This month we hear from Mr. Finn, conductor of our Youth Philharmonic, with his current listening picks.
My personal connection to Bob Marley's music and the music of the Caribbean is important. I spent the first 7 years of my teaching career on a small island in the Southern Caribbean, St. Lucia. I absolutely fell in love with the rhythmic complexity, the harmonic simplicity, and the melodic phrasing. It's hard to quantify, reggae music just makes me smile. I love it.
Of course, as with most people, my musical interests are definitely not confined to one style. I love listening to all sorts of different music. The music of Miles Davis is something I delved into very deeply while in school. I approached it with an academic mindset, so whenever I listen to 50s and 60s jazz, I find it difficult to just let go the way I do with Caribbean music. The music analyst in me gets to work when I hear jazz improvisation and I absolutely love to try to imagine what the improviser was thinking/imaging/focusing-on while they played that solo. One solo of Miles Davis that I always enjoy listening to and analyzing is off his 1958 record, Milestones. In fact, that entire album is fantastic. There are two takes of "Straight, No Chaser" that were released (one on the original and one on a more recent release), both of which have fantastic improvisations from everyone in the band. The way Miles solos on trumpet is so lyrical and expressive, while not being overly complicated. It's easy to sing along to, and when analyzed against the harmony, it is fascinating how he plays around with 'sticking to the chord tones' and 'exploring the upper extensions'. Really hip!
In addition to listening to music that 'makes me feel good' and music that 'makes me think good', I also spend a good bit of time listening to music that 'makes me smarter'. As a musician, this is hugely important. The Santa Fe Youth Philharmonic is currently preparing an arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture. In order for me to better understand stylistic and musical phrasing that will help me lead the orchestra, I've spent a lot of time listening to some different recordings of the piece. In particular, I've really enjoyed the interpretation by Gustavo Dudamel and the Berliner Philharmoniker. The passion and energy that he represents visually in his conducting is so clearly interpreted by the orchestra. It's simply amazing. This type of listening is more "in depth" than the other listening I do. I listen over and over again, pausing the recording, rewinding, listening again.
In the era of YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify it's easy to have a wide 'breadth' in our listening - which is fantastic, so much at our fingertips. But it's SO important to have 'depth' as well. That way we have an intimate understanding of the music. I encourage everyone to listen both widely and deeply. Happy listening!
He even slept in the guest room for quite a while. Realizing life would not return to normal for a while and school would mostly be online, my mom started applying for a Taiwanese passport for me and my brother because the Taiwan government has done an outstanding job with COVID control and life is mostly normal there -- despite some places where wearing a mask is mandatory. After going through four Taiwanese embassies in the US and many hurdles, our Taiwanese passports came through in early July and within a week, we were on the plane back to Taiwan.
But before we could enjoy full freedom, 14 days of strict quarantine was mandatory for everyone who traveled from overseas. The strict quarantine required we not leave our quarantine place at all or we would receive up to a 30,000 USD fine. My mom booked an Airbnb and our days were spent on movies, deciding on all the good food to eat, some academic and music work, exercise, opening the door and watching pedestrians walk by. Overall, even though we could not leave the place during those 14 days, it was quite an interesting experience. When we finally sat in a restaurant packed with people after being reunited with my grandparents, it was a bit weird at first as we had not eaten in restaurants for a few months and seeing so many people without distancing was kind of weird but made the quarantine all worth it.
During our stay, we traveled a bit around the island. I was able to go scuba diving and spent a night sleeping with penguins in the aquarium, met my friends who used to be our neighbors in Shanghai. We even watched Tenet and Mulan in the movie theater with popcorn and drinks. All of these activities seemed normal and we enjoyed them so much during the un-normal times. We stayed in Taiwan for almost three months and we enjoyed the freedom people collectively achieved.
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Our Mission is to inspire and engage the youth of Northern New Mexico's multicultural communities through excellent music education, the guidance of music professionals, and performance opportunities from small ensemble to full orchestra in Jazz, Mariachi and Orchestra.