Tag Archives: music

Cultures in Harmony

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.



Posthumous Collaboration

How does a composer complete his final symphony 113 years after his death? He leaves behind sketches of what he planned to do and someone else painstakingly does their best to fill in the missing pieces.

A few weeks ago, Musica Nova (http://www.musicanovaaz.org), an orchestra that I play bass with and that specializes in programming new and neglected classical music, performed the regional premiere of Anton Bruckner’s 9th symphony with the 4th movement completed by William Carragan.

Carragan and our conductor Warren Cohen also shared ideas about the interpretation of music: tempi, expression, “Did Bruckner really mean to have those notes in the trumpet?” etc. Both men commented about how great it was to work together, saying “we were able to solve the problems because we were totally open to working with each other” and “[he was] wonderfully open minded to some of my quirky ideas.”

It’s not often that classical music conductors get to collaborate with living composers, let alone modern day composers collaborating with a long-gone master. It was very exciting at the first rehearsal to look to my left and see an amazing line up of nine French Horns with about half of them doubling on the infrequently seen Wagner Tubas (a sort of bass French Horn). The reviews were great and you can read more about it on the Musica Nova blog http://www.musicanovamusings.org/.

How would you feel about having one of your major works completed by someone else a hundred + years later? Would you be glad that they cared enough to spend the time and creative energy? Affronted? Appalled at the choices? Delighted with the result?