Music, whole systems, whole self LO11624

ray evans harrell (
Mon, 30 Dec 1996 23:58:11 -0800

Replying to LO11563 --

I just read the list and was gratified by all three posts and so this is
to Joe, Gloria and Peggy. Happy New Year!

When I first came on the LO list last year I was asked (not challenged)
what the relevance that LO had to my work which is as the director,
teacher, conductor and entrepreneurial producer of a chamber opera
company. Since that time I have been asked to personally manage some of
the singers as well. All I can say about the past three posts is yes,
yes, yes and yes.

Perhaps we are beginning to incorporate the affective side of our being as
a result of the transnational nature of the internet and our commercial
ventures. Music has brought such pleasure on the mountaintops as well as
in the depths of despair. I feel that it is a great honor to have been a
part of the profession of music in this lifetime. It has taught me that
the meaning of life is to be found in many different approaches and that
one's talent developed brings meaning in every case. We learn to be
together even with our enemies when we sing together. We are together in
time, space, pitch, word, emotion and dynamic. Leonard Bernstein used to
say, send musicians not Nuclear warheads and I know that he had a point.

Several people on this list are associated with the magazine "Fast
Company" which had an excellent article on company ensemble with an
interview with Jazz player Gary Burton. (Dec/Jan pg. 110) Michael Schrage
does the interview and what is true for Jazz is just as true for the other
musical processes. Processes which teach profound lessons in performance
leadership, teamwork, rhythm, etc all from a place of the joy of
excellence and the excellence of having your work be a place of joy in

Productivity has been defined as the ability to place people in areas of
work that require such minimal skill that they can be easily replaced with
another and eventually a machine. If the product can be duplicated
endlessly and assembled cheaply then sold for a huge markup that is
'productive.' Only it is a terrible life.

The mines in Wales and Great Britain were terrible places but the mine
owners made the family and community lives of the miners worthwhile
through developing the finest Brass Bands (English Brass are the standard
of the world) and the finest male choruses (the great baritone Bryn Tarfel
is one of the last products) in the world. As those mines have run out so
are the communities and the British and Welsh culture that blossomed for a

Today, twenty hour work days in the programming mines are accomplished not
by people of limited education but the opposite. Music not only soothes
the sores of the mines but develops the minds of great mathematicians and
gives their children pleasure in excellence to combat the limitations of
the ten minute television fragment between commercials. Learning to
concentrate and perform a 25 minute Beethoven Sonata makes the television
the simple recreation it should have been all along. Soon it will occur
to the people who wish their children to be proficient in reading, writing
and math, that music facilitates the absorption of all three.
Extracurricular is a term foisted off on the public by people who simply
wanted to reduce their share of costs in the schools. The costs to the
generations has been to create a group of people who have missed many of
the most profound pleasures to be had in the Western World. As my
daughter said to me "Pot, who needs that, I learned to stimulate my
Endorphins in ballet from the age of three."

Over the holiday I sat and watched Mozart dictate the Requiem to Salieri
in the movie "Amadeus." It was in Salieri's mind to kill Mozart out of
envy, however, the participation in the creation of such beauty
transformed Salieri's murderous thought into something that regenerates
the human soul. In the movie, Salieri is not changed and dies in an
asylum. In real life Salieri became the teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven
and was beloved although he did suffer at the end from dementia. His life
was rescued by the beauty his students brought the world. Not a bad

Ray Evans Harrell


ray evans harrell <>

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