Writing yesterday's post reminded me of the traditional trajectory of an artist's career from Apprentice to Journeyman to Master...and so, as I sat down to pick a piece of music for this morning, I thought about who I would consider to be in the Mastery category when it comes to music that falls within the parameters of Mythic Arts.
I instantly thought of Loreena McKennitt, whose work (in my humble opinion) has evolved far past the Journeyman stage in the last few years. As a songwriter, musical scholar, and performer, she seems to me to have moved from good to great to mesmerizing; and there is clearly a mind at work behind her music that is sharply intelligent and endlessly curious about the roots of music and myth. She is also, I think, an artist who understands the need for time and patience in order to "find your voice" and let your work ripen: ten years passed between the release of her CDs The Book of Secrets and The Ancient Muse, partly due to tragic life circumstances (her partner died in a boating accident), and partly due to the time she needed to research, develop, and perfect the latter work.
I would think that McKennitt would need no introduction to anyone reading a blog like mine, but it turns out that my own husband is unfamiliar with her music! So for Howard, and for anyone else who's somehow missed this woman's stunning CDs: Loreena McKennitt is a Canadian singer/songwriter, harpist, pianist, and accordionist who draws on folk and world music, and on myth and mythic literature, to create her art. In particular, she explores the roots of Celtic music all the way from Ireland in the West to the Silk Road cultures of the far East, and at the intersection of Celtic and Moorish traditions in Galicia, Spain.
The videos above and below come from the Nights from the Alhambra DVD (which I highly recommend): the recording of a 2007 performance in Granada, an area that was once the Moorish heart of medieval Spain. (Oh how I wish I had been there! Her entire band is amazing.) The first piece is a song of her own devising, "The Mystic's Dream," and the second is a traditional Irish tune with words by Padriac Colum, "She Moved Through the Fair." And if that's not enough, go here "The Mummer's Dance" (full of old pagan folklore), here for her rendition of Tennyson's "Lady of Shalott" (deliciously Pre-Raphaelite), and here for "The Old Ways" (an elegiac song that has more than once brought me to tears).
More information on the artist and her work can be found on the Quinlan Road website.