Musical Memories


Music. It is a force so powerful that scientists have learned memories of it are some of the last items our brain will respond to even if we have been struck with Alzheimer's or dementia. Music brings back memories of key life experiences, people and transitions. Occasionally 'Encore' plans to visit a musical memory, one of a VE Staff member or one shared by one of our contestants or readers. I'm sure you will enjoy getting to know your fellow Smulians be reading a few of these special "Musical Memories".

The applause increased substantially in volume falling into a unison beat as we were recognized by the conductor and stood to accept the audience recognition for an outstanding performance. This was the ending of one of my greatest musical experiences. The occasion was the culmination of a months long celebration of the 5000th anniversary of the city of Jerusalem. Zubin Meta was the conductor of the Israel Philharmonic. He had invited the Dallas Symphony Chorus, of which I was a member, to join the orchestra in a series of performances of Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand, Symphony No. 8. This classical work has eight soloists, two choirs, a children's choir extended orchestra with organ. Massive by any standard. The final performance was in Jerusalem itself. To be in such a venerated city of two of the major world religions, such an ancient place was extremely powerful. My emotions running high as I am from a relatively young state in a young country. However, to hear the opening chords of this massive work sound and then sing the text of a hymn dating back to at least the 800's was a phenomenal experience for me as a musician and as a Christian. Talk about goose bumps or your hair standing on end!

But as mentioned, it is not only the music itself that was so powerful as I look back on that experience. It is all the memories of the trip that hearing the piece brings to mind which makes it so special. During our stay in Israel, we were invited to the US ambassadors 4th of July, US Independence Day, party. An A listers party of the Middle East's political elite. This was 1996, not too long after the previous Prime Minister of Israel had been assassinated. I can tell you that to this day I have never seen security as tight as it was at that party.

The security included the obligatory metal detector at the front gate and pat down of every single

visitor entering the premises. There were searches of the vehicles three blocks away by armed guards. No purses or bags were allowed in, however as part of the evenings entertainment (we sang a selection of US patriotic standards), we were allowed to take in our music. One of the guests pointed out to me the snipers on the roof of houses in the neighborhood. Then, as we assembled for the actual ceremony, I could see the wakes of patrol boats in the waters of the Mediterranean and hear them passing by while behind me I heard the rustle of what I was sure must be an armed patrol passing by behind me as it checked all the bushes. Two helicopters flew over head and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was at the microphone less than five feet away from me with the US Ambassador and we opened by singing the US national anthem. An incredible memory for me!

And it was at this party where I met, Twafik Abu-Ghazaleh who chaired the initial Palestinian elections. He and his wife hosted a few friends and me on a never to be forgotten trip into the Gaza Strip. But that's another memory!

Curtain is about to go up... The moist feeling on your palms and the heavy breathing is rampant, but then the music begins to play, the lights come on and the audience appears as the stage is revealed. As a lover of musical theatre, and having been on stage since I was extremely young, its no surprise that my musical memories focus in this area - however, typically, I can't pin it down to just one instance.

I played Oliver Twist at the age of 11, (yes that is little me on one knee at a rehearsal)... and ever since then, I loved to act. I've been in amateur theatre since I moved to university at the age of 18, and I haven't looked back since.

I have also done various other musical experiences, but by far the one which sticks with me, is appearing live on stage in the theatre.

The number of shows I've been a part of is pretty ridiculous, sometimes two or three in a year, but never do I forget a single moment as described before... the very beginning of a show, as a member of an ensemble, or as a leading role, that adrenaline rush is exactly the same for me... and it comes from a pure passion for what I am about to do.

Some of the favourite shows I have performed in are shown, where I've put some of my varied collection of amateur programmes, including some more classical operettas, such as Iolanthe, Pirates of Penzance and Die Feldermaus... but also much more contemporary shows like The Hired Man, Pajama Game and Anything Goes.

Even more than any of that though, but still with the same thrills, and more, come some of my defining moments in theatre, and that is through directing.

I discovered a long while ago that I am not only a good teacher, a creative mind and an organised person, but I also LOVE being bossy!

I began directing children in youth theatre, putting on revue shows, incorporating songs from different pieces, and putting them together into a show, sometimes in costumed concert style, but often with a comedy script tying the pieces together in a Monty Python style skit format.

After local drama companies noticed my work, I was invited to start directing adult shows, first with "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas", but then with my production of 'Children of Eden' in which I directed, and starred, winning National NODA Awards for both Best Amateur Show, and also Best Actor for my role as Japeth. Both as a director and as an actor, I was extremely pleased, and my cast were even more pleased, presenting me with the pride of my display cabinet at home.

Once More With Feeling Act II - Round One Results

OMWF got off to a romantic start with songs about being in love. Though some seemed to have a difficult time choosing a song, sing they did and one has emerged as an early favorite 'theblaineface' was the only contestant (in combination with a perfect score for optional challenge participation) to pull perfect scores from the judges for her rendition of 'Secret Love' from the musical Calamity Jane.

Listen To Blaine's Performance

There was a pack of six in second place only one point behind and two points behind our leader we see one of last year's finalists Dgreenifyd.

See full results and critiques for R1 of OMWF here:

Round 1 Results/Critiques

This next week's challenge is Dance, musical theatre numbers that on stage are featured with a dance routine. We have a long way to go in this competition and this next round should start to separate those who really know theatre from those who don't.

Next week we will also have results from Battle Royale and Off Your Rocker, as well as the second round of Once More, With Feeling.

Till next week, this is Jan and I'm off to Sing! to listen to some great music and make some of my own!

Comments, suggestions and feedback are accepted via PM at VoxFugit on Line or Sing!

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