Thursday, August 15, 2019

Saint Alexei, Tsarevich of Russia

Tsar Nicholas Romanov, and his wife, the Empress Alexandra, along with their five children, were executed (murdered is a better word) by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918.  Nicholas was the last Tsar of Russia.  The whole family was canonized as saints by the Russian Orthodox Church on November 1, 1981.  Saint Alexei, Tsarevich of Russia, was two weeks shy of his fourteenth birthday at the time of his death.  His four sisters, The Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatyana, Maria, and Anastasia were were 22, 21, 19, and 17 years old, respectively, when they were murdered. I have adopted Saint Alexei as my patron saint.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Tree │ Loki Elvar Esrason

Loki Elvar Esrason

I just got permission from director Fairai Richmond to feature his magnificent short-film "The Tree" on Angel Watchers.  I've been waiting a long, long time to do this, as "The Tree" needs to be seen by a larger audience.  On August 25, 2018, I did an interview with Fairai Richmond, and a review of "The Tree", on Angel Watchers.  That interview can be found at this link:  The Tree - Fairai Richmond   In that post I gave a lot of background information about the film that I won't be repeating in this article.  Needless to say, the star of "The Tree" is Loki Elvar Esrason.  His angelic looks gives the film an otherworldly, and magical feel.  Loki was born and raised in Hawaii, and is featured in another short film called "Abysmal", that was directed by Jorge Monteallegre.  That film, unfortunately, has not been released, even though it was completed in 2017.  Incidentally, Jorge is the cinematographer of "The Tree".  Fairai Richmond is now working on a new feature film called "Higher", and I'm really looking forward to seeing it when it is completed.  You can watch "The Tree" by clicking on the video widget below.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

A Special Easter (Holy Week) Presentation

"Miserere Mei, Deus (Have Mercy On Me, O God)" composed by Gregorio Allegri, is probably one of the most remarkable musical compositions to come out of the Italian Renaissance.  It was written around 1630 during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, for the exclusive use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part of the Tenebrae services on Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week.  The Tenebrae (Latin for shadows or darkness), which started at 3 a.m., consisted mainly of Gregorian Chant, and this went on for hours on end.  One can just imagine how numbing this must have been to the ears and minds of the worshipers in the Sistine Chapel.  Well, an acoustical respite was in store for them during the last part of the service which usually occurred around 7 p.m.  First they would hear a D minor triad, the most lovely of all minor chords being sung, then the polyphony that followed all of the monophonic chanting of the day, and early evening, would melt away, and this ethereal music would resound from the walls of the Sistine Chapel.  The contrast between the Gregorian Chants and the "Miserere Mei Deus" was so drastic, that it caused the listeners to be spellbound.  It is no wonder that the Pope ordered the Sistine Chapel's choir master to protect the score of the "Miserere Mei, Deus" and it was reserved exclusively only for the Vatican's use.  During the rest of the year the score to "Miserere Mei, Deus" was kept under lock and key in the Vatican Archives, and secured under the Papal Seal.  Adding to the mystery surrounding the "Miserere Mei, Deus", transcribing it, or performing it elsewhere was punishable by excommunication from the Catholic Church.  But, as with most forbidden things, the score of "Miserere Mei, Deus" did not remain a secret.  The fourteen-year old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was visiting Rome, when he first heard the piece during the Wednesday Holy Week service in the Sistine Chapel.  Later that day, he wrote it down entirely from memory which is a remarkable accomplishment, as the music is incredibly complex.  He returned to the Sistine Chapel that Friday to make minor corrections to his transcription.  Some time later during Mozart's travels, he met the British historian Dr. Charles Burney, who obtained the transcription from Mozart, and Burney took it to London where it was published in 1771.  Once the "Miserere Mei, Deus" was published and in the hands of the general music establishment, the Papal ban was lifted.  Mozart was summoned to Rome by the Pope because of this, but instead of excommunicating the boy, the Pope showered praises on him for his feat of musical genius.  In this edition of Angel Watchers I am featuring an incredible performance of the "Miserere Mei, Deus" by the Boys Air Choir.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Christopher Robin │ Chapters

I am a big fan of movie soundtracks, and lately, there have been very few, that to my taste, separate them from the pack.  Well, that changed suddenly when I discovered "Chapters" from the soundtrack of "Christopher Robin".  It was composed by  Geoff Zanelli, who also did the soundtrack for "The Odd Life Of Timothy Green".  "Chapters" has a very beautiful, and haunting sound.  It is almost a soundscape.  I really love this song.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

David Kawika Crowley │ E Ho'o Pili Mau I Ku'u Pu'u Wai

David Kawika Crowley And His Family

In this edition of Angel Watchers I am featuring David Kawika Crowley singing the very haunting "E Ho'o Pili Mau I Ku'u Pu'u Wai (Forever Close to My Heart)".  It's quite possibly the most beautiful song to come out of the Big Island of Hawaii.  This song was composed by David, and it's about the love that he feels for his wife, and also the love he has for Hilo.  He lived in Hilo for many years, but now lives on Oahu.  "E Ho'o Pili Mau I Ku'u Pu'u Wai" appeared on the first "Home Grown" album that was produced by Honolulu radio station KKUA in 1979.  It's the last song on the second side of the album.  Unfortunately, the sound quality of the LP version is extremely poor, as it was recorded in monophonic sound.  The version in the video below was re-recorded recently in full stereophonic sound, and it's a sonic delight to hear.  I've been searching for "E Ho'o Pili Mau I Ku'u Pu'u Wai" for about 30 years, and I finally found it today on YouTube.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year!

My Dear Aunt Martha and I spent the whole afternoon surfing the internet trying to find something new, and different to share on Angel Watchers.  Well, Aunt Martha finally suggested that I search for some Techno Praise music.  You see, Aunt Martha, having been a professional opera singer all of her life, still keeps tabs on all of the latest musical trends, which is something that I am really loathe to do.  I had never heard of Techno Praise but I do trust Aunt Martha's judgment.  I typed in the search term, and dozens of hits popped up.  It did not take long to find this Techno Praise version of Mark Lowry's wonderful Christmas gem "Mary, Did You Know?".  It is sung by a fresh new singer by the name of Johnny Hammer, and he is sensational.  The power, honesty, innocence, and freshness of Johnny's performance brought tears to both Aunt Martha's, and my eyes.  Johnny also has an amazing angelic presence that makes him so much fun to watch.  I predict that this version of "Mary, Did You Know?" will turn out to be a perennial Christmas favorite.  By the way, the group that Johnny belongs to is called Technopraise.  Please join Aunt Martha and I in watching this amazing video by clicking on the widget below.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Tree │ Fairai Richmond

Today, August 25, 2018, I attended the "Made In Hawaii Film Festival" that was held at the Palace Theater in Hilo, Hawaii.  I'm sure glad that I did, because it featured one of the most incredible short-films ever made, so far, in this sector of the Galaxy.  Director Fairai Richmond's "The Tree", is a cinematic masterpiece.  From its first opening seconds, I was transfixed by the other-worldly splendor of its images, and visual composition.  To say that "The Tree" is rich in allegory and metaphor would be an understatement.  You may even draw parallels from it to the Biblical account of Adam and Eve.  Be that as it may, "The Tree" is constructed in such a way that it speaks to the viewer in a very personal way, that allows you to make it your own.  And that for me is the beauty and mystery of "The Tree".  No two people can see it, and interpret it quite the same way.  Another thing that I liked about "The Tree" is that gentle sense of childhood wonderment and awe that it generates in us, and that we tend to lose as we age.  Now that is magical filmmaking at its best.  The icing on the cake though was when I was able to speak with Fairai after the showing.  He is a very warm, personable, and spiritual person.  I was surprised that he was so kind, and cordial to me, because after all, I am an old 71 year old broken-down relic from the past.  "The Tree" stars Loki Elvar Esrason, Serafina Chung, Justine Albert, and Preston Shinew.  The gorgeous cinematography is by Jorge Monteallegre, and the soundtrack, which really sounds like a soundscape, was composed by Camara Kambon.  Apparently, "The Tree" will have a sequel, because at the end of it, there is a caption that says, "to be continued..." I can hardly wait for it.  When "The Tree" goes into general release, I will feature it on Angel Watchers.  Currently "The Tree" is only playing at film festivals around the country.  Incidentally, "The Tree", was written and produced by Fairai.  I see great things in Fairai Richmond's future.  He will find the stories that he wants to tell, and they will be marvelous stories.  Below are three interviews with director Fairai Richmond.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be.