The Modern Court Minstrel

The Modern Court Minstrel
Art by Alexander Krenin

Back in college, part of my curriculum was to take a movement class.  This may sound odd, but it's not all that uncommon when you go to school for acting, because part of acting is to become very aware of your body, its movements, its patterns, and to learn to let go of your pre-existing inhibitions.  The class was led by a women who I assume probably had a house full of crystals and faeries.  She was a lovely women with curly brown hair and a super light and airy feel about her.  Part of the reason I really enjoyed her class was because of the music that she chose.  We were often instructed to let the music guide our movements.  It was this class that introduced me to the artist I'm sharing with you today.  Someone who I would say I've had a musical love affair with for over 15 years now.

During one class, the music that my teacher played took me by the soul and I couldn't get it out of my head.  I immediately asked her who she was playing that day during class.  "Loreena McKennitt," she answered.  When done with classes for the day, I walked a few blocks down Wabash to go to Tower Records (may it rest in peace... I loved that store so much) to pick up a few of Loreena McKennitt's albums.  I bought three that day, which is a hefty sum for a college student.  That began my love affair with Loreena McKennitt, who I consider a court minstrel in these modern times.

Minstrels performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. (source: Wikipedia)

She's done a great deal of travel and historical research for her music. Mainly influenced by the Celts, a majority of her songs are tales that have been around for hundreds of years; songs and stories passed down through generations.  She also takes on some of her own original pieces as well as songs based on classic poems and Shakespearian verses.  You can read more about her and her influences here: http://loreenamckennitt.com/about/

"... music is not only a marvelous medium for self-education and creative expression. I am also in awe of music’s unique capacity to induce and enhance moods and psychological states and the great linkages it has to physiology."

I've had the pleasure of seeing her perform twice now.  I saw her back in 2007 when she performed at the Lyric Opera, in conjunction with the release of her Ancient Muse album, and most recently just two weeks ago when I drove to Milwaukee to see her perform her trio show (she performed in Chicago, yes, but I had a wedding to attend that evening, and I surely wasn't going to miss her on tour... so, Milwaukee it was!).  Her concert was simply breathtaking.  She performed almost all of my favorite pieces that she's written over the years.  I can't even describe the feelings her music bring about, but anyone who is a fan of hers will tell you the same thing. She has a way of entering your soul with her music.

I leave you with the piece that nearly had me in tears when she started playing it live at her show:

"Certain principles have become my compass points. I reference them whenever I make important choices and decisions, professionally or personally. They are things to which I strive and am pleased to share some of them with you.

  • Be compassionate and never forget how to love.
  • Think inclusively.
  • Reclaim noble values such as truth, honesty, honour, courage.
  • Respect one’s elders and look to what they have to teach you.
  • Be empathetic.
  • Look after the less fortunate in society.
  • Promote and protect diversity.
  • Respect the gifts of the natural world.
  • Set your goals high and take pride in what you do.
  • Cherish and look after your body, and, as the ancient Greeks believed, your mind will serve you better.
  • Put back into the community as there have been those before you have done the same and you are reaping what they sowed.
  • Participate in and protect democracy. It does not thrive as a spectator sport.
  • Undertake due diligence in everything.
  • Seek balance and space, and solitude.
  • Don’t be afraid to feel passionate about something.
  • Learn to be an advocate and an ambassador for good.
  • Be mindful of your limitations.
  • Indulge and nurture your curiosity as it will keep you vital.
  • Take charge of your life and don’t fall into the pit of entitlement.
  • Assume nothing and take nothing for granted.
  • Things are not necessarily what they seem."

(bullet points taken from http://loreenamckennitt.com/about/)

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