Endings and Beginnings

The past few months have brought many changes into my life, some satisfying, some sad, and some hopeful. I’ve been locked in my studio for weeks, completing a cello concerto, and only coming out on occasion to wrap up the school semester. The concerto is complete, the cellist loves the music and now I only need to finish the orchestration and score work. More about Watershed in future posts.

MissPhylMy mother-in-law Phyllis passed away peacefully at the end of October, at home among her family. We honored her with a celebration of her life and held a burial ceremony for both her and my husband’s father during Thanksgiving week. It was both sad and joyful, and a good friend played taps beautifully at the cemetery.

 

 

 

The garden is quiet now, sleeping for the winter, all soft browns and grays.decGarden

My attention has turned indoors for the holidays, a season where we bring the outdoors in and celebrate the bounty of the season with food and gifts. I’m decorating the house this weekend and preparing to feed twenty people on Christmas Day, a gathering of family from near and far. As I took photos of the “woodland” tree in our family room, I thought of the recurring themes of food and bounty and gifting that is so prevalent in many cultures as the seasons turn at the winter solstice and return the light to the northern hemisphere. By whatever name you call him, whether St. Nick, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, or Kris Kringle, he endures as an archetypal figure of bounty, largess, and generosity. santa

So often, he is portrayed with fruit, berries, and green leaves, the embodiment of growth and life. santa2

Our family room looks into the woods and the Christmas tree there is decorated with a woodland theme, of birds, creatures, even a glass rose – a stylized reminder of the garden and the woods that surround us all year round. (Click on any photo to view full size images)

In 2011, we made a musical Christmas card for friends and family. When our world seems so filled with strife and division, it seems fitting to return to that video for a message of love and family, as well as a photo of my in-laws at 1:55.  

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, may it be a celebration of love, forgiveness, compassion and hope. As this year comes to an end and the new one begins, I wish every good thing for you and yours.

(All photos ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

A Song for the Winter Solstice

Winter, an artist’s sketch in charcoal, so clearly etched against a cloud filled sky. . .

Snowy WoodsIn celebration of the moment when the earth turns on its axis back to the light of the sun.  This year, in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on December 22. Time and Date offers a clear explanation of the solstice as well as explores the customs and traditions around it. To see a beautiful collection of “brown and gray and sometimes white” nature photography, explore Robin’s post on frosted Queen Ann’s Lace in Life in the Bogs. To read a beautiful modern fairy tale about the Queen of Air and Storm, visit Elizabeth Yon’s “Sweet May: A Fable.”

“Winter” was one of those songs written in a moment, in a winter where snow alternated with grey skies and brown earth. This recording is a “first take” for both the piano and vocal. The visuals are all from my garden.  Enjoy!

All music making is collaborative in nature.  A special thanks to Barbara Nissman for contributing her master’s touch on the piano to this song and Mike Tomaro for his haunting soprano sax improvisations. And as always, to my gifted husband Bill Purse, who generously shares his skills as audio engineer and producer in my artistic endeavors.

Winter, ©2009 Lynn Emberg Purse All RIghts Reserved

Winter, snow falling down
Winter, the world is gray and brown, gray and brown and sometimes white
for a night and a day, then all is gray

Autumn in leaves of gold
Springtime, a thousand shades of green unfold to summer
with its joyous Joseph’s Coat of colors, endless colors, endless colors . . .

Winter, an artist’s sketch in charcoal
so clearly etched against a cloud filled sky
Subtle and dark, lovely and stark in gentle tones of gray
and brown and sometimes white
for a night and a day, then all turns gray
Winter today

Soft clouds, soft snow, soft browns, whites and grays
Winter today

Text and media of “A Song for the Winter Solstice” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved. Please do not reblog.

Father Christmas: A Musical Christmas Card

We have long considered creating an online musical Christmas card instead of sending paper cards and Christmas letters; this is the year that it happens.  “Father Christmas” was composed from a dream that my husband had of his father.  Bill handed me the text and music for the chorus, I completed the text and music for the verses and bridge and scored it for keyboards and percussion.  Our friend Judy joined us to record it for the “Christmas at Duquesne, Vol. 2” CD.  Now we would like to share the video version with our friends and families as our Christmas greeting this year.  May the blessings of love and peace be with you throughout the coming year. Enjoy!

Father Christmas Lyrics
©2008 Lynn & Bill Purse, All rights reserved

Father Christmas, Father Time
Mother Earth in ancient rhyme
Help the angels sing your name
I’ll see you Father, once again

Christmas seen through childish eyes
Glitter gold and treasures prized,
and yet around each childish heart
the warmth of love and family start

A world of sorrow, a world of pain,
a world in which there seems no gain.
But nonetheless, remember this,
a world was won by a child of grace

Looking back on memories, I see the joy of family
A father’s love, a mother’s joy for all their children, girl and boy

Fathers, mothers, listen now
Sisters, brothers, make this vow
to love each other on this earth
and share the bonds of love and mirth

Lynn Emberg Purse, vocals and keyboards; Bill Purse, vocals and percussion, sound engineer and producer; Judith Bowman, keyboards. A special thanks to my niece and great niece Jessica and Olivia and to my mother and my husband for allowing me to film them, and to Michael for providing the red rose.

Soundtrack on the “Christmas at Duquesne, Vol. 2” CD available at the Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music, 412-396-6080.  All proceeds go towards scholarships for Duquesne University music students.

Another Christmas music post that you may enjoy – Keeping Christmas

Text and media of “Father Christmas: A Musical Christmas Card” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved

Keeping Christmas

. . .and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well . . .  May that be truly said of us, and all of us!  “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

Many years ago, I went on an overseas musical tour to entertain the troops during the holidays. I didn’t think it would bother me to be away for the holidays but Christmas Eve found me in tears. In a lovely tropical land, but with nothing to give as gifts except stale candy and magazines from the tiny PX, and performing Christmas music for an audience that was in holiday denial, I was sorry I had agreed to the trip. A fortuitous invitation to a midnight mass changed everything for me. On a warm tropical night, in a soaring cathedral built of Philippine mahogany but with no walls, people gathered by candlelight to celebrate Christmas. Sweet voices rose in singing “Silent Night” to the accompaniment of acoustic guitars, the original instrument used for that lovely carol. I felt all preconceptions and expectations about the holiday slip away from me – the night was magical, a quiet miracle. When I returned home, I remembered Scrooge’s change of heart and vowed to “keep Christmas” any time I had the chance but also to remember that it was bigger than custom and ritual.

Jump forward 25 years. When asked to write and record a pop style song for a Christmas CD, I remembered that remarkable Christmas Eve. The lyrics were written in ten minutes during a chamber music concert on the back of the program. Influenced by the music that was being performed at the time, I included two violins and a cello in the score and “Christmas In My Heart” was recorded for the “Christmas at Duquesne, Vol. 2 CD”.

This song is dedicated to everyone who finds themselves away from home during the holidays, with a gentle reminder that you carry the real meaning inside of you. Trust that magic will happen.

Christmas in My Heart

©2008 Lynn Emberg Purse, All rights reserved

If there was no tree this year, no rows of twinkling lights,
no ornaments, no bells to ring, no frosty snowmen bright.
I’d miss the cheerful bustle with which the season starts,
but no matter where I find myself, I’ll keep Christmas in my heart.

If there was nobody singing carols, no cups of Christmas cheer,
no bows, no boxes, no ribbons to tie, no special gifts to share.
I’d miss the sounds, the sights, the smells with which the season starts,
but no matter where I find myself, I’ll keep Christmas in my heart.

I may be so far away, missing everyone I love,
Standing on unfamiliar ground where nothing looks like home.

Yet in a quiet moment, in a starry silent night
the shortest day is over and the dawn is growing bright.
I sing an alleluia and a candle lights the dark.
No matter where I find myself, no matter where I find myself,
no matter where we find ourselves,
we’ll keep Christmas in our hearts, in our hearts.

Lynn Emberg Purse, Vocals and keyboards; Bill Purse, bass, sound engineer and producer; Rachel Stegeman and Charles Stegeman, violins; Chris Bromley, cello; Billy Kuhn, drums. CD available for purchase from the Duquesne University Mary Pappert School of Music, 412-396-6080. All proceeds go to support scholarships for music students.

A special thanks to those who provided photos, especially Andrew Fichter and Michael Ortiz.  Many photos were also provided by Photos8.org and Photos Public Domain – please support those public domain/creative commons websites that provide beautiful photos at no cost and support artistic creativity.

Another Christmas post you may like: Father Christmas

Text and media of “Keeping Christmas” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved