Tuesday, November 23, 2010

People's Resource Center Collection

College Theatre’s A Christmas Carol Nov 26 to 28 at the MAC
In the spirit of the holidays College Theatre and the MAC will collect non-perishable food items for the People’s Resource Center.
Please bring items to the MAC lobby before any performance.
The MAC will continue to collect food until the PRC’s December 10 Holiday Concert with Gavin Coyle.
At the concert Ebenezer Scrooge himself will present an offering of food to the PRC.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Lesson of Charity

by Connie Canaday Howard

I’ve told this story before, but feel its presence very personally, in regards to the themes of A Christmas Carol.

My mother taught in my elementary school, though, at the time of the story I’m about to relate, she was not my teacher. I was quite small, first or second grade, and my mother was teaching fifth and sixth Science, Math and History.

Several times a week, we would have to go in very early, well before the first bus arrived at the building, and I was told to read or finish my homework quietly at the back of my mother’s room. My mother would leave, and be gone for several minutes, and then return and work quietly at her desk until the time that I could go to my own classroom, when she’d give me a hug and kiss and wish me a good day. I found these early mornings quite unnecessary, and one day complained loudly about them. That’s when my mother told me the story of another student, an older boy who she did not identify.

This young man came from a large family of very little means, and many of the teachers suspected that he might not be treated well. So, together they’d decided to purchase him a few changes of clothes, some soap and a towel. As this young man came on an early bus and was the first student to arrive at school, every morning one teacher would escort him to the boys’ gym, where he could shower in private and change into clean clothes, get a sack lunch packed by the teacher, and be in the classroom before another student arrived. At the end of the day, he changed back into his clothes from home, for his bus ride back. This was their small way of trying to make his life’s journey a little smoother; he came to school very dirty, and they suspected the sack lunch might, at some times, be his only daily meal. Though I never knew who this student was, I also never felt the need to complain about our early mornings again.

Working on A Christmas Carol, in this lovely adaptation, this story again came back to me. I’ve always loved Dickens, and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we all tried to be “as good a friend…” as Scrooge exemplifies, after his enlightenment. A truly optimistic, some would say na├»ve hope… but it’s mine, nonetheless.

Join us for A Christmas Carol:
Friday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2 and 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 28, 2 and 7 p.m.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On finally becoming an American citizen - and patriotism

by Kirk Muspratt

After having lived in the United States of America for most of my adult life, at 8 a.m. Monday, November 15th, at the homeland security building in Chicago, I will finally be sworn in as an American citizen! It has been an extremely long, time-consuming, expensive process with many other kinds of visas, much time with the best immigration lawyers, many letters of recommendation from important and busy people, several background checks, finally a green card which is extremely difficult to obtain, a biometrics exam, an interview, and a written and verbal exam.

I think on the tests they try to trick you – because the lady asked me if I had ever been a prostitute! However, in studying for the exams I learned much about the USA and became enriched in delving into what made America, America.

I found that I had been incorrect my whole life in thinking that the Columbia was the 2nd longest river in America - it is the Missouri. I had believed that senators were elected for 4 years and I learned that it is really 6. I had no idea that there were 435 congressmen in the House of Representatives.

More importantly, I learned about the federalist papers of 1787 and all the writings that Madison and Hamilton worked through to explain and clarify the constitution to the people of that time. One realizes how vital all of these aspects of rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of speech were to these people. It is arresting to revisit the truth that those people, from all their great lands across the sea, did not have these rights before coming here. They were coming here to begin something completely untested and yet ringing true to all of them.

I am now able to take the pledge of allegiance. It is not corny to be a patriot.
Becoming an American citizen is serious. I will be a patriot and when called to serve on a jury, I will.When I have now for the first time, the opportunity to vote, I will. The homeland security lady, in my interview, asked me:
“If the country calls you to wash dishes and scrub floors, would you do so?" I said: "yes", I will."

Perhaps though, since I am a musician, I can help to contribute something else as a patriot.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Joshua Roman - a phenom and kindred spirit

by Kirk Muspratt

In the past two weeks, in disparate places, I have found myself thinking about the phenom of Josh Roman.

I was in Peoria working with high school students in a district string festival … urging them to use the right part of their bow, asking them to consider the speed of the bow, the weight in their bow … asking them to change their bowings at times - to get that great crescendo .....
I watched them struggling with and conquering some of these complex challenges of playing a string instrument.

On the way home, I was thinking about them working so hard and them caring. They are in the middle of the middle of Illinois - not in Paris - not in downtown Boston - and they love the viola and they are enchanted with classical music.

I started thinking about Josh. He was from "the middle of the middle" of America. Oklahoma. In fact, he did not even have a cello teacher for the first 10 years of his studies. Indeed, he did take his cello to his lessons but he only had a violin teacher to teach him - his older brother and sisters' violin teacher. Therefore, his teacher would show him what he himself would do on the violin - and then little Joshua would turn it all backwards and figure out how to do it on the cello.
And - Josh "made it!"

Boy, did he make it!

Then, a week later, I was walking along Broadway in New York City, after having just judged the finals of the Concert Artists Guild competition. Such an amazing wealth of talent in these finals. A marimba player from Japan, a quartet from Britain, a pianist from Australia… And I would have voted for almost any of them to be the grand prize winner. They were all so wonderful.

Yet - only one of them would go home the winner and the other 12 finalists … Well, I worried more about them as they all richly deserved to be performing out in the world. I worried as I walked home, would they each "make it?" What could I do to help them?

As I walked along Broadway, I again started thinking about Joshua from Oklahoma, how hard he must have worked, what kind of gift God must have given him, how difficult it must have been for him to "make it" in a world now where every nation in the world is sending super artists to the stage.

I thought how much I admired him and how much I was looking forward to working again with this kindred spirit.
Joshua Roman performs with New Philharmonic and Kirk Muspratt on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m.