Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy Easter - early this year!

Well, here we are, on the cusp of Spring, finally, and Easter arrives this very weekend. Earlier than usual, you say? Right you are! We'll talk a little Easter trivia this week before getting to some Easter-related music you might be interested in, courtesy my website, A Web of Fine Music (

I received some of this information courtesy my website designer, the affable Lex Parker of St. Catharines, who is always searching for interesting information to share. First of all, let's talk about Lent, the 46-day period (including Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The word Lent is from the Anglo-Saxon lencten, meaning spring. Lenctentid, or springtide, was the Saxon name for March because March is the month in which days begin to lengthen (also a root of "tent"). The Great Fast, falling as it does largely in the month of March, adopted the term.

Okay, so we're almost at the end of Lent this year, as Holy Week is upon us. So why is Easter so early this year? Well, as you may know, Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, which this year is March 20th. This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar. So, based on that information, Easter can actually be one day earlier than this year, on March 22nd, but that is pretty rare.

Quite frankly, this year is the earliest Easter many of us will ever see in our lifetimes, and only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early before. If you were, say, 95 years old this year, you might have remembered the last time Easter fell on March 23rd, in 1913. The next time Easter will be this early again will be in the year 2228, or 220 years from now. The next time Easter will fall a day earlier than this year, March 22nd, will be in the year 2285, or 277 years from now. The last time it fell on March 22nd was in 1818, so no one alive today has or ever will see it any earlier than this year. Something to think about, right?

So, how do we tie this in with music, which is what we usually write about in this forum? Well for many, myself included, Easter is synonymous with music, and specifically the music written by Johann Sebastian Bach. His several Easter cantatas have been recorded many times over the years, but four of them, numbers 4, 31, 66 and 134 have been collected onto a wonderful two-cd package from Berlin Classics featuring the Thomanerchor, Leipzig, with the Leipzig Gewandaus Orchestra. Very well priced at $ 27.00 plus tax for the collection. Another very well priced Easter collection is Music for Eastertide, featuring various artists and excerpts from Bach's St. Matthew Passion, as well as the cantatas 4, 56, 106 and 134. This is exceptionally well priced at $ 10.00 plus tax, from Edel Classics. Also available at the same price from Berlin Classics, although not Easter-themed but again the music of Bach, is a collection featuring the Kammerorchester Berlin directed by Peter Schreier and soloists Edith Mathis and Theo Adam along with Schreier in performances of Bach's Coffee and Peasant Cantatas. Still not enough Bach for you? How about an exceptionally well-priced 10-cd set from Berlin Classics featuring complete performances of the Mass in B minor; St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion and the Christmas Oratorio? Many ensembles and soloists are featured here, and the price of only $ 60.00 plus tax is truly astounding. All of these collections just arrived and are available for ordering through A Web of Fine Music ( And as always, shipping is free within Canada.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Funny how life works out that way!

Well, it has been a while, hasn't it? Okay, first let me explain where I've been since my last posting in November. Running a music order business ( means November is starting into my busy time of the year. Imagine my dismay when, just as things are getting busy, I lose the motherboard on my computer! Frantic repairs failed and even more frantic shopping for a new system followed, with the end result being a brand spanking new business-class computer with a LONG warranty, just in case. Then it was working on getting back up to speed again with a whole new system while managing the ever-increasing business over the Christmas buying season. My thanks to the attentive staff at Beatties Basics and Compusmart in St. Catharines for giving me the advice I needed to select the right system for my needs.

That should have been the end of it, but it is funny how life gets in the way every now and again. Three days before Christmas, father went into the hospital with a serious infection that kept him there for three weeks. Once he was ready to leave, it was apparent he wasn't ready to go home and live on his own again, so a hastily-arranged search of area retirement residences brought us to the great people who run St. Catharines Place, and they just happened to have room for dear ol' Dad. A move ensued, and then the massive amounts of changing from one home to another: change of address, paying of bills for Dad, preparing to sell his apartment and emptying it of many years of memories. It is hard work, and I don't mind telling people it has been a very difficult roller-coaster of emotions as you try to evaluate every piece in the apartment - do you save it or pitch it? I am still at it, but in the home stretch of preparing the apartment for sale at the end of the month. And Dad? He's doing fine, and looking better every day.

So, that is what has been happening the last few months. There simply have not been enough hours in the day to get everything done, and something literally had to give. So thanks for your patience, and rest assured I will be writing (ranting?) with somewhat more regularity from now on. I want to write about the planned summer music venue planned for Niagara-on-the-Lake, for example, but want to read up on it first and get all the details before I offer my views on the idea. That's for another day...