Finally it’s spring! Paraphrasing the lyrics from the famous Monteverdi madrigal “Zefiro torna e ‘l bel tempo rimena” – performed on March the 2nd by Musicanova Choir during the concert for the twentieth anniversary of the association – a warm breeze announces the arrival of the good season and consequently the meadows are dotted with blooming flowers and the sky echoes with the swallows’ chirping. Spring 2019 officially began on the 20th of March at 10:58pm (Italian time). We find ourselves in the days described by the Latin phrase “primo vere”, at the beginning of spring (whose precise translation creates an amusing Chinese box effect). There is no need to restate the importance of the Spring Equinox, an astronomical event that means “equal night” [and day], formerly associated with the themes of rebirth and fertility; but let’s remember some of the personalities born in this time of the year and for which we are very grateful to Spring: Publio Ovidio Nasone, Spike Lee, Franco Battiato, Dario Fò and Johann Sebastian Bach (the latter also remembered by Google with a fun musical Doodle https://bit.ly/2Fju4RI).
Given the fascination for such a prosperous time of the year, we also have to deal with the proverbial unpredictability of the season and with the final, but not less virulent, flu traces and, last but not least, with the beginning of allergy season. This is particularly true for those who make amateur of professional use of their voice and want to take good care of it. There are many ways to do so and the truth regarding their effectiveness is in fact “Pulcinella’s secret”, as we would say in Italy: there are no miraculous remedies, but the persevering practice of small expedients works wonders. A balanced diet, many hours of good sleep and the abstention from smoking are at the base of proper vocal hygiene. We asked our choristers how they take care of their voice and their favourite remedies are of the natural kind, “grandma’s remedies”: the ever so effective fumigations, where you take a bowl of hot water, add a few drops of essential oil (thyme, chamomile, eucalyptus, etc.) and a teaspoon of baking soda, and you vocalize in it, inhaling the steam covering your head with a towel; also very useful is ginger, a spice with anti-inflammatory and pain relieving powers and with antioxidants, digestive and antibacterial properties. It can be used freshly grated on salads or infused in boiling water with a teaspoon of honey and lemon; the famous singer’s grass, hedge mustard, is very useful as an infusion, essential oil or tablets to keep the voice in shape and ringing even though it cannot re-establish a worn out voice, in which case the only effective remedy is silence. Knowing how to measure words, and knowing how to measure laughter (without falling into the excessive censual zeal of Jorge da Burgos), the most diligent singers will in fact be careful with laughter which, especially before a performance, can tarnish the voice, due to an excess of mucus in the larynx.
Among the many aspects of the blooming season, Spring has been the muse of countless composers. To indulge into Springs spirit our music recommendations are:
Våren di Edvard Grieg https://youtu.be/3zGRQsYZE7U
O primavera di Heinrich Schütz https://youtu.be/rDjcN-uOSyM
Duetto dei fiori dall’opera Lakmé di Léo Delibes https://youtu.be/C1ZL5AxmK_A
La primavera di Antonio Vivaldi https://youtu.be/RnwuF-MCRuo