Psalms Project Beginnings

The last few weeks have between ruthlessly busy, but I manage to spend my spare moments (or nights up late) finding music to the Psalms. God has once again immensely blessed me in this process (and the other big “g”, Google has helped a lot too!).  Last blog post I talked about the Sons of Korah, whose song Psalm 117 I have decided to use for my piece for the USC Dance student choreography showcase next month.

Recently I discovered the Band Trinity from the Netherlands, whose music is an eclectic mix of new world and old world feel, with Latin American influence since three of the four band members grew up in Peru before returning to their homeland. They have trained in Celtic music as well, specifically Irish, and play numerous different sorts of whistles, flutes, and other instruments I will not attempt to list, but am impressed by nonetheless.  They sing in Spanish, English, as well as Dutch.  Similar to the Sons of Korah in their world music tone and passion to worship God in their cultures, I can more closely ally with Trinity because they are close to my age.  I know it sounds silly to say that, but I have been in contact with one of the band members who was exceedingly generous with me sending me back the information I asked for in a  timely manner over email.  Their songs are due to be out on iTunes in April 2011.  In the meantime, he sent me two of their MP3s – I was ecstatic!  Another link I discovered between my now two new favorite bands, he told me, was that Trinity has covered the Sons of Korah in a tour throughout the Netherlands!  What a small world, to use a cliche phrase, and a wonderful world enabled by internet and social networking -these things wouldn’t have been possible back in the Gilded Age…

A third group I recently discovered, The Psalms Project, has taken up the commission to “dress historical treasures in 21st century sounds,”as their website states.  Psalters set to Genevian melodies from the 16th century tunes in the Genevan Psalter of 1562, produced under the leadership of John Calvin, already exist in many other languages, but they needed recreating in English, and in modern voice. This group of professional musicians, under the guidance of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, have contributed to the making the Psalms Unplugged which is now available to order off their website (I should be paid to advertise).

I am really excited about all these developments, and am ready to get in the studio!  Must make more time to do that this week, because my audition for dancers is this Thursday for Psalm 117!

My next step is to research Latin dance moves that be incorporated into my piece.  I regret not having learned Flamenco  from my dance  instructors in New Mexico while I was growing up.  While in Spain last spring, the most powerful dance experience I have had watching dancer perform happened late one night in the streets of Barcelona where a man captivated a large audience of passers-by with his intense, hot and sweaty Flamenco dance to the beats of a drum his comrade made come from a simple box.  This dance I am creating can also be a tribute to my Spanish ballet teacher and master Luis Fuentes who taught me from ages 11 to 14 in Albuquerque, and then private lessons while I was at Boston Ballet School in 2005.  In addition to Flamenco, I am also drawing on sign and ‘worship arts’  but I am determined that my dances will not in any way be liturgical, but my personal excellence.

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DONE with chocolate chip cookies

This girl is d-o-n-e with chocolate chip cookies. Unless they have whole grain flour and organic chocolate chunks…

I am usually a cookie fiend – that’s why I don’t keep sweets in the house. My dad always wanted my sister and I to make him cookies when we were growing up, and I soon become addicted – and obsessed with baking. Last year I found out from my German flatmate in England that my name, my dad’s family name Krumel was the German name for the big Sesame Street Cookie Monster – “Krumel Monster”, which I love to share now, and have probably written in too many blog posts.

Sweets are the only bad thing in my diet, and that is because when I eat them it is often out of control. This year I committed to giving up white sugar. I really want to get all processed white crap out of my diet, but I have to start with one at a time, and this one is the most difficult to tackle. I have had several major set-backs, usually surrounding “that time of the month” or at friends’ houses or at parties or when we have sweets at the office. I don’t keep sugar in my house except for the times I make excuses to bake something for friends because, honestly, I want a “taste” (a rather large taste it ends up being too).

One of those moments happened today. It has been a long week full of deadlines and staying up till 2am, so I am glad to have ballet and work this afternoon canceled. I am house sitting, and decided to bake cookies for the house family once they get back, to replace the ones I ate. What better than chocolate chip cookies, the great American tradition? I hate to brag, but this batch turned out the closest to a cook book picture I have ever done – but I won’t brag for long. They tasted awful! I kept eating some of the dough to get my sugar fix and feel-better remedy, but it didn’t help. I don’t know why I keep going back to sweets for comfort and stress-relief. Real good quality chocolate does help, but these chocolate chips tasted like plastic in my mouth – maybe it is because I have been consciously avoiding sweets these last couple months, and it is starting to set in and my taste buds are recognizing the switch – I thought surely my few set-backs have ruined my efforts, but they were vegan carob and cocoa brownies, not chocolate chip cookies. This time I made the real deal – with Nestle semi-sweet mini chips, real butter and eggs… and I literally felt sick (it’s not the old wives tale of raw eggs. It’s stomach on crap-overload.) Half an hour later, I am feeling the low from the sugar “high”, and this is without having completely cut sugar from my diet in the last two months! I hope I remember the awful plastic-y taste and sluggishness I felt after eating that cookie dough/cookies so I don’t do it again. I would rather waste my sweet indulgence on something better, and maybe of a little more nutritional value – chocolate chip cookies have a nutritional value about the same as Easy Mac – nadda, unless you count the calcium from the chocolate chips and butter, and the vitamins from the eggs.

After all, this great American tradition of ours ain’t so grand. It’s only 80 years old (Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies in 1930) and has aided in the national “Western diseases” of obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Forgive me for being so negative; I still love to bake, but am getting more and more fed up with the white, refined crap we (myself included) are sold by commercialism and organized agriculture and force our bodies to try to recognize it and do something with it. I have a sweet tooth and probably always will, but I can re-teach my body good from bad.

Uneventful Day

Seriously?! Did this just happen to me?!! I’m biking home (actually to the family’s house I’m house-sitting, which is a 15 minute longer commute than normal for me) after another uneventful 9 to 9 day, and my chain gets stuck in the rear derailleur. no big deal. stay calm and pull over to the side of the road in the freezing cold dark and figure out how to fix it. My chain skips all the way home. Just keep pedaling and hope I can get back to campus at 8:30am tomorrow. I get home search for something to clean my grease-stained hands. They’ll look pretty in ballet tomorrow! This house is pristine; I’m afraid to touch anything. I try laundry stain remover, nope. bar soap, nope. Finally I try some windex – it fixes everything, right? Like in “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding”? To my amazement, it works! Then I pull out my laptop to finish my paper that’s due tonight and my flash drive with all my important documents including vitae, resume, and school papers is broken – in half! The weight inside my bag of all the goods I needed to stay over here tonight must have broken it off my laptop… I knew I should have taken it out. Next the ginormous labradoodle I’m pet sitting goes into a jumping frenzy and decides he can’t keep off me and tears a hole in the back of my shirt with his claws….I think I am still in shock.

I’m going to have the most fattening, sweet chocolaty thing I can conjure up, make a cup of espresso for an all-nighter, and gather myself…to write a paper.