Some readers may recall my posts about our fall 2013 island hopping trip along some of our BC coast, and particularly about Alert Bay where we saw St. Michael’s Indian Residential School. Though that terrible place was eventually closed in 1974, it was left standing as a haunting memorial to those many First Nations children who had lived there.
Now there is news that it will be demolished this month. I only learned this when the reporter requested permission to use my photo for the report in The Prince George Citizen. This has reawakended in me some of those feelings of shock, sadness and horror in seeing it, though nothing like those feelings surely experienced by the families that were affected, so I wish and hope this demolition will bring some peace for them.
Added Feb.19th: Alert Bay residential school survivors gather for the demolition ceremony, in the Globe & Mail, with interesting additional links and video which includes views of the interior of the building.
Plus this heart-rending and heartwarming story and video on The Tyee .
While out and about yesterday, a day that was not under another wave of the Pineapple Express for a change, but bright though cloudy, I spotted some plantings of little hellebore with perky heads, unlike those in my garden with their hanging ones, the kinds you have to lift up to look at their faces.
I even found a fallen or picked blossom, somewhat bruised though it is, to take home and scan. Which do you like better?
The above is part of a poster about a wonderful event we attended on Sunday (Feb.8th) at the Scandinavian Centre in Burnaby. It was organized and presented by members of our local chapter of The Canadian Friends of Finland. Most interesting and educational was the talk and slide show about Sibelius’ early life, which is generally less well-known. Bob Poutt told us about Glenda Goss, an American musicologist who went to Finland to research Sibelius’ life and music, eventually publishing Sibelius: A Composer’s Life and the Awakening of Finland. She learned Finnish and became a professor at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Somehow I had missed a lecture by Ms.Goss at the Centre in March, 2013.
Mr. Poutt’s young grandsons acted out delightful scenes of a young Sibelius being interviewed by a reporter, set against a slide show. The audience was charmed.
The Centre’s excellent long-running Runeberg Chorus performed many songs by Sibelius, in English, Finnish and Swedish (Sibelius’ first language). Two wonderful solos were the highlights, Diamond on the March Snow sung by tenor Yasushi Ishimura and Luonnotar by Kaoru Henry, each with glorious visuals on the background screen. Our favourite was the latter thanks to the singer’s professional operatic voice. Luonnotar is based on Finnish mythology, the words coming from the Kalevala. The text is from the first part of the Kalevala and deals with the creation of the world, Luonnotar is the Spirit of Nature and Mother of the Seas.
It was a moving program and a wonderful afternoon of friendship as we were surprised by how many friends were there. Congratulations to all the organizers and performers! I wonder who did the superb visuals for the slide show?
I am so inspired that I hope to get my hands on the book, in fact I put in a purchase request for it at our library. Jean Sibelius was part of a group of many artists, poets and writers who are all Finland’s greatest creators. This 150th Anniversary is being widely celebrated in Finland and beyond with numerous concerts, but only one that we know of here in Vancouver – we must request more.
Of course there are many recordings available for purchase as well as online listening available, such as at Finland’s YLE Radio, where I’ve been slowly enjoying his seven symphonies. The first three highlighted on the page are performances by the Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sakari Oramo and presented in 2006 in Bergen, Norway. Just below these is a link to Symphonies 4 to 7, also by the above except for No. 5 performed in Helsinki. Enjoy!
Yle also has a site Sibelius 150 mostly in Finnish but with some pages in English (scroll down). Even further down is also an audio interview of Glenda Goss in English. (I wish the individual articles were hyperlinked.) I’ve only just discovered this so will be busy reading these articles!
I must also mention an excellent blog which I’ve been enjoying reading for some time. Dust of Hue is devoted entirely to Sibelius, written by a serious and knowledgeable fan who lives in Singapore I think. He has even visited Sibelius’ home Ainola.
A few weeks ago I was doing a bit of a tidy-up of my stacks of print proofs in my studio. I tried to be ruthless and throw out what I was sure I could not reuse in some fashion, such as in mixed media collage work. What I did save, I sometimes tore or cut into pieces, selecting favourite sections with interesting textures, colours or that certain ‘something’. Today I felt inspired to have a look at one small pile which came from a very large collagraph trial print. At some point years ago I had painted and made marks over it. I scanned them and chose my favourites to post here. I love the torn irregular edges which make them look like cloth, more so here than in real life, which is interesting.
And it is already February! Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of this blog. I cannot believe how the years have flown, a sign of getting older I know. I still enjoy having this place for my work, scribblings, and wonderful conversations with so many friends around the world. Thank you all!
My first language is Finnish but opportunities to speak it are now rare. Reading it at so many good blogs and news sites on the internet helps to keep me somewhat literate. One favourite place, though in English, is Books from Finland, ‘a journal of writing from and about Finland’.
Yesterday’s article particularly interested me: Why translate? by British poet Herbert Lomas (1924–2011) who was a prolific translator from Finnish. He describes the work and knowledge and understanding of language differences in order to capture the author’s intent. The following excerpts intrigued me and challenged my own rusty linguistic understanding of my mother tongue:
There are many differences between Finnish and English. Leaving aside for the moment the extraordinary disparity between Teutonic syntax and Finno-Ugrian syntax, the vocabulary alone puts you into a different climate and weather. Vowels are musical notes and Finnish is full of vowels.
Consonants are noises – and English is full of consonants. Finnish words are all stressed on the first syllable. English words simply alternate stressed and unstressed syllables – and the word may begin with unstress or stress. Finnish lends itself to dactyls. Dactyls have never been much at home in English. Most English poetry is written in iambs, with trochees coming second, a few anapaestic poems, usually not very good; and not even Hiawatha, imitating the Kalevala, resorted to the dactyl. But Finnish words are all Finnish – either invented from existing roots or naturalised beyond recognition.
Do read on if this subject interests you. Most of us know that the Finnish language is a difficult one for outsiders to learn so I have great respect for translators like Lomas and others who have mastered the language enough to note subtleties, especially in poetry.
Related posts on the Finnish language can be found in my archives under Linguistics.
PS: I just noticed that Herbert Lomas also translated Troll: a love story by Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo, which I was ever so lucky to find in our local library and enjoyed reading. It is rare to find Finnish books here.
The Pineapple Express recently brought us very heavy rains matched by warm temperatures up to 16C (60F) at our place, meaning no weekend snowsports in the mountains. Today’s brilliant sunny day tempted me out into the garden. Still swampy in places from that rainstorm, I put on my waterproof boots and went out for a garden inspection. I knew the snowdrops and some of the early crocuses were out, plus numerous emerging green tips of other spring flowering bulbs were a delight to see. As I cleaned up some of the leaf litter to give them light and air, I too felt a cleansing of winter’s cobwebs.
I did take some photos of the snowdrops as I’ve done every year. But the above image found on the side of the house excited me much more artistically. And yes, I did leave this cobweb in place for now.
Meanwhile I hope the folks in the northeast US will survive a major blizzard.
Added later – It has hit the Maritimes as well!