"a gamba"

February 10, 2023

Long Live Fair Parthenia

Astute readers of this blog may remember a previous installment wherein I urged support for living artists.  That sentiment stands, but since it was first published (November 17, 2021 to be exact) the phase “support living artists” has become rather more complicated.

You’ve no doubt seen them by now.  Images simultaneously vivid, uncanny and strangely compelling; invariably paired with a quote along the lines of: “I asked an AI to create _______________.”  The stuff of nightmares?  No, just technology.  Apparently androids do dream of electric sheep—and so much more. 

You can’t spell Artificial Intelligence without “art.”  So the appearance of AI-generated landscapes, buildings, people and… other hard-to-describe things, seems like a logical  enough progression.  Similarly, we are also witness to an influx of AI-generated music and writing.  AI-generated art even made a debut appearance at the 2023 Grammys.  How much more mainstream can you get?  Welcome to the future.

For the record, this blog is not written by ChatGPT… but one hesitates to say it couldn’t happen.

What have we gained?  What have we lost?  Why are eggs so absurdly expensive nowadays?  That’s for the historians to unpack.  What all these developments mean for flesh-and-blood artists remains unclear.  No doubt we’ll have to cope with that ambiguity for quite a while.  “May you live in interesting times.”

Perhaps more than ever, then, it’s important to relish—not just art—but the messy, inexact, and very human process that leads to art.

In that spirit we’re very pleased to share this intimate behind-the-scenes video of Parthenia during a January rehearsal.

Long Live Fair Oriana / Long Live Parthenia!

You’ll see and hear Daniel Moody (rising opera star and countertenor) plus guests Motomi Igarashi on tenor viol, and William Simms on lute.  Along with them, of course, are the other other other Fab Four:

Lawrence Lipnik and Rosamund Morley, treble viols

Lisa Terry and Beverly Au, bass viols

This is Parthenia at work and in collaboration; the adjustments, the missed cues, the give-and-take, the strive for perfection.  This is the creation of creation.  Special thanks to frequent Parthenia collaborator Wendy Steiner for the generous use of her apartment as a rehearsal space—and for allowing us to shoot there.

The music is Long Live Fair Oriana by Ellis Gibbons (1573-1603).  If you enjoy this piece, bear in mind that the rehearsal was in anticipation of both a live performance and a recording session that took place in Baltimore the following week.  Daniel is making an album produced by Geoffrey Silver of Acis Productions.  For additional updates and release date, watch this space!

And, speaking of things to look forward to, Parthenia have a very busy Spring ahead. On Sunday, April 2, 2023 Parthenia will appear with guest viol players Brent Wissick and David Morris in IT IS TIME TO DIE – fantasies and madrigals for six viols and six voices by Jacobean master of music Giovanni Coprario.  One month later, Parthenia welcomes the FARALLON RECORDER QUARTET for a concert of music for viols and recorders with guests Letitia Berlin, Frances Baker, Miyo Aoki and Vicki Boeckman.  IT IS TIME TO DIE will take place at Corpus Christi Catholic Church and FARALLON RECORDER QUARTET will take place at The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields. Both will be available as streaming Concert Videos shortly afterward.

We hope you enjoy this video and the hard work that it strives to depict.  AI-generated art will no doubt continue to improve and grow in both popularity and usage, but there’s something irreplaceably special about experiencing work that human beings—with all their imperfections—created themselves.  Long Live Fair Oriana, and Long Live Parthenia!

Parthenia during a break from rehearsal – January, 2023
About Kieran Walsh
Kieran Walsh is an author, musician and filmmaker residing in New York City.