Category Archives: Music

A moment from yesterday I am thankful for

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The closest I have ever come to seeing an actual opera. I went to support Rutgers Presbyterian Church and my friend, Robert Williams, who participated in the talk back after the performance. The performance and Robert were both awesome.

Traci Smith, author of Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home has provided a gift of the November 2018 Gratitude Every Day calendar. I am using it as an opportuity to revisit photos and post them as they speak to gratitude.

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Something happening tomorrow I am thankful for

happening tomorrow

Heading to the theater.

Traci Smith, author of Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home has provided a gift of the November 2018 Gratitude Every Day calendar. I am using it as an opportuity to revisit photos and post them as they speak to gratitude.

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A song I am thankful for

Song

A song I would always name, is “The Weight” as covered by Aretha Franklin. I could not find a photo for that. My thoughts then turned to the songwriters (words and/or music) who I am honored to call friends – Carter Anderson II, Adina Nyree, Shannon Beck, Jorge Gonzalez, David Lamotte, David Gambrell, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Bob Brashear. If I missed you, please let me know and I will add your name. For the purpose of this post, I found a photo of Sera Chung.

Traci Smith, author of Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home has provided a gift of the November 2018 Gratitude Every Day calendar. I am using it as an opportuity to revisit photos and post them as they speak to gratitude.

 

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Playlists

I walk. It’s one of the few healthy things I do. At the moment. I have plans to change that.

For now, I walk. Over 5,000,000 steps in 2017.

IMG_6750.jpgAfter some trial and error and more trials and even more errors, I discovered that what inspires me best when I walk, and in those moments when I jog or run at a speed that challenges a sundial to measure, is music. Which leads to the topic of playlists.

At first I tried using my iTunes on shuffle. The challenge involved tempo. Many songs on my iTunes are too slow for walking, let alone for those moments when jogging/running at a speed that threatens to leave banana slugs in the dust.

Playlists became my solution: selecting the songs that I want to listen to each day. I create daily playlists that are about 1 hour long.

Of playlist types, there are four (at the moment):

Memorial playlists. Often, but not every time, when an artist dies, I create a playlist of songs by that artist. Sometimes I will include covers of the artist’s songs as well. At times this means purchasing songs to build, or supplement, the playlist; other times I have the needed songs.

Special day playlists. For days that have speak to me in a special way, I create playlists. These are days I choose to commemorate. Usually I have songs that fit the day; occasionally songs are added to supplement what is already in my iTunes library. Examples are: Roberto Clemente’s birthday, my birthday and anniversary, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,  Human Rights Day, the Winter Solstice, and Women’s Day.

Seasonal playlists. Current playlists mark two seasons. During Advent and Christmas, playlists are built of Advent and Christmas songs on the Sundays and then from December 24 through January 6, Christmas songs fill the playlists. The week or two before and after St. Patrick’s Day bring playlists of Irish and Irish-American music. Fitzgerald on my mother’s side. Playlists created during each season follow, as far as possible, the rules of regular playlists and involve the creation of Christmas and Irish source playlists.

Regular playlists. I create a playlist folder in iTunes with all the songs in the library except for Christmas. This becomes the master playlist with the incredibly creative name of “Gym.”  A playlist folder for each day is then created: “Gym 02 November” for example. I then go back into the master playlist, set it on shuffle, and start a song. I don’t use that song, but do a fast-forward to the next song. If the tempo is right, I add it to the daily playlist and then delete it from the master playlist and then repeat the process. If the tempo is too slow, it is simply deleted and the fast-forward takes place. This continues for about 7 or 8 songs which is somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. At that point, I look at the playlist in terms of diversity of the artists. The remaining songs are chosen using the fast-forward shuffle to ensure that there is a measure of diversity (gender and race) in the list. Two additional rules: only one song per artist per playlist (which is waived if an artist was a member of multiple groups) and no repeats of the same song even by different artists. Songs that are not included because they do not fit the rules at the moment remain in the list. Only slow songs and used songs are deleted. Should it reach the point where all the songs have been used or deleted, then the “Gym” master playlist would be rebuilt.

One potential tweak lies ahead. I have purchased the 2018 Peace Calendar from the Syracuse Cultural Workers. In addition to being a source for special day playlists, it may well allow the addition of a song or two on appropriate days.

Creating playlists consumes time. It often happens late at night with a mindless movie on the television. And I have come to realize that this is a discipline that feeds me in some way I cannot describe. And that is good.

See you along the Trail.

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The Cellist of Sarajevo

It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.
Sylvia Poggioli

And everyday he made me wonder
Where did he ever find
The music midst the madness
The courage to be kind
The long forgotten beauty
We thought was blown away
– John McCutcheon
In the Streets of Sarajevo

61ZpqI2PvnL._SS500April 5, 1992 saw the first casualties in what became a 1,425 day siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.

More than 10,000 residents died because of shelling, bombing, the blockade, sniper fire, and other aspects of the siege.

In the midst of the siege, “the madness” to use John McCutcheon’s word, Vedran Smailović, of the Sarajevo Philarmonic Orchestra, played his cello in publuc. He played in ruined buildings, often performing Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor. He played at funerals during the siege, even though snipers often targeted by snipers.

After mortar fire killed 22 people as the stood in a bread line, Smailović played for 22 straight days in their honor. This part of Smailović’s story has made its way into writings and song. In an article in The Australian, Smailović expands on his experience:

I didn’t play for 22 days, I played all my life in Sarajevo and for the two years of the siege each and every day. They keep saying I played at four in the afternoon, but the explosion was at 10 in the morning and I am not stupid, I wasn’t looking to get shot by snipers so I varied my routine. I never stopped playing music throughout the siege.

Twenty-two days, two years, all his life. The time frame is unimportant. What matters is that Smailović found music and courage and grace and love to make a witness in the face of war and horror.

I give thanks for the Cellist of Sarajevo, and I look for others who, to paraphrase McCutcheon, “do not stand aside … refuse to be defeated … and rage against the tide.”

See you along the Trail.

P.S. After leaving Sarajevo, Vedran Smailović collaborated with Irish singer-songwriter and peace activist Tommy Sands to create an album Sarajevo/Belfast.

P.P.S. I use the image of the CD cover because it is a photo I took of a copy of the CD I own.

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The Until We Meet Again Tour – 29 July 2016, part 2

The Until We Meet Again Tour involved an evening walk from the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations to New York City Center. There my son Sean joined me to see God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, a musical based on the Kurt Vonnegut novel of the same name. James Earl Jones played the role of Kilgore Trout.

During the intermission, I noted to Sean that once again I had chosen a play that might be described as non-traditional. He replied that at least this one had a somewhat linear plot. He further noted that this was the first collaboration by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken with the result that the music and lyrics were well done.

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See you along the Trail.

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The Until We Meet Again Tour – 20 July 2016

The Until We Meet Again Tour took a couple of days off. Saturday and Sunday involved cleaning at the Shire and sleeping in. Monday and Tuesday brought a couple of work presentations.

The Tour kicked into high gear again tonight. I spotted information about an Eileen Ivers concert at the Sheen Center, purchased a ticket, and had a great evening.

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See you along the Trail.

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