Category: Music

Many Worlds in One

The other day I saw a fascinating NOVA program on PBS.  It is called Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives and it focuses on Hugh Everett and his son Mark. On the surface the two seem completely different but they are actually linked in an interesting way. In the end, the life of the father explains the life of the son.

In the early 60’s Hugh was a physicist for the Pentagon working as a cold war scientist.  Frustrated with the prevailing views of quantum physics (which I will not even begin to explain) he started exploring other types of particle theories.  Eventually he came up with the Many World’s Theory.  As best as I can grasp this theory looked at particles  at their own level- not at how they created larger phenomenon.  According to the NOVA program this view broke with tradition and was the beginning of Everett’s theories.  Looking at the world on such a small level he noticed energy behaving differently.  (Like I said I am way out of my element in explaining this).  Here’s how NOVA explains it:

Byrne: In order to demonstrate the consequence of this mathematically, Everett came up with a solution showing that the observer, the human being, correlates with every possible state that the gram of carbon, that pencil tip, could be in. So before the human being looks at the gram of carbon, the carbon is in all the millions or billions or trillions of possible states, and after the human looks at the gram of carbon, he or she is in one state. In Everett’s theory, what happens in between, as it were, when the human actually looks at the carbon—or a clock or any other object—is that he or she splits like an amoeba. (The act of looking, that interaction, is just exchanging energy. A person looking at a clock, for example, is an energetic interaction, with photons of light bouncing off the clock and going into the person’s eye.)

So, in Everett’s view, when the human correlates herself—that is, interacts, exchanging energy with the gram of carbon or a clock or whatever—she splits like an amoeba. She splits into copies of herself, one for each element in the superposition.

NOVA: And this split is what creates the “many worlds” of his theory?

Byrne: Yes. And wild as it sounds—a person splitting into numerous copies of herself—Hugh Everett’s theory has not been shown to be mathematically incorrect. God knows, people have tried. They have found some mathematical gaps, but you can’t fault his basic mathematical logic, which made a powerful case that every time there is an interaction anywhere in the universe above a certain size, one of the systems splits in order to accommodate all of the elements and the superpositions that are contained in the wave function that describes the observed system. In other words, the basis for having multiple universes emerges from his solution of the measurement problem.”

In other words, on a particle level atoms present possible outcomes and in a way those possibilities continue on whether the human participates or not.  Using the example above if the person looks at the pencil or not, the particle energy around the action still exists.  This is why Everett called it the Many World theory.  On a particle level there are infinite numbers of worlds created every moment which all react in different ways.

This is where the son comes in. Like I said, on the surface Mark has nothing in common with his father.  He is  a front runner for an independent rock band called the Eels.  According to the NOVA program much of Mark’s music is dark, focusing on mental illness, abuse, and death.  To give you an idea one of their most famous songs is called “Novocaine for the Soul”. Apparently much of the darkness in the music came from a lonely childhood with a father obsessed with work and science.  On the program Mark tells the story of a conversation over the dishes he had with his father just before he passed away.  Of this simple chat he says “We joked around a little and I remember thinking that it was the most human, real conversation I’d ever had with him. He even told me a joke.”

Later the next day his father dies, and he is devastated by the missed opportunities.  Eventually Mark tries to put his feelings to music and as he struggles he realizes something about his father.  He learns they had a key similarity:

“I realized that I had been feeling that same thing he must have been feeling all those years when he couldn’t be bothered because he always had some crazy ideas he was trying to sort out in his head. You’re just about to crack the code and the kid wants to play baseball. I get it now. We’re both “idea men” and anything outside of these ideas is a distraction.”

With this understanding Mark begins to learn more about the ideas of his father.  Finally it occurs to him that their lives are the ultimate example of the Many World’s theory.  Two worlds co-existing independently of each other and yet intrinsically dependent on one another.   It’s like the show’s title describes: Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives.  In the end, Mark understood his life better because of his father’s theories.  This to me is fascinating.  How often do we have answers staring at us in the face, yet we dismiss it as ordinary or familial? How often do we discount something because it is different, even offensive, and yet in that other world is the answer to our own happiness?

There are so many examples of parallel worlds, which if understood could enlighten both worlds.  Notice we aren’t talking about combining worlds.  They are inherently separate, but perhaps they could still teach us?  The NOVA program explores the worlds of father vs son, musician vs  scientist, and youth vs. age.  Religion would be another interesting subject for discussion.

Like I said, the science is a bit beyond me, so I hope I have done justice to the program.  If you get a chance, put it on your DVR or watch it on youtube.com . It kind of reminded me of a This American Life piece on television.- excellent and thought provoking. Check out the PBS website on the show for more information. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/manyworlds/.  On a final side note, this program would be great for teachers and homeschoolers who want to learn more about physics.  I know practically nothing and it explained complex concepts in ways even I understood.

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Over the Rainbow

I have had the craziest week.  Between moving, getting ready for Hawaii, working hard and getting ready for a recital today, my life felt pretty overwhelming.  Today I am pleased to write this blog as a fully moved-in person.  I love my new apartment and feel at home here.  All this unpacking included spending an entire day putting together an IKEA bookcase with doors (it was my nemesis! So hard!) has left me exhausted and ready for vacation.

After a long week I finished it today by performing in my voice lesson recital.  It was my most intimidating recital because I sand Over the Rainbow- the famous Judy Garland version.  It may be my favorite song.  Definitely in my top 10.  Because I love it so much it made all the more nerve-wracking to sing it.  I wanted it to be perfect, which of course it will never be.  It is also a more difficult song than you’d first expect.  Every time you sing “Some” “Where” you do a full octave change.  This happens time and again throughout the song.  It is also such a recognizable song that it almost has to be perfect or people will notice.  It was a big risk for me to select it, but I have improved greatly because of  it. It’s more satisfying than I can explain in words to hear myself get better week-to-week on a song I love so much.  It’s the best!

With all this preparation I stepped onto the stage at Hale Theater Orem and sang my heart out.  Without sounding too arrogant I think it was the best I have ever sung!   I came off the stage beaming and got nothing but positive feedback from my friends and teachers.  The funny thing is that I actually messed up on the words in one verse, but I didn’t let it phase me and nobody noticed. I just bought a new camera with a special video feature that is supposed to make it easier to post online.  Take a look at the video of the performance.   It was an exciting moment in my life.

Like I said, it was the best I have sung and it felt good! I hope you enjoyed it.

On another note my sister Anna had an exciting experience.  She is a die hard David Archuleta fan and when I say die hard I mean it!  She has seen him live several times, has every performance he has ever recorded, and has pictures of him in her room.  You’d think he was a member of the family!  More than just loving his music, she genuinely admires him for sticking to his values.

As a member of the David Archuleta fan club she participated in a contest to promote his album in return for various prizes.  The grand prize was a 5 minute conversation with David.  Anna went full force ahead doing a number of things including sponsoring a fundraiser for a charity David supports.  A couple of weeks ago she submitted her project and then to all of our surprise she got an email announcing her as the winner of the grand prize!  She won a conversation with her idol David Archuleta!  Naturally Anna was beside herself and could hardly sleep the days before the phone call took place.  Finally today it happened.  At 2:49 he called and they chatted for 21 minutes!  I guess they spoke about many things including music, writing songs, religion, BYU, American Idol and more.

Some may say it is a silly thing to get excited over but I disagree. I know David is just a person like anyone else.  I also am aware there are lines in fanaticism, which go overboard and can be dangerous.  However, in this case, I think it is a good thing.  I appreciate anyone who lives his or her life with passion- someone who isn’t afraid to take risks.   Anna is such a person.  Her passion isn’t limited to musicians.  She loves church, her friends, Lord of the Rings movies, Harry Potter, BYU, and more.  I’ve even seen her get excited over a cool minor chord!  It is so easy to be lukewarm and mediocre in life.  While I was going to school I saw many people satisfied with the bare minimum, with gliding by on the coat tails of others.  I still do not understand how others can be happy with such a paltry blahh life.

If Anna is going to be into David Archuleta, she should be into him all the way.   I like how Anna has set a pattern in her life of living boldly.  Most people wouldn’t have attempted the contest but Anna went for it, and she got it.  I admire that.  Later in life she will meet many obstacles that will seem impossible, but from this and other experiences she will have the courage to make the attempt- to try her hardest and hopefully the reward will come. In a weird way my singing and her phone call have something in common- they both involve passion for music, and trying our utmost to succeed.

Another thing I admire about Anna is  she has learned to accept disappointment. For instance, at her age I would have been more emotional over not getting into the music department.  Her attitude allows her to live with passion because however things turn out she can find happiness.  Sometimes there are discouraging situations and other times, like today, there are moments of excitement and glee. Congrats Anna!  You deserve it!

Looking forward to rest

I admit it today I would annoy Calvin!
I admit it today I would annoy Calvin! It's been a stressful couple of days.

I can’t write much but I wanted to update quickly on the craziness of my life the last few days.  First of all, I  moved on Saturday to my new 2 bedroom apartment.  It is much roomier and in a way feels more like a home than my last place.  I will always love that apartment because it proved I could be on my own and be happy.  This apartment feels different but I have high hopes for it as well.  As you can expect the move was stressful and exhausting.  I am so grateful to Easton Brown, Sarah Creer and other friends from church who came to my moving rescue.  It was a hot day and the move took several hours.  As I have often said I am blessed with wonderful people in my life.

With the boxes moved in the next task of unpacking came into play.  (By the way, we have also had people in all 4 houses over the last few days which is great but stressful!).  It is shocking how much stuff I have.  Truly shocking!  Thank goodness my roommate has only furniture for her bedroom and little kitchen stuff.  That was a huge blessing! She hasn’t officially moved in yet but I consulted with her before placing furniture and unpacking my kitchen stuff.  She seems very easy going, and I think we will make a good team.

I am proud to say I finished the unpacking today!  The final step was my office.  I will put up photos of my new place soon. I just love it so much!

In the midst of all this unpacking and working I also had to do my final check out of my old place today.  This morning to be more particular.  I thought I had done a pretty good job with things but the inspector sure found a big list of problems.  By the end of the check out it seems I will be responsible for $200 worth of stuff!  That’s the downside of renting.

Naturally I was in a bad mood this morning but then we added on more stress by having a crisis at work.  I won’t go into the details but one of the houses had some minor vandalism and we had someone checking into the house today!  It was creepy, annoying and exhausting all at the same time.  It ended up taking Jim and I the entire afternoon to resolve the problem.  Luckily the tenants are happy and nothing was seriously damaged or taken except some sheets that had to be replaced.  We are now already in the process of getting alarm systems on all 4 houses.

The other stressful event that happened is yesterday I made the mistake of purchasing an Ikea bookshelf with doors for the kitchen as a type of pantry. We got the bookshelf together easy enough but the stupid doors were impossible.  We literally spent the entire day.  By saying we, I mean my friend Melany Bushe and I.  I think the definition of a true friend is someone who will help you assemble Ikea furniture.  It was a lot of work and the frustrating thing is that it still isn’t perfect.  It wobbles more than it should and the doors don’t line up perfectly!  Part of the problem is they only give you those silly drawings as instructions.  There are always a million ways to go wrong- and usually I find all of them! Oh well!  It will have to do for now.  You know there is a joke about Ikea furniture- How may PHD’s do you need to assemble a piece of Ikea furniture?- 3 one PHD in Swedish, one in Engineering and one in relationship counseling.  Luckily mine and Melany’s relationship is still intact and the friendship will persist despite the trial!

Need I mention that I also have my recital for voice lessons on Friday! I am doing Somewhere Over the Rainbow which may sound like a simple song but in fact it is quite difficult.  It has an octave change with every Some-where and Rain-bow. It is definitely the hardest song I have done at a recital and is a bit of a risk.  I hope it pays off- especially with how little rehearsal time I have gotten lately with the move and all.  Wish me luck come Friday. I wish it sounded like this. 01 Over The Rainbow (Single Version)

Between everything going on I am looking forward more than ever to the tropical paradise that awaits me this Sunday.  Hawaii here I come!  I can’t think of anything more relaxing than lying in the sun with a good book listening to the waves.  I’d give up a meal a day for that pleasure! Every ounce of my sore achy emotional body is yearning for that blessed island.  Thank goodness for vacations by the ocean! I need it real bad!

Voice Lessons

My first teacher Dalin and I.  (BTW, I love this dress)
My first teacher Dallyn Bayles and I. (BTW, I love this dress)
My amazing teacher Amanda
My amazing teacher Amanda and I

After the greatness of last week it was almost guaranteed that this week would feel like a disappointment.  Perhaps disappointment is too strong a word but nothing fabulous has happened like last week.  I was having a hard time thinking of what to write about when I remembered that I have been wanting to write about my voice lessons for some time.  I have been taking voice lessons with Hale Center Theater Orem for 3 years now and it is one of the most rewarding things I do each week.

I don’t pretend to be a great singer or have any illusions about a potential career in music.  Time for such things has past, but I will say that music and singing has always been a passion of mine.  It has always been something I wish I was better at.  Something that I wish had been nurtured more by my parents and teachers when I was younger.  When I was in high school I had a choir director who was evil (very manipulative and controlling) and who refused to look beyond my bag of nerves and see the potential within me.  She was all talk about love, warmth and kindness but when it came down to it she only cared about her vocal ensemble and how it sounded.  Instead of trying to nurture talent that was less obvious she refused to give someone like me a chance- which to me is the definition of a bad teacher. In addition, my parents were busy with a new baby (which meant my mom had to be in bed rest for my freshman and into my sophomore year) and did not have time to focus on my music.  I am not saying this to complain.  It is just a fact.

It is this lack of nurturing that perhaps explains why when I had my own disposable income and time one of the first things I did was sign up for voice lessons.  I took them the entire time I was at BYU.  I was also in the University Choral twice, which I greatly enjoyed.  Dr. Broomhead (isn’t that a great name for a choir director?) was fantastic and my other director Joni (can’t remember her last name) was good too.   These lessons were helpful and kept my singing alive but I had so many other disciplines to study that they never really pushed me to become better. Plus, my teachers were students of varying abilities.

So, I went on  my mission and sang a lot in Indiana.  Sister Hamill and I (now Carrie Carnley), who has a great voice, would even stop people and ask them if they would like to sing a song with us.   I remember one man in particular who sang “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam” at the top of his lungs with us.  The funny thing about singing on the mission is that it is the one time in my life where the female parts were way in the minority.  Needless to say I learned Elders of Israel very well by the time I left, but we would make the elders sing Sisters in Zion every once in a while too!

When I returned home from my mission I started working and almost immediately I found the hum-drum life of a worker to be just that- hum drum.  I also had a hard time cutting myself off from work and focusing on other goals.  There is nothing worse than overanalyzing something that is already boring to begin with! Particularly working in accounting I became frustrated by the fact that every day was the same.  I never felt like I really accomplished anything.  Again, this is particularly true in accounting because as soon as you finish a week or a month you start again with the next week or month.  I needed a sense of accomplishment in my life- something to be proud of and work towards. Around this same time I attended a show at Hale Theater Orem (one of my favorite activities) and I saw the advertisement for voice lessons. Remembering the fulfillment that music had always given me I called and signed up!

As I mentioned earlier, I have now been taking voice lessons for 3 years and it is one of the joys of my life.  Each week I go and meet with my teacher Amanda Crabb.  We do funny warm-ups that often make me laugh and then we work on songs.  I can’t completely explain how satisfying it is to start a song all wobbly and messy (I am a terrible sight reader) and then in 2 or 3 weeks have it “passed off”.  Is it perfect? Of course not, but I think it is good enough that if someone heard me singing they would find it pleasant. Some of the songs I have passed off over the years are:

Think of Me from Phantom of the Opera

Home from Beauty and the Beast

Till there was You from Music Man (my first recital piece)

Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

I Know the Truth from Aida

Travelin Soldier by the Dixie Chicks

Scarlet Tide by Alison Krauss

Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Millie

Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

Someone Else’s Story from Chess

Dreams be Dreams by Linda Rondstat

I Don’t Know How to Love Him from JCS

And So it Goes by Billy Joel

Foolish Games by Jewel

I Can Hear the Bells from Hairspray

Someday from the Wedding Singer (my fifth recital piece)

There’s a Fine Fine Line from Avenue Q

I could go on and on.  I have actually passed off almost an entire Hal Leonard Anthology (I have 5 of them! Plus other music). I can’t put into words what it means to me when I finish a song and listen to myself sing something competently.  It’s like the inner-child in me screams “Yes, you did it!”.  There have been many a week where the only sense of accomplishment I get is from my voice lessons.  With each song I also feel creative and inspired by the rhythms, lyrics, melodies etc.  Singing honestly makes me want to be a better, more vibrant person. It is a creative outlet that I would miss terribly if it was taken away.

Another blessing I have received from voice lessons is a new level of confidence.  Because I was told by this teacher that I was not good enough, that my voice wasn’t good enough, I always had issues with singing in public.  Its funny because I got positive feedback from family, friends, companions but I still believed for a long time that it wasn’t good enough, wasn’t beautiful enough.  After signing up for voice lessons I learned we had 2 yearly recitals at Hale Center Theater Orem.  The idea of singing on the stage of a theater I loved terrified me.  I was literally shaking the first time my teacher Dallyn Vail Bayles told me of the recital.  I was terrified of getting out on stage and my voice cracking or sounding terrible.  I did not have the confidence that I could sing, which is sad when you consider how badly I wanted to sing my whole life.

I don’t know why it took me to the age of 25 to overcome this fear, but I worked hard on the song Till There was You, got on that stage and sang my heart out.  The funny thing is that I believe I am at my best when performing for others.  I have always thrived on sharing and interacting with groups and this has proven to be the case with singing.  Who would have thought this fear of mine was actually a strength?  I am not going to say that I am amazing or ready to go on American Idol; however, I always get positive feedback and I think I sound pleasant, pretty good.  In fact, one of the directors of Hale Theater told me at the last recital that she looks forward to hearing me sing at each recital because I put my heart out with each song.   This is perhaps the greatest compliment anyone could give me.  It is not only complimenting me but the teenager inside me that yearned to sing.

I have often said I would give up a meal a day before giving up my lessons.  They are a sacrifice, no doubt about it- both in time and money.  However, next to attending church and conversing with my family/friends, they are the most rewarding part of my life.  When I am sad, tired, grumpy, depressed or lonely I get out my music and for a second the world is better.

I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie “The Kid” with Bruce Willis.  In the movie Wills’ cocky and arrogant image consultant is confronted with the 12 year old version of himself.  Despite a wealthy career the 12 year old boy is disgusted and disappointed with himself.  He says “So, I’m forty, I’m not married, I don’t fly jets, and I don’t have a dog? I grow up to be a loser.”.  I love this movie partly because of what it makes me think about.  Would the 12 year old Rachel like what she see’s or would I be a loser too? Let’s see she would see an independent girl with great friends, family, her own apartment, returned missionary that sings! (I actually don’t think the single thing would be a big disappointment to the 12 year old me.  I have always been weird that way. )  If the 12 year old (and particularly 16 year old) me could see me at Hale Theater singing my heart out before a small audience she would be proud.  I can’t explain why but it is so true.

I’m so grateful for my teachers- particularly Amanda Crabb who I have had for the last 2 1/2 years.  She is not only a wonderful talent but a terrific nurturer.  There are many times when I pick songs that are difficult (See I’m Smiling,  The Beauty is, Unusual Way etc) but she always has full confidence that I can learn the songs and you know what- I usually do. She is the best!

I hope by sharing my experiences with voice lessons each of you feel encouraged to be brave and accomplish the dreams of your childhood.  It is never too late.  There is nothing I can say that I am more proud of than that I sing- I am a singer!

This is at my first recital.  I was so nervous!
This is at my first recital. I was so nervous! My brother brought me the rose.

Inspiration Boards

Hey everyone! Thanks for making my last post my most visited yet! I guess doing longer posts pay off. Well, this a shorter one, so maybe no one will read it but oh well.
I have been busy getting things back to normal at my apartment and job. It has been crazy trying to get reservations made and also be ready for a handwarmer event this Saturday. By the way, I have gotten 13 reservations since I have been home- not bad! They only got 1 while I was gone. That certainly makes a girl feel indispensable.

I have taken a little bit of time this week to finish one project I call my inspiration boards. One of them is for “work” and one for “pleasure”. What I mean by that is they large are cork boards that I loaded with pictures, sayings, jokes- all kinds of things. The work one is all beautiful things that will hopefully inspire me to be creative, think differently, and work my hardest. It is right above my desk. The other one is on the other side of my bedroom next to my dresser and TV. It has photos of family, friends, sayings I like, my hobbies etc. Here they are. Feel free to steel my idea if you like. I love, love, love them!

On another random note, if you have not started watching the new and improved season of Masterpiece Theater (now called Masterpiece) start.  It has been amazing.  I just finished their newest version of Wuthering Heights and it is fantastic- even though it is not my favorite story I loved the production and performances.  They also did the complete Jane Austen with new versions of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Emma.  The only one that they didn’t redo is Pride and Prejudice- probably because the Collin Firth version is a classic.  They also did a Tess of the Dubervilles which was great and I LOVED the recent miniseries Cranford (I have yet to not love Elizabeth Gaskell in any form).  All of these titles are available on DVD and probably at your library.  I cannot recommend them enough.  Wonderful!

this is the work board. It has fashion, flowers, rooms, design, colors, all things I think are beautiful
this is the work board. It has fashion, flowers, rooms, design, colors, all things I think are beautiful
This is the personal board.
This is the personal board. It has my goals, sayings I like, family, my travels, friends and just things (and people!) I think are beautiful.

The Theater, The Theater

“All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts” William Shakespeare in As You Like It

In this blog I have written about music, film, and books but have yet to add my thoughts on my favorite medium- live theater.  I have loved attending shows my whole life.  I am not sure how it got started but the earliest memory of the theater that  I have is when my dad took me to the Utah Shakespeare festival.  I believe I was 9 because it was before Anna was born (that’s brave to take a 9 year old to Shakespeare).  We saw Taming of the Shrew and a couple other plays and I enjoyed it so much that I saved the programs.  The first musical I recall going to was when my dance teacher in 5th grade played Anybody’s in a local production of West Side Story.  We went to see it and I remember crying along with Maria and loving the experience.  I also remember going to see Phantom of the Opera with my grandmother around the same time and that was like nothing I had ever experienced.  Amazing!

When I got to high school I embraced more theater by appearing in 5 school productions (A christmas medley, The Wiz, Up the Down Staircase, Bye Bye Birdie, Scenes from Shakespeare plays).  Each production boosted my confidence and made me feel alive.  I have often said that they should have recovering addicts participate in the theater. That may sound strange but it is so rewarding working together and then when the final applause comes it is one of the best highs I have ever known.  Of all of the productions I was in my favorite was The Wiz.  It’s fun music, lively sets and great cast made it memorable.

My favorite show that I have participated in- The Wiz
My favorite show that I have participated in- The Wiz

In addition to appearing in live plays I also took a huge step in high school.  In 9th grade I made my first trip to New York City, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  There are so many things I love about New York that I will have to do an entry solely devoted to the city.  However, the most incredible part of the Big Apple is Broadway! The first show I saw there was Les Miserables and it was beyond words.  I saw it again a couple of years ago and was reminded of how moving the story is and how beautiful the music.  When I went to see Les Mis I had seen the PBS concert many times and knew the soundtrack almost by heart and yet it did not disappoint. If anything it exceeded my expectations. In fact, it got me hooked on Broadway.  Since that first visit I have been 5 more times seeing the King and I, Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, the Rockettes, Light in the Piazza, Drowsy Chaperon, Lion King, Hairspray, 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, Les Mis (again) and Wicked.  There is no doubt but that I have been abundantly blessed.

Each time I see a live show I feel excited.  It’s hard to explain but even the comedies move me.  I love everything about a Broadway musical.  I love the songs, the voices, the melodies, the stories, the acting.  It’s magic!

One of the things I actually like about living in Utah is the great local live theater.  In Maryland there was one local theater in our town.  Aside from that you had to go to DC or Baltimore and there was no guarantee that it would be family friendly and it was expensive.  In Utah you get all 3- family friendly, inexpensive and high quality.  There have been productions I have seen at Hale Center Theater (Orem and West Valley) that are Broadway level quality.  I saw the Secret Garden there last year and it was fabulous.  The little girl playing Mary was outstanding.

It’s interesting because I know people that feel the theater is a rare luxury.  For me, I would give up a lot before giving up my chance to see great productions (or even mediocre ones.  I love it all!).  I used to have a little theater group that got season tickets to the shows at Hale and it was always fun.  Unfortunately, the other members of my group decided to give it up for financial reasons 😦  Hopefully I can form a new group and if any of you are interested call me. It adds so much to my life that I try to go as often as possible.

I suppose I must close this entry by saying my favorites.  It’s hard to say but when push comes to shove my favorite musical is probably still Les Mis.  It’s the only one I’ve seen on Broadway twice and still loved.  It’s just so moving.  I also loved Wicked and the Drowsy Chaperon is my favorite comedy.  Other favorites are My Fair Lady, Hairspray, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Woman, and West Side Story.  I love Sound of Music but actually more as a film than play (its a rare exception and Julie Andrews! Amazing).  As far as plays go my favorite is Death of a  Salesman for its penetrating character development.  I also love the Christmas Carol every holiday season and any Shakespeare.

My love for musical theater has also introduced me to great talent on the stage.  Some of the many voices that amaze me even on the soundtracks are Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Sherie Renee Scott, Pattie Lupone, Bernadette Peters, Laura Benanti, Sutton Foster (who I saw in Chaperon- amazing), Beth Leavel (who I also saw in Chaperon), Brian Stokes Mitchell, Adam Pascal, Raul Esparza, Kristen Chenoweth, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Idina Menzel, Laura Bell Bundy, Heather Headley, Kellie O’hara (who I saw in Light in the Piazza- amazing), Victoria Clark (who I saw in Light in the Piazza) , Audra McDowell, Anna Gasteyer (who I saw in Wicked- incredible) and more.  They are such talent.  I highly recommend checking out their CDs at the library or on ITunes and enriching your life by their truly marvelous music.

If you get a chance go see live theater.  It may be expensive but look at it as a chance to support the arts in your community and it may teach you something, make you laugh or cause you to ponder.

And remember when it comes to the theater…

“Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”

William Shakespeare As You Like It.

The best show ever
The best show ever

Music Galore

As I plugged in my IPOD today and put it on shuffle I thought about the variety of music that I like and how each type had touched my life. My mom and dad used to sit in bafflement over the power music had over me. I would spend way too much time figuring out the perfect song/CD to do silly things such as clean my room. They also didn’t understand why I felt so offended at the idea of anyone (particularly them) not liking my music. Neither of them understood how much of my heart went into the selection of my music. I have always felt that music had a special power to connect me to moments- to express my inside when my words failed miserably. As I’ve grown up I have learned to accept that music is an organic experience and can not be transferred to another person no matter how we might wish it could be. My parents will never understand my music and nothing can make them. It’s just doesn’t move them the way it does me- and that’s the way it is. In this spirit it may seem futile for me to share with you my favorite bands/musicians. I am well aware that each of these groups may not suit your tastes; however, perhaps in my sharing them you will understand a little more of my heart- what moves me, makes me laugh, and motivates me to keep going.

You will notice that many of these are groups from the 90’s. Sorry I can’t help it. That’s when I experienced my most formative musical period. These are in no particular order.

1. REM- Their Automatic for the People album is still one of my favorites. It is one of those great CDs that I can play start to finish. It was actually the first tape (yes cassette tape) that I remember purchasing on my own. I love Everybody Hurts, Man on the Moon, Sidewinder Sleeps, Try Not to Breath, and more. Other albums feature It’s the End of the World As We Know It, What’s the Frequency Kenneth, Losing my Religion, Stand, the Great Beyond and At My Most Beautiful. They are wonderful songs I could listen to again and again.

2. The Cranberries- 2 albums are essentials in my music collection No Need to Argue and Everybody Else is Doing it so Why Can’t We? Songs like Dreams, 21, No Need to Argue, Zombie, Pretty, Dreaming My Dreams and Linger are hauntingly beautiful and bold. Dolores O’Riordan is the only woman who could make yodeling cool.

3. Jewel- I know that she has a cheesy side, but I can’t deny the effect her albums have had on me. Pieces of You came out when I was a freshman in high school and while my friends were all into Oasis I couldn’t get enough of Jewel. Foolish Games, Who will Save Your Soul, You Were Meant for Me are amazing. I also listened her album Spirit over and over again and it is still one of my favorites with songs like Hands, Little Bird, Down So Long and Life Uncommon. It is no small chance that one of the first songs I learned while taking voice lessons was Foolish Games. It’s perfect.

4. Kenny Chesney- I am not going to try and argue that Kenny is an original performer; nevertheless he was my introduction to country music and his songs make me smile every time. He hasn’t put out a bad album yet. He is also important because Anna and I went to one of his outdoor concerts in 2005 and the memory is one of my favorites of the last few years. I love You Save Me, There Goes my Life, Don’t Blink, No Shoes No Shirt No Problems, Summertime, Big Star, Live Those Songs, You Had Me at Hello, Tin Man, and Good Stuff. He’s also the cutest man in a cowboy hat for my money.

5. Fleetwood Mac- Can you top Stevie Nicks? Not for me. Silver Springs, Landslide, Rhianon, Everywhere, Dreams and Go Your Own Way are all great songs. Her voice is raspy but deep and the lyrics are beautiful and fun. I have liked Fleetwood Mac since I was in Middle School. I bought their Greatest Hits right when I purchased the REM tape, so it was one my firsts. I still like it at 27 and that says something!

6. Jack Johnson- Can we all be grateful that Jack took a break from surfing to take a crack at music. What a talent! He just keeps putting out one great album after another. Even his soundtrack for Curious George had great songs. Perhaps it is my love of Hawaii that enhances my appreciation for Jack Johnson, but I could listen to his music all day. Flake, Good People, Sitting Waiting Wishing, Dreams by Dreams, Upside Down, Supposed to Be and If I had Eyes are some of my favorites. I can’t wait to see him live in August!!

7. Michael Buble- My mom has always groaned at Megan and my pleasure at what she calls lounge music. Michael Buble has taken that to a new level for me. He is the only person I have seen live twice and each time he amazed me. Entertaining is the word. He is funny, engaging and of course talented. He sings with a massive band and yet is still the star of the show- now that takes charisma. Not only is he great at singing classics like World on a String, Feeling Good, and Try a little Tenderness but he is a great songwriter penning one of my favorite recent songs Home along with Everything, Lost, and That’s Life. It also doesn’t hurt that he isn’t too hard on the eyes and that voice…

8. Josh Groban- Another performer that I have always liked but gained a whole new infatuation for after seeing him live. It’s a long story but through some luck Camille and I got bumped to the 5th row. He even touched my fingers! I know I sound like a gaping teen, but I can’t help it. It was that cool! I wondered before seeing him if his voice would carry in a large stadium. It certainly did. What a talent! On key, singing in Italian half the time, and completely mesmerizing. Where do I start on his songs- all amazing. My favorites are Awake, So She Dances, February Song, The Prayer, Weeping, To Where You Are, and You Raise Me Up. I just hope that David Foster decides to do a Buble/Groban tour- that would be awesome!

9. Joni Mitchell- There have been so many copy cats of Joni that she doesn’t seem as original as she deserves to be. I joke with my teacher that I love bitter woman songs. Joni definitely fits this category. I don’t know why I love these songs, but they hit an emotion in me and in so doing I feel more understood by the world- more able to move on. Both Sides Now, River, California and of course Blue are pure and peacefully melancholy. If I could sing like anyone it would probably be her. I just love her voice and the simple beauty of one woman singing at a piano or a guitar with no airs or pretense for the crowd!

10. Norah Jones- Rarely do I hear a song on the radio and think- “I love that song, I have to pick it up”. Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why was one of those songs. Her Come Away album is perfect. Every song could be listened to many times and is great for relaxed settings-even work. She has such a beautiful voice and her arrangements are smart and simple. You can picture her sitting at a piano singing her favorite songs- and then oops they got recorded. I have appreciated all of her albums but Come Away is the best.

11. The Beatles- It would be hard to not put the Beatles on such a list. They have so many great songs- songs that you can dance to, songs that are slow and melodic and songs that are poetic-telling you a story. How different are She Loves Me, 8 Days a Week, Something, Eleanor Rigby and Let it Be? It doesn’t seem like it could be the same band. I am jealous of anyone who ever got to go to a concert live.

12. Judy Garland- I feel sorry for Judy Garland. She had so little choice in her life. She listened dutifully to her mother and doctors and ended up drug addicted and unhappy. I admire that despite everything she kept singing- trying to find something over the rainbow. When I was younger I appreciated Judy as a kind of Disney singer but her songs have a bittersweet meaning to me that I find very moving. Only those that have studied voice understand the difficulty of her arrangements and the purity of her voice. If I could sing like anybody she would be at the top of my list. Incredible.

Wow! That was hard There are so many more I want to include Rascal Flatts, Counting Crows, Maroon 5, Barbra Streisand, Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek, Dixie Chicks, Billy Joel, Barenaked Ladies, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, Harry Connick Jr., Adam Pascal, Natalie Merchant, Annie Lenox, Elliot Yamin, James Taylor, John Mayer, Alicia Keyes, KT Tunstall, Billie Holiday, Bonnie Raitt, Johnie Cash, Reba, U2, They Might Be Giants, ColdPlay, Beach Boys and more. I am so blessed to have music in my life and hope that I never stop appreciating it and developing my own talents. I can’t imagine heaven without music and I don’t think it will be all hymns up there either! Take care friends and share with me your favorites.