Harmony Beat

Violinist from Indiana traveling to all 50 states in 2016, asking: "What is American culture?"

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

violinist, violist, teacher, composer, conductor, writer, cultural diplomat, traveler

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Applications due today

Applications for Music for the People's 2007 projects are due today. Please be advised that in addition to projects currently listed on the websites, projects in Turkey and Afghanistan will soon be added, bringing the total number of projects in 2007 to five: Turkey (middle of May to early June), Philippines (late May to middle of June), Tunisia (first week of July), Zimbabwe (last three weeks of July), Afghanistan (last three weeks of July).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Article in Fractured Atlas newsletter

Fractured Atlas, MFTP's fiscal sponsor, features MFTP in its fall newsletter.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What I'm thankful for

Music for the People has involved so many people over the past couple years that it is difficult to know whom to thank. Certainly, as I look at the "acknowledgments" pages for Project I, Project II, and Project III, I realize that these lists represent only a tiny fraction of the people who have given tirelessly for these projects. Even the people already on the list merit more ample gratitude.

This summer's projects would not have happened without the extraordinary advocacy of Dr. Joseph Polisi, president of The Juilliard School. The selflessness with which he has shared his contacts and vouched for the value of what we intended to do mark him as a rare human being indeed. Even a casual mention of Qatar during a conversation was enough for him to extend to me the invitation to travel there with the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble in March, a terrific opportunity that will yield exciting results for MFTP, I believe.

Thinking of Dr. Polisi's generosity reminds me of the hundreds of donors who have invested in MFTP's mission. On this Thanksgiving day, please take a moment to peruse their names, and reflect that each name represents a unique and caring individual motivated to support the growth of cultural understanding. Some are family friends; others barely know me or anyone connected with MFTP. I am grateful to all of them, particularly to Kevin and Pam Wolf, who have so graciously opened their home twice for MFTP so that we could present a benefit concert there.

For each of MFTP's three projects to date, a single collaborator has made an enormous difference. The godfather of MFTP is surely Dr. Everold Hosein, the erudite, gregarious, generous, and renowned Communication Advisor with the World Health Organization. His contacts provided me with the security to launch what some might have termed a foolhardy venture: a 22-year-old violinist venturing alone to Moldova and Tunisia with the goal of bringing people together through music.

Dr. Jay Colebrook worked tirelessly to make sure that Project II would be a success. His tenacity and dedication succeeded in establishing a relationship between MFTP and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, something I have tried and failed to instigate in the other countries where we have operated.

Jayne During of the Kuaba Humanitarian Foundation is so much more to me than MFTP's collaborator for our Zimbabwe project. She is one of the great humanitarians, and one of the few truly selfless people I know. Her mantra is that "everything is for the children," and she lives it out. Though I'm sure she would not crave recognition for herself, I hope she receives a Nobel some day for her extraordinary efforts in Ghana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

As one example of what Jayne does, when she returned to Zimbabwe recently, she discovered that our collaboration had not actually raised all the money necessary to build the borehole pump at Epworth Primary in Harare. We had thought that this was the case. Jayne graciously donated her own money, and within a week, the pump will be completed and the children will enjoy running water.

I am thankful for this tangible result, even if it comes later than anticipated. And, since I am giving thanks for tangible results of MFTP's collaborations with humanitarian organizations, I should mention an e-mail I recently received from Nicoleta Bodrug, the UNICEF employee who made both MFTP's work in Moldova and UNICEF's Early Childhood Development Campaign such a success. I had asked Nicoleta how the campaign I helped launch had turned out. With her usual thoroughness, she sent me a lot of materials documenting its success. I have told people here in the U.S. that our concert in Chisinau on June 24, 2005 collected 6,000 books. It collected 7,000. What a delightful mistake for me to make!

Look how long this entry has already become! I haven't gotten around yet to mentioning the seven musicians who have joined me on the projects. The work of Nicholas DiEugenio, Sarah Frisof, Chris Gross, Becky Lu, Ryan Murphy, Maiya Papach, and Beth Weisser has been astonishing. When I picture Beth Weisser of the iO Quartet comparing Ives' String Quartet to the popular Filipino drink halo halo in front of hundreds of indigenous children on the island of Mindanao, or when I picture Sarah Frisof eagerly joining a group of orphans in a musical game they created, it is easy for me to get confused and think that it is still January 2005, and I am still dreaming about what MFTP would be like one day. That is because they embody so perfectly everything I'd always hoped an MFTP project participant would be like.

But now it is time for me to thank those thousands of people who have been and will always remain the prime reason for MFTP's existence: the people in Moldova, Tunisia, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe whose lives we have shared, if only ephemerally and through the mutual experience of music. All attempts at gratitude break down, for how do I thank Morejester Hwande, the student from Epworth Primary in Harare whose thin face glowed with enthusiasm every time she contributed one of her extraordinary suggestions to the composition our group created. No matter what I can do for her, she has done more for me.

On this day of Thanksgiving, the images of the many friends I have made swim before my mind's eye as I struggle to grasp the immense impact they have had on my life. Dr. Lotfi M'raihi, who welcomed me into his home in Tunisia, and his sons Amine and Hamza, who became such good friends. Houda, the girl in the workshops who helped me pick out a shirt in the medina in Tunis. Onias Horiwa, the Zimbabwean orphan (now my age), whose love for music and cultural preservation burns so brightly. Laura Berdaga, the 6-year-old daughter of Viorica Berdaga, is now 8 years old and living in Cambodia, far from her native Moldova.

Thinking of Laura and the way she used to dance and skip around her family's Chisinau apartment, I cannot help but think of Anna Healey. When I first met Anna in 2002, my brother and I played for her at Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan, where she was receiving treatment for neuroblastoma. In 2005, just before I left for Moldova and Tunisia, her father presented me with a brightly-colored bracelet with the letters A.N.N.A for Anna Needs Neuroblastoma Answers. He asked me to wear it on my project, and I have worn it for every second of every MFTP project to date; it is visible in most of the MFTP pictures.

Anna passed away earlier this year. She was nine years old. When I wrote her father to wish him strength, he had the stunning magnanimity to express a wish for me: "I hope you continue to dance through life the way my daughter did." I give thanks for every second I knew Anna, and as I do, I give thanks for every second that everyone I've mentioned above has danced through my life. May they continue to dance with joyous hearts.

As long as this entry has grown, my gratitude is longer, so I hope you will stay with me to read the following words from Mutya Abarico. Mutya is the clarinet teacher at St. Scholastica's College of Music in Manila, and a dear friend to all of us who met her in the Philippines. Her words express more eloquently than mine the spirit that animates every single one of the "dancers" for whom I'm grateful:

"The traditional boundaries, physical and cultural barriers, antiquated ideas about cross-cultural exchanges are being fast replaced with the incredible flow of people, talents and services, global travel and information, rising expectations, and the need to learn about other cultures and nations.

"Today, our world is a gathering place of myriad traditions, ways of life, races and ethnicities, religions and cultures, amazing colors, textures and rhythms, and multi-faceted attractions. We must know and understand the universe that surrounds us and actively engage in and experience this richness; recognize and celebrate this multi-cultural world in all its wondrous and intriguing manifestations and develop respect for our cultural and ethnic differences. We should explore ways to integrate this diversity into a tapestry that represents and reflects our collective heritage, hopes, and legacy as a human civilization. We must make room for ideas, experiences, and perspectives different from our own. We must embrace and integrate wisdom that echoes our own; expand interest, appreciation, and sensitivity where we may be at opposite ends of the spectrum of understanding that guide us; discover threads that offer welcome hope and change in spirit; and find common ground to our intertwined destiny and future.

"We have the moral responsibility to abandon indifference; dispel ignorance, unfounded perceptions and prejudices, and stereotyping of entire communities that continue to divide us and foster unfortunate mistrust and suspicion. We must gather into ever-widening courtyards like the Music for the People and countless other such endeavors where we share light and laughter, hope and gifts, and energy and understanding to shape a better day for all humanity. We must have the courage to cross thresholds of 'we cannot' into those where our heart and spirit exclaim in unison 'we must' and build bridges that we, others, may travel across in friendship. Such a dream begins at home, schools, churches, intimate gatherings, community forums, and in our hearts before it can become a reality. From what we are witnessing, there is great reason for optimism and much work to do."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Applications due one week from today

Just a reminder that American musicians ages 21 through 35 who are interested in participating in Music for the People's projects in 2007 should submit an application by Wednesday, November 29.

On behalf of the review panel, let me say that we are looking forward to receiving your applications and wish you the best of luck!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Story in South Bend Tribune

Today's South Bend Tribune has a story about Music for the People's "Sound of Water, Sound of Hope" project. The story is by reporter Joe Dits, who traveled with MFTP and the Kuaba Humanitarian Foundation to Zimbabwe in July. The story contains links to additional stories by Mr. Dits about the summer experience in Zimbabwe, as well as a slideshow of his beautiful pictures from the trip, accompanied by an audio recording of the compositions created by the children at Epworth Primary School in Harare.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Short ride in an MFTP machine

These last three days constituted one of my shorter trips to New York. I left Spokane to duck into the Big Apple in order to perform at the benefit for Fractured Atlas, Music for the People's fiscal sponsor. The benefit, held on Thursday, November 9, at 7:00 p.m. at the Westside Loft, drew a large crowd of artists, models, and leaders from the arts and business sectors. I believe they enjoyed my performance of Bach, Paganini, and Sirtou Soltan Yakah, a selection from the Turkish lunga tradition.

I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other organizations fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas. I was particularly delighted to meet representatives from World Up, an organization "dedicated to educating the public about international cultures, and issues that affect the global community through Hip-Hop and its related musics." They promote "diversity, cross-cultural understanding, and social change through Hip-Hop culture."

The founder, Ebenezer Bond, and I agreed that World Up and Music for the People have similar aims, with the main difference being that World Up focuses on hip-hop from global cultures and MFTP focuses on the classical or traditional music from those cultures.

Earlier in the day, I had a meeting at Juilliard regarding my participation in a tour to Qatar which the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra will undertake in March. I am very excited and honored to be included on this trip. I look forward to learning more about jazz, learning Arabic, and contributing whatever I can to the tour. Hopefully, the experience will lead to some sort of MFTP project in Qatar.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Benefit concert thank-you

Thank you so much to everyone who made last Saturday's benefit concert such a great success. About a hundred people packed the Thalia Theater at Symphony Space in New York.

Without the extraordinary publicity-generating, personnel-locating, and logistics-coordinating skills of Amanda von Goetz, the concert could not have happened. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Amanda! I'm honored to know such a talented young woman.

The two other soloists were absolutely magnificent. Philip Fisher gave a magisterial account of the Beethoven Emperor Concerto, and I was delighted to join him and John McMurtery for the Bach Fifth Brandenburg Concerto. Thank you to them for their artistry and brilliance.

Thank you to Maestro Phil Nuzzo, director of the Metro Chamber Orchestra, for graciously offering to do this concert and for conducting the Beethoven and Wagner's Siegfried Idyll.

Finally, thank you to the brilliant members of the orchestra. They gave tirelessly of their time, energy, and musicianship in order for this concert to come off. Thank you to Daniel Andai, Peter Anderegg, David Clausen, Stani Dimitrova, Dana Frobig, Ryan Gardner, Noah Geller, Emilie Gendron, David Gould, Megan Griffin, Christina Guarino, Alexander Gusev, William Hestand, SoJin Kim, Sam Oatts, Karen Ouzounian, Jeff Reinhardt, Ayah Rifai, Sean Riley, Luke Rinderknecht, Yulia Sakharova, Laura Wenninger, Rion Wentworth, Kristin Wojcik, and Dorothy Wu. Natalia Lavrova assisted Amanda with securing the musicians' services. Thank you, Natalia!