Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why I'm Listening to Christmas Music in August

ETA: Oh, here you can see a 5-minute clip of what I'm talking about!

This summer has been intense, particularly July and August. I feel like I've been running everywhere, seeing everyone, and my house never seems to get clean. The biggest project of the summer happened this week. Jennie and I taught our workshop. We were hired by a suburban school district to present a 15-hour training on creating a culture of, and using best practice for, assessment. I bet you wish you were there, don't you?

We spent untold hours creating the course, then went live with it on Monday. It was a combination of rewarding, exhausting, frustrating and motivating. But the district definitely seems to want to hire us to do more of these, so we're already figuring out new ideas and things we'll do differently.

Then yesterday, as soon as I got home and before I'd even gotten out of my extremely unfamiliar business clothing, the phone rang from a local community college where I had sent my resume ages ago as a mere formality, never expecting to hear anything. Of course now they're scheduling for the imminent fall quarter and are desperate for teachers. I have an interview tomorrow, but I think it's one of those sort of formalities--where pretty much the only way they won't give me a class is if I bring a bowie knife with me or something.

In the midst of all this, of course I've been spending a lot of time in the car. Chuck and Rome gave me a CD for my birthday that was on my amazon wishlist, but I hadn't thought much about it or really heard anything of it either. It just sounded like something nice I'd like to have around for the holidays in a few months, so I was happy when they gave it to me. Something compelled me to pop it in the player though, and oh my stars. I canNOT stop listening to it.

As the title says, it's songs of joy and peace so you're not going to get a lot of the traditional carol/hymns on here. Fortunately, you're not going to get the usual holiday fare of "The Christmas Song" (bane of my existence), "Frosty the Snowman," "Winter Wonderland," et al.

Instead, Yo-Yo Ma has taken "Dona Nobis Pacem" (give us peace) and woven it throughout a gorgeous collection of...I don't know what. World music? Folk music? Forgotten classics?

Does it sound exciting yet? Well, The other theme of the CD is "joy" and did you see that "Yo-Yo Ma and Friends" in the title? Basically, the album sounds like the happiest, most joyful, lovely holiday party ever. It makes me want to start making a bunch of hors d'oeuvres and have a houseful of people over. Some of the songs include (besides the running theme of Dona Nobis Pacem, which pops up in lovely, unexpected places all over the album) "You Couldn't Be Cuter," (Diana Krall), "Touch the Hand of Love," (Renee Fleming), "Here Comes the Sun" (James Taylor--I know!!!!!), "My Favorite Things" and "Auld Lang Syne" (Chris Botti), and the gorgeous, mystical "Wexford Carol" (Allison Krauss). Lots and lots of other people appear too playing all sorts of instruments from the banjo to the bagpipe, all accompanied by Yo-Yo's cello.

It's so hard to pick a favorite, but mine has to be "A Christmas Jig/Mouth of the Toblique Reel" with Natalie MacMaster (who I love so much I have an entire pandora station built on her). That one is often at top volume in the car. When Elaine first heard it, she yelled, "Mom, is this Riverdance?" "No," I yelled back (why turn it down?) "It's YO-YO!!" "You're teasing!" she said. But I finally convinced her that someone with that name created this awesome party music. And now as soon as either of the girls gets in the car, they say, "Let's listen to Yo-Yo!" They love to get the CD booklet out and identify all the performers and their instruments too.

And here's an added bonus--the CD comes with a "making of" DVD so you can see all the behind-the-scenes stuff. You can see James Taylor's fabulous recording studio in a converted barn. You can see Yo-Yo Ma and Renee Fleming improvising (wow). You can see Natalie and her band jamming and doing an Irish jig. You can see Chris Botti. Did I mention Chris Botti? You can see how nice and down-to-earth Yo-Yo Ma is. You can see all sorts of funny or lovely moments any music fan/lover will appreciate.

So, if you're thinking about Christmas during August, which you're probably not, or you're looking for one of the coolest, most fun hour-plus musical experiences you've ever heard (and why wouldn't you be?) hurry and buy this CD/DVD. If you don't believe me, go to amazon where you can listen to little samples, though that can't possibly do it justice.

Seriously, it's Yo-Yo. How could you go wrong? I wish I lived next door to him. I'm sure the feeling is mutual.


Melanie said...

I love Yo-Yo! I have several of his CDs but not this one - but not for long - what a great review! I'm glad your assessment presentation went so well and it's always so glorious to have the first one behind you - congrats on your success with it!
Good luck with the interview today - I'm sure you'll knock their socks off! Let me know what you'll be teaching once you know!

Kacie said...

Yes Yes, I had the Augustino's baked Italian sub and it was amazing! Such a fun little spot.

Juliet said...

I'm truly sure the feeling is mutual!:)

Ann-Marie said...

Yo-Yo would be lucky to live next door to you. Think of all the great Elaine stories he could take to his jam sessions!

Becky said...

If you're in a party mood, I was just (again) looking through one of my favorite party cookbooks--a must have--Uptown Down South: A Collection of Preferred Menus, published by the Greenville Junior League. It includes menues/recipes for everything from "Welcome to the Neighborhood Coffee" to "Mom's Back to School Celebration" to "The Boss Comes to Dinner" to "After the Zoo Cookout." I was feeling the urge to give it a plug since nobody would ever know about it unless they're from Gvl. Don't know why I never mentioned it before. Anyhow...