Music Review: La Luminosa

Rivka Levin’s La Luminosa is well named–as anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing Levin perform at the Georgia Renaissance Festival or Atlanta’s Shakespeare Tavern knows, “the luminous one” perfectly describes her voice and spirit. Levin’s clear soprano and the crystalline sound of her harp complement each other perfectly. Most of the selections here are from the British Isles, but there is one in Italian, one in Spanish, and one in Hebrew (a setting of Ruth 1:16-17–the “whither thou goest I shall go” section, which is often read at weddings). Five of the tracks are instrumentals, which show off Levin’s sensitive and masterful harp playing; I love all of these, but I think my favorite is the Welsh tune “Llydaw.” Of the vocal selections, my favorite may be “Star of the County Down,” which Levin infuses with a sense of gentle longing that I have not heard in any other interpretation of this song. La Luminosa is a lovely CD that will appeal equally to fans of the harp, Celtic music, and/or Renaissance fairs–and, above all, to anyone seeking an experience of beauty.

The Healer’s Choice Playlist/Soundtrack

I love music, but I usually don’t listen to it while I’m writing; I find my attention too divided. However, I often listen to music while I’m warming up for writing, and I get a lot of inspiration and energy from music at all times. I do a lot of prewriting and development in my head, with scenes playing out in my mind like my own private movies–and of course, movies have soundtracks. Some pieces of music seem like the perfect complement to the scenes, situations, and characters I imagine; occasionally a piece of music even inspires a scene or plot development. So, as many writers do, I have a playlist for my book; in my case, it’s like a soundtrack for the Healer’s Choice movie-in-my-mind.

After I first put the list together, I reconstructed it on YouTube, although I had to substitute in some pieces that weren’t available on that site. Here, now, is the original playlist/soundtrack with artist and album information; I’ve also indicated which scenes or characters I think the pieces go with, hopefully in a way that doesn’t give spoilers for readers who haven’t yet finished reading the novel. Most of the selections are available on iTunes or Amazon, but for independent musicians I’ve generally linked to CD Baby or Bandcamp, which in some cases are the only sources for their music. Happy listening, and if you like these songs, I hope you’ll support the artists who created them!

[opening credits] “Four Doors to Elfland” by Emerald Rose (Archives of Ages to Come

[healing] “Opening Om” by Celia (Sound Spirals) or “Ground, Center, and Shield” by Celia (For the Asking)

 [night journey] “Veli” by Hedningarna (Karelia Visa)

[the Sanctuary] “Hiraeth” by Carreg Lafar (Ysbryd Y Werin)

[Taras] “Branle des chevaux” by Stefano Pando (Lute Works)

[Corvalen] “Lady in Black” by Damh the Bard (Sabbat)

[heron flight] “Chant et danse (2 duduk et percussion)” by Jordi Savall (Istanbul)

[in the stars] “Fortune” by The Canadian Brass (English Renaissance Music)

[devotions] “Ispariz” by Irfan (The Eternal Return) 

[all is not well] “Ice Storm” by Alexander James Adams and S.J. Tucker (Ember Days) or “Para Barei” by Corvus Corax (Seikilos)

[apprentices] “Ahven” by Kardemimmit (Introducing Kardemimmit)

[the Kel Sharha] “The Caregiver’s Song” by Celia (For the Asking)

[confrontation/the Watcher of the Beeches] “Vinda” by Leaf (Lys) 

[news] “Cymbeline” by Loreena McKennitt (The Visit)

[prisoner] “Lady, We Must Flee” by S.J. Tucker (Ember Days)

[the Mothers] “Ancestor’s Song” by Kellianna (I Walk with the Goddess

[the colors of night and blood] “Viima (Cold Wind)” by Hedningarna (Karelia Visa)

[Rossen’s chase] “Polska” by Garmarna (Vedergällningen)

[homecoming] “Basse dance sur jouissance” by Stefano Pando (Lute Works

[mentor] “Night in That Land” by Nightnoise (Shadow of Time)

[procession] “Hymnus Apollon” by Corvus Corax (Seikilos)

[farewell] “Lisa Lan” by Carreg Lafar (Hyn)

[watching by the pyre] “Märk Hur Vår Skugga” by Pia Fridhill (My Swedish Songbook)

[the Council] “Sol” by Leaf (Lys)

[a daughter’s blessing] “Lullaby” by The Canadian Brass (English Renaissance Music)

[soldiers’ songs] “Wee Be Soldiers Three” by New World Renaissance Band (Where Beauty Moves and Wit Delights) or “Bache, Bene Venies” by Philip Pickett and the New London Consort (Sinners and Saints)

[the ford] “Krummi” by Valravn (Nordic Voyages)

[coming to terms] “Mieleni Alenevi” by Värttinä (Vihma)

[to the trees] “Robin Hood and the Tanner” by Richard Searles (Scarborough Faire)

[under the beech] “In All That Is Green” by S.J. Tucker (Ember Days

[sister and brother] “Peace” by Sarah Jarosz (Follow Me Down)

[treaty] “Closing Om” by Celia (Sound Spirals) or “Awaken” by Celia (Letting Go

[horses] “Rince Briotanach” by Clannad (Clannad 2)

[alone] “Dark Wings” by Wendy Rule (The Wolf Sky)

[the riverbank] “Afon yr Haf” by Carreg Lafar (Hyn)

[the Watchers] “Täss’on Nainen” by Hedningarna (Trä)

[to the Sanctuary] “Fram á Reginfjallaslóð” by Ragnheiður Gröndal (Þjóðlög)

[the House of Healing] “Corrente” (track 14) by Rolf Lislevand (Nuove Musiche) or “Sarabande” by Rolf Lislevand (Scaramanzia)

[swordplay] “Baba Yaga” by Annbjorg Lien (Baba Yaga) or “Luseblus” by String Sisters (String Sisters Live)

[the prince] “Scheidt: Galliard Battaglia” by The Eastman Brass Quintet (Renaissance Brass Music)

[sleepless] “The Window” by Wendy Rule (The Wolf Sky)

[playing and plotting] “La guerre” by Ensemble Clément Janequin (Janequin: La chasse)

[Rossen] “Where Are You Going” by Dave Matthews Band (Busted Stuff)

[riding circuit] “Kecharitomene” by Loreena McKennitt (An Ancient Muse)

[fight] “Chwedl y Ddwy Ddraig” by Calan (Dinas) or “Oro Se Vie” by Corvus Corax (Seikilos)

[Pieran] “Hey, Brother” by Avicii (True)

[spinning] “New Set” by Calan (Jonah)

[tribute] “Stella Splendens” by Philip Pickett and the New London Consort (Sinners and Saints)

[Healer, Listener, and Summoner] “Prayer of Intention” by Trinity Demask (Crucible

[harvest festival procession] “Walking the Labyrinth” by Celia (“Carry Me Home”) 

[ritual] “Gula Gula” by Mari Boine (Voices of the Real World)

[harvest festival dance] “Saltarello” by Dead Can Dance (Aion)

[harvest festival] “Lille Dansa” by Gjallarhorn (Sjofn)

[harvest festival] “Wine and Water” by Arthur Hinds (Tome of Mystery

[harvest gift] “Flamme” by Leaf (Lys)

[curse] “Tuuli” by Hedningarna (Trä)

[enmity] “Antiokia” by Garmarna (Vittrad)

[realizations] “I Can See Now” by Dead Can Dance (Toward the Within) or “Trecensis: Dum Pater Familias” by Philip Pickett and the New London Consort (Sinners and Saints)

[Treska] “Neidon Laulu” by Hedningarna (Karelia Visa)

[the Common] “Evolution” by Wendy Rule (The Wolf Sky)

[nightmare] “Brostnar Borgir” by Eivør Pálsdóttir (Krákan)

[new paths] “The Village Lanterne” by Blackmore’s Night (The Village Lanterne)

[closing credits] “The Mothers’ Land” by Arthur Hinds (Dance in the Fire

 

Songs of Sharhaya

Last year my husband released his CD Dance in the Fire, on which he included his wonderful setting of “The Mothers’ Land,” the final song from The Healer’s Choice. He’s now hard at work recording his next CD, and this morning he played me what he’s done so far with “Wine and Water,” another of the novel’s songs. It sounds so beautiful! I’m also really pleased with how well it stands on its own, apart from the book. However, if you have read or are reading The Healer’s Choice, “Wine and Water” is the song that Taras sings at the feast during the harvest-welcoming celebration:

Good neighbor, will you drink with me

For what has been and what will be,

For sorrow and for gaiety

That mix like wine and water?

 

Good neighbor, will you raise your glass?

For whatever comes to pass

Is ours to share, though griefs amass

And flow like wine and water.

 

Good neighbor, will you take in hand

Goblet, cup, or bowl, and stand

To drink your pledge to this kind land?

Raise up your wine and water.

 

Good neighbor, when my song is done,

Remember still the lesson sung:

Though all things change, Beyond they’re one,

And life is wine and water.