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Happiness is a state of mind

“Happiness is a state of mind.” That was the wise message I received in a fortune cookie the other day. It had me thinking about things that give me happiness, and observing things that make others happy. Music is, as you might expect, a huge source of happiness, and some recent events illustrate that beautifully.

A few weeks ago I performed with my trio in another city, and I stayed at the home of a 20-something family member. She’s a smart, well-educated and accomplished young woman with a successful career and life, a circle of friends, and diverse interests that include travel, pets, cooking and more. I invited her to attend one of my group’s performances, and when we got in the car to go home afterwards she announced with breathless enthusiasm, “I LOVED THAT!!!!”  She went on to explain that she hadn’t known what to expect, doesn’t really listen to much music of any genre, and had assumed classical music was quiet and low energy. She was truly surprised and delighted by the experience — more than just polite praise, this was unbridled enthusiasm. I am still tickled by her outpouring of enjoyment.

And then yesterday, I attended a chamber music performance in a small church. Some of the audience seats are in the choir section directly behind the performers, so the rest of us in the audience could see their faces. One woman, in particular, was clearly mesmerized with delight as she watched the performers intently, beaming and slightly swaying to the music. It added to the joy on the performers’ own faces as they exchanged meaningful glances and gestures while playing.

I can think of many other examples of spontaneous, outward joy created by music, and I feel fortunate to have that connection to something that is a source of such happiness for me and others. Do you have special memories of music giving you that kind of emotional rush? What experiences stand out in your mind when music has filled your heart with happiness?

 

It Takes a Village …

I attended an impressive concert yesterday!

Christina Nam is a 15-year-old violinist who is preparing to compete in Geneva, Switzerland in the Menuhin Competition. She is one of 44 of the world’s top young violinists competing before an international panel of judges, acclaimed musicians who have all gone through what Christina and her fellow competitors are experiencing now.

Two outstanding women!

March is the annual celebration of Women’s History Month. It’s designated as a time to  celebrate the vital role of women in American history, as well as applaud the contributions of contemporary women in all fields of work.

Ahhhh, Bach!

The annual Sunday Baroque Bach Birthday Bash will be broadcast on Sunday, March 18. Although I don’t usually overtly observe birthdays of composers on Sunday Baroque, I have produced an all-Bach edition of Sunday Baroque every March since I originated the program more than 30 years ago. That’s because Johann Sebastian Bach is different.

Baroque or (ba)Rock and Roll?

How does one define “classical” music? How is it different from other genres, such as “rock and roll” or “jazz”? In what way is “baroque” music different (or the same) as other so-called “classical” music?

Why do we carve musical genres into these subsets, anyway, and what are the characteristics that define each and create distinctions from other genres? Is there more commonality between genres than we realize?

Go, team!

Rumor has it there is some sort of big sporting event happening today. Not knowing much about these things, I can’t take sides or even comment!

But it brings to mind some famous (and a few infamous) MUSICAL competitions and rivalries in the baroque era!

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone

Let’s be honest: we often take important things for granted, despite our best intentions.

Being deprived of something that has become a regular, expected part of life can bring us to a screeching halt. Despite the immediate inconvenience, there can also be a silver lining.

Resolve to share your love of music

Happy New Year! Even if you’re not the type of person who makes New Year’s Resolutions, I’d like to offer a suggestion to consider.

As a classical music broadcaster and a musician, I am frequently faced with the question of how to get more people to listen to classical music. For decades, pundits have been raising alarms about the supposed “graying” of the audience, forecasting the demise of symphony orchestras and other performing groups, and lamenting the decrease of classical music on the broadcast airwaves.

Music & Human Connections

Sunday Baroque listeners frequently contact me to say how much they enjoy the music and how much it means to them. You’ve told me it helps you feel happy, provides companionship, enlightens you, and more. These stories affirm my personal belief in the power of music, and remind me to appreciate how extraordinary that power can be and not take it for granted.

Delicious traditions

I love to bake. I love to cook. I love to entertain. That’s why, at this time of year, I am in my element!

As the winter holidays approach I get a little giddy as I start stocking up on flour, sugar, butter, cream cheese, sprinkles, walnuts, extracts and other staples of my winter baking pantry. I pull out the recipes employed for decades to bake a variety of holiday goodies, including many that are longtime family traditions.