Showing posts from 2008

Flawed but honest: Holy Night

Christmas Eve puts a special kind of pressure on singers. I honestly want to sing my best for all the right reasons. I recognize that my contribution to the service is about honoring God and celebrating Jesus' birth. At the same time, I can become consumed with a psychosis about singing a song like O Holy Night which is the beloved Christmas moment of so many. I LOVE singing the song, but it never seems to come out the way I intend. Invariably, I mess up the words, or overpower some subtle line which I am likely the only one paying attention too anyway. The details seem to get in the way so often and I start "in a mental hole".
I sang last night, and I enjoyed making music and contributing to a lovely service. When I listened to the recording this AM, I wasn't pleased at all. For me, the sound was "too far back", the pace a bit frantic at times, and the lines became disjointed all too often. My excuses continue and are disabling and discouraging on man…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

Investment can't stop for music education and opportunities.

Economic times are tight, perhaps the tightest in my adult life. I read an article in NY TIMES which stated that American's appetite for spending is down. Indeed, I agree that we should be reducing spend on "consumer" items.

I believe that it is critical that we invest heavily now in our future via education for ourselves and our children, and for opportunities to grow as individuals and artists. As we seek out Obama's new deal, I hope that he will include investment in the arts, in diverse education experiences and opportunities. Our society will be judged, rightfully so, by the impact we have on our world in relationship to the legacy which we leave for generations in arts, intelligence, science, exploration, etc. "We the people" cannot afford to stop investing in the people "ourselves". Communities, composers, schools, and music/arts must be at the center of the 21st century "new deal".

In search of "Standard"

Thanksgiving brings a time of preparation and reflection for most. When you are a musician, this calm before the storm is critical to surviving the month of Dec with its onslaught of emotion, opportunity and music, on top of music, on top of music. I read a lot of reviews these days, most are not about me thankfully, and as an artist I seek the affirmation of the critics, audiences, and beyond. In my book there are two ways to do it. In the first approach, I attempt to do everything as it has "always been done" just execute better, be better, more perfect. In the second, I embrace a sense of identity and passion verging on arrogance. With the confidence of a mature adult, I seek my own path and performance "within the rules" of course. Both of these approaches can be successful and indeed, a great artist must blend the two.

As we all continue into this new 21st century I propose that we use a new standard. We measure our art by the impact that it and our serv…

Kung Fu Panda: Secret?

What a great movie for a family. It has something in it for everyone...
The theme of the secret to "infinite power of awesomeness" is believing.  Po believes and has passion, he follows it with discipline brought on by a master and finally he uses his knowledge of who he is to save the world and make a difference.   His secret power stemmed from first believing that he could do it.  This resonates deeply with me and ties so closely to my personal journey as a musician with Da Capo and our "way".  Love the movie, love the depth of the messages and the imagery from the noodlehead all the way to the ascension of Uguay on a cloud of petals. 


As I awakened this morning, I thought of the freedoms provided us by the millions of American veterans that have gone before. I had the privilege of interacting with a Va Vets organization during the recent election and I was amazed at their energy, confidence and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

I am not a veteran myself so I cannot provide a legacy like theirs to his world. However, their example set my thoughts in motion. Some other people who leave a legacy for us are ministers, musicians, and even builders of all types.

Our churches exist because dutiful ministers have followed God's call and struggled through good times and bad despite the frequently despicable actions of congregation members seeking power and self recognition. For that I am thankful for a place to worship that is profoundly beautiful in intention and facility.

When I was about to graduate from Drewry Mason HS I spent the Summer working for a construction crew. This taught me the value…

Perfect Breakfast c.1999


Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

We have come through a trying period. The election cycle has been debilitating and infuriating for many of us who embrace passion and politics as a way of life. I make no apologies for where I was, nor how I voted, but starting right NOW, it doesn't matter.

We have a new president on the way. Our lives and mentalities have changed and we must look to the future as one people. Americans all.

I am proud to be an American today. I am proud that we elected a black man as our next president, but most importantly, I am proud that we the people have embraced a cultural shift of people, process and perspective without a WAR. What a tremendous advantage we have as Americans that we can navigate such volatile waters without tearing each other apart.

Campaigns are filled with decisions and words. Administrations are filled with decision and actions. Real leadership comes from the actions.

Let us all unite for a common purpose and get busy.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State…

Challenge: Change? First 100 days...

What will you do to help the next president of the United States change this country?

We have all listened for weeks to the rhetoric of change from both parties. The reality is that with very little money available and an impaired economic foundation, the larger government action that we all want is very unlikely to happen.

I propose that we all identify something that we can do to make a difference in our community and go out and do it for the good of our country. Don't seek recognition. Just do it.

Patronize a local business that you didn't before.
Volunteer at a shelter or a church.
Become a mentor/tutor and help a student.
Make a list of things that you and your family can do and then check them off.
Influence and talk to your kids about the hard issues.

Is it really so hard to come up with a list of things that you could do for others? try...

If we all had our own "First 100 Days", just imagine what this country could accomplish.

We live in the greatest country in the w…

If? but?

I have a lot of ideas running around in my head tonight.

We are on the verge of a very important week for our country. I am still young and idyllic "in my mind", I want to believe in the change that so many have embraced. I am however, stuck in a place where I don't trust institutions for much of anything. I don't trust churches and governments to do much of anything well. I am in a cynical place tonight.

I trust in my competitive drive. I trust in my intentions. I know my methods work and deliver results. Above all, I trust in God and his plans to prosper me and my family if...

There is always an if or but in these sorts of thoughts. I long ago gave over my music, indeed my entire life, to God. I have never regretted that decision. The institutions of my world have failed me "early and often." My faith and belief in love, and my humility before my heavenly Father has sustained me through it all.

Mom and Dad were in Richmond this weekend to visit and we d…

Effective Organization- Oxymoron?

Can you think of any really large company, or civil organizations that you would deem effective when compared to the results of passionate and disciplined individuals either one on one or in small groups? If so, I'd like to hear about it. If an organization is even close it is likely because of the individual contributions and accountability of its members, not because of some grand organizational strategy or even a profound, heroic, leader. More often than not, the organization tends to do more harm than good.

I am struggling of late because I have so little faith in our government to accomplish much of anything effectively. I am indeed angry at the "government" but I'm also angry at myself and my fellow Americans for expecting so much while contributing so little.

We have so much to do and have failed for so long that we have accepted a spirit of complacency which is at the root of ALL of our problems as a nation. I am amazed at my own rhetoric, when I think..…

No money, no choices

Fed up? me too. The combination of the rhetoric of the past weeks from all levels of government and candidates has finally pushed me over the tipping point. Am I still going to vote for McCain Palin? Yes, because I believe they are the right choice. BUT, and there is always a "but" I no longer think either candidate will be able to make much of a difference. The government is overcommitted financially and in the real world when you overcommit your resources, you limit choice and flexibility.

There is no magic formula to fix the world. Economic prosperity comes from investment, innovation and free market enterprise. The juggernaut of the engine for the US is small business and the entrepreneurs not federal regulation, controls, and oversight. The market regulates itself and punishes itself.

NEWSFLASH: the government IS a big corporation in every sense of the term, except of course.. The directors don't get fired for incompetence, and the administration and ineffecien…

Hero Syndrome: "Believe it or not, its just me."

I became overly excited yesterday at the idea of Obama and McCain suddenly working side by side to make a difference in the world now. Partnership focused on a tactical, plan, Using their influence and clout to assemble their respective parties and ensure action, and not just a discussion of principles and ideas and more promises.

Couple that with a "sighting" of the Greatest American Hero(William Katt) on "Heroes" on Monday night. BTW, he was frozen and then broken into tiny bits. Ouch, that had to hurt. I guess he needed his suit.

I began to think that the idyllic dream/idea of an American Hero saving the day might be contributing to our demise. Surprise world, there is no Superman. Hero syndrome most often gets the hero killed in the real world. Real heroes don't act on behalf of their personal interests ever. They are concerned about the guy next to them. They love their brother and they ACT to ensure his wellbeing. They do not take the time to discuss sh…

Dangerous cocktail : Politics & Facebook

Politics plus Facebook equals a whole new "internet" addiction that is down right overwhelming.

I am connected now to so many friends and people that I genuinely care about. My mind is saturated with political commentary on all fronts. I have positions and can carry on genuine civil discourse (sometimes) with them and we can all do this asynchronously across geography and time zone. I am attacked, and can choose my tone and response. I am probably ignored all the same sometimes.

I find myself thinking constantly: "did someone just post another comment" or "wow, I wonder how and why they think like that", or even.. "that was a great point, I need to reconsider my position and do some more research" . Either way, I need to check FB just to see...

The winner in all of this is the social fabric created by the social network. The loser is me in the short term. I have to find the discipline to turn it off and that is easier said than done. After all…

Interesting Picture

The humor here is a little coarse and hard. I'll give you that, but you can't fault this vehicle for lack of involvement. ;-) We do live in a capitalist society, after all.

Convention Attention

The mind numbing political jousting of "conventions" in the past two weeks is finally over. As we enter the next 60 days we are indeed at a cross roads for the future of our country. Things haven't been good for the past few years. Our leaders made some poor decisions and we now in a tough spot. I am intrigued to see if either party can discard "conventional wisdom" and truly strike out on a new road. Can we seek unity as a country, putting aside the convention of divisiveness? Yes, but not without cost and risk.

I was inspired by Sen. McCain and Gov Palin in the past few nights, but I was also inspired by the Obamas. (Less inspired by Biden BTW) The vision of One America, accepting and loving one another and seeking to reach out to the world is warm, fuzzy, idyllic and completely unattainable without the violence and sacrifice of our armed forces. Talk begets talk, which begets talk, which begets talk.. The conventions themselves are testimony of this real…

Media Lure

I wonder how much the American public realizes that our media's life blood is controversy not unity. The news machine doesn't want to report on an election filled with civility. Their ratings depend on viewers who want to see "Jerry Springer". Two things struck me last night as I "tried" to watch the Republican national convention coverage.
I had to turn off the NBC coverage because I wanted to hear the President of the United States speak rather than Brian Williams. Why in the world did they have Brian with the President in the background. Could that have been more disrespectful?At best it was poor production which was further exacerbated when they began presenting the President's speech without the response of the audience. It made him appear to be standing silently but the country was only given half of the experience.
Katie Couric sparring with a RNC senior adviser in a situation where she was blatantly attacking Governor Palin rather than just r…

Mile High Risk, Mile High Reward

Risk versus reward has been a central theme of my life as it likely has in yours.  Long ago, I learned to accept my high tolerance for risk coupled with experience and a reliance on my faith in God and his promise to "prosper me".  I identify with the republicans and I learn more about the machines of both goverment and communities, I place my trust in people first.  
As a relative newcomer to the political scene, I have been impressed with both the republicans and the democrats' rhetoric of late. That said, rhetoric is just words in the end.  Delivering the goods is something quite different as anyone who actually leads can tell you.  Obama has some great things to say, and inspires even a diehard republican like myself.  McCain shares the classic signs of a leader but he adds the next dimension.  I trust him and he has proven his worth over, and over, and over again.  
His recent selection of Governor Palin is a master stroke if it works.  I hope it does.  Real leadershi…

Global giants: McCain or Obama

I read an interesting article about the upcoming "religious" forum to be presented by Rick Warren featuring a discussion with both Senator McCain and Senator Obama. Read it here from the Seattle Times.

I have to agree that as a Baptist and a devout Christian, I DO think that religion plays a role in my decision to vote for president. The role, I attribute, is however not escalated to the level of a real issue. I believe that a solid foundation, and proven character grounded in Christian principles is just that. It is a foundation for a man to make decisions in our world. As a leader myself, I use my theological models as a major input to my decisions, but they are not the only models that provide value. Social justice is accomplished on many fronts and systematic theology provide the framework for action, not the action itself.

I agree with Mr Warren that we need to unify and tackle the global giants of our world. I would however define we as: (All of Humanity: Christians…

McCain Nation

I hosted my first ever political discussion party last night and we all had a great time. It was inspiring to see others energy and thoughts, and to be able to talk about actions and candidates in an open, safe environment. It was interesting, to see that as we worked through myriad of issues, ideas, character and decisions, the overwhelming worry was with how information is managed and disseminated.
Will we, the citizens of the United, allow our country's destiny to be managed by the media machine?
Have we forgotten that each of us is a critical part of the process?
If we don't stand up and play a role, we are punting our freedom and our rights. No matter your candidate, get out the vote. Invite your friends over and talk. Challenge the process and our culture of isolationism. Have faith in your community, your family, and our founding fathers.

We are all Americans. We do things that shouldn't be possible. We turn challenges into opportunities. We are proud of our herit…

Lifetime of Experience vs Ideas

I watched this well assembled ad this week and it struck a chord with me. How do we judge a lifetime of experience, unquestioned character, heroism and valor against promise for future. I am as hopeful as the next person, but I think when the job is as important as president, we have to look for more than plans and ideas.

Leadership, real leadership is about making the hard decisions and taking accountability for that decision. That lack of clear accountability for poor decisions is where my support for George W was damaged. I don't see an image of "lack of ownership, accountability" in McCain even though I'm not a huge fan of the more attacking mode of his campaign of late. 
He is and always has been a maverick, trying to do the right thing. I may not have always agreed with every choice, and I don't claim that he is perfect.  That said, I'm not sure that I agree with anyone on everything. 
In the end, we need to elect a leader who can encourage a generat…

Taste... teachable?

"Students, both children and adult" have to experience and understand the role of arts in an increasingly complex world. Consumerism is a fickle friend.

To appreciate the "finer things" in life whether they are rock bands, symphony orchestras, jazz sets, opera, or song recitals... They have to understand what it takes to "DO THAT". Even then, there is no guarantee that they will like it and that has to be okay too.

We as artists are charged to share with them our skills, and to teach them about all that they have as an opportunity, even if/when it exceeds our own ability. We must do more than entertain our world.

GOOD Article from NY Magazine.

Obama-Anity "The One"

Well,  when I talked about the media frenzy around Barack Obama last week, I didn't actually think the Republicans could do anything about it.  Guess I was wrong, and I hope this plays out well. I'm not sure how it will go, but it is certainly entertaining.

In the era of American Idol, popularity rules as we have seen proven out so many times in recent years.  I still think Bo Bice should have won hands down a few years ago. Fantasia had been so wonderful the year before, only to see artistic soul and innovation dashed on the ground in front of beauty, sex appeal and a good voice.  Sorry, that was a tangent. Oops, I did it again. 
There is something familiar about the compelling rhetoric and vision that Mr. Obama presented. The style, the elegant presentation and the smile are just a little too perfect.  I know this is judging, but I hope others will listen to that inner voice telling them, that this is just too good to be true.  I listened, and decided. It is!  
I ca…

Music wars: Classical vs WHO?

"Everyone has the right to think that their music is best, including the teenagers who hurry through Toronto's Bathurst subway station to escape the classical music played through the PA system to deter them from hanging around. But only classical fans and organizations believe that the quality of their music gives it and them a natural entitlement to the lion's share of public funding." - Canon Fire Robert Everett-Green

Now we have a hot issue. Public funding of the arts. I'd like to hear Obama and McCain talk about that as it applies to culture in the Unites States and abroad. Maybe music could again serve as a powerful unifying medium for global politics.

The only problem would be that everything else is likely to take priority, thus leaving the dialogue and decisions up to "WE the People" I doubt we will do any better finding common ground on the arts than we do with religion and politics.

Again, if we even discuss it openly, we should likely prepa…

Culture Wars: Obama & McCain or Me & You

I read this article on the Washington Post/Newsweek site today and this paragraph seemed worthy of more thought. Can and should the president really get involved in the so called culture wars? I think it is inevitable that a leader must engage in this arena, but the writer was correct. We started it. We "the people" are in some sort of perpetual internal war. We have forgotten how to love one another, take accountability for our own actions and simply agree to disagree.

From "A whole lot of ugly"
" 'Senators McCain and Obama,' they concluded, 'each of you has great potential to model a new type of leadership. Each of you has the power to heal the country and carve a new path forward through our shared common values. We humbly submit our joint prayer that you, Senators McCain and Obama, help bring a just end to the culture wars.'That would help, but it's not their job to end the culture war. We all started it. We're all responsible for w…

Adoration: Obama-anity

Does anyone else out there think the media is overdoing their "love affair" with Obama just a bit? I know a lot of people like the man, but come on..

I also know that I have declared as a John McCain supporter, but the tone of every interview and soundbyte seems to almost ooze "I Love You". I seriously do get that the man has charisma and appeal. He had me thinking about him for months. Yes he is black, and is a poster child for diversity, and a role model for millions of underprivileged kids and adults for that matter. There are athletes and actors and plenty of others who fit this bill. Can he actually LEAD this country?

He is campaigning to be our President and he needs to show more than flash. The speeches often sound good, "believe, change, etc" but he has to be able to actually deliver on all that idealism. How about a little Straight Talk? When will he start answering HOW he will do all of the things he is talking about. The soaring rhetoric …

Walked the walk, not just talk.

How many times have we all heard the promises, the ideas, the "rhetoric".

I am a guilty as most of talking too much, but in the last few years I have refocused my actions and made choices to deliver results. Not always popular, often requiring great sacrifice... I succeeded sometimes, failed a lot and I have gotten better and better over time. That is the great equalizer of experience coupled with a spirit to learn and constantly improve.

Instead of the Wall St fund disclaimer, perhaps our captions should read like this: "past failures coupled with willingness to change are a good indicator of future performance". Mantra of champions is usually to keep trying and get better and better. Don't be afraid to fail.

Great article on the transformational experience model of John McCain in NY TIMES.

True, experience is not enough in the end, but then again when the stakes are high and failure is not an option, is there any real substitute for experience? I often wis…

Obligations of Obama & McCain

I heard an interview on NPR yesterday with Brian Mclaren who is supporting Mr Obama. I think very highly of Brian and have visited him at his church n Maryland, in addition to reading almost all of his books. The story on NPR used a biblical quote/ imperative to listen to a man's words as a grounding for voting.. This got me thinking about what I am obligated to do for this election, system etc.. and what the candidates and parties are obligated to do for me.

First off, I am stunned that so many people think that we should so centrally use religion as a litmus test for a president. The principles set up by our nations' founders were rooted in an understanding and respect for religion but they understood that the line had to be drawn short of religious litmus tests and mandated belief systems. There are plenty of things we need to talk openly about and understand how these gentlemen think..

" thousands of conversations, millions even -- around dinner tables, sitting at the b…

Mclaren: Presidential candidates

Anyone thinking about not voting should read this thoughtful commentary by celebrated author Brian Mclaren.

Here is a comment/quote that really struck me.

" I don't expect any candidate to be perfect. In fact, my theological beliefs tell me that I will always be choosing between the lesser of two evils - or more positively put, the better of two less-than-perfects. The fact that candidates are willing to endure the hard work, the media scrutiny, the pressure, the responsibility - of both the election and the office - can be seen a sign of something good. After all, if all a candidate cared about was personal peace, personal comfort, or personal wealth, there are a lot better ways to get ahead. So rather than say, "I don't think either candidate is good enough for my vote," I'm more prone to say, "Thank God that people are willing to run at all, and thank God that we have two…

Rhetoric vs Reality

Couple of comments came in today on my McCain post and they struck a chord with me.  I have definitely spent a lot of time in the past few years trying to figure out where to embrace reality.  I recognize that I often revel in rhetoric. I guess that is just how it is.  
As much as I try to become objective. I can't embrace indicting and accusatory ideas very well. This gets me and many into trouble when we have to make hard decisions.  Guess it is good I'm not running for President.  I'll say a prayer for those who are.  
I sincerely hope that we can all cut through the rhetoric and find an objective standard on which to base our decisions. Mine aren't perfect, but then again, I'm not sure any are. I'll keep working on it.   
Consistency through inconsistency.

Decision Made: McCain

I am a republican through and through.. yet I have spent months thinking about voting for the Democrats. I haven't been pleased in the past few years with my parties' performance.. however, I have to say that in the past few weeks, my decision and support has been made clear. My gut tells me to go with integrity, patriotism, knowledge and experience.
John McCain is the right choice for our future. I hope more and more people will spend time reading, learning, listening and thinking very carefully instead of listening to the media. Learn and think for yourself.. use your own personal experience to make decisions.
Mr Obama has personality, energy and charisma, but by his own admission, a tremendous lack of experience. John McCain and his straight talk express are the way to go.
Our world is out of control, our political system isn't perfect... we need leadership not just "hope" Hope is not a management strategy. It is essential, but it must be what is left, not w…

MultiVocational Vacations...NOT

Balance is the trick but it may not really exists, at least not in a linear form. For sure, the cycle time for restoring balance is difficult for me to handle these days. As the scales tip from one side to the other, it seems to take a LONG time to correct. That is a dangerous cycle, that means I need to make, more, smaller corrections.. instead of the big ones.. OR DO I?

Just like many artists, I am forced to maintain a "day job" to sustain my family. Our world doesn't value classical artists even when they value the art. We are just the entertainment for the week in most cases. Certainly not worth, paying for... when movies, and HD TV are available. (sorry that is a whole other tangent)

I have used my vacation time for performing in the past few years but that has put me into a dilemma. I don't ever seem to get a vacation. My recharge time is extremely limited and in the past months, it seems to take me longer and longer to switch gears between "vocational&qu…

Old and New

In the past few weeks, Tracee and I have been privileged to travel around and perform quite a bit. Musicians are strange creatures. Perhaps it is a performers curse, our souls seek out the art form for which we are suited.

I spend hours on this computer, writing, thinking, and "communicating" yet, I feel more disconnected than ever. It is so exciting to see names and faces on services like facebook and linkedin. Memories of old times return in a rush of emotion and energy. When I couple those "old" experiences with recent ones, at the Lasker Summer Music Festival, at the Powhatan 4th of July concert, and then this morning at Bon Air Baptist.. I am encouraged. The memories that seem to matter all revolve around making music and spending time with family. Connected or not, it is the actions and not the words that matter.

My community sustains me, both old and new. It burden and constrains me, both old and new. Connections to systems, and institutions set the bar for su…

Muti: Chicago "musical judgement"

Ricardo Muti was a major influence on my education and young growth as a musician. My time at Westminster provided opportunities to sing with him on the podium. Memories from Pavarotti and Pagliacci, Carol Vaness and the Te Deum in Tosca, a Mozart Requiem with Simon Estes, that changed my life.., and Va Pensiero.. What can I say about the opportunity to sing on the stage of the Academy of music, to interact with Maestro Muti on campus at WCC in Princeton. I was awed by his presence and the power that emanated from his persona. Was he opinionated, sometimes arrogant, probably ego driven.. of course. He also delivered the goods.

I always wondered what he was like in private, how he might work with students 1x1, with soloists in private rehearsals. Alas, from my perch here in Richmond, I may not get much experience to "judge" him anew in Chicago.. no worries there. My opinion is firmly set. Passion, followed by Discipline.. then Application.. much of that comes to me, from…

Classical artists - double agents?

What exactly is the business/career path for a performing classical artist in today's world?
How big is the market? How many middlemen take a cut? Is it possible to have a career and a reasonably balanced life without mega-stardom?

The Manager as a Double Agent in the Wall street journal is an interesting read.

Answering questions about artistic integrity and direction versus actually building a stable "business" model for a performing artist as both the artist and the business.. should be required for all music students. Education associated with performing is the typical middle ground.

Perhaps, the degradation of the international market for recording classical music isn't such a loss. if the music can be performed live in smaller regional and local communities, then perhaps the evolution of large scale markets driving local investment could work..

Who is going to ensure the mega market cares about the local markets? Why would they care when in the short term it is all…

"Institutionalized Community"

Who sets the rules for your community? Organized institutions have to have rules, I get that and I agree, but the "rule setting" part always seems to be where the rub comes in.

We all need a group, we to varying degrees are willing to change to gain the value of the support. We seek to change and innovate, but we aren't willing to accept diversity of idea and action.

Church is an institutionalized community quite literally by design. As I write that, I get a bad feeling. Not sure why, but I do all the same. "Institutionalized community feels sterile, structured, and inherently impersonal. Those things tend to be the antithesis of alive in the spirit, innovative, and overflowing with love.

The bad feeling is that I am contributing to exactly what I fear. How do others outside of my "circle" view me. In my zest for action and results, I have trouble fully embracing the diversity and elegance of thought surrounding me in so many channels.

When we take control…

Blame the boss?

The Scott McClellan book/drama has me all worked up. What a conundrum.. He says "he became what he wanted to change.." It makes me worry about myself.

I too was enamored with George Bush when he took office.. I am a pretty diehard Republican. I was very concerned about the Iraq war as I am today... I would have voted for it, if I had been in Congress. I have a hard time understanding how the "bubble" could be so stifling to moral and ethical standards for which he feels so strongly. I haven't read the book and I don't plan to.

How can a member/employee of the administration so blatantly indict activities in which he played a central role? Leadership, particularly government leadership in the executive branch is or should be a solemn responsibility to the people. Blaming the boss when he was an executive.. doesn't cut it for me.

If we all had such concerns, how in the world did we get pulled into the "Abilene Paradox" . Each of us is to bl…

Transparent to a point

I make a big deal in my leadership philosophy when it comes to transparency. I manage through people first, and then apply process for risk and compensating controls.  I trust and then attempt to "verify" intentions and my instincts through other ways.   Trust is a fickle thing.. I most often "trust" my instinct on whether to trust another person.  Sometimes, I have real life examples, but not usually.   
This raised the question of how transparent I am with friends, family and colleagues that I don't completely trust. It doesn't mean that I don't like them.. Lack of trust, simply means I won't let them watch my kids, or borrow my truck.  Would I ask them to trust me?  Why should they... I don't think I am as transparent as I would like to be on this one.  I wonder if my talk of risk management and tests ever becomes about manipulating others on a subconscious level. I don't intentionally manipulate emotions.. or do I? I am transparent right …


I don't handle failure very well. Big shocker that is.. particularly when it was my failure. Related to my illusion of control, I take too much credit for successes, and probably assign too much blame for failure. To assign and judge, I have to set out the conditions of success, the goals, the objectives. That further solidifies the illusion that I can control complex situations.

With relationships, I don't think that is true. Each person has their own spark, their own worth, their own ideas and thoughts.

Creation Song

I wish I could get more people to value the music and intention that I value.

Things must change...NOW

This is a powerful message that we should all think about.

Diversity is about more than color/race. I think it has to do with fear, power and change. I agree that the time to "do something" to change our world is now. We all need to find our place and engage.

Benevolent Dictator

This post on Signals vs Noise is a great note on conflict, democracy, etc..

I am in the benevolent dictator camp.. as long as the dictator does what I think is right ;-)

My favorite quote here:
"When it comes to designing something, a benevolent dictator is sometimes a welcome alternative to the chaos of democracy."

It is both humorous and slightly pathetic that we can't figure out a way to get together more easily. Downfall of a successful society. People that have to worry about food, shelter and security, don't seem to have this problem.

Metro Relational Evangelism

Home missions in the 21st century presents an interesting challenge for all of us. We do so much more than just hand out tracts or invite people to church. We have a responsibility to show our beliefs through our actions. Every day, every minute.. wherever we are.

From a recent article on the ministries METRO BAPTIST in NYC. quoting Ronnie Adams.
"The whole idea here of reaching people for Christ is relational evangelism," Adams said. "It’s a long-term process of letting them see how God is reflected in your life, and through that having an opportunity to share with them about faith and our walk with Christ and why its important to us."

Prep: Chowan Creation

I sit here this morning.. preparing for a Creation performance at Chowan University in NC tonight.  I look out the windows of my sun room and I see the budding leaves. I hear the rain drop against both the leaves and the roof..  Only a few weeks ago, this scene was stark, almost cold. I could see the neighbors houses clearly. Today, the explosion of the color green is hard to describe. so many shades.. so much of it where there was none before. Vines, weeds, grass, all working together. Green is the common denominator for all of them. 

The rain sustains them. It washes away the pollen that has so troubled my days of late. The water cleanses and sustains. 
Web Links on Creation that I don't want to lose:
Creating the Creation - Sandow Re Creation - Sandow

Problem with a great performance

Clarke Bustard wrote a nice review of the Richmond Symphony's performance of Stravinksy and Bartok.. I heard a wonderful performance/theater review presented by Chris Hester on Thursday night. There were probably hundreds of wonderful performance around the country in just the last week. Actually, there is no probably about it. I am sure there were.

Musicians and artists are driven to achieve something special in their performance, or in their artwork. In the case of musicians, this presents a problem because the only thing left is to do it again. The impermancence of a great performance is a both a burden and an opportunity. We have something left to do. We can't recreate it, but we can explore our art, ourselves and the music and seek something new next time.

Let's just hope that there is always a next time.

One last thought here. Church musicians are struck by this reality regularly. A colleague of mine used to call Sundays the "relentless return of the Sabbath…

Worship how?

The pentecost experiences for me is always a bit surreal. I struggle to apply the events of the resurrection, and the stories of the early church in Acts to my every day life. This week, I have had several conversations with friends and colleagues about the nature of worship and my experience has taught me repeatedly not to ignore these types of occurrences as just coincidence.
I believe that worship is an intrinsically personal experience normally, but not always, played out or presented in a community/public setting "in church". Believe me, I worship and can worship in other places, but the ritual of Sunday morning, along with friends and other Christians is the paradigm for me on how to best encounter and honor God in worship.
I have strong feelings on how corporate worship should be approached. Reverence, humility, elegance, innovation, energy, flow, sequencing, spontaneity, comfort, discomfort, ritual... These are all words that come to mind and all of them can be acc…

Stages & Choices

I spent a wonderful 3 hours last night coaching a young Richmond theater artist named Chris Hester. I know him from Capital One, but I was excited and intrigued by his current project. He, along with some fine collaborators, has assembled a one man show entitled "Stages".  This musical is a review of his life, his stages, and presents a unique opportunity for the audience to think and learn about the stages of life, through an autobiographical musical review.  
We talked a lot about choices, about less as more, the standard directing/coaching clich├ęs. I worked with him on his tools, and his execution.  I was inspired by his desire to use his art to speak to his community. I was inspired by his willingness to share his soul so personally with an audience.  Funny, this is what we as artists do so regularly.  
We lay it out, only to have our thoughts and ideas so regularly trashed by the public, the critics, the list goes on. Young artists are evaluated and valued against an obje…

King of the Jews, Risen?

After a second earthquake this morning, a scandal has broken out across the region. Jesus of Nazareth, the proposed "King of the Jews", crucified and buried, is no longer in his final resting place. Followers of Jesus, state that an angel, dressed as lightning came down from above and rolled the stone away, stunning the soldiers while at the same time saying "Be not afraid".

"He is Risen", is the prevailing word on the street as authorities scramble to account for the missing body and the troubling inability of the government to secure the tomb.

Witnesses further report that Jesus himself appeared and spoke to them as they worshipped at his feet. His words were:
"Don't be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I'll meet them there."

Religious leaders are unavailable for comment at this time. Reports from the military about sleeping troops and a supposed body snatching conspiracy are surfacing.


Butterfly : Live from Lincoln Center

In my mind, I maintain an idealistic idea that I and my family gather regularly around the television or our stereo and we listen to great artists and art embracing the truly unbelievable technology available today. We do this whenever possible.. every night, or at least weekly as we learn and explore the world around us on our terms.

The reality is of course far from this. Even with my passion for classical singing, I rarely watch recorded opera on video/tv... my justification: "it isn't good enough, it isn't the same" strangely, I justify my laziness with platitudes of guilt targeted at the producer, the sound engineer, the cameraman, and even my TV. Instead, we get a steady course of Law and Order, Disney, movies, and sitcoms.. like everyone else. That is our choice conscious or not.. uggh.

Live from Lincoln Center on Thurs night changed that situation for me through the eyes and will of Emma and Joshua. We arrived home after our Maundy Thursday service and my th…

Schola Cantorum, James Jordan conducting

The Schola Cantorum from Westminster Choir College presented a wonderful choral exploration of light and sound at Bon Air Presbyterian last night. Under the direction of Dr. James Jordan, this choir of sophomores, 110 strong, overwhelmed a room of choral music lovers' senses with energy and sound. As a Westminster grad, I was proud, inspired, and humbled to see and think of the impact that these musicians will have on their world in years to come.

Craig and Dan stayed with us in our home, and it was even more exciting to get to know two young WCCers.. I stick by my quote.. even at their young age, they do not know how much they know. The WCC experience is different from other conservatories in its community model. These gentlemen shared with Tracee and I about "critical pedagogy" as it is being taught by Frank Abrahams at WCC. Our Da Capo Way is built around this important cutting edge pedagogical theory, even though we didn't know it existed until last night. How exc…


How do you know an authentic artist. A good friend recently commented about my singing that it was authentic and honest.  I took it as a profound compliment, and it is what I most hope to pass on to my students. 
The goal to pursue excellence in art as a measure against some objective, standard of excellence, like a dog show champion.. is just not right.   Artists and singers are uniquely special in their art. 
As a singer, I strive to sing well, but I strive most to be honest about my singing. I want to touch peoples' hearts, and share my soul.  It is never about hitting the notes, and being the best, or at least it shouldn't be.  
Bohemians represent an antiestablishmentism paradigm which goes to the extreme but there is something in that pursuit of art that makes a difference in the world. It is a shame, that to make a difference as an artist, almost certainly damns the artist to a lifetime of obscurity, poverty and lack of appreciation.