My Heart My Mother

We started working on music yesterday, and it’s gorgeous.  It turns out this cast can sing.

Our sound designer/ composer is the gifted Phillip Owen, who also created music for 2010’s Measure for Measure at Opera House Arts.  So I’ve gotten to sing and play some fiddle on his music before, and it’s a treat to be working with him again this year. Especially after hearing the ensemble tackle a few of the compositions he’s created for us. The style in which he’s composing is Sacred Harp Singing, a shape singing tradition with roots in 18th-century English parish music and the American south. The genre is new to me, so I consulted the internets and came across this description by a Sacred Harp singer: “this 3- or 4-part music did not imitate European musical tastes of the time but instead exhibited a stark, rugged, and often lively style representing a fusion of elements of Anglo-Celtic folk music with those of medieval to baroque European church music.”  …Ummm, yummy.

The music we sang today was just delicious.  It hovers in the air of memory between the church choirs of my Catholic childhood and some rough medieval magic chant.  And here’s where it gets really exciting:  the text that we’re singing in this evocative form is all from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

My heart my mother,

My heart my mother,

My heart my coming into being!

Are you tantalized yet?

You go in through the Disk.

You speak with the Disk.

You speak with the shining ones

I am the Sun’s eye,

Yea,

I am in my egg,

In my egg.

I make my nest in the limits of heaven.

You are in the Sun’s eye

When it closes.

Come join us in our Egypt on the hill in Stonington!


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