I sometimes find that I wither a bit, musically speaking. When this happens, I need a good concert to perk me back up. But I also feel a little isolated where I live, so trips like this become necessary. I may even make it through the rest of the semester, now, but, if not, I will seek another opportunity for some musical nourishment!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I took my family back to the tabernacle today. This time we went to watch a broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. This was a very enjoyable trip, and put some spring back into my step.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I am appalled by the newest tactics of the Tobacco industry! They now have products that resemble mints and toothpicks, among other things. If I was producing a harmful substance, and tried passing it off as innocent-looking consumer products, I would not only be hounded in the press, but would probably be arrested. Yet these financial giants continue to create products designed to look harmless and inviting to kids, and they are treated like they are kings!
The Twin Towers came down on Sept. 11, 2001, killing many people, including American citizens. Immediately, the U.S. went to war with terror. Whether or not you agree with how that war was handled, it was necessary. Yet, tobacco kills more Americans every year than could even FIT in the World Trade Center! Where is our nation’s war on tobacco?! Where is the outrage?! Where is the justice?! No justice, just lobbying money lining the pockets of the lawmakers. Be honest—is that summer mansion really worth the lives of all those people who voted for you? Is that private jet really worth the lives of thousands? You don’t have to be a man (especially the women), but try being a caring human being!
When will the politicians of the world take a stand against their own greed and do something about this death industry?! When will they stop worrying about the dozens of people killed by assault rifles or whatever, and start REALLY caring about the millions killed by tobacco? And now they want to make it look like CANDY?! Are you freaking kidding me? What idiot decided THAT was okay? And if by the 1,000,000,000,000 to 1 chance that moron is reading this blog post, don’t respond, just go stare at yourself in the mirror for a few hours until you can no longer lie to yourself—that is, if you can stand the sight of that monster on the other side of the glass! Quit killing us and go get a REAL job!
When will the citizens of the world realize what a scam this whole industry is?! I guess most people are too caught up in the failed mind-set of looking sexy, or cool, or are too enslaved to the momentary rush given by artificial stimulants to pay attention to the fact that they are being slowly killed! This wouldn’t upset me so much if it not for the fact that they are spouting their cancerous poisons into the air I breathe as well! If I want to die young, I’ll quit my job, buy a life-time supply of fried chicken and EAT my way into an early grave, thank you!
And when was the last time a smoker was ticketed for littering? Your butts are everywhere! If most people toss a candy wrapper out the car window, they are looked down on for contributing to the world’s waste, or are given a citation. Yet smokers can toss their butts on the ground, and everyone looks the other way? In fact, there was at least the common courtesy once of the question, “Do you mind if I smoke?” That no longer exists. Smokers just step outside the door and smoke in the entryway! Come on, people! Those of us who DO want to live forever have to walk through that! Do I mind if you smoke? YES! Do you mind if I pass gas? It is healthier, and it SMELLS BETTER!!
You want to kill yourself off? Do it with some self-respect and go learn to fly a plane, or go sky-diving, or base-jumping. Get a snake pit and dance in it. Strap a rocket engine to the top of a Ford Pinto and see how fast you can go out in the desert. Just don’t make this world a stinking ash-tray, while killing the rest of us off with you! Besides, with all the flu viruses going around, my lungs are bad enough as it is!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Last weekend, my oldest daughter, my wife and I went to All-State Choir. Our clinician was the esteemed director of choral music at Westminster Choir College, of Ryder University, Dr. James Jordan. Dr. Jordan was very fun to watch, and kept moving so quickly I barely had time to assimilate new information before he was presenting new ideas in new ways to the choir.
There were over 700 voices involved in this choir, and Dr. Jordan continued to exclaim how amazed he was that they could produce the sounds they were creating. He was taken by the personal connection this choir was able to forge with him, each other, and the music, even though it was so prohibitively large.
The music was astonishing, and the kids memorized it all before even meeting Dr. Jordan, which also astonished him. They had spent countless hours on their own, then more hours in area rehearsals before gathering at a northern school for three hours on Thursday evening, all day Friday, and for a couple of hours on Saturday. The concert was held in a rather famous hall, with a rather famous organ.
I drive past this mountain on a fairly regular basis, and always look for the maiden. One legend tells that she died because of grief over a dead lover, but most believe that was a story made up to get sightseers to stop. Regardless, I always look for her as I drive north. This day, she was pulling a veil up over her.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I thought quite a bit this last weekend about beauty. I attended a rehearsal and concert (which I will describe in more detail in a later post) that had some very beautiful music. One of the things we did in preparation for the concert was audition soloists. There were several teachers there to narrow down the soloists for the director to have an easier choice. While some of the soloists were not as prepared as they should have been, and others clearly lacked the "chops" to carry the solo, none of the auditions were of the bleeding-ear variety.
The thing that amazed me, however, was the fact that the other directors were more annoyed than I that this audition did not produce the mind-numbing beauty they were hoping to get. As I ruminated on this state of affairs, during the course of the rest of the weekend, I found myself becoming jealous, at times, of my colleagues who work in larger school districts, and are able to experience music on a grander scale than my little town can achieve. Then I began to feel sorry for them.
You see, they have reached a point at which beauty has become commonplace. This is not to suggest that they do not enjoy their work, nor am I implying that they are not (nor should not) reach for ever-increasing levels of mastery and expression. I am simply saying that the beauty which they enjoy on a daily basis, yet find lacking, brings me to tears of delight once or twice a year.
I brought this up today with the inmates I direct. They get it. We do not fully appreciate the beauty around us until we are in a place where it is not always apparent. Yes--I know there is beauty around me, even in my little town. Visual beauty abounds in our area of the country, and on the faces of the young people I teach every day.
I marvel at times that these simple children, with their simple voices and innocent hearts are capable of such breath-taking sounds as they produce sometimes. We continually say how amazing it is that we are able to take two dozen or so girls in our auditioned choir--most of whom would be placed in the beginning choirs of any large school--and in ten months turn them into an ensemble that receives the praise of the community, other directors, and their own peers.
I see beauty. I, like my colleagues, sometimes take it for granted. But I still see it (and hear it). I strive for it. And I will try to recognize it more often. Perhaps, in the end, that will be enough. To quote myself from the end of every concert:
Monday, October 5, 2009
Our drama teacher decided to build his own amphitheater in his backyard. This is the back of it. You can see the hill sloping upward on the other side of the door. His Bro-in-law did most of the stone and stucco work. The cement pieces making the floor were taken from the river! The fireplace is a real, working one. Quite the nice little piece of work!
The Westminster Chorus wins the Pavarotti Trophy and the Choir of the World title at the 2009 Choir of the World festival in Llangollen, Wales. Songs: 1. Lux Aurumque 2. Shenandoah 3. Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel
Need I e-laborate?
Westminster Choir College
Westminster Choir College
Sunday, October 4, 2009
My youngest daughter recently hyper-extended her knee just a bit in a soccer game. She is okay, so far, but has to use crutches for a week or so. The Dr. told her he will see what it is like later this week, and that he may need an MRI (Which I told her is better than an MRE) to see if any damage was done. We borrowed some crutches from one of my wife's co-workers, and they were a little old, meaning they hurt my daughter's armpits. Well, a little foam, a little fleece, and a couple of shoelaces later, and here is the result. I never claimed to be a seamstress, but they are functional. Good for a giggle at least. My older daughter says they look like mailboxes.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Nene got me thinking nostalgically. I started looking through some old pictures from Europe, and thought I would share a few of them with you. In Switzerland, we landed in Zurich, went to Lucerne, then on to Italy: Laga Lugana, Verona, Venice, Rome, Florence, and Pisa. We finished by visiting the French Riviera, staying in Nice, and spending a day in Monaco, before flying out of the Nice Airport. What a trip. I've misplace the pics from France, but will find them.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I've noticed that lying comes very easy for some people. I once worked (for 1 1/2 weeks) for a prominent auto dealer in our state. The trainer was one of the top five car salesmen in the nation. He was able to get commitments from people in the grocery store to come in for test drives. He would call random numbers and do the same thing over the phone. He wasn't the most ethical person I've ever met, and the whole sales floor mirrored that lack. But he did say one thing that has stuck with me.
He said, "You will see that anyone will lie to you. It doesn't matter who it is. Your neighbor will lie to you. Even your bishop will lie to you. When you ask them what car they would like, they will answer that they are only 'just looking' in order to keep you from bothering them. and they won't think of it as a lie because you are 'just a car salesman' and don't deserve the truth."
It never ceases to amaze me, though, how many people will lie, and, again, how easily some of them do it. Granted, I don't always tell THE WHOLE TRUTH, but there are times when I feel that can be cruel. I, for instance, have never told any kid they can't sing. Even if they can't. Part of this stems from the fact that I believe they can learn to sing if they work hard and long enough. I just won't be around to see some of them reach that goal.
I know it would be incredibly naive of me to believe that everyone is capable of being honest, but it does still shock me when people lie so readily to me, especially when the lie is so blatantly obvious and stupidly presented.
Oh, well, at least I may still get to keep laughing...