Saturday, December 31, 2016

Holiday Musical Traditions

We all have holiday traditions ranging from waking up Santa (who's sleeping under one's Christmas tree) and chasing him up the chimney before the children come racing down the stairs (we always heard his jingle bells, but never did catch a glimpse of him rushing up the flue, even though Dad insisted he had to chase him out of the house every year) to drinking egg nog on New Year's Eve... But what about musical traditions associated with the holidays?

Many families and individuals make a concerted (pun intended) effort to attend a Messiah sing-in, during which members of the audience bring or are given copies of Handel's famous score with which to sing along. I personally love this tradition, and lament the fact that in some areas of our country this tradition seems to be waning. Others participate in caroling expeditions through their neighborhoods and to nursing homes to spread good will and Christmas cheer. This year I coordinated a neighborhood caroling night and it served to introduce us to other music-loving families in our community, as well as bring both the singers and the recipients of an unexpected serenade a keen sense of love, local good will and purity in the midst of all else happening in the world. It was a sweet departure from reality into heaven for a few hours, albeit cold! This is a tradition that anyone can plan, and it brings a large return of friendship and joy on your relatively small investment of energy and time. Another tradition that I have established in my household is playing and singing carols at the piano at various times of the season. Now that I am a professional pianist as well as a professional vocalist, I find great pleasure in singing the songs of Christmas (and New Year's) for my family to enjoy. I think it is important that those who identify themselves as musicians find ways to share their music with others as often as possible--the world needs us! Still other musical traditions include putting Christmas albums on to listen to during gift exchanges, cooking and baking marathons, and breakfasts throughout the twelve (yes, TWELVE!) days of Christmas.

Since Christmas is a season in the Christian calendar and not just a single day, it is important to remember to honor the Christmas spirit, story, scriptures, songs, traditions and cheer throughout the period from Advent (when we await the coming of Christ and celebrate the anticipation of His blessed birth) through to Epiphany (January 6, the traditional day we acknowledge the visitation of the three wise men/kings/magi to the infant Messiah, and the revelation of God to mankind). Being a season of forty days (Advent) plus twelve days of Christmas, the possibilities for enjoying a long season of holiday music are many. I love the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" because it reminds me to celebrate each day of the Christmas season.

Some members of my family get together and play music in what we call "the family band" featuring several brass players (french horns, trumpet, tuba, trombone, saxes, clarinet, flute and drum set). This is a wonderful tradition that I highly recommend for any musical families to start--it programs great memories of making music with your own family right into your holiday calendar each year (our family band also meets to play together on Independence Day!) A new tradition that I aim to start next year is to enjoy some kind of musical activity which celebrates the season every day of Advent and Christmas--whether being a different seasonal song I sing or play each day, or attending a Christmas concert by my local symphony or community choir, or writing a holiday song, or coordinating another caroling expedition, or playing a new album of Christmas big band arrangements... Again, the possibilities are endless. I look forward to the holidays each year and intend to continue enjoying this Christmas season (we are currently at the seventh day) with an emphasis on the music and how it contributes to our joy, peace and worship. I wish you all a happy, holy and safe remainder of the Christmas season and a 2017 that exceeds your wildest dreams! Thank you always for your support of live music and of those who create it. Blessings to all!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

An Open Letter to Gladys Knight

Dear Ms. Knight,

My husband and I spent a wonderful evening with you a few weeks ago when you performed in Greenville, South Carolina at the Peace Center. What a tremendous show you gave your audience! I marveled at the vibrancy, fullness of tone, and outstanding control that you still have after singing professionally for over fifty years. Forgive my surprise, but there was no trace of the wobble that plagues so many older singers, and you commanded the entire stage with élan and great energy. Your pitch, rhythm, and phrasing were, as always, flawless. I particularly appreciated the rapport you built with your audience and the graciousness that flowed out of you toward us. Young performers should take heed of this--enduring performers APPRECIATE and VALUE their audience members--you thanked us several times when we wanted to be thanking you for enriching our lives with your music, grace and love.

My favorite moments included when you sang a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald--you chose the Gershwin standard,"The Man I Love." I found that to be extremely interesting and ironic, because when I performed on the PBS-broadcast show, "We Love Ella! A Tribute to the First Lady of Song," also featuring Natalie Cole, Patti Austin, Take 6, Quincy Jones, Wynonna, Nancy Wilson and so many other masterful artists, that is the song I was given to sing as a soloist with the Thornton orchestra and big band. Great choice!

Another favorite moment was when you paused from singing so many songs associated with your recording career and sang two well-known praise songs lifting up your heart to God with the other singers on stage. Your faithfulness in sharing with your audience about the heavenly source of joy in your life was so inspiring. Finally, your unbelievable rendition of "Midnight Train to Georgia," which we had all been waiting for, of course, was worth the wait and very moving for me. That song has special meaning for me and has helped to bring me through some painful, sacrificial times in my life, so thank you for sharing it with us in such a poignant way.

Since I was a young child you have been and always will remain one of my favorite singers, and I am better at what I do because of people like you who have remained so true to their art form, true to themselves, true to the public and true to the Lord. God bless you, Ms. Knight--I look forward to our next visit together.

Sincerely Your Fan,

Tish

Thursday, October 27, 2016

59th Grammy Awards Consideration--and Finding Your Own Path

I was duly surprised earlier this month to discover that the 59th Grammy Awards has decided to honor my 2015 Songs From the Heart EP with consideration in three categories! The first track, "Follow Me," was co-written by my husband, George Gábor, and has been listed for Grammy consideration in "Song of the Year" and "Best Pop Solo Performance" categories. Track two, "Be Still and Know," is being considered in the Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song" category. I am super-excited about this attention my original songs have received--and fully realize that I am so blessed to be able to do what I absolutely love as my profession. Both songs come from an EP of guitar/vocal duets and were recorded with my favorite collaborative artist, the amazing guitar master John Chiodini, who performs with incredible emotion, originality, style and artistry in everything he does. Our 2016 recording, a jazz album yet to be released or titled, is still in production and will be out next year. That project has its own set of enormously exciting tales to tell, but its time will come... NARAS members, thank you so much for your consideration of my songs on this ballot round!

As a youth, I often wondered how artists became noticed and included in these awards deliberations... Why are some talented artists seemingly overlooked while others, perhaps not nearly as gifted or skilled, get so much attention? Naturally, life has taught me the answers to those questions, and very hard work, diligence, discipline and sheer perseverance cannot be minimized when looking back on my career. The school of hard knocks may be the more difficult way to go, but it does produce its own unparalleled brand of achievement and satisfaction eventually. At many junctures in life, I think I took the less-traveled road... I have never entered a singing or jazz competition, so I never had a career or recording contract handed to me, as some have. I never was "discovered" at a young age (well, actually I was, but I felt my Ivy-League education was too important to give up for a possible Miss America title... true story.) In another instance, when an ABC network producer called me on the phone to invite me to star in their reality music show pilot, I turned them down--with the caviat that I would be glad to accept employment from them to coach their contestants instead. The producer was speechless and stated that he had never experienced a turn-down from an artist before. I was too concerned about preserving the integrity of my music career (in which I always have called the shots) to hand it over to a possibly irresponsible producer who would be willing to sacrifice my career to improve the network's ratings. As tempting as worldwide fame and attention may have been in previous moments, I am grateful that I had the presence of mind and self-respect in that moment to do what was best for me, which was to turn down ABC's offer.

My advice to young artists today (should you choose to accept it) is this: ALWAYS be true to yourself and to your art. Do not be tempted by agents, managers, opportunities or offers that feel out of step with where you would like your career (and life!) to go. If you cannot be in control of your career, or if the offer does not align with your value system, it could be unwise to follow someone else's concept of who you could become. I have since been approached by managers and Broadway producers who may yet contact me for collaborative work... who knows? I will entertain each offer individually as it comes, and if it happens to align with my goals, GREAT! But often, if it comes with a "catch" or a cost, that's a danger sign. I am content to go where my Lord leads me. And even if my life includes not another single awesome gig, opportunity, job, or award, I can honestly say that I have lived my dreams... even now I am living them... and for that I am eternally thankful.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Music for Wellness, Part II: Physical Benefits

Here is Part II of an article I initially wrote as a guest blogger for my friend's fitness blog. For the full article, see www.LoriKing.us.

Music’s healing properties have been applied in recent decades to the field of medicine under the umbrella of Music Therapy. According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music therapy interventions can be designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation.” (www.musictherapy.org). If music can have such a powerful healing effect upon those in need of medical attention, imagine the ways we all could benefit from its healing properties and positive health benefits each and every day!

One key area of physical benefit from musical performance is the cultivation of a deep breath. Deep breathing is a necessary element of correct technique for singers, woodwind players, brass players, conductors and pianists. Many string players and percussionists also benefit from the study of deep breathing techniques that coordinate with the rhythms of the music they play. The study, practice and performance of music for these breath-conscious musicians often results in greater lung capacity, relief from (or better management of) breathing maladies including asthma, decreased stress and anxiety, slower heart rate, stronger intercostal and abdominal muscles, and better oxygenation of blood cells. Deep, full breathing can slow a rapid heartbeat, calm a panic attack and provide a nearly instant supply of fresh oxygen to a stressed brain. By means of improving breath management, musical study comes out on top as a wellness-promoting activity!

Improved posture is another physical benefit of musical study. Trained musicians are taught to align their bodies properly in order to promote maximum efficiency of the muscles, breathing mechanism and resonance chambers necessary for optimal performance results. Our postures change as we age, so continued attention to posture through an ongoing pursuit of musical engagement results in potentially huge health benefits. Choral singing, band or orchestra performance, solo practicing/performing or private lessons can provide these benefits. The coordination of deep breathing techniques within the framework of excellent posture during active engagement of the body for a musical performance delivers a surprisingly empowering, positive result upon one’s health. The aerobic activity of coordinating a performance with good breath management and proper spinal and physical alignment explains why so many professional musicians are in outstanding physical condition.

For those who are not inclined to pursue musical study or performance in their adult years, enjoying recorded or live music can also create a positive atmosphere for wellness. Dancing is an excellent form of exercise and stress relief. Soft, soothing music can aid meditation or help a person wind down and relax after a long workday. Listening to jazz or classical music may help organize brain pathways. Music can improve a mood, facilitate mindfulness (staying in the present moment) and provide a lovely background to otherwise mundane activities. Being creative about implementing a musical accompaniment to parts of one’s day can be fun and joy-giving.

Music and the arts contribute immeasurably to the core of our culture, and to the beauty and creativity within our daily lives. The mental, emotional and physical benefits of incorporating music for wellness are significant and measurable. How can you immerse yourself in a health-giving musical activity today?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Music for Wellness, Part I: Mental and Emotional Benefits

I initially wrote this article by invitation from a friend. She asked me to contribute a "guest writer" article for her awesome fitness blog. She then published it at www.LoriKing.us. It will be reprinted here in two parts...

It is gratifying to see that the arts may finally be reclaiming their prior stake among core classes in the American educational system, and that more children may be offered the opportunity to explore and practice visual and performing arts as part of their regular school day once again. Countless studies have shown that engagement in musical study enhances a child’s cognitive development, which enhances his/her performance in math and science. Music represents not only a necessary part of a child’s education, but also an important source of mental, emotional and physical wellness throughout one’s life.

The arts in general provide so much to our core being as humans on this planet. Visual arts, music, theater, dance. . . each discipline exercises our right brain, stretching our global and spatial learning capacities, and igniting our creativity. Using one’s whole brain (rather than simply the analytical/logical aspects of cognition, understood to be located on the left side of the brain) contributes balance to life and “opens the mind.” Using both right and left sides of the brain at a high level of proficiency enables children to learn in multiple ways and promotes different types of concentration.

Sustained concentration during musical performance accompanied by freedom from stress or distraction (often referred to as being “in the zone” or finding “flow state”) allows for an elevated level of performance excellence so often elusive in day-to-day work. The ability to find that “flow state” can enhance one’s work life, home life and personal goal attainment. “Flow” can be applied to other disciplines such as meditation, exercise, sports, cooking, writing, public speaking or a host of other normal activities, resulting in a highly efficient, productive period of accomplishment. Cultivating “flow state” through the study and performance of music simply adds to one’s quality of life, and is good for the brain, body and soul!

In addition to increasing mental acuity, the emotional benefits of habitual engagement with music cannot be overstated. Choral music in particular holds important emotional benefits in that the act of group singing builds a sense of belonging, cooperation, team-work, camaraderie, and overall well-being for the group as well as for each individual. Instrumentalists receive similar benefits when they actively engage with a band or orchestra. The achievement of a positive performance result in a group or solo situation creates confidence, trust, and feelings of accomplishment. Musical performance also provides a needed outlet for reducing stress, thereby recharging one’s joy reserves. The interpersonal and emotional benefits provided by musical engagement are vitally important facets of a healthy life, a healthy family and a healthy workplace!

Music for Wellness, Part II: Physical Benefits, will be posted in September. Thanks for staying tuned!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Grammy buzz

This week I was pleased to share on local television (Studio 62 TV, Spartanburg) news that my most recent recording, Songs From The Heart, has been submitted for Grammy consideration in five categories: Tracks 1 and 5 (different versions of "Follow Me,") were submitted for Song of the Year, Best Solo Country Performance, Best Duo Country Performance and Best Country Song. Track 2 ("Be Still and Know") was submitted for Best Contemporary Christian Performance/Song. I am so excited that the Grammy selection committee will be listening to these original songs ("Follow Me" was co-written by my husband, George Gábor) and possibly including them on the first-round Grammy ballot later this year. All three of my previous albums were on the first-round ballot in jazz categories, but it honestly feels gratifying to have my compositions outside of jazz also be given serious consideration. John Chiodini's consistently outstanding performances on the acoustic guitar also execute this music as well as it could possibly be played.

Songs From the Heart, released last December, is a five track EP (Extended Play) compilation consisting of two acoustic country tracks and three contemporary Christian songs--all original material. While a departure from my jazz catalog, it represents creative output from a transitional point in my life following a period of deep grieving and adjustment. It is a pivotal point from which I have moved onward and upward, and so, while atypical in style for me, its beauty and honesty were therapeutic at just the right time. I am grateful that that music was with me through the difficult times, and am eager to share it with the world. I encourage you to give the EP a listen, and to purchase it through CD Baby, either via downloads or even buying the actual CD (the art on the back contains a treasured photo of myself with John Chiodini following one of our many live concerts). May it soothe an aching heart, add some hope or peace to a worried mind, or just serve as a backdrop for mellow, peaceful moments amidst our busy, frantic lives.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

South Carolina Music Awards, Summer Travel, and Jane Austen revisited

This month I received an invitation from a fellow vocalist to take part in voting to select winners from among the nominees for the 2016 South Carolina Music Awards, which uses an open voting system (voters may cast as many votes as they choose and may be from anywhere in the world). To my surprise, my name was on the ballot as well, under "Jazz Artist/Group of the Year!" Apparently, the selection committee receives write-in nominations from fans of particular music styles throughout the state of South Carolina during the nomination period (the spring of each year), then selects nominees from that pool based on the number of fans they hear from, and opens up the voting during the early summer. The awards presentation and red carpet event will occur July 23 in our state capital, Columbia, South Carolina. Having never previously experienced these awards, I am excited to participate and attend, and possibly perform there as well. Anyone interested in casting votes is warmly invited to click on the ballot here (you will need to enter a valid email address each time you vote so that the selection committee knows you are not a robot, but you will not be contacted or placed on any email list for doing so). If you would like to hear and see some of my live performances to help you decide, you are welcome to go to my YouTube channel. Thanks!

The summer brings more than a bit of traveling--replete with stops in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, New York, Georgia and Florida. While on the road it always seems most challenging to find places to practice the piano and to get enough rest and proper nutrition, not to mention accomplish other necessary work. Visiting family and friends will be a beautiful perk this summer, as dedication to one's profession and geographical distance tend to limit the frequency of visits through the years. I look forward to enjoying mountains, TWO oceans, forests, lakes, state and national parks and long highways amid family visits, rehearsals, concerts, and business-related work, squeezing in vacation time wherever possible.

For those reading this blog regularly, you must know that I will be bringing Jane Austen's Persuasion with me on these trips... I have read through Chapter 5 or 6 and still have a ways to go... Even though my month of "rest and reflection" is over, the book is not. Let's face it--I can't REALLY devote an entire month to only rest and reflection... can anyone?? I did slow down, though, and completed my life audit and career audit, which I discussed in last month's blog. I also worked diligently on the business aspects of being a professional musician, practiced regularly, wrote song lyrics, spent time in the flower garden, and taught some Skype voice lessons, among myriad other responsibilities. Even today the worklist is too long to accomplish it all... so perhaps being away will be the ticket to making faster progress through the book. Let's hope so.

Gotta run... and I hope you enjoy your summertime!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Creating Space

I have arrived to the spot in my yearly calendar when I spend a month or so recharging and redirecting. Following last season's busy schedule of out-of-state performances, hundreds of different songs arranged and performed, two new albums recorded and produced, contracts negotiated, tours managed and planned, artist residencies given, and many hours of music practiced... a month or so of "Whew! How did all that go? Where do I go from here?" time is not only a relief, it's much needed.

So the month involves recharging my batteries and resting from jam-packed daily activity. As difficult as it may be for me (and how it is!) I force myself to pick up a book of classic literature which, don't get me wrong, I ADORE reading. The forcing comes in because many years ago I gave up reading for pleasure and other non-essential activities in order to spend more time working. There is always more work I could find to do, and there are several projects that I have tabled in favor of more urgent matters, so in the "old days" I rarely permitted myself to take a few minutes to lose myself in a Jane Austen novel... but now it is part of my annual routine. This year's choice is her Persuasion, and I'm loving every paragraph.

Recharging also involves resting my singing voice for a few days following my final tour performance--no practicing or humming or singing in the car (which I rarely do anyway because it is unhealthy for the professional voice user--all that road noise to compete with). Resting the body and mind are important, too, given that I am prone to the post-performance emotional *crash* so prevalent among performing artists. Nutrition, exercise, sleep and vitamin supplementation are crucial during this time to properly restore oneself to peak performance condition, so I take this very seriously. I have found that truly caring for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs is far more challenging than maintaining a full concert schedule! Finding ways to ENJOY this part of the work has been a steep and worthy challenge for me, masochist that I am.

Redirecting after the recharging period is absolutely essential. This is the time during which my inner artist evaluates how the year has gone, what is going well and what could use some tweaking. Once that career audit has taken place, it behooves me to find ways to maximize things headed in a positive direction and redirect those not working as well. How to redirect? Well, as one example, I have hesitated programming one particular concert I have performed many times over the years because of its intense difficulty. Now I am beginning to see interest in it again--it seems to still have magnetism for concert presenters, so to re-orient my practicing to include that difficult material is necessary six months in advance of the first revival of that program. Not redirecting my practice patterns now would not only be unwise for me vocally, but unwise practically as well, since I could likely book several other iterations of that concert for the same month and create a tour. This approach would help me justify all the time, energy and preparation it costs to pull something that challenging out of my past catalogue and perform it again, and it gives me multiple opportunities to enjoy performing it. In this case, redirecting for the music's sake is necessary.

Not only the inner artist is involved in this audit process, however. There is also room for an annual life balance audit which requires looking at my life priorities and goals. This inner work is more important than the career audit work! I assess how contented I am with different aspects of my life which are important to me (for example, family, friend relationships, finances, faith, etc.) and make changes accordingly to support the redirection of my priorities. This is an amazing, peace-giving exercise, and is something I recommend to everyone. In fact, I'd recommend doing it monthly if you have the time! For me, the value of taking precious hours to assess how effectively I am meeting my goals and attending to my priorities cannot be adequately measured. For the effective entrepreneur, this is essential work, and, in my experience, for the happy human it is as well! That said, I wish you all a wonderful and restful summer. Happy auditing! :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Arranging We Will Go...

Over the past month I have spent many hours churning out arrangements for a new live show and a new studio album... Neither project duplicates any songs, so the volume of new material I am performing while in southern California this month may well be setting a new record! My new tribute show, "Going My Way! The Songs of Jimmy Van Heusen," contains sixteen arrangements of Van Heusen goodies like "Swinging On a Star," "Moonlight Becomes You" and "It Could Happen To You," as well as practically unknown songs from the various films to which Van Heusen and his best-known collaborator, Johnny Burke, contributed scores of ditties and tunes. I highly recommend all the "Road To..." movies that Bing Crosby filmed with Bob Hope for those seeking to enjoy these beautiful and witty songs in their intended comedic medium. "Going My Way," "The Bells Of St. Mary's" and "And The Angels Sing" are other golden oldies with timeless Van Heusen songs embedded within...

This material admittedly bestowed upon me many moments of delight as I discovered new songs that uplift the downhearted spirit by their wit and kindhearted humor... This innocence and universally kind intent is sorely needed in today's music, I think, and so my hopes are high that the pendulum will swing back soon--that modern art and music will once again improve the mood of the consumer, add beauty and grace to the world (as opposed to vile alternatives), and inspire those who partake toward greater levels of thinking, feeling and being. At one point in time, artists (painters, musicians, writers, poets and the like) assumed the responsibility of being the caretakers of humanity-- essentially life coaches, cheerleaders and wise sages for the masses. Few are the artists today, I fear, that view their responsibilities toward society with such serious and noble vocational vision. It is with this reality in mind that I came up with my list of contemporary jazz pieces to record next week on my fifth album...

The new project features songs by living jazz composers (all friends of mine) having something worthwhile or witty to say, or simply having penned a wonderful song. I am thrilled to pursue the recording of this worthwhile project which highlights some incredible songwriters (we are still in need of financial backing--please get in touch with me through my website if you share my vision!). My mission for each performance and recording I endeavor to complete is to impart something positive and beautiful to my audience. Life is too short for art to not add beauty, optimism and truth to one's existence! Holding fast to this belief I continue to strive forward...to bring something good to those who wish to hear it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

More Jazz On the Horizon

Having experienced the joy of singing with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra over Valentine's weekend, and looking ahead to March 22 when I will perform in Virginia with the Williamsburg Symphonia, I am ever so grateful for the career path I have found. This morning during my prayer time I was faced with a decision--to record a new jazz album while on tour in April or to put it off for another several months, a year, or more? The frequent traveling and touring with constantly different musical repertoire places a limitation on the amount of preparation one can devote to arranging and producing a new album (I do all the arranging myself), but the financial question is usually the primary deterrent to spinning out a new recording every year or so. I am an active enough writer and arranger to have plenty of material that I wish to record, but alas--I am not independently wealthy! I gave up that possibility years ago when I gave up microbiology as my chosen profession... or medicine... after all, have you ever known a poor microbiologist? But I digress...

I came to the conclusion this morning that the recording dates will indeed happen as scheduled. Many times in my life God has led me to a point that seems like a precipice. My dilemma is whether to turn around and go back (which sometimes is the wise thing to do!) or trust that this is what He is leading me to do and take that step into the unknown... He will never push me over! I have to take the step of faith myself because He respects my free will. As long as I am sure that what I mean to do is within His plan for me, taking the step will assuredly result in more life growth and worthy challenges, even though the path may be fraught with difficulty along the way. However, dreams never risked will never be even partially realized... How I wax philosophical in these blogs! :)

All that said, I am thrilled about the new project, the details of which I am keeping under my hat for the moment... but I can say that it will include wonderful songs by contemporary jazz composers as well as yet unrecorded music by Grammy-winning jazz legends. These fantastic songs have either never seen the light of day (never been recorded) or have not had their due attention by contemporary singers. I am honored to have the opportunity to assemble the first hearing of music of such high quality for another historically important and relevant album that will broaden our contemporary Great American Songbook and shine light on deserving jazz composers--many who happen to be personal friends of mine. Furthermore, the band lineup for this project is so stellar that I can hardly believe my good fortune... word is getting around Los Angeles about this recording and I am receiving offers from "A-list" musicians who are asking me to be part of the project... I never thought I'd see the day!

If you would like to join our project and contribute as a financial backer, please be in touch with me at contact@tishoney.com. We will need several backers to make this happen, but since I detest crowdfunding, I have decided not to pursue that avenue. I will leave it to you, dear readers and friends, that if you feel so inclined to assist with the production of a recording that will preserve high-quality music of some of the most outstanding composers of our time (and of the 20th century), and you would like to help defray costs for musicians who cannot possibly recoup the costs of recording music anymore (given the ubiquity of internet piracy and the devaluation of recorded music via free downloads and streaming services), we would GLADLY and THANKFULLY accept financial backing of any amount to preserve these pieces of American culture. The many musicians in L.A. that are excited about our project believe in the value of preserving and releasing this music, as I am sure do many of you. Thank you so much for your support and for helping us keep the music playing!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Having a Plan B

Ah, winter snowstorms... having grown up in central New York, I am no newcomer to the world of snowy travel, snow shoveling, snowblowing, snow and ice removal from cars, sidewalks, driveways, roads and roofs. It's a bit idyllic at times, in a way, pausing from shoveling one's driveway from large (4-foot or taller) mounds of snow to notice the sparkle of the sunshine dancing through ice crystals on the lawn, on the shrubs or in the trees... it sometimes brings a sense of quiet, peace and acceptance that we are part of nature and subject to its large-scale activities. Watching the birds engage with snowfall is an education--they do not act stressed--they simply take it as it comes, gather food as usual and delight us with their energy and vivid colors--flying, perching and foraging against the new whitewashed backdrop. Winter is a truly beautiful time! Then we snap out of our dazed reverie and get back to straining our backs with the snow shovel for another hour or so, knowing we will repeat this cycle indefinitely until we are out of the snow tunnel and into spring once more.

Living in the south I no longer need to fixate on crafting my weekly schedule to work around winter weather reports... or do I? At this moment I am waiting to hear whether or not my next symphony performance will take place as originally planned due to the threat of impending snowstorm Jonas. To pack or not to pack? Sometimes these plans are changed just moments before (or even after) one is scheduled to depart for the performance destination. Okay--so flexibility is also a virtue that is most helpful in this business! Today I am grateful for my snow-surrounded upbringing which taught me not to fear or be anxious of natural phenomena, but to respect them, and to accept what comes. Hopefully, if performances are postponed, they will be rescheduled and enjoyed at a later date. In the meantime, I wish to pause and enjoy the beauty of this season! That, my friends, is Plan B when snowstorms close everything down for a weekend, bringing your best-laid plans to a screeching halt. Rest now, work later. Unless you have to shovel. ;)