Etsy marketplace. Worst case, I won't sell anything between now and December (when the listings expire) and I will pull everything down. Yes, I know I would benefit from having actual photographs of the framed pieces -- planning to work on that in the coming weeks. It'd be nice to do some actual new pieces, of course, too.

OK, gonna go count down to dinner now. "Sunset" is reportedly at 8:01pm here; that's the guideline to use, right? Or is it "full dark"? I can't find the fast times for this region listed anywhere, only the Shabbat times.

Exploding into being

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 05:16 pm
chanaleh: EVERYTHING WILL BE AMAZING (amazing)
(getting this posted while on the hurry-up-and-wait front here in the office)

So, a few weeks ago I had started to write up some freeform musings to post about my life and what I was going to do with it, since, as [livejournal.com profile] justom and I are giving up on the idea of our relationship as primary, it opens up a sort of vast panorama of how to shape the next steps or phase of my life.

Interestingly, though, I find that a bunch of the ideas that I started knocking around have already sort of resolved themselves in the meantime.

life logistics: moving )

personal enrichment: Russian )

personal enrichment: music )
I don't know who my mischievous angel in the Brandeis Alumni office is, but they clearly looked down, saw us living 2 miles apart and said, "You know what would be a kick in the head? Let's send Erica to Ridgewood B, suite 440."

There are more topics to ponder on the life-expansion front (e.g., work thoughts, possible travel plans, other underdeveloped areas for fun and personal growth), but I feel like this is enough richness to be going on with.

The bad news is, I do NOT think I can plan to come to Boston the weekend of the 22nd/23rd. Sorry, gang. Too much complexity, and I feel we're likely to need that time to view apartments.

I did, however, sign up definitely for the G&S Sing-Out in Rockville, MD, over Labor Day. :-)
chanaleh: Snoopy at the typewriter, pondering (snoopywriter)
Last night was the second-and-final performance of my opera group's Le Médecin Malgré Lui (Gounod, based on Molière), on which I was assisting/stage-managing (and which I kept wanting to call Le Médecin Sans Merci, which I guess would fit just as well with the overt S&M overtones in the storyline, but ANYway!). I was in kind of a crap mood due to angsty conversations earlier in the day, and only trading chocolate for hugs from the wicked-cute Israeli lead tenor brought a smile to my face. So, but after the show, I bagged on the beer-and-burgers outing with the cast in order to come home, have a proper drink, cook some chicken, and finish up the Book Project of Doom for today's deadline.

I said to myself, "I must be getting old."

Totally worth it, though. First thing this morning I shipped the complete revised text and cover files, so pending the second round of proofs, it should actually get printed in the first half of April, yay! The author tells me the Boston Globe just did an interview with him that should come out on April 13 for Patriots' Day, which would be very very good timing to release the book. I will post more about it then.

And the chicken was roasted with herbs on a bed of collard greens, onions, and sweet potatoes, and oh was it good. Before bed, I took most of the meat off the bones (just in time to feed some to [livejournal.com profile] justom when he got home), and then this morning I put the bones into the crockpot, where they are merrily souping away. I also made a kale-onion-mushroom-Brie frittata for lunch. With what I've learned about the whole paleo thing this year, I am looking forward to Passover more than ever before, foodwise.

And since then I've been nattering around getting stuff done on the computer today, including writing a post to the pro blog (reminder: [livejournal.com profile] eschultz72, go and follow) about the music of Mark Ettinger, a.k.a. Alexei Karamazov of the FKB. I've shared songs of his in two completely different contexts this week, with people who liked them a lot, so it seemed an opportune time to write up something public about the backstory.

Lastly, I leave you all with this video gem:
The Maccabeats' Les Misérable, A Passover Story

and from my other fangirl favorites, Six13:
Six13 - Pesach Shop (2013 Passover Jam)

Off to get changed for seder! Chag sameach!
chanaleh: (tigerstudent)
While watching Boardwalk Empire with [livejournal.com profile] justom last night, I finally sat down and re-posted or adapted a bunch of work-related content to my pro blog. Going back years. A lot of years. :-) I think there's still art stuff I am missing that I need to add, but will review more later.

Off to catch the MetroNorth to do (what has become) my annual Gilbert & Sullivan performance with Robbie Harris at Temple Israel Center in White Plains (the one where the cast comprises 15 rabbis, cantors, and cantorial students, plus SCO#1 and me). I talked my friend Michael from the Blue Hill Troupe (who lives in Westchester Co. and is a great baritenorbass) into doing it, so that's going to be fun. Though of course I am also specially looking forward to hanging with SCO#1, who is on his way down from Boston right now. :-) This year, also, it's more of a "revue" format, so I get to sing a bunch of solos, trios, and duets (as well as chorus in the complete Trial by Jury). w00t!
chanaleh: (leaves)
So, before I go on to any other state-of-the-chanaleh posts, I have been meaning to post a recap of How I Got To Sing [Backup For Idina Menzel] At Marvin Hamlisch's Funeral.

As I recently joined the choir at the synagogue where I've been going, the first rehearsal happened to be Tuesday the 7th, the day his Aug. 6 death hit the news, so it came up at rehearsal. A couple days later, the cantor forwarded around a message that a 400-person memorial choir was being assembled for the Aug. 14 funeral. The organizers had put out an open call for volunteer choristers, and anyone who was interested in participating should email the coordinator by midnight THAT NIGHT. So I did!

I didn't find out for sure if I was in until Sunday late afternoon, but they duly assigned us voice parts and emailed around rehearsal recordings and sheet music for three pieces: "What I Did For Love" (I'd totally called that one the instant I heard about it) and "At the Ballet" (also from A Chorus Line) and "The Way We Were" (in a really nice 4-part choral arrangement which I now have handy, if anyone wants to check it out).

It truly only occurred to me the night before that this was likely to be a significant celebrity-sighting event. They forbade us from bringing cell phones into the sanctuary (largely to prevent unauthorized/inappropriate camera use, I'm sure). But I told my mom that if I should see Barbra, I'd pass along her mental regards. :-)

I took a personal day from work. We had to be there before 8am to get in through security by 8:15am, rehearse 8:15-10:15 (seriously it was only about 10 minutes of music, but we were also rehearsing the processing in and out), and then re-enter the sanctuary at 10:30 for the real service at 11am. They had planned on 400 people in the choir. They ended up with over 600 -- the choir literally filled about a third of the sanctuary. Reportedly, the body of singers included Sheldon Harnick, Luci Arnaz, and Rupert Holmes. (Huh.) Oh, plus it transpired during rehearsal that the soloist on "At the Ballet" was going to be Idina Menzel, so now I can say I've sung backup for her, right?

In the end, it seems that Barbra was NOT there, but several other luminaries were in attendance (largely '70s-era: Liza Minnelli, Alan Alda, Susan Lucci...). I was excited to catch a glimpse of Bernadette Peters, but the moment my jaw really dropped was when they called up the speaker for the first of 8 eulogies, and it was President Clinton!

And the whole thing was very moving. Apparently he was a real mensch and just a really great guy in person. They said several times what a tribute it was to have such a packed house. And it was. And he was only 68, which used to sound like a relatively reasonable age to attain, but now that it officially constitutes Younger Than My Parents, it's obviously Way Too Young. Life is short. And precious.

One more link: Remembering Marvin Hamlisch At His Funeral: "A[nother] member of the volunteer choir reports on the memorial tribute and gives her own personal remembrance of the Tony-winning composer."

Kiss today goodbye...

Thursday, August 9th, 2012 10:30 pm
chanaleh: Muffin the Vampire Baker: "It's him, Muffin! You have to protect him at all costs!" "I'M ON IT!" (i'm on it!)
Pursuant to yesterday's choir post:

I just got an invitation to sing at Marvin Hamlisch's funeral next Tuesday morning. (In a 400-person choir. But still.)

It'd probably entail taking half a day off work. Maybe even a whole day, as I now also have plans for that evening to go see Bare Naked Ladies and Blues Traveler at Jones Beach, woohoo! which might entail leaving early anyway.

I have to respond by midnight tonight to participate.

Should I do it?

ETA: Yeah, duh, OK. I sent the email at 11:30pm. We'll see if they get back to me. They're supposed to send out the music on Sunday.


Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 12:14 am
chanaleh: (leaves)
I'm joining the synagogue choir at Town & Village this year, and the first rehearsal was tonight! It was great.

I went there for Day 1 of Rosh Hashanah last year (diligent readers may recall that [livejournal.com profile] justom has close family friends who belong there and invited me/us). And in addition to really liking the service and the rabbi (who later, in a classic "small Jewish world" moment, turned out to be a childhood buddy of SCO#1, but that's another story), I actually really enjoyed the cantor and the choir. Which is a big thing for me because I normally am turned off -- almost by definition -- by anyplace that has a cantor, let alone a choir. But this cantor was a terrific young(ish... younger than me, anyway!) woman with great kavannah and an amazing voice that just, I don't know, fits really well with my personal davening style. And the choir was a lay choir performing from the bima (no microphones, no instruments) for just a few selected sections of the liturgy... which, not for nothing, happened to include two or three of my favoritest pieces from my own longstanding High Holiday choir gig back in Boston.

Sidebar on my High Holiday choir history )

And we did one in that category right away tonight: Samuel Naumbourg's "Ana Tavo" (a.k.a. Ono Tovo) -- though I don't know if I'd have heard it there on Rosh Hashanah, because it's particular to Yom Kippur, the introduction to the Vidui, or confessional.
Ana tavo l’fanecha t’filateinu v’al titalam mi-t’chinateinu, she’eyn anachnu azei fanim u-k’shei oref lomar l’fanecha, "Adonai Eloheinu v'elohei avoteinu, tzadikim anachnu v’lo chatanu" -- aval anachnu chatanu.

Let our prayer come before you, and do not turn from our pleas. We are neither so arrogant nor so stubborn as to say to Your face, "Lord our God and God of our fathers, we are righteous and have not sinned" -- rather, we have sinned.

It's a poignant little passage that often gets zoomed past on the way to the Vidui, and the musical setting here lends all the more poignancy to the text. I'd link to it for you all if I could find a sample. Maybe Cantor Shayna will send me the MP3.

(Or, y'know, if anyone needs a place to go for holidays, you could come and hear it.)

April 2018



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