Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Moving forward

I started the advanced level of my Italian language course yesterday, after coming back from a 10-day trip to Sicilia. I am somehow very pleased with myself that I did well in my intermediate level exam – I was the top of the class.

My name was the first to be read out by the professor when giving out the marked papers, telling the whole class that this person did best in the exam. The professor did not even know who this person is and seemed to have some difficulty pronouncing the name that looked like an alien word. Few of the Italians pronounce my name well as Italian words hardly end with a consonant and few starts with “y”.

I went to the history of music lesson yesterday evening. Again I was late for class, an odious habit which I find difficult to get rid of. The professor played a piece of choir written in the 15th century, the type of religious chant sung in the church. I always have a special little preference for medieval history. The musicians in those days needed to be patronized somehow by a church, otherwise the notes and the symphonies written will be hidden forever in the drawer, perished unknown by time.

The painters, sculptors, poets and authors could work free-lance but not the musicians. They need the orchestra to play their written masterpieces and in those days only the church was rich enough to provide such facilities. Therefore most medieval masterpieces turned out to be religious pieces. It was said that the musicians would sometimes place some hidden meanings or hints in their work.

And somehow I am always fond of this kind of medieval religious chants. Once I came across a mass in the Sant’Antimo Abbey in Tuscany chanting the Gregorian chant. An unspoken beauty swung in the shadow of the late evening gleam. For a moment I thought that’s what called the eternity.
Perugia, 8/7/2007

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