Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Another Perfect Spring Day

Today was another perfect Spring day, so after morning chores I popped up to the Rail Trail for a brief walk-around. It's greening up nicely, the birds are making the usual cacophonous symphony, and the flowers are blooming. I also stopped by the Burd Run riparian repair project park, but it's still pretty much flooded out from last year's and this year's more-than-abundant rains. So today's Spring flowers were all shot on the Rail Trail. Enjoy!

Walking on the Rail Trail
Crab Apple blossoms
A patch of Spring Beauty (yes, that's the name of this particular flower)
© 2019 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day 2019

“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”
John Muir 

Today is Earth Day, and luckily I'm off work, the first day of my "weekend". This year I decided to dedicate my Earth Day photo shoot to the small gems of Mama Gaia's palette, the myriad flowers bursting into bloom this time of year, and especially the small, even tiny, ones that require that I use my camera's macro setting and get down on my belly and elbows to get close enough to reveal their beauty. This approach was partially inspired by Peter Mayer's song "Awake", which approaches Nature from a child's perspective. I posted it on Facebook this morning, and it's also posted here below the photos. Happy Earth Day, friends! Get out and wrap yourself in Mama Gaia's beauty; your soul will thank you for it.

Tulips and Narcissi in the gardens at McLean House
Garlic Mustard along the Dykeman Walking Trail
From death springs life - a seedling sprouting in a rotten log
Common Violets in the Dykeman Spring wetland
Ground Ivy, aka Creeping Charlie, along the Upland Trail on the way to the meadow
A sea of Wild Mustard up on the meadow

Photos © 2019 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Bach - Easter Sunday

Bach wrote five cantatas and an oratorio for Easter, some of which I've posted here on Easters past. This year I've chosen one of his earlier ones - BWV 31, Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret (Heaven laughs! The earth rejoices, Weimar 1715). It's very appropriate music for the central celebration of the Church, complete with trumpet fanfares and jubilant choruses. Here's the late Craig Smith on this most majestic of Bach's cantatas:
Bach Cantata BWV 31 is a work from Bach's first great maturity. Written in 1715 in Weimar, it is one of the most majestic of the Weimar cantatas. It opens with a brilliant, energetic sinfonia, setting the stage for a wonderful, vibrant chorus. As is typical of Bach after the outgoing opening, the work goes inward. The bass recitative and aria have a starkness in contrast to the chorus. The tenor aria is much warmer and friendlier. It has a marvelous jaunty tune which curiously only appears in the strings, the tenor always singing an obbligato. The high point of the cantata is the heavenly soprano aria: only Bach could lead us to this transcendent, inward spot on Easter Day. A simple, almost folklike tune in the oboe is mirrored in the soprano. Against that, all of the strings play the chorale "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist" which is then sung in a rich, five-voice setting to bring the cantata to a quiet close. 
© Craig Smith
Today's video is from a performance in 2017 by the Ensemble Pygmalion under the direction of Raphaël Pichon. Enjoy!

Photo © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Bach on Good Friday - The St. Matthew Passion

Bach wrote his greatest work for the Good Friday of 1727, his monumental St. Matthew Passion. This description by musicologist David Gordon says it best: "The massive yet delicate work, with its multiple levels of theological and mystical symbolism, its powerful and dramatic biblical teachings, and its psychological insight, is one of the most challenging and ambitious musical compositions in the entire Western tradition." [Note: You can read Gordon's excellent essay on this great work here. I highly recommend it!]

I've chosen the beautiful performance of this, Bach's greatest work, by the orchestra and chorus of the Collegium Vocale Gent, under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe. A warning: Save listening to this until you're settled for the day or night; it's almost three hours long. Enjoy!

Photo © 2006 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

After the Rains Comes Greening and Blooming

Heavy rains and warmer temperatures were the order of business for the last week or so, and the result was an outburst of greening and blooming over the weekend. This morning's weekly walk in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park yielded a treasure trove of color and activity, including a rare visit from a Pied-bill Grebe on the north duck pond. Come take a look.

Branch Creek is getting colorful
The Dykeman Walking Trail is greening up nicely
Crabapple blossoms along the trail
A male Red-winged Blackbird in the wetland
Spring color in the wetland
Spring along the banks of the north duck pond
A Painted Turtle in the bog pool
A Pied-bill Grebe on the north duck pond
© 2019 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Bach - Palm Sunday

Bach composed one cantata for Palm Sunday - BWV 182, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (King of heaven, welcome, Weimar, 1714). This is one of Bach's earliest cantatas, and as such it's written for a very small chamber ensemble; the effect is very simple and very intimate, a surprising thing for the celebration of Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. One wonders how Bach would have written this during the peak of his career in Leipzig. In any case, here's the late Craig Smith of Emmanuel Music on the subject:
Bach Cantata BWV 182 was one of the earliest works written in Weimar and is thus one of Bach's earliest cantatas. It has a charming chamber-sized orchestration of recorder, one violin, two violas, cello and organ. The opening sinfonia has the sound of early morning about it. The recorder and solo violin trade off piquant dotted lines against the pizzicato of the other strings. The opening chorus is delightfully child-like in its portrayal of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. The solo bass intones a line from Psalm 40 as an introduction to the stirring aria with the strings. The solo recorder returns as the obbligato to the poignant alto aria. This is the beginning of the transition of the cantata from the joyous entrance into Jerusalem to a meditation on the Passion. The continuo aria with tenor is a further passion-like piece. It would not be out of place in one of the Passion settings. After the penultimate            chorale prelude on the tune "Jesu Kreuz, Leiden und Pein," the light chorus "So lasset uns gehen in Salem der Freuden" ends the cantata.

© Craig Smith
Today's performance is from a new offering from the J.S. Bach Foundation of Trogen, Switzerland, under the direction of Rudolf Lutz. Enjoy!

Photo © 2019 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

More Signs of Spring

I went walking this morning to find more signs of Spring to shoot. I went up King St. to the Peace Garden in the Shippensburg Memorial Park; not much going on, just a few dabs of color, which I got. Then off to the path that runs parallel to the railroad tracks next to the park, where I got two more pictures, and especially the one of the Thyme-leaved Speedwell, whose flowers are only about 2mm across at most. Yeah, I did the belly crawl again today. Then back home via Westover Rd., where there's a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Not much going on there yet, but I did get a shot of the Daffodil patch next to the sidewalk. Altogether it was a good hike!

A rock garden along West King St.
Buds on a Weeping Cherry in the Peace Garden
Flowering ground cover in the Peace Garden
The path paralleling the railroad tracks is greening up
Thyme-leaved Speedwell on the path
Daffodils along Westover Rd.
© 2019 by A. Roy Hilbinger