Thanksgiving is this week and, like most people, I’ve been contemplating the many things for which I am thankful. Good health, a warm and safe home, and enough to eat are, of course, at the top of my list. In addition to these essentials, I’m grateful for my relationship with music.
Every year at this time, I create a list of suggestions for holiday gift giving. Starting November 20th and continuing through December, you can audition some of my recommendations from the annual Sunday Baroque Holiday Gift list.
A quote I mentioned on the November 13 program generated a lot of listener feedback and inquiry! It was #8 from William Byrd’s list of reasons to sing: The better the voyce is, the meeter it is to honour and serve God there-with : and the voyce of man is chiefely to bee imployed to that ende. [original spellings left intact]
I’ve had the great fortune to meet many people who are famous for their extraordinary talents, and today I met another. Dutch organist, harpsichordist and conductor Ton Koopman is an expert on baroque music, and a towering figure in the world of music in general.
Ton Koopman is an organist and harpsichordist, a conductor and a teacher — one of the world’s most prominent and respected authorities on baroque and early music. You regularly hear his performances on Sunday Baroque. He founded Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, and while he specializes in baroque and early music on period instruments, Ton Koopman’s repertory is extensive. He frequently guest conducts modern orchestras playing classical and romantic era music, and has led some of the most prominent orchestras of the world. I am excited to be interviewing Ton Koopman this week. Having listened to and admired the trailblazing and versatile musician’s performances for decades, I have a long list of questions I plan to ask him, but I would also like to include your questions for him. Please submit your suggestions by midnight (EST) on Monday, Nov 7. We will publish the audio of my interview within the next week or two, so you can hear his answers!
November 3 is a national holiday in Japan. It’s the annual celebration of Culture Day. There are festivals, parades, and awards ceremonies to honor individuals for their remarkable contributions to Japanese culture and to society overall. In addition to celebrating traditional Japanese culture, the purpose of the holiday is also to promote the love of freedom and peace.
I love that “culture” is directly linked to the promotion of “freedom and peace.” It’s all too easy to forget that a society’s culture represents our humanity. As John F. Kennedy said, “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”
So on November 3, maybe we can ALL mark “culture day” in our own ways — listening to a beautiful piece of music, gazing at a magnificent work of art, reading a great work of literature, or maybe simply encouraging someone who is creating one of these lasting contributions to the human spirit.
Happy Culture Day!
It’s a funny thing about music, isn’t it? It can tap directly into our emotional state, giving a cheery boost, smoothing jangled nerves, creating mental clarity, and triggering nostalgia, among many other sensations. One word I frequently hear people use to describe the emotional benefit of listening to classical music is “soothing.”
Disclaimer: this blog post has nothing to do with music or Sunday Baroque.
It is about human connections, and the benefits of going with the flow of events and enjoying the unique pleasures of serendipity.
Recently I spoke to a group of public radio donors in Phoenix who love the programming on their all-classical station. The topic was my opinion of the general state of classical music, and what I think the future holds. One of the points I made is that we — as in, those of us who are passionate about classical music — may inadvertently pose a threat. Really!
There are so many extraordinarily talented musicians in the world. I had a chance to attend a live performance by one of them last week: Chris Thile. He’s one of those rare people whose technical command of his instrument is so complete and effortless that every sound he makes expresses his exceptional artistry.