Friday, October 16, 2009

In Which I Revel in Medieval Intellectual Awakenings

Avram and I have maintained for years that we prefer experiences to accruing physical belongings or gifts. Having said that, we have also struggled to live up to this ideal. Countless times I have put off going to Kirtland, only a two and a half hour drive, because of timing, or money (we want to spend the night), or whatnot, but I've spent the amount of money again and again on random things at home, and I've definitely put in my fair share of Saturdays reading blogs and taking naps. Perhaps because we are a materialistic society, perhaps because collecting stuff is so much easier than doing activities, but I have noticed that as Americans we spend most of our lives building up belongings, and not necessarily memories.

A week ago Avram through his university was informed of an Early Music concert series here in Columbus; early music meaning medieval and renaissance. We had discussed getting an "experience" instead physical gifts for ourselves for Christmas, but had not found anything to tempt us both, until this appeared. When we found that the first of the six concerts was to by the Anonymous 4, a group I already knew and liked, in a fit of excitement we mailed out our subscription for all six concerts that very day. Avram getting student prices at half cost sweetened the deal a lot. On top of all this, we even worked out babysitting for all six concerts through trading with a family in our ward, so that is planned as well.

One of the major reasons I married Avram was I like how we connected intellectually. Five and a half years and two kids later, when I'm a stay at home Mom and he's a Ph.d. student, sometimes I feel like he kept the intellectuality, and I have de-evolved to where I can only talk about what current fantasy book I've read, or what my decorating plans are for our home. Signing up for these concerts made me feel intellectual, and stimulated mentally, and I hadn't even attended them yet! Another highlight was that this meant Avram and had an automatic date planned until April. Natural dating is not something we have developed in our relationship.

Despite this being a Christmas present, the Concerts began tonight, and run through April at one a month, skipping December. So this evening Avram and I put on our fancy, yet subdued academic intellectual clothing - Harris Tweed for Avram, and a brown skirt and pink sweater for me, and we actually spent some time alone together not in the confines of our own home.

We drove to Capital University here in greater Columbus, and were very pleased with the antiquity of the concert hall we met in. Ambiance is very important, and there is nothing like decorated finials and elaborate ceilings to help me appreciate music. The Anonymous 4, whom we saw this evening, is a group of four women who sing accapella. The concert was better than hoped for - the harmonies were sublime, the subject matter - a day's worth of music from a Spanish Nunnery containing the Los Huelgos Codex in the 13th century, from Metins to Mass to other Latin names I can't remember, to the ending Night songs - the subject matter was Medieval and wonderful. By the second song I was ready to become a Medieval Nun - I told Avram this, but for some reason he didn't want to join me. And, I felt my IQ rising by the Motet. If the concert had lasted any longer, I would have been able to discuss in relevant musical terms that historical importance of the Polyphonic manuscripts that were sung by women - apparently a shocking/somewhat unheard of matter in the Catholic Church. Since the concert did end, I can only quote in parrot-like manner what the 20 minute lecuturor proceeding the concert told us of this matter. If I could spend a whole day listening to this type of performance, I would almost have a master's degree by proxy, I am sure.

Afterwards to help us in our achievement of intellectual transcendence (plus perhaps to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Early Music concert series), there was a wine and cheese reception. Avram and I gathered smoked Gouda, smoked provolone, and Muenster, along with dried apricots and pistachios, and passing by the wine, filled our glasses with virginal punch. Then we sat and discussed the Greek loan words into the Latin texts, the supreme importance of Mary, and the Mary Cult in Medieval Christianity - seeing as almost every song spoke of and to Mary and her role as the star of the sea (stella maris) and her mediation with Christ.

I know that tomorrow morning I'll be back to talking about the Ward Halloween Party next week, and what this week's schedule looks like, and what so-and-so is doing in their life currently, but for now I revel in feeling alive and independent from my two loved, yet needy, daughters.


  1. I know what you mean. Every now and then I'm struck by something that gets my intellectual wheels turning and for a while I feel alive. It's a fun feeling.

  2. what a perfect date night! i love having great intelectual conversations! the year cory and i had season tickets to hale center theatre was the best becuase of the instant dates already planned and payed for each month. I wish there was more culture like that in midland!

  3. Thank you for this post. It was a nice trip for me, too, away from the mundane and nose-wiping reality that is my life at the moment.

  4. That is awesome that you're doing that! Just last week, Paul and I were talking about how we'd like to start going on real dates to operas. We've both been learning piano pieces from different operas, so it's a newfound appreciation we share. What a great idea to make that your Christmas present!

  5. I know what you mean about not always feeling like the intellectual match for a phd husband. But those ward Halloween parties are good stuff! And someone has to plan them!
    Sounds like a great outing!

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