Sweet Santa Fe Spring Break 2017

 

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Santa Fe proved a sweet destination for Spring break 2017.  My  (soon to be 15 years old!)  daughter and I headed down to the beautiful Southwest  for some desert fun in the sun.

Santa Fe, steeped in complex history and diverse cultures, is a mecca for art and history museums.  The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and The Museum of International Folk Art,  are both situated on Museum Hill overlooking 365 degree views of the mountains and the sweeping desert landscape. We stopped at a café for an outside table taking in the view between museum going.

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Along with an impressive historical display depicting the lives of the indigenous cultures of the Southwest, The Indian Arts and Cultures museum included thought-provoking works by contemporary Native American artist,  Frank Buffalo Hyde.

The plaza in downtown Santa Fe,  a stroll from our hotel , was a terrific place to people watch, listen to music, window shop, and talk to the jewelry vendors selling their wares  just outside of the Palace of the Governors (one of the oldest buildings in the country, dating back to 1610).

 

 

My favorite museum, New Mexico History Museum, tells the heartbreaking and captivating  stories of the American Southwest – the native people, the Spanish colonists, the Mexicans, the Santa Fe trail,  it’s all there!  A bonus exhibit on Flamenco dance and music was a highlight.  Turns out Santa Fe is a hot spot for Flamenco dance and culture.

 

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Ruby Dressed as a flamenco dancer. 

 

Then there was the Georgie O’Keeffe Museum  showcasing a collections of paintings  showing  the evolution of her art throughout her career.   I was as fascinated with her life as I was by her beautiful paintings.  O’Keeffe  lived 1887-1986, and spent much of her time at Ghost Ranch outside of Santa Fe, she was ahead of her time as an artist, traveler, observer, and independent woman.

It wasn’t all museums, we also took an afternoon to enjoy soaking and relaxing the 10,000 waves, a Japanese inspired spa just outside of Santa Fe.  We also enjoyed the delicious and spicy Southwest cuisine and loved the crisp clear mornings and sunny afternoons.

Ahhhhh, Santa Fe. We’ll be back!

 

 

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Coronado Historic Site

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A collection of santos

 

 

 

 

Connection and Compassion Through the Arts

 

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One of the highlights of my week  was teaching a the salsa in an elementary school  next to a 4th grade Muslim girl who had a huge grin on her face the entire time.  Her eyes were beaming  as she gave me a big bear hug at the end of the class before heading out the door.  In that moment of humanity, we were saying to each other, “I get you, and you get me.”  I’ll never forget it.

I just spent one week in an elementary school in Shoreline- teaching a Cuban cultural/dance/and song workshop to 45 classes and 600 kids in all. This residency was made possible by a grant from a local arts organization,  The Shoreline Arts Council.  To say the least, it was rewarding,  to take kids on a “classroom trip to Cuba.” I showed photos and videos of my trip, taught a tradition Yeruban song, a Spanish song, and taught the basic steps of two Cuban dance forms: Rumba, and Salsa.  The previous week,  I spent a day in a high school Spanish classroom  giving the same workshop to 5 groups  of  high school seniors (150 students in all),  yet another arts experience made possible with an arts grant.

You’ve heard it before, the arts transcends borders. When kids are exposed to the arts and culture through the arts, it broadens their world view, takes them outside of themselves, and makes them more compassionate human beings.

After one class, a second grader commented, “I see that even though a leader of a country can be thought of as not a nice person, that doesn’t mean the people that live there are bad.” Too true, my friend!

Here are some comments from the high school seniors:

M.K.  I appreciated the opportunity to express myself through artistic movement

L.E.  It was the most fun thing I’ve done in Spanish all year.

E.Z.  It was cool to learn a tradition of another culture.

L.E.  I’m glad I put myself out there to try it, it allowed me to be exposed to others.

Arts funding is currently under attack under our current administration. Please take a moment to  read this article in the New York Times  about the importance of arts and arts funding to our society.

March Music Madness

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“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

Piano Phasing, a concert featuring more than 25  pianists (playing at the same time)  was one of the highlights from this month. Four of my students and I participated in the event, playing a composition by a Dutch Composer, Kristoffer Zeegers.  For a taste of what piano phasing is all about. Thanks to Seattle teacher GraceAnn Cummings for making this possible and for Classic Pianos in Bellevue for hosting the event.

The experience was meditative, loud, and cathartic.  I can see the attraction of making a lot of noise. What a treat to participate right along with my students in a performance.  I adore my students xoxoxoxo!!!!!

In addition, there were adjudications sponsored by the Seattle Music Teachers Association. Nine of my students played two memorized pieces and received written and verbal feedback on their performances from a wonderful adjudicator from Spokane.  Three students participated in the Young Artists Festival at the University of Washington- which is adjudications…. amped up  a few notches with very  high level playing, expectations,  and world class adjudicators.

I adjudicated for a local festival myself,  spent a Saturday from 8-5 listening to about 50 young pianists play two pieces each while I worked with another adjudicator to give feedback on their performances.  Some of their performance attire could melt a heart!  A  six year old in a pouffy white dress with black polka dots comes to mind.

Oh March, never a dull moment.  I  started a music residency at Ridgecrest Elementary  featuring Cuban music and dance.  I’m  presenting  music and dance of Cuba in narrative, photos, and videos,  and then we salsa, rumba, and sing our hearts out!  It’s great to spend a day dancing.  (or a week! ) I’ll see every student in school for two classes when all is said and done, by the end of next week.

There’s a new project in the works  for the fall, and probably for  the next several years. The new project consuming my creative energy is  Heart and Place: Music of the Westward Expansion.   I’m reading a wide array of  history of the West in the 1800’s, including the Lewis and Clark Expedition, diaries of pioneers and settlers of the Western frontier, and anything I can get my hands on.  The story of Westward Expansion is complicated,  compelling, heart-breaking, inspiring, and massive! I’m  spending a good amount of time talking to historians and people who have personal stories (for example,  this wonderful story,  featuring Al Wiseman and the Métis fiddle tradition).   What a delight to  work on this project which is quickly becoming an obsession.  In a way it feels like coming home to my roots.

I’m determined to add  traditional music that would have been played on the trail by he early pioneers to my performance repertoire for this project.  In pursuit of that goal, I’ve started taking fiddle lessons.  A humbling experience, to say the least, but I’m highly motivated and so I  spend an hour every day  sawing on  my new instrument, the fiddle!   Rosin up that bow!

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For the Love of Music- A February Wrap Up

That it’s an honor and a privilege to exchange smiles, soul, and heart directly with the people in front of you. ……. and apply your trade humbly (or not so!) as a piece of a long spirited chain you’re thankful to be a small link in.  From Bruce Springsteen’s Autobiography, Born to Run

I just caught my breath today and reflected on the past month. For the love of music!  Music, a celebration of humanity,  links us to the past and gives hope for the future.  I’m grateful to my students, teachers, and  family for a life in music. In reviewing music events of February, I’m reminded that from Brahms to bluegrass, from opera to  classical sonatas, music explores the spectrum of human emotions including love, loss, joy, yearning, hope, despair, frustration, and excitement. It’s all there,  no matter what the genre.

This is what February looked like:

  • taught 120 private lessons in my studio
  • taught 6 preschool music classes
  • taught a group class in my studio for students playing for Washington State Music Teacher’s Adjudications
  • spent a day in Shorecrest High School as a guest artist teaching students to dance the Salsa and sing Cuban songs
  • participated in a voice adjudication with one of my students
  • saw my daughter, Ruby,  make her  Benaroya Hall debut with the Roosevelt Orchestra
  • attended Angelo Rondello’s inspiring concert of contemporary piano music at the Benaroya Recital Hall as part of the Seattle Music Exchange Project
  • traveled to Mount Vernon to attend a concert of Leider of Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, and Johannes Brahms
  • attended  Seattle Opera’s production  of Katya Kabanova By Leoš Janáček
  • attended Wintergrass in Bellevue-  a premier Bluegrass Festival where I saw  Flatt Lonesome, The Turtle Island String Quartet and so much more!  (They played an arrangement of Bob Dylan’s Along the Watchtower, it floored me)
  • read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography,  Born to Run

The highlight of the month, of course, was seeing the Bynum, Montana  School featured in a CBS news story.  I grew up  in Choteau which is down the road a few miles .  In 2010, I spent a day at this school  as a visiting musician.

Indeed, we all should start the day with a little singing and a little dancing. If you need some inspiration, here’s Bruce! 

 

Florida

 

Contigo En La Distancia by César Portillo De La Luz, Recorded 1/5/17 in Yellow House Studio by Laura.

Central and Southern Florida!  Joe and I spent a week over the holidays in the Orlando area, Miami, and Key Largo.

We kicked off the trip with a visit to  Joe’s family in Titusville where we spent a beautiful day at the beach and another day meandering through the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge amongst  alligators, Great Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, and Green Herons.

In Miami, we side strolled down the stylish art deco styled South Beach. Wall to wall  activity includes bustling  sidewalk cafés, posh shops, sandy beaches, and Cuban music blasting in the background. We also visited little Havana and enjoyed a traditional  Cuban meal near our hotel.

My favorite outing was to the Viscaya Museum and Gardens, built in 1914-1916 by the wealthy James Deering. The mansion and gardens, situated on a 180 acre estate, resemble the  Italian Renaissance and Baroque villas Deering visited in his travels.  I was fascinated by the ornate details of the huge mansion including a massive open indoor/outdoor courtyard and the sprawling gardens.  On the day we visited, teenage beauties posed for quinceañera photos. Each girl had an entourage in tow including photographers, assistants, make up artists, mothers, aunts, friends, and sisters  juggling water, granola bars, curling irons, dresses, shoes, and cell phones.

Our final adventure (not including driving on Florida’s fast moving highways) was a day trip to Key Largo for an afternoon  of snorkeling in the Atlantic.  We took a  boat 45 minutes out to sea to Grecian Reef where we enjoyed an hour and a half of snorkeling with a huge variety of tropical fish  in blues, greens, yellows, and pinks, including several large and teethy barracuda!

 

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little  Christmas, Words and Music by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, Recorded at the Yellow House Studio 

Wishing you peace and love in the Holiday Season

XOXOX,

Laura

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on, our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

 

Yves Saint Laurent The Perfection of Style

Yves Saint Laurent The Perfection of Style is on exhibit at  Seattle Art Museum,now through January 8!

Spent the morning in awe and giddy delight as I took in this amazing exhibit at SAM.  Left inspired by the colors, the designs, the textures, the history, the process, the sparkles, the variety, the creative output, the elegance,  the life, the style,  and the genius of Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008).

 

 

Today’s recording:  Cordoba from the Spanish Suite Andalucia by Ernesto Lecuona