Saturday evening’s WaterFire Providence – an award-winning sculpture installation featuring 100 blazing bonfires floating atop the water of Providence’s rivers – was capped with a terrific Brown University Chorus concert of Water and Fire-theme music. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful fall Saturday of activities during the university’s family weekend.
After a late-night Friday dinner at Gracie’s (if you go to Providence you must eat at Gracie’s, and then have breakfast at Ellie’s, the restaurant’s partner bakery), we slept in a bit on Saturday but made it up in time for a fascinating lecture as part of the Family Weekend Forums. Professor of Medicine Richard Besdine spoke on Fit at 50, Sexy at 70, Nimble at 90: The Fundamentals of Healthy Aging to a room full of parents who looked a great deal like us! (He added the “Nimble at 90” part of the title on the fly, and noted that our children’s granddaughters – Andrew and Claire’s granddaughters – would have a life expectancy of 100.) While there wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before, Dr. Besdine did present some sobering data about health care and healthy living in the U.S.
But he did it all with a dry sense of humor…as typified in cartoon caption that read,
What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?
But I’m here to talk about music…not successful aging.
The Brown University Chorus is a group of highly talented musicians under the able direction of Frederick Jodry. Andrew is one of the tenors, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know Fred a bit and hearing the chorus whenever possible. Saturday evening, the program consisted of five Songs of Water along with six Firesongs based on Italian Renaissance texts by the contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen, all wrapped up with Thomas Morley’s Fyer, Fyer. Among the water songs, the Robert Pearsall Full fathom five and Victoria’s Super flumina Babylonis (Psalm 137 – By the waters of Babylon) were wonderful. Candice was over-the-top excited to see that the chorus was singing one of her favorite pieces, The Water is Wide (in the John Rutter arrangement entitled O, waly, waly.)
The firesong madrigals were terrific, as the fire that was featured was that wonderful Italian fire of love.
Eyes bright and clear,
You set me on fire, you, but my heart feels
Delight in the blazing fire, not pain.
Following the concert, Andrew, Candice, and I strolled along the riverside for more than hour, enjoying the sights, sounds, and people of WaterFire.
Not content with two evenings of wonderful music (having attended the Brown Madrigals concert on Friday evening…more on that later), we made the decision to attend Central Congregational Church on Sunday morning in order to hear the Gloria by French composer Francis Poulenc. It was wonderful – ranging from “exuberant to haunting and introspective” as described in the program notes. The final Amen was such a delicious ending that the soloist (a Brown voice teacher) and choir sang it at the end of the Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris and then again – as a final coda – following the Benediction.
More to come…