Sunday, August 26, 2007
A Long "Cool" Story
I have been to the mountain again! This wonderful week has ended (BYU Education Week) and I can't begin to tell you how amazing it was. The mountains were gorgeous, the flowers were in full bloom, and the teachers were superb. While they offered a variety of classes in Communication and Finance, History, Religion, Government and Political Science, Law, Literature, Psychology, and the Arts --this year I spent all my time in Music classes.
Marvin Goldstein is a concert pianist and comedian (in that order): "Two fellows, a Jew and a Chinaman, walk into a bar...The Jew punches the Chinaman in the nose and knocks him to the floor. He gets up and brushes himself off. "What was THAT for?" he asks. "That," says the Jew, "was for Pearl Harbor!" The Chinaman replies, "But WE didn't have anything to do with Pearl Harbor. That was the Japanese!" "Japanese, Chinese, they're all the same," says the Jew. The next day the same two fellows are in the bar and the Chinaman punches the Jew. He gets up off the floor and brushes himself off. "What was THAT for?" The Chinaman says, "For the Titanic!" The Jew says, "The TItanic! WE didn't have anything to do with the Titanic! That was an iceberg!" "Iceberg, Goldberg, they're all the same!" LOL (And no, I am not a racist, nor is Marvin Goldstein, but he was born in Israel, where he practiced and practiced the piano until he got really really good! His friend Marvin Payne, who does fantastic R & B, joined him. "You're Marvin and I'm Marvin," said Goldstein. "Who would do that to a little child? But your father is Marvin, too, isn't he? My father is SAM!" he boasts. Later, picking up Paynes guitar (which he cannot play), he strummed a spontaneously atonal little chord. "I used to be a Jew," he sang. "And I still am!" Even though he converted to Mormonism several years ago....
Jenny Oaks Baker is a concert violinist with many CD's to her credit. She used to be first violinist in the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC. She graduated from Julliard and Curtis Institute of Music, but is now raising 4 children under the age of 6. One of the phenomenal pieces she performed was Paganini's piece for unaccompanied violin, which she did flawlessly 10 years ago. "I'm going to try it again," she said, "but it's really,really HARD!" Her fingers flew across the strings. At one point she made a mistake, and started again. Then stopped, and started again, apologising. "Oh, my gosh!" she said. "I did it better than this in the bathroom this morning!" But she got a standing ovation anyway!
Michael Ballam (the guy with white hair) can't be compared to anyone else. He is the main reason I keep going back He's sung all over the world, and in New York, has made a ton of CD's. Now he is the founder and general director of the Utah Festival Opera Company. He is The Most Impressive of All. I'd follow him anywhere. He spoke on Music and the Brain. "In the arts there should be no wrong answer," he says. "The arts should be a safe environment, where you have permission to be unique." He also began the Utah Children's Opera in the public schools, where kids between the 2nd and 5th grades write, direct, perform, paint sets, publicize and finance their own operas with no adult input. They have 3 rules. Nobody Gets Hurt. Everybody Participates. It's Entirely the Children's Own Work. He went to the Utah school with the lowest grade averages, in the worst part of town, and gave every child a violin. They all learned to play. They performed. They practised the first 15 minutes of every class. (The math teachers were angry, at first, telling him they had little enough time to teach math as it was). Surprisingly, the academic scores began to rise, and now they're among the top in the state. The math teachers now have their own violins and they all play together for the first 15 minutes of class. "Not very well," admits Ballam. "But that's not what matters." He says, "The most important things a child can gain from education are a sense of community, the ability to communicate beyond words, and creative thinking. THese are much more important to know than that the capitol of Vermont is Montpelier."
James Oneil Miner played a lot of Golden Oldies: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Autumn Leaves, Misty, that sort of thing....
Btw, I kept hearing myself describing things as "Cool." Isn't it just the most asinine thing to hear a woman old enough to be your grandma saying "Cool?" All I needed were some bongos and a headband.
Anyway, to make a long story longer, I took scads of notes. The turkey and cranberry and cream cheese sandwiches were out of this world, as was the burnt almond fudge ice cream cone I had. The weather was nice. And I am tired.
Lost in Translation: The legendary stone marker that announces the motto of BYU should read "The World is our Campus." The photo is not mine, and was probably meant as a joke, but it works for me either way. The campus is a world unto itself, as well as being a part of the world at large. BYU has a couple of other mottos: "The glory of God is intelligence," and "Enter to learn, go forth to serve." Next time I'll be more careful (or use my own camera). Thanks, slick.