Monday, March 26, 2012


On Sunday the 26th of March a joyful noise filled the Grace First Presbyterian Church in Long Beach.  Ordinarily and regularly, beautiful noise is made by the choir.  Occasionally and surprisingly, hot and cool noise is performed there by parishioner, Dewey Erney who sings the American Song Book.  Extraordinarily and only occasionally will the music of Franz Josef Haydn’s The Creation be celebrated by the voices of the Long Beach Chorale and instruments of the Long Beach Chamber Orchestra.

While the orchestra started off a bit reedy in tone I think that “in the beginning” there probably wasn’t as much moisture as was presented to us during the passing storm system.  The first soloist began the oratorio with skill and direction.  Then the magic happened – the chorus burst forth proclaiming “Let there be light.”  Seventy voices sang as one.   I had goose bumps which continued throughout the program. 
Eliza Rubenstein, the Chorale and Orchestra’s artistic director, magnificently provided this experience.  True to the original concept, Rubenstein even managed to bring a fortepiano into the church.  In a program footnote, we were told that the fortepiano, the most immediate ancestor of the modern grand piano, is smaller in size and lighter in touch than today’s instruments.  This particular fortepiano was built in 1825 by Broadwood & Sons piano factory in London, the same company who rented Haydn a similar instrument for the London premiere of The Creation in 1800.    Rubenstein also provided insightful commentaries alongside the recitatives and arias.

While George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Messiah (containing the well-known Alleluia chorus) is probably performed more often and with a massive number of voices and instruments; Handel composed it rather more simply and it has taken on a new persona.  The Creation, however, was this weekend, performed as it was written by Haydn and the beautiful noise resulting came from the performers’ love of the music.   If you missed it, bookmark the group’s website so you can be in line for their next joyful noise.
For additional information on the composer, a full description of the work and other information Wikipedia is an excellent source:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The loss of one...

An acquaintance of mine died.  A young man, handsome and talented, died by his own hand.  A man with a large circle of friends left without saying goodbye.  Maybe, in fact, he did say goodbye, but in a silent way unheard by many and ignored by others.  Those of us who remain ask, silently or aloud, why?  There was no explanation left on paper to tell us.

The Turner motto and mission – A Sound Mind in a Sound Body – seems to be at complete odds with suicide.  Of course it is.  If you were in sound mind you would not end your life.  On the other hand, when the body becomes so unsound that medical devices are required to keep it alive the advance medical directive kicks in.  Pull the plug. 

Mental health professionals believe that people attempting to end their own lives really only wish to sleep until the problem resolves itself.    Many religious people believe after death we awaken to a trouble and pain free experience. 

We know our lives are full of choices.  Individually and collectively we make decisions every of every day.  So, for today, appreciate the beauty, talent, love and the time we had with Johnny.   While the loss of one diminishes us all, we were exceptionally fortunate to have known him.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One year ago today

Today, March 11th, marks the one-year anniversary of the triple catastrophe that struck Japan.    To those that grieve, my heart aches with yours.  To those searching for remnants of the life now gone, my spirit blends with yours.  To those looking towards the future, I rejoice with you.

American TV is showing us pictures of Japan last year and this year.  Is it even possible for us here to conceive of what remains to be done?  Mountains exist – made of what were people’s homes and workplaces.   Empty frames stand like skeletons – the remains of what were children’s schools.
The size of the Japanese islands it only 21,607 square miles smaller than California.  I’m imaging Los Angeles County turning to rubble and wondering where in the state would we put all that cannot be reused.  How do you recycle such devastation?  In Long Beach where I live we annually collected trash – not by choice, but because the cities up stream of the San Gabriel River allowed street debris to wash into the sewer system.  The amounts piled up each year where the river meets the sea resulted in a major clean-up, a tremendous expense and harm to wildlife.  If that boggled my mind, dealing with the resultant waste piles in Japan is like contemplating space – no end in sight. 

Everyday concerns are now focused on what’s safe to eat.  One report I read detailed the everyday search for food products not coming from an area that had nuclear contamination.  We wonder if the field workers washed their hands thoroughly before picking our broccoli.
Last year the Los Angeles Turners were able to activate the German-American community.  The amount of money sent, insignificant compared to the continually mounting costs, did express our feelings and concerns for the Japanese people.  Today, the best we can do is to remember.  So, to two special people in Japan, Riki and Yuki, I send love, strength and much hope.  To those of us here, take a moment today, please do remember. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

TANGO-a new twist for a sound mind in a sound body

Milonga:  According to Wikipedia, Milonga is a term for a place or an event where tango is danced. People who frequently go to Milonga are sometimes called milongueros.  I suppose that attending one Milonga does not qualify me to be identified as a milonguera, but I’m ready to try it again.   Yesterday, Sunday 3/4, L. A. Turners and Ilona Glinarsky co-hosted a Milonga at our Center. 

Several amazing things evolved from this extraordinary dancing event.   First, I admitted to myself that I’m more suited to dances other than ones that require legs that go on forever.  A friend of mine, lovingly and thankfully infrequently, calls me Stumpy-a sort of 8th Dwarf-ish friend of Snow White.  Second, despite the fact that stumps do not suddenly sprout, I want to learn this amazing and mesmerizing blending of musically induced/societally acceptable body blending.  The music is alluring, the intensity of the milongueros palpable and the results amazing.
About 100 people were present with about 35 or 40 arriving for the first hour in which a free lesson was given.  The long legs and some mysteriously intense-looking men arrived later.  Ilona put all the Tango Trainees through an initiation.  The explanation of Tango being a feeling before being a dance was a difficult concept and by the looks on many faces it’s obvious we need another lesson.  However, amateur passion notwithstanding, by the end of the hour we were rather blended, semi-intense but actually tango-ing.  Several of us boldly proclaimed that when we purchased the right shoes we would (pick one) have great legs, graceful gliding ability, restored youth, Latin passion and of course one of those mysteriously intense looking partners who would magically make it all happen. 

When the next Milonga is scheduled at the Turner Center, I’ll be sure to blog its date and time.  Meanwhile, you can do some homework by watching, Scent of a Woman, True Lies, Evita, Assassination Tango (this one is a rather unknown move in which Robert Duval proves the exception to the rule:  mysteriously un-intense looking men with bowed legs make excellent tango dancers.) or any number of movies in which Tango is impassionedly performed. 
See you on the dance floor.