Last night, I was listening to my favorite radio program, From the Top. Here in Phoenix, it’s on KBAQ, every Sunday evening at 7pm and it features the best young classical musicians in the country. The featured story was about William Harvey. His original dream was to be the next Joshua Bell.
His vision changed after playing for the soldiers who had spent an exhausting day clearing away rubble at Ground Zero. He wrote:
At Juilliard, kids are hypercritical of each other and very competitive. The teachers expect, and in most cases get, technical perfection. But this wasn’t about that. The soldiers didn’t care that I had so many memory slips I lost count. They didn’t care that when I forgot how the second movement of the Tchaikovsky went, I had to come up with my own insipid improvisation until I somehow (and I still don’t know how) got to a cadence. I’ve never seen a more appreciative audience, and I’ve never understood so fully what it means to communicate music to other people.
Harvey was struck by the real power of music and went on to found the non-profit Cultures in Harmony. He believes that music can help bring peace to our world.
Cultures in Harmony collaborates with other non-profit organizations, governments, agencies and schools to create projects that bring musicians to other countries such as Moldava, the Philipines, and Egypt. Once there, the musicians collaborate with each other and local musicians on western classical music, music of the country they are visiting and original compositions they create on the spot.
I hope that you will be as inspired I am by this organization. Explore the stories of their projects and the important work they are doing. And on this page you’ll find a list of creative ways you can celebrate their fifth anniversary and help their efforts.
Do you take the escalator rather than the stairs? What would it take for you to consider the more effortful way to climb? Take a look at this video and see if this fun idea would make you leave your lazy tendencies aside. Debbie and I are asking ourselves what this video has to do with collaboration. It’s true that collaboration can be fun. We’re admitting that collaborating for us is the fun way we can get things done. What is the connection to collaboration that you see here?
I’ve been studying Sacred Theater for years with a master teacher and actress, Peggy Rubin. Sacred Theater is a workshop that Peggy offers to enable participants to look at their lives as performance art. Sacred Theater players, as we participants are called, become playrights, directors, set designers, composers, choreographers and leading actors in our own productions. There is creative challenge in many of the activities, a call for all to be daring and willing to step out on the workshop space “stage” and always….always an abundance of fun. I began this work as a way to spend time with close friends and to build my comfort being in my own skin. What I also discovered along the way was that having a shared, intimate, challenging experience with many of the same people year after year has taught me a lot about collaboration as an art form. I’m recalling one workshop where we were asked to write a few lines of dialogue about a current life situation and take only 5 minutes to do so. We then were told to hand our writing to another player who then directed others to enact the dialogue in front of us. In this scenario, I became the audience for my own writing. I had chosen a difficult subject matter – the recent death of my adopted son’s birth mother. There was so much left unsaid between me and the woman who gave birth to my son but I felt I only captured a taste of it in the lines I wrote. What absolutely stunned me was as my fellow workshop players enacted the conversation I would never be able to actually have, I experienced the comfort and closure I was strongly seeking. The “stand-ins” for my story became my collaborators. They took the words I wrote, riffed on them as actors do, and offered me the gift of finishing an unresolved conversation. If you would like to know more about Sacred Theater, collaboration through performance. art as collaboration or performing art as collaborators, check out Peggy’s new book, To Be and How To Be: Transforming Your Life Through The Nine Powers of Sacred Theater.