More Concerts

The Faroese people love music, and during the month of December every music group on the islands is part of a concert somewhere. Saturday evening, the church in Fuglafjørður had a Christmas concert, but for many of us the music started much earlier.

The Lóna choir rehearsed at 1:00 p.m. This is the choir of family members from the í Lon house in Fuglafjørður – my grandfather’s house. We sang for my book-signing party, and then we were asked to sing again for the concert. After the rehearsal, we had “bread” at one of my relatives homes. This bread is very different from bread we would serve in America. There were platters filled with fancy, decorated, open-faced sandwiches, which looked beautiful and tasted delicious. The meal was followed by some more singing (without the choir director) just for the fun of it.

Then I joined some relatives for the drive to the nearby town of Toftir for a concert of Handel’s Messiah with choir, soloists, and orchestra. This wasn’t just the Christmas portion, but was pretty much the entire work, and the music was beautiful. This was the choir that I heard sing in New York four years ago, and there were many familiar faces.

After that concert, we hurried back to Fuglafjørður, arriving just minutes before our concert started. The concert included music by 4 choirs, numerous soloists, and small groups, from Fuglafjørður, plus a special guest musician. We had a break for coffee in the middle, and the entire concert lasted almost four hours.

All in all, I had ten straight hours of music and food – not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

My Fifteen Minutes

The past couple of weeks have been a busy time. I had rescheduled my plane trip home so I could be in the Faroes for several weeks after the publication of my book, and I am glad that I did.

Tuesday, a week ago, I scheduled a phone call to a class of 10 and 11 year old children in California. My daughter is the teacher. Each table group had a question for me – a total of 7 questions. My favorite was “What is it like to be famous?” It seems that 5th grade students think I must be famous, though I’m really not.

Friday, I had an hour to talk with more students. These were students learning English at the business and trade school in Kambsdal, a mile up the road from my house. It was much harder to get them to ask questions. I talked a little about my book, but I spent most of the time talking about cultural differences between the Faroe Islands and America.

The weather was good for the first time in more than a week, so I drove to Tórshavn in the afternoon for a last meeting with the publishers. I picked up a few more books to send to my family in America. They won’t be able to read it, but they can look at the pictures. Of course, the original document in English lives on my computer, and they can read that, if they want to.

Saturday, I was back in Tórshavn again, to sign books at the Rit og Rák bookstore in the SMS shopping center. I missed rehearsals for two different choirs in Fuglafjørður in order to go to the book signing.

Monday, I drove to Tórshavn one more time, for a live radio interview at Cafe Baresso, talking about my book for most of an hour, with a few breaks for some music.

Wednesday evening I will give a talk at the library in Fuglafjørður about writing the book, and I will read a few excerpts from the book. The talk will be in English, and the reading in Faroese.

Looking back at the last few paragraphs, it seems that I have the ability to talk a lot without stopping. This is something I didn’t know about myself until now. I think now is the time to stop.

Christmas Choirs

I may be overdoing things a little bit, but at the moment I am singing in three different choirs. Each choir has a regular rehearsal schedule plus a few extra Christmas rehearsals as well as two or three or maybe four performances. Between choir events and book publishing events, I am keeping pretty busy.

Several years ago I joined the Gøta-Leirvík choir, which has the new name of Eystanljóð (eastern sounds), and I have been with them for several concerts and vocal workshops. In fact, I heard someone from the choir introduce me as “Our American.” Our big event was a concert on Sunday with Eivør and with the Tórshavn Men’s Choir. We sang in Gøta in the afternoon and in Tórshavn in the evening – a long day. We also sang for the tree lighting ceremony in Leirvík last week, and this evening we will sing at the retirement center in Gøta.

This is the second year I will be singing with the Fuglafjørður choir for the Christmas concert. There will be a concert with several choirs and other musicians this coming Saturday. On the fourth Sunday of advent there will be another choir concert, but I will be on an airplane then, somewhere between Copenhagen and California.

There is a new choir that I take a little credit for helping to create. It is a choir of my family, called the Lona Choir, named for my father’s family home, í Lon. This choir sang for the first time for my 60th birthday party two and a half years ago, and then their second performance was for my book-signing party two weeks ago. We will also be singing for the Christmas concerts in the Fuglafjørður church.

It seems that there are only occasional days when I am not singing someplace. Lona choir rehearses on Saturday afternoons. Fuglafjørður choir rehearses on Monday evenings. Eystanljóð choir rehearses on Tuesday evenings. With concerts coming up, it seems each choir is having an extra rehearsal or two.

Both the Fuglafjørður choir and the Lona choir will be part of the Christmas concert on Saturday, 13 December, 19:00, in the Fuglafjørður church.

Advent

There are many similarities between Christmas celebrations here in the Faroes and back home at my church in California. During the first Sunday of Advent, the children from the Sunday School read the Bible story of Jesus’ birth and acted out the Nativity Story. We had angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, wise men, and a baby Jesus. In my church at home, the children read and act the same story during the fourth Sunday of advent.

After church, Christmas dinner was served to everyone in the church basement, finishing with the traditional Faroese Christmas dessert of a rich, sweet risotto with cherry topping.

Learning to Walk

During the past few days, I have been learning to walk all over again. The first time I learned to walk was quite a few years ago, but I am quite sure that the ground didn’t deliberately try to knock me down, like it is doing now. I do not know how people walk on slippery, icy, snowy, wet streets. In California, we may have the occasional earthquake, but I never had an earthquake knock my feet out from under me. This time of year, there are a lot of Christmas events happening, and if I want to participate, I need to learn to walk at least up the hill to my car.

Sunday afternoon at 4:30 was the tree-lighting ceremony in Fuglafjørður. I put on my snow boots, two coats and several scarves and drove up to the town. I arrived right on time, and I think I was about the third person to arrive. I found a quiet place to stand near the library, almost out of the wind, where I could see the tall Christmas tree on the hill above me. Within half an hour, a few hundred people arrived, filling the street, sidewalks, and parking lots. Children were running and playing in the snow, sliding down the pathway from the library, turning it into a smooth, icy slope.

Then the brass band arrived and started setting up their music stands all around me. I was not in a quiet place out of the wind, but instead I was center-stage. I knew that if I tried to walk down the icy pathway (or even worse, the icy stairs) the ice would do its best to knock me over, while a few hundred people watched. Instead I eased my way carefully into the shrubbery a little behind the band. Once again, I selected the wrong place, because some other people arrived and set up the microphone right next to me. I retreated a little further into the shrubbery, trying not to damage the snow-covered plants, and pretended to be fascinated by the speeches in Faroese. It was cold, dark, windy, and wet, but everyone had a wonderful time. After the band played, the Christmas tree lights were turned on. Then everyone walked through the slushy snow across the street to the Culture House for hot chocolate and sweet rolls. I walked very slowly and carefully, while everyone else seemed to breeze right on past me.

Monday evening, I again put on coats, scarves, and boots to go to choir rehearsal. It had been snowing off and on all day, thawing and refreezing the snow into sheets of ice. My street had a layer of ice, topped with a few inches of snow, with an inch or two of rainwater and melted snow running through it. I could walk as long as I held onto the fence, but at the end of the fence, I had to turn around and return home. Then I remembered the pair of ice-crampons someone had given me for a gift. They worked! I walked carefully up to my car, drove very slowly up the hills to the school, and walked down the long driveway and across the patio through the icy snow. Quite an accomplishment! Of course, some people do this every day during the winter, but remember that I am just learning to walk.

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