Day #365: A Year of Gratitude

I am grateful for each and every one of you. You’ve read my musings throughout this year and you’ve offered kind responses. You add depth and texture to my life. I hope this year has reminded you of all you have to be grateful for, even when it feels like a reach. When I began, I didn’t know if I could find 365 reasons to be grateful. This year has taught me that gratitude is always there … looking for reasons is a good habit.

I’m going to close the way I began a year ago, with Tom Lieberman singing his song, “Common Denominator,” the theme song of my life. http://bit.ly/2pWVuJC

Don’t fracture the fraction of the factitious faction.
Illuminate the nuances too numerous to name.
Do not neglect the power of the peaceful action,
Because when you run the numbers we are more or less the same.

You be you, I’ll be me, that’s the way it’s got to be.
What’s the difference of opinion in a minyan or a mosque?
We each have a point of view and perhaps each one is true,
Me and you make quite some pair, we two, a Bartlett and a Bosc.

Gotta find that common demoninator, whole world ’round,
Gotta find that common denominator, find the common ground,
Gotta find that common denominator, yours and mine,
gotta find that common denominator, that’s the bottom line.

There’s more … please listen. Tom’s a brilliant lyricist.

Day #209: Lieutenant Kije Suite

One of my favorite composers, Prokofiev, composed the Lieutenant Kijé Suite to accompany a film by the same name. It was 1934 and it was Sergei Prokofiev’s first commissioned piece. The movie is about a fictitious lieutenant, invented by a bureaucrat, upon whom blame is laid for an action that displeases the tsar. Here, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra play a glorious version. Listen to the first few minutes and you will be hooked. I am grateful for Prokofiev and his contributions to the music canon. 

Day #192: Minnesota Orchestra

I am grateful to the Minnesota Orchestra (then the Minneapolis Symphony), my elementary school, and my mother for teaming up to introduce me to classical music. Young People’s Concerts began in 1911 (but I wasn’t there)! “Hearing a live performance by the Minnesota Orchestra can awaken a young person’s musical curiosity and lay the foundation for a lifetime of enjoyment. Through these concerts, students learn how composers use music to convey ideas, just as authors use text; there are many ways in which composers express their creativity and spark inspiration in young listeners.” Classical music is vitally important to me. Those school trips to hear the Orchestra were thrilling. We observed real people, who made their living as musicians, playing real instruments, led by conductors who brought their personalities to the performances. It made a difference in my understanding of music. So did the crush I had on Robert Tweedy, the timpanist. What an instrument! What a musician! (The photo below is that of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, the Orchestra’s conductor from 1960 to 1979.)

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

Day #189: Bobby McFerrin

I am grateful for all of the acapella artists in the world, in many countries. It’s a form of music I find fascinating for its variations, harmonies, and connection. I was pleased to learn from Pamela Espeland at MinnPost this morning that Bobby McFerrin “has been named to the 2020 class of National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters. A vocalist, composer, conductor, educator, and a genius of vocal improvisation who’s comfortable in all genres …” My heart thrills whenever this glorious musician shares his innovations. Lucky us.

Bobby McFerrin

Day #183: Jean Redpath

This morning I am listening to Jean Redpath sing and, as she always does, my heart is lifted. For many decades she was THE Scottish folksinger, troubadour, musicologist. She worked with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bob Dylan, Garrison Keillor, and Robert Burns. She researched and recorded songs, preserving them for the future. I came to know her music through A Prairie Home Companion, but she has been singing at our house ever since. I am grateful for her voice, her wit, and her knowledge. She was an Extraordinary Woman.

Jean Redpath

Day #177: Crooners Supper Club

Last night, a dear friend treated us to dinner and live music at Crooners Supper Club. We were fortunate to hear Prudence Johnson and Dean Magraw spotlight the music of Stevie Wonder, Mose Allison, and Buffy Saint-Marie. Eclectic, right? Prudence and Dean were both so articulate with their arrangements and interpretations of songs—I found myself holding my breath in order to hear every note.

I am grateful to Mary Tjosvold for creating this incredible, friendly, warm space for musicians and those who listen to and love music. The food is great, the wait staff is top-notch, the three listening rooms are comfortable and cozy, and Mary T is usually there to welcome guests.

And, not least, I am grateful to our friend for understanding how much this evening of music and conversation (before and after, not during) would mean to us. It’s already a treasured memory.

Day #167: Public Radio

In our office and in our home, we listen to public radio much of the day and night. Music provides the calm in our day and the joy in our evenings. I am grateful to MPR (classical in MN), KBEM (jazz in MN), WKHR (vintage jazz in OH), and KNKX (jazz in WA). We believe in public radio and public television. Our thanks to all of the news reporters, classical hosts, and jazz hosts for sharing your passions and knowledge with your listeners!

Day #137: Love for Three Oranges

It’s Monday morning! Energetic music is needed. When I was in high school, I chose to study Russia in my World History class. For the next six years, I would read Russian novels and nonfiction, sit in the front row to hear Yevgeny Yevtushenko recite his poetry, and listen to Russian music. I was fascinated. One of my great loves from that time is Sergei Prokofiev’s March from “Love for Three Oranges.” Here it is played by the San Francisco Symphony at the 2000 Proms, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. Happy Monday!

Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphony playing the March from "Love for Three Oranges"