Asni: Multimedia Art & Design
DIGITAL PRINTS now available on Ebay • Greeting card selection now available on Etsy • ASNI'S GARDEN: Original Watercolour paintings available on Etsy
SHEET MUSIC: Diego Fernandez de Huete: Compendio numeroso – original music for harp from baroque Spain
TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME MUSIC: Harp sheet music store * Travels in Middle Earth CD • 700 Years of Pop CD
Asni the Harper digital downloads: CD Baby ** Amazon MP3 * iTunes
NOW AVAILABLE: New Zealand Film Locations map: A3 poster * Snowflake Christmas/seasonal card * Queen Galadriel holiday card * Easter greeting cards
- In this newsletter:
- *** Silly Season
- *** News and Current Projects
- *** Cool Things Friends Do: Singing and Writing Women's Histories
What's been going on this month? I hardly know. I met the prince of Serendip and he smiled at me. But can I smile back? I was declared mad by a madman, and a knight donned his armour and exploded on my behalf, no saneman would think me insane. Serendip! How unlikely is that?
Next thing I knew was the proof I needed, but is it proof that the madman was right about my madness? Or would I not rather wish to be so wrong? Who cares about vanilla anyway. I came to you with a heartache and the heart skips skips skips a beat, glory, glory, glory to the Temple-on-Lot! A dragon is rising, the cave holds her no longer. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
Then I put on a necklace of snake skulls and brought out my rattle, and danced away from Orpheus' sweet song. The old totem pole we have danced around for all too long. I found my sisters, sweet sisters in a meadow, stracciatella gingernut zest, such a fragrant flowering meadow. We drank to victory and justice found: Sips of sweet blood wine! Bugger them all, we talked all night and all day about the things that are not talked about. Except now we are hurrah! My strong and beautiful sisters.
Meanwhile my demon was howling inside me, his days are numbered and he knows it. A last ditch attempt to bite me again, but he no longer gives me pain and I let him go, let him go in a puff of bad smelling hot air. The dragon is rising from her lair, shouldn't have looked back! You no longer define my life. Never loved you anyway.
Now you know as much as I don't but I tell you this: when the prince of Serendip looks at me like the sun has just risen, his warmth so scares me, I must have passed it by blindly half a dozen times on my way. Year after year of many fish, step step high rise, happy goat everyone! And a bunch of hares. He and I dance a dance of swords and daggers, the grace of it! Amazing grace. I want to make your life better.
This time, I will return this smile.
Asni's Garden: Waterlily Gloire du Temple-sur-Lot
News & Current Projects
Snapping back into work mode hasn't really happened this month – so, only one new painting to show, of my Gloire du Temple-sur-Lot waterlily in blossom! Hands down the most beautifullest and magicallest waterlily ever. It started to blossom on Waitangi day, and was still going a few days later so of course I had to paint it. How could I not.
I am also currently working on my very own version of Quetzalcoatl, which I will do my very best to finish this coming weekend so that it has time to dry before I submit it for the next Wai Art group exhibition in conjunction with the upcoming Chocol'art festival. Which sounds like fun, and a bit sticky.
Most of my creative time this month has been taken up with my home redecoration project, which has been dragging on quite a bit due to hot sunny weather and general low energy levels. In the end, it took me a full three weeks until I had managed to peel all the old wallpaper from the living room walls! This last week, I've been making some good progress: I have now painted all the doors and windows, and begun to rip out the old carpet to uncover the wooden floorboards underneath – which is going to look just splendid! – but alas, I am still a few days short of putting the wallpaper on the walls, much as I had hoped to post a photo in this newsletter.
I have, however, started on the dining room: It has now a freshly painted ceiling, and fortunately the old wallpaper has been coming off a whole lot easier than in the living room, so with a bit of good effort, hopefully I will manage to strip and polish all those floorboards before I'm heading off north for WOMAD. I had better: the nights are already getting cooler again, and by the second half of March, I will probably want to spend my evenings with a nice cozy fire! For the moment, most of my furniture including my comfy sofa is parked in the office, which makes for a bit of a cluttered experience.
But it's alright, we'll get there, and I can already see that it will be so very worth the effort.
On Amazing Stories, I have continued my mini series of magical birds with a post about the Firebird, and wished you all a Happy Goat Year – my birth sign! Charming and creative, not to mention very sexy. That's me in a nutshell, isn't it? -- Visit my author page, with a list of all my blog posts on Amazing Stories.
So close! My CD Baby suffered a relapse last month when a CD sale got cancelled and the money reimbursed – but now it is back up and missing less than two dollars to reach the sum for my next payout! Help me make it happen for my birthday next week. You can download tracks on CD Baby directly, or on iTunes, Amazon Mp3, and a bunch of other online music providers (just search for Asni the Harper).
The garden is beginning to bounce back from the summer drought: the last two years, I was living off green beans at this time of year, but this year they somehow didn't really make it, so I have been suffering a bit of a vegetable shortage right smack in the middle of summer, which is sad and a case of bad planning – or maybe just being too busy with other stuff, and lacking energy to do it all.
It's looking good for next month though: the capsicums and tomatoes are coming along nicely and should be ready for harvest in a couple of weeks. The okra is also doing well this year, so it looks like this year I'll actually be harvesting some of that! But first, it will be cabbages: then the question will be, should I cook them fresh, make them into coleslaw, or make sauerkraut? Choices. I've already started harvesting my apples: a big load this year, so I'll be busy cooking and preserving them! And the walnuts shouldn't be too far away.
Further in garden improvements, I have been taking advantage of a special at the local garden centre and added to my selection of roses: an old-fashioned floribunda rose Gruss an Aachen (yes, sometimes I buy them for their name), a New Zealand bred climbing rose Kaimai Sunset which appears to have a most interesting colour – it's got a few buds but they haven't opened yet so I'll let myself be surprised! – and another English rose, a bright pink one called Radio Times(one might begin to suspect that I mostly buy them for their name). Hopefully I'll be able to post some photos in my next newsletter!
I have also added another couple of fruit trees to my collection: a Seville orange tree – they have the most aromatic peel for making marmalade – and a tiny little cutting of a sloe. I have been waiting to acquire one for the last couple of years and put it in its designated place behind the pond by the fence, but I'll wait for winter, or maybe even next year: I don't want it to be choked by the weeds and grass, so I may want to keep it in a pot until it is a bit bigger! It can join the two wee jabuticaba trees I bought last year, and the two rowans and one tropical guava which I have managed to sprout from seeds this year.
Next thing on the list? I've decided to get myself a bunny rabbit. Wish the poor animal luck.
Music for the Concerto delle Donne: Secret Lover by Ensemble Tenet, New York
Cool Things Friends Do: Singing and Writing Women's Histories
Jolle Greenleaf is yet another friend from my early music days, whom I recently got back in touch with on Facebook. She is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for a CD recording featuring music for the Concerto delle Donne, and other "Three ladies" – that is, three soprano – ensembles that were all the rage in Italy in the late 16th and early 17th century.
I have accompanied some of this repertory myself in the past, it is truly some of the most intoxicating and sensual music ever written! As an extra bonus, it features music not only written for professional women performers, but also by professional women composers – Barbara Strozzi and Francesca Caccini.
I can vouch for it that the project is in very good hands (or throats!) with Jolle and her singer colleagues from the New York based ensemble Tenet – listen to an audio sample from their Monteverdi recording here or here. You can find more audio samples on the ensemble's website by clicking on the individual recordings.
"For centuries, it was forbidden for women to make music in public. In some cases, major female composers remained sequestered in convents, writing and performing only for fellow nuns. However, the outpouring of scientific, artistic, and musical discovery during the Renaissance ("rebirth") in 16th century Italy gave way to many new forms of expression, including opera. While women were still disallowed from the opera stage, new opportunities were arising elsewhere in the secular world.
At the end of the 16th century, the Italian Duke of Ferrara began hosting private events shrouded in secrecy ("musica segreta") featuring the concerto delle donne, an ensemble of renowned professional women musicians who were hired to entertain guests of the court. By all accounts, these women were phenomenally gifted and they inspired composers to write extraordinarily florid and virtuosic music for them. Word of "the three ladies" spread like wildfire through the rival courts, and before long, female trios sprung up all over Italy leading to some narrow awareness and limited acceptance of women composers and performers such as Barbara Strozzi and Francesca Caccini, among many. Some lived and worked in wealthy courts while others lived in convents, but it is clear that these women greatly contributed to the music of their day, as well as paving the road for the recognition and acceptance of female musicians in later centuries and even today.
Through the voices of sopranos Jolle Greenleaf, Molly Quinn, and Virginia Warnken, TENET's new project "The Secret Lover" hopes to not only explore the secret music of these women, but also delve into their secret lives, loves, and losses.
WHAT WE ARE DOING...
We are making a CD recording of this beautiful music. Some of the pieces we hope to record have never been recorded, so this would be the first time in hundreds of years that some of these gorgeous solos, duets, and trios will be heard via recordings! We are aiming for a June release.
WHAT YOUR DONATIONS COVER...
All pledges received will go towards the packaging design, recording expenses, duplication, and marketing for the disc. We have already found a wonderful space to record that fits the music beautifully and we've assembled a world-class team of photographers, graphic artists, sound engineers, and producers to help us make "The Secret Lover" look and sound as beautiful as it possibly can!
We hope you'll contribute and grab some awesome rewards as a thank you for your generosity! And if you love what we're doing, please help us spread the word about this fantastic project by telling a friend too!
We really can't make this project all it can be without you, so please be part of TENET's "The Secret Lover” and help us spread the beauty and history of these amazing women!"
Fellow New Zealand musician, lyricist and writer Hinemoana Baker is working on a book called Dear Mother Basilisse – a project which will investigate her family history, and her own struggles with not being able to perpetuate the family line. I'll be very interested to read this book when it is done! Perhaps it will inspire me to work on a similar investigation of my own – a project which I've been sensing in my future for a little while now.
Hinemoana is currently raising funds on Boosted, a New Zealand based equivalent of Kickstarter. So if you are interested in this project, give her a boost! She has already reached her fundraising goal, but I am sure it is tightly budgeted and more is always better – or else buy and read her book when it is done!
Here is what she says about her project:
My name is Hinemoana Baker, and on my Dad's side I'm from Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tahu, Te Āti Awa and Pākehā descent. My marae are Kuku marae in Ōhau, and Ōtākou down on the peninsula where the albatross nest. My mum's ancestors are from Bavaria and England.
For the last year I have been the Creative New Zealand Victoria University Writer in Residence in Wellington. This position has allowed me to begin writing a new kind of project - for me anyway (I'm known more as a poet). I've written 40,000 words of a new book, currently called 'Dear Mother Basillise'.
This book tells two haunting family stories: my father's time spent as a child in a Catholic orphanage in Nelson, and alongside that, my own story of trying to become a parent and experiencing infertility. On a wider level the book is about whakapapa, genealogy and family. It's about losing a parent, about what it really means to be a parent, what it means to lose the opportunity to do that. It's about me connecting with my father through our shared experiences of grief.
It's been an amazing year. Wakeful nights staying at the orphanage where Dad was as a kid; tearful interviews with elderly men who were children there; crying with laughter sharing stories with other women who, like me, have spent years trying to conceive babies of their own. It's been a year of stories: tales of kids punished, kids forced to bury their toys in wet cement. Kids so hungry they ate the millet paste they were supposed to feed to the ducks.
I've cried on photos of kingfishers and syringes, laid on the graves of nuns and smelled the dusty door of a priest's mausoleum. I've wondered at memories of dead horses shot by children, of children who never existed, and babies who nearly did. I've counted the days of my inescapable menstrual cycle, because I can't stop doing that, though I've long since stopped trying to get pregnant. I've stayed at a convent where now the only nun is made of concrete. I've marvelled at the hieroglyphics of fertility charts I filled out for years on end.
Many friends, whānau and funding organisations have supported me, and with their help, I've produced and published three books of poetry and four CDs, and I've edited and contributed to many more. I've travelled all around New Zealand and to Indonesia, Australia, Fiji, Europe and the US to read, perform and write. I have been incredibly fortunate in my creative life.
This article from the Nelson Evening Mail gives a bit more detail about this current project.
My website gives some background about me and my work so far.
I've never felt such a drive to continue working full time in order to complete a creative project. Perhaps because of the subject matter, and the age of my father, the momentum for this book is very powerful. Most books take a couple of years to write, and this one's no exception. I need one more year of writing and researching full time to take my book to the point where I can submit it to my publisher. I'm asking my 'Boosted' supporters to help me with the first six months of that.
I would so appreciate any koha you feel to give, no matter how small. Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu :-)
Mauri ora x Hinemoana
Hinemoana Baker: Dear Mother Basilisse
To this I can only add,
Arohanui, from Asni