Two weeks ago, world-renowned and Grammy®-winning violinist Gil Shaham performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D with the UNC Symphony Orchestra. The electrifying performance was a capstone event for the first half of his 2015-2016 artist-in-residence program at UNC Chapel Hill. The smiles on the faces of those students after the performance confirmed that they knew that they had not merely witnessed greatness, but had participating in creating that greatness. And with that great success now a part of their foundation, they can aim even higher in whatever they do next, whether it be more performances, academics, professional career ambitions, or public service. As a Carolina Performing Arts board member, I am proud generally of the artistic residencies we have helped to realize at Chapel Hill, and very proud of this one in particular.
Last week, I had a chance to witness and help support another artist-in-residence program in Chapel Hill. Banda Magda (founded by Greek-born singer, film scorer, and composer Magda Giannikou) has played Carnegie Hall, Webster Hall, Irving Plaza, The Kennedy Center, The Jefferson Center, Celebrate Brooklyn, Jazz al Parque, St. Moritz Festival Da Jazz, and the Chicago World Music Festival. Their debut album Amour, t’es là? set a blistering pace (Top 10 Billboard World Music Charts, NPR’s All Songs Considered, First Listen, NPR’s 10 favorite World Music Albums 2013), and their second album Yerakina shows the next step in their musical evolution. Magda and her band-mates have composed and/or performed on a number of Grammy®-winning and Grammy®-nominated projects, yet instead of chasing only brighter and brighter lights, she takes the time to bring up the next generation of artists and creators by doing artist residences with youth orchestras. This year the stars aligned for the youth orchestra of the Guy B. Phillips Middle School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Continue reading “Banda Magda brings world music to Chapel Hill middle school”
As we have in the past, our family participated in Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. It is a wonderful opportunity to share ideas we’ve been developing and to learn from many, many people whose perspectives are truly global. This year I was invited to share some remarks as part of the closing plenary, titled “If these were my final remarks”. It is both a privilege to be giving the opportunity to have the last word, but it is also a challenge: of all the things that I could say, what should I say (and therefore what must I not say)? To help me with my choice, I wrote down my two favorite themes, read them out, and decided, based on votes from a few trusted friends and my own instincts, which to deliver to the audience and which to share after-the-fact. Here are the two texts. Please feel free to comment on which text you prefer, or any other thoughts they elicit from you.
Continue reading “Renaissance Weekend speech texts”
I never thought I’d be giving a shout out to CNN from this blog, but the article they wrote about Wynton Marsalis and his musical ministry was exceptional.
The story begins “Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis knows how important education is for youth, but what feeds their minds and souls, he says, often lies beyond traditional classroom walls.” Amen!
Growing up in New York City, I had always taken the City’s icons as givens, as if Tiffany’s, or The Metropolitan Opera, or the Empire State Building had always been a part of the city, because they were all part of the city by the time I became aware of them. When Wynton Marsalis co-founded Jazz at Lincoln Center, he changed the architectural, musical, and cultural landscape of the city, thereby also changing the fixed points of reference that I had presumed were immutable since I was a boy. Something really new in New York? Amazing! Continue reading “Changing kids' lives through jazz”
The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild is a multi-discipline, minority directed, center for arts and learning that employs the visual and performing arts to foster a sense of accomplishment and hope in the urban community. Pittsboro is not exactly an urban community, but the needs of youth and the role of the performing arts to develop and nurture an authentic, powerful voice is every bit as important in North Carolina as it is in downtown Pittsburgh. And I do hope that if the Guild fancies a visit to North Carolina, or if there is a new Guild that forms closer to Pittsboro, I hope there might be an opportunity to share the dream and to give these young performers some studio experience, too.
‘Tis the season, and like so many cities in America, the Nutcracker is playing to full houses here in Raleigh. I used to hate it when my parents would take me to the ballet, usually because my mother or somebody she knew was playing in the symphony and she was unwilling to leave me at home to watch something better on TV. But over the years my appreciation for music developed, and though my 10 year old self would never ever have believed it, I now enjoy listening to classical music and I find the ballet to be one of the most stimulating musical experiences to be found anywhere. What happened?
Continue reading “Nutcracker Nation”
Here’s a link to Larry Lessig’s speech from the 2007 TED conference. Spend twenty minutes to understand twenty first century creativity and culture. It is dazzling in its brilliants, and shattering with its insights.
Please comment with your reactions.
My daughter is eight years old, and one of her favorite CDs is the Kid Pan Alley Nashville CD. She knows all the lyrics, all the melodies, and uses it as inspiration for her own flights of poetic fancy. Which is wonderful when you consider the mission statement of Kid Pan Alley: inspiring kids to be creators, not just consumers of popular culture.
I first heard about Kid Pan Alley while listening to an episode of NPR‘s Morning Edition on my local radio station, WUNC. Their motivation and my own seemed so aligned, at least when it came to introducing children to music in a cultural context. I loved the idea of soliciting song and story ideas from the children, and then as much as possible using the material provided by the children to create popular songs. I must admit that despite owning more than 1,000 CDs, at most a handful have that “Nashville Sound”. But I like Kid Pan Alley!
I’m looking into bringing them (back) to North Carolina and doing a CD with a creative commons license. Are you as excited as I am? Are you interested in co-sponsoring their visit? If so, send me an email and/or indicate +1 in your comment on my blog.