Sharing Beauty Day 10

IMG_4858One of my favorite composers, symphonies, movements and conductors.

The Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 is absolutely beautiful. The movement is  packed full of love and tenderness. It was written during the early stages of his relationship with Alma and his love for her is tangible.

Although I can’t say with absolute certainty that this is my favorite recording of the movement, I like the way that Abbado doesn’t take too much time with the music. It is arguably too fast, but I appreciate the larger structure and phrasing becoming evident through a faster tempo.

Sharing Beauty Day 9

Sam GamgeeSam Gamgee is perhaps one of the most incredible characters in literature. Under appreciated by everyone (including Frodo), humble, brave, incredibly self-sacrificing and wiser than most. His soliloquy in the Two Towers movie (it may not actually happen in the books) has stuck with me and been an inspiration. The final line I find particularly profound…”That there’s something good left in this world and it’s worth fighting for.”

In the midst of a very hard time for us all, this is what I hope we can hold onto. There is indeed much good in this world and it is indeed worth fighting for. Fighting not with weapons or violence but with love, faithfulness and selflessness. There is a time for violence, but in the end it only leads to more violence. If we are to transform our world we need love for each other, love for our planet and love for ourselves.

Sharing Beauty Day 8

I downloadwas first introduced to Dvorak’s Song to the Moon from Rusalka in college and it has remained a favorite since then. The love and longing in the music is tangible and moving.

In planning this post I realized that I know very little of the storyline of Rusalka. A quick search helped me realize that it is essentially the operatic version of The Little Mermaid…so, tragic and everyone dies instead of everyone being happy…you know, good opera and folklore. Rusalka is a water nymph who falls in love with a mortal man. When she tells her father he sends her to a witch to help her where she expresses her love through this song.

I hope you enjoy this stunning aria.

 

Sharing Beauty Day 8

IMG_4839Today I wanted to share one of my favorite violin concertos with you. The Philip Glass Violin Concerto No. 1 is an incredible balance of beauty and virtuosity. Although I know people tend to either love or hate minimalist music, but in this case I find it incredibly beautiful. The urgent but subtle motion of the orchestra with the sweeping and beautiful solo line carry me away. I hope you enjoy it as well.

 

 

Check out a recording here:

Sharing Beauty Day 7

IMG_4836 A few years ago, I was covering a concert cycle with an orchestra that was playing the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. At one of the rehearsals there were a couple of young kids (about 3 or 4 years old) observing as they had a family member on stage. The orchestra was playing quite well and as they reached the end of “There’s a place for us” (a tender and beautiful song with a great deal of longing) the young boy said “woooooooooow” in a voice full of wonder. What a beautiful moment!? To have captured the imagination of a young child through your music, and to transform their life in that small way! That is a profound difference to make in the world.

I love conducting concerts for kids and I hope it always has a place in my career. There is an absolute joy to sharing the beauty of classical music with young people, capturing their attention and helping them down a road that will enrich their entire life.

Sharing Beauty Day 6

VincentI love fiction for the truth it often speaks. (Thanks for this Mom)

Facts, obviously not, but truth is found in many different forms. Dr. Who has some of my favorite stories. The episode when Amy and Matt Smith visit Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favorites. The most poignant moment is when they bring Vincent to a gallery of his work and ask Dr. Black (a museum curator who loves Van Gogh) to describe why Van Gogh is so significant.

“He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before, perhaps no one ever will again.” – Dr. Black in Dr. Who

This statement encapsulates my deepest desire as a musician, a desire that I think many artists would share. It is what I believe art should be. I have been richly blessed and don’t claim to have a tormented life, but I hope that I can use my struggles to cling more fully to the visions of beauty and the hope that I have been given, so that I can share those visions with others.

There is darkness and evil in our world and at times it seems absolute, yet there is always hope and soul ravaging beauty as well. Beauty worth striving for.

Sharing Beauty Day 5

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I love the music of Puccini. There are a few arias from various operas by him that I go to when I feel a need for catharsis. One of my favorites is “Un bel di”. The story of Madame Butterfly is incredibly sad (huge surprise, it being an opera and all), but the music and lyrics of this aria are all about hope. This piece regularly brings me to tears and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Sharing Beauty Day 4

This pandemic has been wildly disruptive but one beautiful thing I have observed is people coming together to support each other. Despite the fear and anxiety, there are groups, large and small, of people trying to help those hit hardest by the current state of affairs.

One particularly great example of this was a GoFundMe that I have seen circulating called: Seattle Artist Relief Fund Amid Covid-19. Many of my colleagues in the arts have been hit incredibly hard by the cancelling of performances and closing of schools. Although they are rising to the challenge of teaching virtually, they have lost a great deal of income and to see a campaign like this start up almost immediately shows a selflessness and care that is inspiring.

 

Sharing Beauty Day 3

Carlos Kleiber conducting the Overture to Der Freischütz

 

I absolutely love this overture!

The opera itself it a little challenging for me because I find German opera to be a little bit philosophical for my taste. That being said, the message of forgiveness and support while also requiring responsibility from those who have made poor decisions is profound. We need more of this in the world.

I adore the drama that Kleiber brings to all of his interpretations! In this recording I am drawn through the mystery and terror of the darker moments in the opera and feel the ecstatic joy of the protagonist in finding forgiveness and hope. It’s quite the emotional rollercoaster in 10 minutes.