George Shirley is a national treasure. When he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in September of this year, I felt so happy that his many years of national and international work as a tenor, professor, and mentor were rightfully being recognized on our national stage. The scholarship that bears his name is holding a fundraiser this Saturday, and I can think of a no better way to bring in the holidays. Countertenor Darryl Taylor has returned to Ann Arbor to perform, and will be singing my "From the Dark Tower," a setting of poetry by Countee Cullen, at the event. He will be joined by a host of wonderful musicians in what promises to be a festive evening. This fundraiser, called "A Heritage Holiday," celebrates not only the accomplishments of the iconic George Shirley, but the promise of those students who benefit from his scholarship and good works, making compelling art for future generations. Join in!
If you are in or around Banja Luka, on the 25th of November, stop by and listen to the MAN trio (flute, flute & piano) for me. The trio is putting on a concert that night that features fifteen 1-minute premieres, and my frisky little romp, BOP!, will be among them. This group has a lot of energy; to put together a program like this demands some serious technique, and I wish I could be there to experience the concert in person and meet them. If you're close by though, you owe it to yourself to check them out.
Timbre: soft, sweet, with brightness of modern piano accents shaved off; Key: G-flat/F-Sharp, with pentatonic undertones, hints of 7ths, and a 9th finish; Prevailing tonal gestures: scale degree 6 to 5, exhaling on 3 over a plagal sigh, and pentatonic affirmation, as if sanctioned by a higher power. Working Title for the sonic environment: Don't Panic, Relax, We'll Take it from Here.
Consent culture thrives in societies that celebrate a person's ability to mean Yes when they speak it. In this video, sex researcher Dr. Lindsay Doe addresses a boy struggling to live within that culture. Her words to him are instructive.
If you had to complete the sentence, "Consent culture thrives . . . ," how would you? I invite you to let me know in comments. I invite you to let others know too!
March is National Nutrition Month, and to celebrate I am focusing more on what, how, and why I eat. A year ago my wife and I started taking wellness, physical fitness and exercise more seriously. It's been a wonderful journey thus far. We've been playing within a wonderful community of like-minded people aspiring to better themselves, enjoying what the poet Donald Hall calls "the joys of the body and creation." In this case, we've been working at creating what our friend Jill calls the best versions of ourselves. It is a fun effort, and an ongoing, lifelong adventure.
While my exercise habits have improved over the course of the last year, however, my eating habits are still kind of chaotic. If anything, I think they may be worse now than before I started working out regularly, because now I'm under the pretense that whatever crap I eat I can later work off. But, like a movie director that too often says "we'll fix it in post [production]" when something isn't working during filming, there is only so much bad behavior (or bacon-crusted pizza) that one can later melt away in a spin class.
A quick Google search of "nutrition" this morning brought me to The Nutrition Source, a site administered by Harvard University's School of Public Health. With so much misinformation out there, I found it reassuring to consult a site that isn't trying to sell me a quick-fix pill or fad diet. And as I peruse the pages, it is becoming clearer to me that cultivating good eating habits is often a decidedly unglamorous endeavor; there are no tricks or gimmicks involved. For me it is a matter of connecting regularly with real food, with whole food--with food that engages the senses instead of assaulting them.
Andrea and I participate in Community Supported Agriculture through our support of the Three Sisters Farm, a local and organic source for our vegetables. We're lucky that we live in a place that allows us to eat locally. While I remain mildly suspect about the benefits of organic vs. conventional farming (click here for a summary of why), I'd be a fool not to recognize the virtues of eating whole food grown close to home. The challenge for me now is to eat *all* of it without feeling like I need to have some sort of fancy recipe to really enjoy it. I really don't want to let any of our farm share go to waste simply because I didn't know what to pair beet greens with!
So this morning, as I was packing my lunch, I grabbed a fistful of leafy greens from the fridge and put them in a ziplock bag. And during my lunch, I washed them off and ate them. No dressing. No oils or expensive vinegars. And it was wonderful! It was really nice to eat good food the way I eat crappy, processed food: by grabbing a handful of it, and stuffing my face full of it!! So liberating!!
So Happy Nutrition Month Everyone! May it serve as a gentle reminder for each of us to be a bit more mindful of what, how, and why we eat the way we do. I'm going to have some fun this month, and I hope you do as well!
I'm honored this year to perform my song cycle "Quilting" at Cal State L.A.'s "Claiming Freedom" Symposium on Thursday, February 5th. "Claiming Freedom" celebrates a great constellation of milestones in the fight for civil rights and human rights in the United States: the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Summer, Freedom Schools, the Free Speech Movement, Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, as well as the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Many of these events took place in Los Angeles, and I'm so glad that Cal State L.A.'s department of English is marking the city's important role in furthering these causes, and using arts as an instrument to remember them.
As we bear witness to the matrix of injustice and disenfranchisement that still marks racial and gender bias here at home more recently, it is important to place our work now within this larger narrative, or what Dr. King might call a longer "arc of history, [that] bends toward justice."
More information can be found about the "Claiming Freedom" Symposium via the link below. Countertenor Darryl Taylor will perform "Quilting" (settings of Countee Cullen's poetry) with me at 6:30pm on Thursday, February 5th in Cal State L.A.'s Music Hall. It promises to be a festive evening of poetry and music, and I hope you can join us!
I've got Good Friday on my heart, its sobering and ecstatic, cathartic release. We get it all backwards when fetishizing Jesus' pain at crucifixion. The passion of the saints is so vast, and for all of us, no matter how one names the multiverse. dukkha. It says, over again and always, "show up for your life."
My newest celebrity crush is the Brahms Intermezzo in A Major, op. 118 no.2. Creating fingerings for this piece is like meeting a person you've long admired for a first date: so much excitement, interest, and anticipation. As I mark the music, I feel like the piece has a story to tell me. . . and that I'm learning that story--slowly, steadily.
Spring is surely in the air.
Please join me for a concert by my friends, flutist Gary Woodward and oboist Catherine Del Russo. They'll perform my wind quintet "Macy loves Rashawn," along with work by the ever-inventive Bevan Manson, on Monday 3 March at 7:30pm in Bird Studio, on the campus of Occidental College. It'd be great to see you there!
Join me tonight on KPFK-FM: 90.7 FM or www.kpfk.org, Pacifica Radio, as we pay musical tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Literacy in Music & Arts is one of your vital links to global citizenship!"
"Be sure to support the arts in *your* community!"