Dominic Ambrose Blogblot

of words: narrative, film and non-fiction

Orovela in a timeless world

I wasn’t sure what to write in my first entry in a year. Then it hit me. I was in the bedroom of my new apartment playing LPs on the record player that I had extracted from my sister’s attic. I was going through the handful of records I had saved over the years for various inexplicable reasons and here was something that really popped out at me. It was a recording I had gotten in the Republic of Georgia some time in the 1990s. The group was called Vocal Ensemble Orovela, and they were performing the title song, Orovela. It was a hypnotically beautiful folk song which artfully showcases the harmonic style and vocal flexibility of Georgian traditional song. I was blown away by it, and I thought, this is what I’ll write… a simple entry explaining how I discovered this gem just sitting in my stored attic boxes waiting all these years to be appreciated.

I had to know a little bit more about this song if I was going to write about it. I deciphered the Cirillic script on the album cover (ignoring the Georgian script, alas.) and found that the leader of this folk group was named Temur Kevhishvili. He also sings the title song. There is little more that I could glean from the Russian, except that the group was formed in 1988 and that my Melodiya recording dates from 1990. So I googled Orovela and just to

Hamlet Gonashvili

prove that nothing is new under the sun, one of the first links was to someone who had done just what I planned to do. On May 17, 2009, Poesis, a fascinating woman in Singapore, wrote about Orovela in her blog, Poetic Oneirism [ I had to look that word up 😦 ] . In it she simply stated that she had heard this song the other day, and how she just had to write about it. She gives some information about the singer on her recording, and some links. You can find a link to her blog at the bottom of this post.

Poesis has a recording by the singer Hamlet Gonashvili. I found him on youtube and I gather from the information on various sites that he is the singer who established the recorded standard to which other singers aspire. The vocal ensemble on my LP replicates almost exactly the style of Hamlet Gonashvili, though I am sure that the tradition goes back much further than that.

Getting back to Poesis. I looked at her most recent entry, and I was astounded to see that in June she wrote about

Jean Sibelius

THE other music which I have been obsessed with lately, namely the Violin Concerto in D Minor by Jean Sibelius. Actually, I bought the CD for another piece, the Wood Nymph, which I had heard in April on WQXR radio and which also struck me just as Orovela had. This time Poesis and I were contemporary music lovers, but it didn’t really matter, whether contemporary or separated by two year: blogging is a magical world that does not recognize the boundaries of time that we normally perceive. Time there is dictated by a ticking clock of technological progression which is beyond my realm of knowledge. To me, the internet is timeless, or more precisely, there are only two times: Now and Obsolete. So, as long as our computers can access Poesis’ 2009 blog entry, her words are as fresh as the day she wrote them. It doesn’t matter if she blogged every day before and after that, or never blogged again. That answers a question of mine with a blissfully simple wisdom. How to get back to a blog after ignoring it for a year? Just do it, no explanation necessary.

Click here for the link to Poetic Oneirism

Here is Hamlet Gonashvili.

The Wood Nymph


July 4, 2011 Posted by | concerts, music | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

La Fête de la Musique

La Fête de la musique
Thursday June 21, 2007
It started in 1982 when the Culture Minister Jack Lang and the city of Paris invited amateur musicians to come out into the streets between 8:30 and 9 p.m. to improvise a celebration of the beginning of summer. It was an unexpected success, with the Paris Opera Orchestra playing on the plaza in front of the opera house and great numbers of musicians playing way beyond that little half hour.


It must have struck some primitive chord, some pagan need to usher in the new season, to witness the shortest night and the arrival of the warm summer sun. It has grown to an enormous popular festival. Melodies and riffs can be heard coming down every street and around every corner, intertwining into a great cacophony of ebullience and excitment. The crowds are everywhere singing shouting, dancing, drinking. The music dies down around midnight, but the crowds stay on, gathering in clumps of shouted laughter, in surging waves of rowdiness. This is Paris, and the youthful populace seems constantly on the verge of revolution, but somehow the energy is contained, controlled, the haphazard encounters curtailed just this side of chaos. Finally in the wee hours of the littlest night, fatigue and the surprising last remnant spring chill in the air set in and the kermesse is over. The crowds wander home, to sleep with the confidence that tomorrow will dawn that much warmer and sunnier than yesterday.

May 4, 2009 Posted by | happenings, music | , , , | Leave a comment

Esma Redzepova at New Morning

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Esma Redzepova Rocks the House at New Morning
Going to see Esma Redzepova tonight at New Morning, the laid back jazz club near Chateau d’Eau in Paris. The Queen of the Macedonian gypsies! Eastern European gypsy music is addictive, that must be why it has become so fashionable in Paris lately. Could it have started with the teenagers who get on the metro dragging a huge amplifier on wheels, which they then turn to blasting levels and gyrate around with their shirts open to the beat of “Dragostea din Tei”? No, no way! I always wondered how they could be so oblivious to what people find truly annoying. No, it didn’t start with them, Emir Kustorica is a more likely source, and a lot more classy.


Was it worth it? Of course, even with the crosstown negotiations to bring a friend from Colorado, and her niece, an eighteen year old lookalike of Paris Hilton. Ever try squeezing your way through the sex starved African post adolescent males who sell telephone cards at the Chateau D’eau metro, with Paris Hilton in tow? It was quite an adventure, and that was just the starter.

May 4, 2009 Posted by | concerts, music, performances | , , , | Leave a comment

Sanremo, 2007

Friday, March 9, 2007

Five nights of San Remo! AAARRRRRRRGH!!!

Only the Italians could imagine spreading a song contest over five nights, twenty hours of prime time television. Sometimes the chattering banter, clumsy joking, and boorish comedians were hard to take, sometimes the maudlin tributes and egomaniacal living legends were hard to swallow, and sometimes the singing was absolutely abyssmal. I really thought it was hopeless, but I saved it all anyway on my TV machine for later recording onto DVD. Later, when I selected only the stuff I liked for recording, I ran out of room on my 4 hour DVD: to my profound surprise, there were more than four hours of really good music in that tacky carnival! It is a shame that no one at San Remo has ever heard the expression “Less is more”, because if people were able to access the good stuff without having to sit through hours of loudmouth Michelle, pot bellied buffoonish comics and disoriented anglophone guests, they might better appreciate what a great show San Remo can be.

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May 4, 2009 Posted by | music, performances | , , , , , | 1 Comment