You Moved Through the Fair

It is hard to believe it has been seven years since the passing of Owain on September 5, 2012. Of course, he breathes still through his music and magical memories.

Please click through below to the original post to listen and watch him perform one of my favorites: If I Were a BlackBird.

bardessdmdenton - author- artist

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

There was music on your breath
made softer
but not stilled by death;
the bright greeting of your eyes
lost, but for
reminiscing sighs;
the quick smile that found each one,
a star with
the warmth of the sun;
a playfulness in your hands
extending
songs from foreign lands.

You moved many through the fairs
and left them
mourning you in prayers;
those times past and present too,
with all your
audience to woo;
mine a quiet memory
not to let
fade and thus bury—
when neither too sweetly soon
nor too late
you sang for the moon.

The sketch is of Owain Phyfe, a loved if often distant friend, who was a vocalist, instrumentalist, and founder of Nightwatch Recording which concentrated on Renaissance and Medieval music. He died from pancreatic cancer on September 5, at the age of 63, after only being diagnosed in July. I did the drawing many…

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Guest Post: New Novel about Hildegard of Bingen

Thrilled to host author P.K. Adams, who “talks” about her upcoming release The Greenest Branch, A Novel of Germany’s First Female Physician (Hildegard of Bingen Book 1)

I first heard about Hildegard of Bingen (c.1098-1178) in a history of music class in college. Her chants are sublime and, as I fell in love with them, I started to read more about their composer – the first woman in the Western world to do so.

It turns out Hildegard did much more than that – she was a pioneer in many fields thus far reserved as a man’s domain. One such field was medicine. She was a skilled herbalist who applied treatments in a way most medieval physicians did not, namely by observing the outcomes of the cures rather than relying on ancient texts for guidance, irrespective of whether they worked or not.

As I researched Hildegard’s life, two things began to puzzle me in the (admittedly sparse) historical accounts. One is that she was enclosed at a young age (possibly as young as eight or ten) at a very strict women’s convent, where the residents lived in enforced poverty and isolation from the world. In such a place, historians tell us, she lived for the next three decades.

This, to me, is hard to believe. The psychological and intellectual toll such privations would exact on a child would be extremely damaging. Yet Hildegard re-emerges in contemporary chronicles, around the age of forty, as an accomplished physician, writer, and composer, and a diligent student of nature. She is already well-known in the Rhineland, and her theological writings are about to catch the attention of Pope Eugenius III. She is also preparing to leave the abbey of St. Disibod, where she had been enclosed, and start her own foundation.

Sculpture of Hildegard of Bingen by Karlheinz Oswald, 1998, in front of Eibingen Abbey near Rüdesheim in Hesse, Germany

Clearly, something happened during those decades that allowed her curiosity to be fostered, her intellect to develop, and her creativity to flourish. There is no reliable record of her early life beyond the few basic facts of her provenance and enclosure, and that is what inspired me to imagine what that life may have been like.

The Greenest Branch is a fictionalized account of the early life of Hildegard of Bingen, but it is rooted in what we know about her and the world she inhabited. It is a world, needless to say, that is not conducive to female empowerment. That she managed to accomplish so much is a testament to her fierce intelligence, strength, and determination.

The second book in the series, titled The Column of Burning Spices, traces the second half of Hildegard’s long and eventful life. It will be released in early 2019.

The Greenest Branch is available on pre-order on Amazon US  and Amazon UK  and will be released on June 18, 2018.

 

P.K. Adams is a Boston-based historical fiction author, whose debut novel The Greenest Branch is the first in a two-book series based on the life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia and a master’s degree in European Studies from Yale. When not reading or writing, she can be found hiking, doing yoga, and drinking tea (though usually not at the same time).

 

Please check out her website: p.k.adams that includes history, writing and guest blogs, and more information about her and The Greenest Branch.

Thank you to Patrycja for this fascinating look into Hildegard of Bingen and for bringing this extraordinary woman to life in The Greenest Branch. I have pre-ordered my copy and I hope you will do the same!

I also thank her for hosting me on her blog to promote my latest publications.

Please note: I would like to open my blog to more guest posts (at least one per month) by but not limited to authors of quality historical and literary fiction, as well as poetry anthologies. Perhaps you are an avid reader who has a blog, does reviews, or has thoughts on literary or historical persons, periods, or events. Not necessary, but I would appreciate if I could do a guest post on your blog in exchange. I reserve the right to refuse anything I deem not in keeping with the intent, spirit, ethics, and quality of this blog and my own work.

If you are interested in guest posting, please contact me.

 

In memoriam: You Moved Through the Fair

As today marks the two year anniversary of the passing from this world of a special friend and extraordinary musician and spirit, Owain Phyfe, I want to share this one again.

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

There was music on your breath
made softer
but not stilled by death;
the bright greeting of your eyes
lost, but for
reminiscing sighs;
the quick smile that found each one,
a star with
the warmth of the sun;
a playfulness in your hands
extending
songs from foreign lands.

You moved many through the fairs
and left them
mourning you in prayers;
those times past and present too,
with all your
audience to woo;
mine a quiet memory
not to let
fade and thus bury—
when neither too sweetly soon
nor too late
you sang for the moon.

The sketch is of Owain, a loved if often distant friend, who was a vocalist, instrumentalist, and founder of Nightwatch Recording, which concentrated on Renaissance and Medieval music, and, also, music from South America and Mexico. He died from pancreatic cancer on September 5, 2012 at the age of 63. I did the drawing many years before, intending to make it into a painting. Like, so many things relating to him, it remains unfinished.

He has left a legacy of beautiful music. Below is one of my favorites, but please go to YouTube for more examples. 

If you are interested in purchasing any of Owain’s CDs, have a look here:

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, 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.

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: https://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/OwainPhyfeTheNewWorldRenaissan

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.

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.

You Moved Through the Fair

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

There was music on your breath
made softer
but not stilled by death;
the bright greeting of your eyes
lost, but for
reminiscing sighs;
the quick smile that found each one,
a star with
the warmth of the sun;
a playfulness in your hands
extending
songs from foreign lands.

You moved many through the fairs
and left them
mourning you in prayers;
those times past and present too,
with all your
audience to woo;
mine a quiet memory
not to let
fade and thus bury—
when neither too sweetly soon
nor too late
you sang for the moon.

The sketch is of Owain Phyfe, a loved if often distant friend, who was a vocalist, instrumentalist, and founder of Nightwatch Recording which concentrated on Renaissance and Medieval music. He died from pancreatic cancer on September 5, at the age of 63, after only being diagnosed in July. I did the drawing many years ago, intending to make it into a painting. I have decided to leave it unfinished. 

He has left a legacy of beautiful music. Below is one of my favorites, but please go to YouTube for more examples. And if you enjoy, please consider purchasing one or more of his CDs, which would benefit his dear wife, Paula, and add a little magic to your life as well. Ciao, Owain.