A blast from my past; nostalgia and all that goes with it.

I’m on a roll. I’m in the zone. I have the sharing bug. I want to share with you all stuff that you might not like, but I think it’s great/hilarious/heartbreaking-ly beautiful. Since yesterday I finally figured out how to/tried inserting a video right into a post (possibly ensuring increased view-age of said video) I’ve been inspired to show you more.

I’m going to take it back – way back – all the way back to the 1200s back. The first song I’m going to share is a piece I studied in first year university. I don’t remember much except that I thought it was so funny at the time. I don’t have my recordings from school with me, so I can actually find the version that I first heard (which is my favourite), but I tried my best. Sumer Is Icumen In was written by an anonymous composer in c1240 (although sometimes attributed to William de Wycombe). It is in Middle English, so don’t be alarmed that you don’t understand any of it. It’s basically about the beginning of summer or something like that. It’s fun and might make you want to hop around – or not ;). The immaturity of first year university students had us all chuckling at the ‘sing coo-coo’s’ that were happening all over the place. I like it a bit faster than this, but in this version you can actually hear the words.


This next song is a favourite of mine for many reasons. I was first introduced to it in high school actually, we sang it in the Chamber Choir. It’s quite racy in fact. All the kissing and wandering ‘up and down’ and such. It’s super fun to sing! This is an all male version, but obviously (if I sang it) the Chamber Choir is mixed so our version was for SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). Fair Phyllis in an English madrigal by John Farmer, published in 1599. If the other one didn’t have you dancing in your seat this one might!


Franz Biebl. I only know one of his choral works off the top of my head, but it is honestly one of the most beautifully written choral pieces I’ve ever had the joy of singing and hearing. It quite literally takes my breath away. It makes me feel similarly to the way Jupiter makes me feel, but while with Jupiter it’s all exciting and fun and jolly, Biebl’s Ave Maria transcends everything. I literally started crying (in a good way) when I looked this up tonight. Again, this version is all male, but I’m pretty sure it was originally written for 8-part, all male chorus. It’s essentially broken up into two choirs. I know when listening to it which part I sang, but I can’t remember if it was choir 1 or choir 2. I think choir 2. In my opinion it sounds better with all men, but if you have the right mix of voices it can sound beautiful mixed. I just loved singing the soaring soprano – you don’t hear some of it as well with guys, but if you don’t have the right sopranos it’s a bit painful and shrill. I think this is probably my favourite recording that I’ve found. It’s very soothing, calming and seriously, even if you hate choral music I don’t see how you couldn’t be affected by this. Then again, I’m biased because I like choral music :D.


I had intended to stop at 3, but I can’t. I only have 5, don’t worry. Prayer of the Children by Kurt Bestor is another moving choral work. It’s a plea, a prayer, a petition for the children of the world who don’t have anything. Not even any tears left to cry. It’s a really powerful song. In high school I was part of a quartet in my one music class. I can’t remember why we originally put it together, it might have been to sing at a fundraiser concert, I’m not sure. I was the first soprano which means high G 😀 (we did SSAA – all girls ;)). At the time it was really high for me, but by the end of high school and in uni I could/can reach a Bb :). It’s hard because being a Capella if you get off track someone gets in a lot of trouble and it’s usually the 1st soprano (ie, me at the time). It can also get really low if you’re not careful. It’s one of those songs that you really have to connect with – you can’t just sing it. That doesn’t work. It feels empty and meaningless like that. It’s always good to do research on a piece when you’re going to perform it and for this song that’s especially true. Again, the version I’m putting up is all male, but again with the right soprano it can be really great. It’s the King’s Singers version and it’s a little different from what I remember. I don’t know if that’s my memory, if it’s the all male arrangement, or if it’s the King’s Singers arrangement.


And finally I’m going to leave you with a song that is somewhat appropriate for me at this time. Homeward Bound arranged by Jay Althouse is another song I sang in high school. I actually sang the solo at the beginning and end. I just love the tenor part when the guys come in. When done right it gives me chills, just a specific set of notes. This video isn’t as polished as the others, but then again it’s not done by a professional choir! It’s a song about someone wishing to be set free, to not be chained to home. Someone wanting to experience adventure and life! And then, when the journey is over, when they’ve done what they’ve set out to do they will return. It’s basically the old ‘if you love something set it free; if it belongs to you it will return’. And while I’ve loved my time here – my experiences, my adventures (and the one’s yet to come), and everything I’ve learned – I ‘belong’ to Canada, I will return in time.


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© 2010-2011 hollyjb

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  1. Holly, there is some beautiful stuff here. If you like early music may I suggest you check out the ensemble known as ‘Gothic Voices’ on YouTube. They specialise in medieval polyphony. Unfortunately their most amazing recording (Pycard’s ‘Gloria’) is not on YouTube; you can catch a short preview on iTunes, but you really have to hear it all the way through because the final ‘Amen’ where all the singers come together for an extended, wordless ‘Ah…’ will make you tingle. It is on their ‘Service of Venus and Mars’ album. I have loved it for two decades or more.

    Here is a link to another of their tracks ‘Dame de qui toute ma joie vient’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVhKorYWbIw&feature=related


    • Thanks for the suggestions! I will definitely check them out. I had forgotten how much I liked early music. It – like every era – has it’s special charm. I think part of me has stayed away from it for so long because of the crazy stressful year I spent studying it!

  2. What a great post! I love the songs and videos.

    And btw, I live in Canada and I get back to visit soon! 🙂

    • I’m glad you liked it! There are so many wonderful pieces of music from my time in university. And choir in high school. Canada rocks! I can’t wait to get home. Europe is so amazing, but home is home and it’s where I belong. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. You’re like a kid in an Apple iAnything technology store! Your enthusiasm is contagious. And I enjoyed the videos, 😉

    • Ha ha! Enthusiasm is good, so I’m glad you caught it :P. When I get in moods like this I’m a force to be reckoned with – I keep thinking of things I want people to see and it’s hard to stop. I feel like it’s absolutely essential that everyone is exposed to things and I start going crazy, lol. Do those stores actually exist? An Apple iAnything tech store? ‘Cause I would totally go! I’m glad you enjoyed them.

  4. Wow. This is some amazing music. Perfect post to check out over my morning coffee and relax before I go to work.

    • I’m glad you liked it! I know the songs are not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but sometimes I get this urge to share things like that with everyone, lol. Thanks for coming by ^_^.


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