Sounds of Nepal

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News of the devastating earthquake in Nepal has captured global attention this week. On Monday, Drew McManus, author of the popular orchestra business blog, Adaptistrationpublished a post encouraging donations to the Unatti Foundation, a non-profit organization serving orphaned and underprivileged children in Nepal. In 2010, McManus and cellist Lynn Harrell traveled to Nepal and worked at the Unatti Home, just east of Kathmandu.

Let’s listen to some music from this ancient and isolated land, surrounded by the Himalayas. Ful ko Thunga is performed by the Nepalese folk band, Kutumba, which uses traditional instruments including the Bamboo Flute, Sarangi (a string instrument), Madal (a hand drum), Tungna, Dhol, and Jhyamta. This is music that emerges out of a drone and develops slowly through repeating patterns and a strong rhythmic groove.

The Gurung people live in the foothills of the Annapurna mountains, a range of the Himalayas in Nepal. Their villages, tightly clustered like medieval towns, dot the slopes, surrounded by cascades of terraced fields…The people with whom I lived sometimes mentioned that though their lives were full of toil and hardship, they were fortunate to live in a place with ramrod haw a-pani, literally “good wind and water,” which in Nepali means a wholesome or pleasant climate. This phrase evokes not just a sense of good weather, but of a landscape that is kind and bountiful and creates propitious conditions for life. Although people in the village spoke of how loss and misfortune were inevitable in existence, a view shared by most Buddhists, what they stressed above all was the importance of living with grace, kindness, and generosity in the midst of suffering, and of cultivating appreciation and equanimity (a good climate, as it were) in one’s being, regardless of circumstances. The climate in the village was largely one of graciousness and good-humer, with the sorrows of life making its joys more poignant and amplifying the value of human connection.

-Ernestine McHugh, Love and Honor in the Himalayas: Coming to Know Another Culture

Explore the TAFTO Archive

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For many professional orchestra musicians and audience members, August offers a rare period of downtime and a chance for contemplation. Summer seasons and festivals are beginning to wind down, while subscription seasons remain just around the corner. There couldn’t be a better time to explore the newly updated Take a Friend to the Orchestra (TAFTO) resource website, created by Drew McManus, arts consultant and author of the popular blog, Adaptistration

Take a Friend to the Orchestra is a series of fun and inspiring essays about how patrons can introduce their friends to the powerful, mysterious and even cathartic experience of a live orchestra concert. TAFTO tears down common stereotypes which may discourage some people from ever entering a concert hall. It reaffirms the idea that going to an orchestra concert should be fun, and should be an occasion which defies perceived rules about dressing up and knowing when to clap. Like sports teams, orchestras are cultural institutions which belong to the entire community. A wide range of viewpoints are represented, including, “critics, bloggers, musicians, classical music enthusiasts, and administrators.” Back in 2006 I was honored to contribute an article to the series. Other contributors include Alex Ross, Sam Bergman, Lynn Harrell, Leonard Slatkin, Gerard Schwartz and Henry Fogel. Drew talks about the series in this interview

Reading these essays, you won’t find gimmicky ideas or overhype about the need to re-invent the wheel in order to remain “relevant.” Instead, you’ll sense passion and enthusiasm for the magic of live orchestra concerts. In the next few weeks, explore the archive and then consider accepting this exciting grassroots challenge and take a friend to your local orchestra.

We’ll Paint You a Rainbow

Heartbeats FoundationLast March, cellist Lynn Harrell and a host of fellow all star musicians, including John Williams and Jessye Norman, released a special recording called We’ll Paint You a Rainbow. The recording raises money for the HEARTbeats Foundation, a project Harrell and his wife founded in 2010. The Foundation’s noble goal is to bring the transformative power of music to disadvantaged children throughout the world. The joyful reaction of these children in Nepal is a testament to the universal appeal of music and the value of the project. Check out Harrell’s account of the trip to Nepal here and read an article in this month’s Strings Magazine.

Here is an excerpt from the recording session featuring Harrell and soprano Christine Brewer performing Harold Arlen’s Over the Rainbow. Enjoy the music and consider supporting the HEARTbeats Foundation’s mission.

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