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vol. 12: winter solstice ed.
They say the sun will come back
my one love
but we know how the minutes
fly out into
the dark trees
like the great ʻōhiʻas and honey creepers
and we know how the weeks
walk into the
shadows at midday
at the thought of the months I reach for your hand
it is not something
one is supposed
we watch the bright birds in the morning
we hope for the quiet
the year turns into air
but we are together in the whole night
with the sun still going away
and the year
- W.E. Merwin, The Solstice.
It seemed only right to begin this solstice/final 2022 edition of B&B (thank you for reading!!) with Merwin. December is always an interesting month of memories. Chanukah, Christmas (Chrimbo, as my family calls it), my birthday, the new year… I’ve looking forward to some cozy and festive holidays at my parents’ place along the beautiful and snowy Niagara Escarpment, Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit.
Some Sabine Devielhe announcing l’hiver with a mélange of Bach, Debussy, and Pomme.
I’ve been recently taking some time to regroup after a busy performance season and first semester of doctoral studies. It was exciting to debut with Thirteen Strings Ottawa and revisit some favourite pieces for public performances this season. I spoke a little about my pre-performance rituals (though somehow made this interview about Bach and Handel into a treatise on restorative yoga conducted from my old bedroom at my parents’!), and have also written about the complexity of performing works such as Messiah for Opera Canada (you can read those here).
As for ringing in my new year, I spent my birthday eating croissants, having phone calls with friends (me to my best friend of twenty years: I thought you’d forgotten! Her: um, it’s 9:28am…), a voice lesson with my friend/teacher/supervisor at McGill, having mandatory free birthday Starbucks coffees at Montreal malls, doing an online yoga class, taking fancy photos around MTL with my bf followed by oysters, french onion soup, steak frites and île flottante at my favourite resto in the world, L’Express, and karaoke at Bar La Remise (I loved hearing the French-Canadian holiday specials).
Trevy lighting up MTL with some Shania.
I’ve been indulging in some delish TV lately, including The White Lotus, Fleishman is in Trouble, and the Harry & Meghan documentary on Netflix. Much as in some ways I loathe “the discourse” and our society’s need to have opinions on everything and am skeptical of the dictatorial narrative control the Sussexes took in making this documentary, I did sympathize with Meghan and Harry and the terrible racism and mistreatment by the press they endured (see Roxane Gay’s take for the nytimes on this). Meghan would have made a lovely royal. Fleishman has been a fun and at times, poignant look at a neurotic New Yorker enduring divorce and all that comes with it, and The White Lotus was pure cinematic fun. I particularly appreciated its attempt to “transcend politics rather than comment on them.” How refreshing. :)
Another subject I’ve been immersing myself in has been the mezzo-soprano and voice teacher Emmy Heim, the subject of my doctoral research. Heim came to Canada in the 1940s, leaving her native Vienna as a Jewish refugee from the Nazis, where she’d premiered works by Schönberg and his students and was friends with the great artists, writers and composers of her day. She went on to teach many of Canada’s leading singers and teachers, including Mary Morrison, Lois Marshall, and James Milligan. I’ve spent the past few weeks combing through her papers here in Toronto and immersing myself in books about Vienna at the turn of the century. My supervisor wrote to me a few weeks ago after watching Woman in Gold, a film starring Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren about a Jewish woman’s legal battle against the Austrian government to reclaim Klimt’s painting of her aunt stolen by the Nazis during WWII, saying that my efforts to bring Heim’s story to the world formed a similar sort of restitution work. (I was touched.) Auf jedenfalls, I really recommend this movie (and I’ve been enjoying the book on which it’s based!).
I’m looking forward to spending the next week baking my way through Claire Saffitz’s new book, What’s for Dessert, reading Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait (Hamnet, her last book, made me weep!), knitting, hitting some spin classes with the bestie, snowshoeing, and playing make-believe with my niece and her baby sister before heading back to Montreal to blast into some Hansel and Gretel rehearsals (catch me in my Gretel debut at the end of January at National Monument Theatre!). Wishing you all a delightful end to 2022 and all good things for 2023. Thanks again for reading. <3
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