Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Music Everywhere

Cathy and I have cleared our calendars to make way for plenty of live music this Spring starting with the kickoff of the Savannah Music Festival tomorrow.

March 20 Savannah Music Festival - Yundi Li: The 25-year old Chinese piano phenomenon Yundi Li was the youngest to ever win the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 2000. Since signing a recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon at age 19, Li has played in nearly every major concert hall in the world, entrancing audiences with his fluid, graceful performances and astounding technique. “Mr. Li has major manual skills, including an octave technique scarcely to be believed. The sound he makes on the piano is both vivid and enormous ... a very real musicality.” - The New York Times The program tomorrow evening includes Mozart's Piano Sonata in C Major, K. 330, Chopin's Mazurkas No.22-25, Op.33, Nocturne in E-flat Major, Opus 9, and Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise in E-flat Major, Opus 22, Liszt's Widmung, S. 566 and Mussorgsky's: Pictures at an Exhibition .

Notes from the evening: If you have never heard Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition performed live you should treat yourself to an unforgetttable experience. The piece runs a good 30 minutes long and is simply divine to hear performed live. The Chopin was superb and Liszt's Widmung was executed flawlessly.

March 20 Savannah Wild Wings- Danielle Howle: Oft-compared to Nina Simone and Flannery O'Connor, Danielle Howle is a powerful frontwoman whose vivid yet off-kilter musical stories weave a sweet sensibility and bare honesty into her work. Her solo performances are breathtaking, with captivating vocals. A comedian between songs, her prattles are filled with insight, inquiry, and wonder that speak of true romanticism. Howle's polished yet spontaneous hilarity creates a singular experience on the music scene. The New York Times calls her "an extraordinary mind, a southern storyteller with a gorgeous sense of melody that should be pouring out of stereos everywhere. She is one to be treasured." Danielle's a great friend of mine!

March 26 Savannah Music Festival- Stewart Copeland: Fresh off of his world tour with The Police, drummer/composer Stewart Copeland hosts a compelling night of music featuring original compositions, special guest artists, the premiere of a new work featuring SMF Associate Artistic Director Daniel Hope. The evening will conclude with a screening of Copeland’s original documentary, “Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out,” a film he made about being on tour with The Police and a question & answer session.

April 5 Savannah Music Festival- Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck (The Sparrow Quartet): This all-star acoustic quartet led by Abigail Washburn (Uncle Earl) and partner Béla Fleck exploring intricate, thoughtful arrangements of old songs and gripping instrumental tunes, all with the underlying influence of the Far East. Along with co-members Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee, the Sparrow Quartet has visited China and Tibet as musical ambassadors, doing what mass media cannot in representing contemporary American culture.

April 3 Savannah Music Festival- The World of Slide Guitar featuring Derek Trucks, Jerry Douglas, Debashish Bhattacharya and Bob Brozman: This guitar summit will showcase four completely different variations of slide guitar in an unprecedented concert that should be one of the Festival’s most unique productions. Derek Trucks has developed one of the most distinctive voices on electric slide guitar by incorporating southern blues, jazz, gospel and Indian music to form his unique phrasing. Jerry Douglas is responsible for countless innovations on the resophonic guitar, a.k.a. dobro, as evidenced by more than 1,000 recording credits and twelve Grammy® Awards. Debashish Bhattacharya is one of the standard bearers in contemporary Indian classical music. His playing has produced new techniques and maximized the range of each of his three instruments. Through his studies of music in many different societies, and involvement in recording projects and tours featuring Hawaiian, Delta Blues, West African, Indian, Okinawan, Caribbean, Gypsy and world island music, Bob Brozman now performs what he calls “World Blues” music on traditional acoustic guitars. All four artists will perform with their ensembles and in a variety of pairings throughout the evening.

April 6
Charleston, SC- Joan Baez: The living legend who continues to sing and march for freedom and human rights on most every continent across the world is back in the South. This will mark my 9th Joan Baez concert.

April 17
Jacksonville, FL & July 20 Charlotte, NC- RUSH: Only The Greatest band touring presently! This will mark my 10th & 11th Rush Concert!

May 13
Atlanta, GA- The Swell Season: Playing under the name The Swell Season, Irish singer Glen Hansard and Czech newcomer Markéta Irglová sing affecting folk-rock songs with blissful harmonies. The song, "Falling Slowly" (performed by the duo) from the soundtrack of the movie Once, in which both Hansard & Irglová starred, won an Academy Award in 2008 for best song.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Expanding Awareness

Watch this entire video and see if it doesn't cause you to change your thoughts, from this point on, in a more positive direction. The first 3 minutes is the "silent" expression of an autistic individual; the remaining is her communication using "our" language via type- written word and mechanical voice (Amanda Baggs types 120 words a minute) of what she experiences and how we fail to understand her world.

"Only when the many shapes of personhood are recognized will justice and human rights be possible." Amanda Baggs

PS: Not even 30 minutes after posting this amazing video I was driving across town for a meeting and was stopped by a line of 50-60 special needs adults, some most likely autistic, who were being directed across the road, in a single line, on their way to the developmental center. I watched as they passed in front of me and silently sent thanks and blessings to each person for the delightful experience they offered me... a chance to remark that each and everyone of us is so very special and desires to communicate the unique gift instilled within.

Sometimes we are literally forced to stop and witness the ordinary miracle that is simply being. Where will you be stopped today... and will you be able to see the miracle right in front of you?

$3 Trillion & Counting

How will we respond to those in need when the time comes? Surely not as the Bush administration has. Now that McCain has locked in the Republican nomination could we afford another 100 years of Iraqi occupation? As Clinton & Obama fight for a nomination- who is fighting for the American people and for common sense?

From today's NY Times:

"Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz (who believes the overall costs of the war — not just the cost to taxpayers — will reach $3 trillion) noted that nearly 40 percent of the 700,000 troops from the first gulf war, which lasted just a month, have become eligible for disability benefits. The current war is approaching five years in duration.

"Imagine then," said Mr. Stiglitz, “what a war — that will almost surely involve more than 2 million troops and will almost surely last more than six or seven years — will cost. Already we are seeing large numbers of returning veterans showing up at V.A. hospitals for treatment, large numbers applying for disability and large numbers with severe psychological problems.

Said Mr. Stiglitz: “Because the administration actually cut taxes as we went to war, when we were already running huge deficits, this war has, effectively, been entirely financed by deficits. The national debt has increased by some $2.5 trillion since the beginning of the war, and of this, almost $1 trillion is due directly to the war itself ... By 2017, we estimate that the national debt will have increased, just because of the war, by some $2 trillion.”

Can we comprehend what we have allowed to happen and what our children and grandchildren will inherit?

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