Once Upon A Timeless Journey

It was wonderful to hear from a dear friend a few days ago. Sasha Raykov is one of the most entertaining and elusive of the very talented musicians who performed with Owain Phyfe, a unique and charismatic singer of songs who died far too soon in September of last year. The music they made together was, for me, haunting long before it actually was.

Sasha sent me a mix of a concert he had done with Owain at the Bloomington Early Music Festival (Indiana – Sasha’s son, Alex, was studying music there) in May 2002 with the permission to share.

Owain Phyfe

Owain Phyfe

I invite you to treat yourself to some beautiful music.  To listen to the concert click below:

‘Once Upon A Timeless Journey’ Part I

‘Once Upon A Timeless Journey’ Part II

Review of the concert from the Bloomington Herold-Times:

Owain Phyfe … served as guide, as conductor, as driver, as magician, really as singer and guitarist and story teller. Phyfe’s “Once Upon A Timeless Journey” proved a delightful pleasure. With his inviting, craftily used light tenor, he negotiated his time capsule to show that folk traditions have remained constant, that the catchy melodies of close to 1,000 years ago – or 400 – are just as winning today, and that no matter what language they’re sung in – English or French or Welsh or Latin or German or Italian or Spanish or Hungarian or Russian or what have you – they translate musically and thematically so that they can be easily understood.

Sasha Raykov

Sasha Raykov

The tenor/story teller was not alone in his performance space. He had a partner, verbally silent but very much a presence, the provider of accompaniment, a bearded bear of a man named Sasha Raykov. And, it was Raykov who had the genius to make the bass viola da gamba an interesting instrument, far from the bland, personality-less sound-maker it more normally is. He bowed. He strummed. He made those strings dance and sing and laugh and cry. His was a virtuosic exhibition, at every moment completing partner Phyfe’s front-and-center showmanship. Their unusual program, part of the Bloomington Early Music Festival, cast a different light on music of Medieval and Renaissance times. But though the expressions were old, the messages were ageless. At one point, in joyous, bouncing manner, Phyfe sang: “Winter is coming with all its unpleasantness, but here in this valley, the flowers will still bloom and the birds sing.” He called it a 21st century message. It was nice to be reminded.” Read in full and see photos from the concert.

It is strange that only last week I came upon—buried in the bottom of a cabinet whose doors ‘spontaneously’ flew opened and scattered its contents across the floor—a poem I had written and some precious photographs of Owain, Sasha, and other special friends. When I received the email from Sasha, I thought how perfect to share all in one post.

Here is the poem I wrote many many years ago (I have fought off my compulsion to revise):

Diane at Renaissance Faire

Diane at Renaissance Faire

It happened quite by chance;
a flutist made the notes to dance,
and the birds to echo song after song
(they thought he was echoing theirs);
a little more of heaven came along,
her harp held close to her heart
as if caught by cupid’s dart,
music loved so constantly there;
then the fiddler with an easy air,
no matter how difficult to play
his soul’s strings must have their say.

One by one and altogether
they entertained the summer weather
(a gamba, lute, any dream joining in)
the hours passing like a sigh
with those, like me, who happened by;
a little sojourn in the past
for some, like me, had come at last.

(Nothing missing until something was)
Suddenly a voice as it was needed
in melodies of words so gladly heeded
by the hopes of mind and heart
because the two should never part;
on bended knee it found me there,
another stranger at the fair.

Cantiga at Sterling (NY) Renaissance Faire

Cantiga at Sterling (NY) Renaissance Faire

With Cantiga and The New World Band
the past and present went hand in hand
into a future that promised so much more
of the sweetness of song that had come before,
(the memory as much a vision)
of those instruments of old,
and ageless stories to be told
by all those writers of such choice
who needed a fresh voice
to keep their gentle, thoughtful spirits alive
so beauty and reason could survive.

Thus I was complete—
I found my music in the shaded heat;
and even as I had to go
I knew that I would always know
when life was at its best for me
(with the magic of its sound)
in early music to live and dream equally.

DM Denton July 1996

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

 ©Artwork, writing, and photography, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

24 thoughts on “Once Upon A Timeless Journey

  1. How lovely to see you in costume for the Renaissance Faire! We’ve been to quite a few but have never gone in costume, although we’ve been tempted to rent one while there. We’ve also been to a concert at an Early Music Festival and loved it. I’m listening to “Once Upon A Timeless Journey” while I catch up with my blogging friends – thank you for including the link in your post. Your poem and painting fit so well with your theme here – inspired!


  2. Diane,

    What a great journey for the reader as we travel back with you
    to those wonderful times. Through you, the music, the painting, the poetry, Sasha, Owain, and cabinet doors that spontaneously send their contents to your attention, the reader shares much treasured moments.

    What a find, this piece, on a snowy night when the wind is blowing
    ever colder. Thank you for the pleasure!



    • Hi, Sarah. Thanks so much for ‘stopping by’ and for your lovely comment. I am so glad you enjoyed all aspects of this post. My pleasure to pass on the pleasure of the music and these memories.

      Keep warm. Blessings, Diane


  3. Ive just listened to part 1 Diane, wonderful!

    Maybe because its English Im not sure, but my favourite is “Since first I saw gour face”. And then the very last one was fabulous with such humour in It too.

    When I first heard his voice the word that sprang to mind was “kind” and it followed through to his singing voice too.

    Just lovely, thank you xxxxx


    • So glad you are enjoying it, Christine! “Since I First Saw Your Face” is one of my favorites, too, it has always reached right into my soul. And if Owain happened to cast one of those special glances in your direction when he was singing it … well … you were – as they used to say – undone.

      He was kind. Except, perhaps, to himself.

      (I haven’t actually been ‘able’ to listen to the concert yet – it is so hard. I wasn’t at that particular concert, but did attend one in 1997 at Kent University in Ohio which was similiar …)

      Thanks for listening … to the music … and otherwise …

      Love and hugs, Diane ♥


  4. I love your poem. You captured the connection I’ve always felt with birds. They are as much part of the music as we humans. I look forward to hearing this wonderful concert when the other humans awake. I, as always awoke with the birds. Thank you for this great gift!


    • Hi, Bob! How lovely of you to visit and comment. Thank you. It was such a fluke that I came upon the poem … just before Sasha sent me the concert links. Except, there are no coincidences. Blessings to you and ‘the other humans’.


  5. Diane, this is a wonderful post. And so much to take time to absorb.

    I am setting aside some time to do that today, listen to the music etc, and you look LOVELY! You have been blessed with beautiful hair, and its still as beautiful today.

    A quiet time this afternoon, a cup of tea and a concert at home!

    Lots of love and hugs




  6. Hi Diane, I love this posting! So much to enjoy and you look so pretty in that dress! My son was in America for a schoolyear and he also went to Renaissance faires, all dressed up, he liked it. Great drawing too, and I shall check out the music tomorrow. The poem from another century came back to you for a reason, surely 🙂

    Love and hugs xxx


    • Hi, Ina. Thank you! I actually made the’garb'(as the Renaissance Faire purists call it) in the photo. That’s great that your son did some Ren Faires while he was Stateside – I haven’t been for a long while, but it is nice to reminisce about those days when I was younger and more energetic and didn’t get severe sinus headaches from all the dust and smoke.

      Love and hugs, Diane XO


      • Wow, you made the dress yourself! My son still has a shirt his host mom made for him for a faire. He is a bit tall (over 2 meters) so they made him executioner. With hood and all 🙂 He stayed in Agoura Hills, in California.
        I am listening to the first music now, it is really beautiful and the sun is shining as well! 🙂 All great for a start of the day.
        Stateside! That is a good word! I am glad he is back though 🙂
        Smoke is such a pity, I hated that part of going out, it stays in your hair and clothes, nose, eyes and head. But maybe these days they smoke less? It would be fun if you could go to one again!


        • I made quite a few outfits for the faires … they hang in the spare room now. So glad you enjoyed the music. Actually the smoke I was referring to wasn’t from cigarettes but all the smoke from outdoor cooking and the blacksmiths and such.

          I bet you were glad to get your son back. I was away from my mom for sixteen years. Now, I am sure there are times when she wishes you could ship me off again! 🙂

          XO ♥


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