It Happened Quite by Chance

I am reposting this … today marks the birthday of the late Owain Phyfe, who this post is in memory of.

4/9/49 … the day the music was born … the music that was Owain:

7/7/1994 … the day that, for me … it happened quite by chance …

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.

12 thoughts on “It Happened Quite by Chance

  1. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post again, Diane…the music, your art and your lovely poem! And I’m sorry to hear of his passing…but it’s good to have the music play on forever…xo


  2. I never fail to marvel and your delightful, whimsical and so talented drawings, and I appreciated you’re introducing me to another talent who, I agree is wonderful. It was also a delight to see that picture of you, I think, standing so charmingly outside a caravan. My visits to your peaceful Blog always feel like a little holiday away from the hurly burley of life


  3. Diane, I just found your post in my gmail spam box! I was looking for something else and came upon it!

    I remember this post very well. And Im so sorry this wonderul musician was taken far too soon. Why does life seem so unfair sometimes? I guess no one said it wouldnt be. His music is really lovely. And your poems is so wonderfully passionate.

    Lotsvof love ❤ xxx


    • Glad you found it, Christine! Your 2nd reply on my last post appeared on my admin comment page, but not on the blog itself. I still find it hard to believe that Owain is gone … but he left behind his music (and my memories of him), so he never really is absent. He was a bit wild with his choices in life, but his adventurousness is good for me to think of and aspire to – if only in my writing and art. XO ♥


  4. We went to the Amherst Early Music Festival once, back in 2011, at Connecticut College in New London, CT. I see from reading your post there are other early music festivals, something I never realized before. Maybe this year we will have a chance to go again.

    Reading your poem and listening to the videos put me in a dreamy, reminiscing mood this morning. Thank you for the lovely detour from my chores… 🙂


    • Hi, Barbara. Thank you for your interesting and lovely comment! I’m sure there are many early music festivals around the country – so glad you were able to experience one and hope you can again. Most of my experience of live early music performance was at Renassiance Faires – the best thing about them, I think. I just finished cleaning while listening to a beautiful CD of Purcell’s music … it sure helps such tasks go faster and easier. Blessings. XO ♥


  5. What beautiful music, what a great voice and what enchanting melodies…I am so glad I clicked on your link tonight and discovered these two wonderful musicians. Thank you Diane!


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