A Song to Sing, A Life to Live

A Song to Sing, A Life to Live (cover image)

A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice by Don Saliers and Emily Saliers (2005) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Book review by Lucinda DeWitt

An inspiring book about music and its ability to stir our souls. Beginning with their own stories as musicians (Emily as half of the folk-duo the Indigo Girls, Don as a well known church musician and theologian), the father-daughter Saliers explore music as a spiritual practice. Their discussion/conversation includes: the bodily and sensory experience of music, music across the lifespan, how music can bring us together as well as divide us, how music shapes our identity, music’s role in grieving, and music’s role in work for social justice. The spiritual aspect of music is woven throughout these topics; different perspectives on spirituality are included.

I truly enjoyed this book. It reminded me why I still consider myself a musician (though I rarely play anymore). I’m inspired to rediscover my own “songline,” the story of who I am as revealed through the music I love.

My only criticism is that sometimes the flow of the writing is uneven, but that is to be expected when two rather different perspectives and voices try to join together. Each individual voice is strong, but together their differences sometimes impinge on the harmony. Still, all in all, the underlying message of the song comes through.

My favorite quotation from the book: “whenever music touches us deeply, the potential for transformation exists. What we think and what we perceive about the world and about ourselves can change. What music calls to your restless heart? Where in music does your soul encounter an aspect of reality that shatters your complacency or your fear?” (p. 174-175)

Strongly recommended.

Copyright © 2010 Lucinda DeWitt

Lent & Spring Training

Lent has continued to be more exhausting than my usual “Lenten Retreat.” Week 2 included more music, less cooking, some minor sewing, ongoing reading, and (most important) the start of the 2010 Baseball Spring Training Season!

Music

I hadn’t been to Jazz Ensemble practice in almost a month (due to snow, vacation days, etc.). This week my violin and I finally got there. And now we have to come up with a 14-bar SOLO for “Play that Funky Music.” This should be interesting 😉

Over the weekend I attended a performance by the Mary Louise Knutson Trio, with special guest violinist Randy Sabien. Picked up one of his CDs to help me with my jazz violin studies.

This week was also the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Chopin. MPR carried some great concert segments celebrating the event. And of course I had to pull out my books of Chopin’s piano music (and even ordered some more from the library).

Quite the musical week!

Cooking

I’ve decided one way to spend less money on food during Lent is to clear out my rather extensive pantry and freezer collections. So this week I roasted some chicken leg quarters (from the freezer) and had them with some beets (from the freezer) and sautéed kale and brown rice (from the pantry). Then ate the leftover baked rigatoni from a couple of weeks ago (from the freezer).  Next I’ll be whipping up a curry from a combination of fresh and frozen veggies in the frig. That should last a while!

Sewing

Never got back to the big sewing projects started last week, but did manage to do some mending and patching this week.  I guess that is in the Lenten spirit of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.

Lactantius

Made it through Book IV of Lactantius’ Divine Institutes (see previous post).  Still not wild about his style of argument.  Also not sure many of his arguments have the Biblical support he claims for them.  But the group is still interesting, so I will plod on.

BASEBALL!!!

Spring Training has begun.  Listened to part of yesterday’s Twins/Red Sox game.  Another game is on this afternoon.  Probably should take it slow.  Don’t want to wear myself out before the season even starts 🙂  I tried not to pay too much attention during the off season.  The Twins actually made some impressive acquisitions (Orlando Hudson, J.J.Hardy).  Maybe now that Daddy Pohlad is gone, the wallet will open enough to produce a winning team.  Not as sure about the Cubs . . . no cable means it will be harder for me to follow them (except when the radio reception from Chicago is good), but that might not be such a bad thing.

Other

Temps were in the 40s most of this week, so I tried to go for a few short (10-15 minutes) walks.  I tend to get post-exertional malaise and/or excessive fatigue and/or post-exertional headache from even the briefest attempt at exercise (other than yoga), but I needed the fresh air.  Also added “take your daily vitamins” to my list of lenten disciplines (along with flossing and drinking more milk).

City Noir

Disgusted with poor umpiring, the stretched out playoff schedule (which I can only assume was designed by the TV networks), and rather sloppy play, I skipped baseball last night and watched a different LA event: Great Performances broadcast of Gustavo Dudamel’s Inaugural Gala and Opening Night Concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I’m not a big fan of anything in Los Angeles, but MPR has been plugging this concert quite a bit, so I thought I would see what all the excitement was about.

The concert included two pieces: John Adams’ “City Noir” (commissioned for the event) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major. Both provided the “Hello, LA. Here I am. Let’s have some fun.” message that I think Dudamel was going for. I enjoyed “City Noir” more than I expected, especially the saxophone solos throughout, the wide variety of percussion instruments included, the use of piano, celesta, and 2 (!) harps, and the blending of Latin and film noir influences. While the opening movement “The City and Its Double” was a bit chaotic, the second movement “The Song is for You” was lovely, and the third “Boulevard Night” brought everything to an exciting conclusion.

Dudamel’s enthusiasm for the Mahler was thoroughly communicated. Mahler’s First always takes me back to my days as a music student, which means I am amused again when I hear what sounds like “Three Blind Mice/Hot Cross Buns” 🙂

For a more authoritative review of the concert, see the LA Times Review.

And catch the replay of Great Performances if you get a chance.

Snowy Opening Day

Been away for awhile. Lots to report, but probably won’t try to do it all at once.

This past weekend was a busy one. Nephew Sean was in town on Wheaton Academy’s “Instrumental Tour 2008: Phil. 2:3-4”. Went to hear them play at Bethel University on Friday and at the Salvation Army on Saturday morning. The highlight was the Percussion Ensemble, especially their “Jam” with the clients at the Salvation Army. WOW–very powerful and moving.

On Sunday poet Mary Oliver read at the State Theater. Lovely. And I got to see three of my favorite writers on the same stage (thought not at the same time): Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew had the honor of introducing Mary, and Mary Rose O’Reilley moderated the question and answer period.

To top off the weekend, Monday brought the Home Opener for both the Chicago Cubs and the Minnesota Twins. At 10 am the Cubs held a ceremony to unveil the new statue of Ernie Banks. Even the rain and a cold couldn’t keep Ernie under the weather. Unfortunately, the rain did delay the game by about an hour, but just before 2 pm, Wayne Messmer sang The National Anthem and things got underway. A pitchers’ duel through 8 innings, the game broke open in the ninth with each team scoring three runs. Our new outfielder Hosuke Fukudome was the star of the day. Unfortunately, the Brewer’s came back in the 10th and the game ended with the Cubs losing 4-3. But “it’s a long season and you gotta trust it” as they say in the movies.

Due to a mid-Cubs-game rain delay, there was just enough time to change channels and catch the start of the Twins Home Opener at 6 pm.

Heavy wet snow had been falling all day, so the question of the day was “Can anybody say ‘Retractable Roof’?” If this were 2010, the game would have been scheduled in the new outdoor ballpark (sans roof). The Twins organization, cheapskates that they are, and MLB, get all the revenue from the stadium, but it is being paid for primarily by the taxpayers of Hennepin County. When it was clear that the voters had no interest in paying for a new stadium, the County just decided to go around the law and not put it to a vote. But they knew there would be an absolute revolt if the price included the extra $150 million for a retractable roof, so they went ahead and (stupidly) started building without one. They’ve promised not to come asking for more money for a roof later, but I’m not putting any money on that promise. [Am I bitter? YES!]

Okay, back to the game. Another good start for a new outfielder: Carlos Gomez (who Burt Blyleven renamed Gonzales 🙂
Thanks to him, the Twins won over the Angels 3-2.

Unfortunately, last night’s Twins game was too painful to watch. The Angels won 9-1, hammering Boof Bonser pretty hard.

On the food front, more recipes soon; I was on a rice kick for a while and have several of my favorites to add. Of course, Opening Day is all hot dogs and brats and root/beer.

Enough for now. Enjoy the season.