This week our SoTD curator is Laura Lee Everett, the Director of Artistic Services at OPERA America, who’s had a long and varied career in opera—stage managing, mentoring young artists, facilitating the creation of new works, and more—at companies all across the U.S., from Alaska to Virginia. (She’s also helped NYFOS present our NYFOS Next series at the National Opera Center for the past few years. You can catch it there in February 2016!) Thank you and welcome, Laura Lee!
I really like songs from other places that have a distinct sound and feel to them that tells you where they grew. One of the greatest things about so many of my peers and colleagues is that they are not from here, meaning the United States. It allows me to learn about music from other cultures, with other sounds and languages. In turn, I learn about the people from those places, cultures and religions through their ears, their music.
A friend was playing a song at a party that caught my ear and I said “WHAT is that? I love it!”
This “small orchestra” from Portland, Oregon of 12-14 musicians writes their own songs in at least 10 languages. Thomas Lauderdale, a classical pianist from Indiana and China Forbes, a singer with a gift for languages, co-wrote most of the songs that the band performs. Their sound is wonderfully eclectic and diverse, designed to bring people together around the piano. They have many a story telling song painted with the sounds of other lands and cultures. And they are fantastic live, often performing with symphony orchestras around the world.
The song of theirs that I find both beautiful and haunting is written in Croatian. I have no idea how to translate it. But the cello (played brilliantly by Pansy Chang from Vienna, Virginia), the driving rhythm section and the color of the piano lines make me listen to it again and again.
U plavu zoru At Blue Dawn
Tiha noc Silent night
Sjene su u bijegu shadows are in hiding
Ja cujem zvuk I hear a sound
Sta blize zove me that’s calling me closer
U plavu zoru At blue dawn
Sa svjetlom, tu with a light, there
Na mojo vrata at my door
Ti stizes you’re coming
Naci ces You will find
Praznu postelju moju my empty bed
Dok vlak nosi while the train is taking
Me’ daleko me far away