A “Year of Wonder”-ful Classical Music: June

June is the month of Nature’s best qualities, that golden blend of spring and summer. The music I liked best this month exemplifies all that beauty, hope, and promise. I hope you enjoy it too!

1) Ave Maria,” by Johann Sebastian Bach

Another gorgeous rendition of the “Ave Maria!” If Schubert’s version makes my heart soar, then Bach’s version touches chords within me, playing me like a harp. If Schubert evokes images of candlelit processions, then Bach gives me visions of rays of sunlight piercing through the clouds. One is humanity’s prayer, and the other is Heaven’s response. How can one choose which is better? They’re just different sides of the same coin…

2) Ribers No. 8,” Traditional Danish Folk Song, arr. by Danish String Quartet

This one is so perky! As the summer heat starts to build, it’s good to burn off a little energy before everyone and everything adopts that slow pace forced on us by the weather. June is often a time of folk festivals, and I don’t know about you all, but I would jump in with abandon into this country dance!

3)Raga Piloo,” Traditional Indian Version by Ravi Shankar and Yehdi Menuhin

An American-Jewish violinist and a famous Indian sitar-player sit down to make some music…… and you get this fascinating multi-cultural result. It truly upholds the name of their album, West Meets East. Again, the approaching languid summer days can get us thinking about far off places, and this piece is a wonderful blend of two vastly different styles of music. If only people could make an effort to harmonize this well in everyday life…

4) “The Salley Gardens,” by Benjamin Britten

This is originally a poem re-worked by W.B. Yeats, who heard it sung by an Irish peasant woman. The tune is so simple, and evocative of a simple country life, that I can’t help but hum along, whether I’m at work, or merely enjoying a late spring breeze.

5) “The Lark Ascending,” by Ralph Vaughan Williams

One of my favorite hobbies is bird-watching. I can see why birds are so often the subject of poems, art, and music. Flight, freedom, song….the symbolic possibilities are endless. Listening to this piece, I can actually envision that lark taking wing, diving and swooping amongst the clouds, spiraling ever upwards. If Disney ever made another Fantasia, this should be a musical piece on their list...

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