portrait of woman in black holding oboe

Charlyn Bethell, Music Director


February 2nd is a day filled with history from the British Isles, as Candlemas, Imbolg, and/or Groundhog Day.  It is exactly half-way between Winter solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Its roots are from the pagan and Christian beliefs about the end of Christmastide and the beginning of spring.  It is about the kindness and strength of the goddess/saint Brigid, who has come to be the patroness of fire, healing, inspiration and new life.  People weave Brigid-crosses out of straw and eat pancakes made from seeds and grains.  This is all outside of my own experience, as no one around me ever celebrated this time of year. I only knew about the groundhog. If he sees his shadow, it scares him so much he runs back into his burrow, causing six more weeks of winter.  If he doesn’t see his shadow because February 2 is overcast, we’ll have an early spring. (He is correct about 40% of the time.)  For many, Ground Hog Day is an opportunity to find a festive party to attend and enjoy being with others.  
 
What does it mean to me?  I like to prepare for the coming of spring.  That may mean noticing that light is returning to our consciousness.  That new life and new days come possibilities of hope for abundance and generosity.  Celebrating Candlemas is preparation for a new beginning, where everything is possible.  
 
Why I am writing all this is that I am planning the choir music to reflect Candlemas.  Our music should be like a restful peace that we find from being in the natural world around us.  (One of our pieces is called Deep Peace.)  It is saying goodbye to something familiar (winter)  in anticipation of something new with the coming of spring.  Though there be the changes around us in nature and in our lives, we are anchored in our commitment to ourselves and to those we love.  What sustains us is loving kinship with each other.  That kinship can be an “everywhere light”, written in our choir anthem as Omnia Sol.  Our music marks the coming of light and warmth with new life around us.  
 
What is happening in music at First Parish in January, 2020:
 
January 12th:  There is special music this week from Djalai Babazadeh, playing some fiddle tunes on her viola.
 
January 19th:  Our guest musician is Beth Welty, violin.
 
January 26th:  More special music is a Trio by Johann Gottlieb Graun for Oboe, French Horn, and Bassoon played for us by Laurie Wadsworth, Izzy Tappan deFrees, and Jean Renard Ward.
 
February 2nd:  Our choir sings music to honor Candlemas.
Charlyn Bethell
Music Director | + posts

Charlyn’s professional training has followed two paths: as a professional oboist and as a music teacher and conductor. As Music Director at First Parish, she joins these two paths of her musical life, conducting the choir, coordinating guest musicians, and performing on oboe.