Saturday, 14 December 2013

Short Film: The World Is Burning

The World Is Burning (2013) from Oak & Arrow on Vimeo.

A young man returns to a traditional life in rural Newfoundland after tragedy strikes.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Jean Sibelius - Finlandia

In this video from Wild Scandinavia, the symphonic poem Finlandia by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius is set to scenes of Finnish landscapes and nature. The first version of Finlandia was written in 1899, and it was revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, as the last of seven pieces, each performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history.

The premiere was on 2 July 1900 in Helsinki with the Helsinki Philharmonic Society conducted by Robert Kajanus. A typical performance takes anywhere from 7½ to 9 minutes.

A recurrent joke within Finland at this time was the renaming of Finlandia at various musical concerts so as to avoid Russian censorship. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous, a famously flippant example being Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring.

Most of the piece is taken up with rousing and turbulent music, evoking the national struggle of the Finnish people. But towards the end, a calm comes over the orchestra, and the serenely melodic Finlandia Hymn is heard. Often incorrectly cited as a traditional folk melody, the Hymn section is of Sibelius's own creation.

Although initially composed for orchestra, in 1900 Sibelius arranged the entire work for solo piano.

Sibelius later reworked the Finlandia Hymn into a stand-alone piece. This hymn, with words written in 1941 by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, is one of the most important national songs of Finland (though Maamme is the national anthem). With different words, it is also sung as a Christian hymn (Be Still, My Soul), and was the national anthem of the short-lived African state of Biafra (Land of the Rising Sun).

Created by
Wild Scandinavia / Wildes Skandinavien / (2011)
Directors: Uwe Anders, Oliver Goetzl
Writers: Jan Haft, Oliver Goetzl

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Documentary: The Shoals of Herring

The Shoals of Herring. A documentary film based on a 1950s Radio Ballad called `Singing the Fishing' by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker, about the rise and decline of the herring industry on the east coast of Scotland and East Anglia. Contemporary footage of the fishermen at work is intercut with interviews and archive photos, clips from John Greirson's DRIFTERS, Harry Watts' NORTH SEA, and Campbell Harper's CALLING HERRING. Traditional folk songs are used throughout.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Last Clog Maker in England

This is a video about a man who has devoted his life to reviving the lost craft of clog making

Monday, 2 December 2013

Frey and the Boar's Head Feast

What will you eat on Christmas day? Turkey? Goose? How about Boar's head? That was the traditional dish in England. Its roots go back to Anglo-Saxon paganism.There is a carol about this tradition called "the boar's head carol" and the most popular version is based on a version published in 1521 in Wynkyn de Worde's Christmasse Carolles. Folklore holds that the custom comes from a pagan ceremony invoking the god of fertility, Frey.

"initiated in all probability on the Isle of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons, although our knowledge of it comes substantially from medieval times....[In ancient Norse tradition] sacrifice carried the intent of imploring Freyr to show favor to the new year. The boar's head with apple in mouth was carried into the banquet hall on a gold or silver dish to the sounds of trumpets and the songs of minstrels." Spears, James E. Folklore, Vol. 85, No. 3. (Autumn, 1974.)

Frey was associated with boars because he actually rode on a golden boar called Gullinbursti.

"to Freyr he gave the boar, saying that it could run through air and water better than any horse, and it could never become so dark with night or gloom of the Murky Regions that there should not be sufficient light where he went, such was the glow from its mane and bristles." - Icelandic pagan text Skáldskaparmál from the Prose Edda.

These days there are loads of universities and colleges in England and the USA that still hold the Boar's Head Feast. The most notable of these is The Queen's College, Oxford, where they have their own local myth to explain the origins of the custom.

"Where an amusing tradition formerly current in Oxford concerning the boar's head custom, which represented that usage as a commemoration of an act of valour performed by a student of the college, who, while walking in the neighbouring forest of Shotover and reading Aristotle, was suddenly attacked by a wild boar. The furious beast came open-mouthed upon the youth, who, however, very courageously, and with a happy presence of mind, thrust the volume he was reading down the boar's throat, crying, "Græcum est," and fairly choked the savage with the sage" Husk, William Henry. Songs of the Nativity Being Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern. London: John Camden Hotten, 1868.

You can listen to a rendition of the boar's head carol below. Good Yule!