Black Mountain is a 'breath of fresh air' for Annalinde Metzner
It all started at the age of five in Queens, New York when her parents arranged for her to have piano lessons.
“I was overwhelmed by it,” Black Mountain resident Annelinde Metzner said, “I’m a teacher and I can still see it in children. They know when it’s their artistic future and they have to learn this. They get this wondrous look, absorbing whatever is coming to them at the moment.”
By the time she was 20, she realized she not only had to follow her bliss but also support her little son. So she went on to pursue a degree in music education at Furman University so that she could always fallback on teaching.
At the same time, she’d always been interested in the old time music of the South and had even learned to play the dulcimer.
“I was drawn to the modal key (no sharps or flats) that hearkened way back, and the child ballads from Madison County," she said, “That’s why they collected them in Appalachia because they were so ancient, from the Middle Ages and earlier. I started writing music in that modal vein because it also evoked the ancient goddess past and I realized my whole purpose in life was to express the goddess in music.”
She also began to realize that composing in that mode before the time of Bach, was a way of reviving that tradition when there was a goddess presence in the world and a quintessential means of expressing the divine feminine.
At the same time, in her senior college year, she had to examine the score of a symphony by Hayden and saw for the first time how a composition was put together which expanded a whole range of possibilities as a composer, choral director and so forth.
“Here are the strings,” she said, “and the woodwinds, the brass and the percussion. Here is the main melody line. I can do this, but I have to go on, get an assistantship, study composition at USC and learn how all those strands are woven together.”
This also encompassed writing poetry, which she’d done since she was eight, and giving it a melody line.
“It was then,” she said, “I was choosing themes that had a mothering element. I wasn’t conscious of the divine feminine at this burgeoning stage but I did put together a whole song cycle for different ensembles and a singer I called Legacy. Using my intuition. Centering on taking care of the earth, feeling connectedness and awe, like considering how a shark will take care of its babies. I felt you could feel the history of the world in the sound of a whale.”
In a choral piece she recently conducted at the Unitarian Church on Montreat Road, she took a Native American Pueblo prayer in honor of mother earth and set it to music.
Thirty years ago, in Greenville, South Carolina, she found the words tacked to a tree next door to a monastery, copied it down and finally brought it to life because something was resonating with her soul, pulling her along. Which, to her mind, is the essential springboard to creativity.
Over the years she’s done a lot of studying, even going back to archeologists and ancient Middle Eastern cultures in her attempts to help the goddess presence reemerge.
Among other ventures, she’s set King Solomon’s Song of Songs from the Old Testament to music for an orchestra and two vocalists and received a fellowship to Florida State University.
In a sense, all of this activity led her to the mountains and Black Mountain over 10 years ago as a special, gentle hub, affording her a unique “breath of fresh air” and a support system of kindred spirits.
In the immediate future, on Saturday, March 16, at Ten Thousand Villages, her Sahara women’s choir will perform in honor of International Women’s Day. On Sunday, March 24, in tandem with classical singer Kim Hughes, poetry and songs honoring the Divine Feminine will be featured at the UUCSV Unitarian service.