Posts Tagged ‘music’

Singing Christmas

Friday, December 13th, 2013

CHRISTMAS means music. Last night our ukulele band performed as part of Volunteer Park’s magical holiday celebration. The Seattle drizzle may have had its way with the thousands of luminaria that lined the park’s paths, but it did little to dampen our spirits and songs.

Here we are setting up at the entrance of the Seattle Art Museum.

Here we are setting up at the entrance of the Seattle Art Museum.

IN SONORA, California, where I grew up, the yearly tradition is a Christmas Sing in the Courthouse Square. My dad’s newspaper, The Union Democrat, started this event 34 years ago, so I got to design some of the early posters.

*SING!*

ALL my favorite Christmas memories are tied to music:

Like the Christmas we youngest three sibs donned our parents’ bathrobes and paraded into the livingroom singing We Three Kings of Orient Are. (My brother’s rework of the lyrics: “King forever, sneezing never, over us all to reign.”)

And the Christmas when I was a young mother and five families gathered at our house, including Julie and Fernando Larios and their three kids. We staged a Christmas pageant, complete with almost-baby Michael Larios in the laundry basket creche, his little brown boots hanging out over edge.

And the Northwest Girlchoir concert where the choristers processed through the aisles of Meany Hall, singing Dona, Nobis, Pacem all around us.

And the Christmas when my husband and I gave each other ukuleles, unbeknownst to each other and much to our kids’ entertainment. A sort of Gift of the Magi without the irony, Julie Paschkis said. Also without the loss of hair.

IN SEATTLE we’re down to about eight hours of light per day now. As we eagerly await the turn of the solstice, music and Christmas memories fill the darkness.

EACH Christmas, I like to re-read Dad’s Sierra Lookout column about Christmas, first published in 1966. He writes from the perspective of his own foothill town of Sonora. Here’s how it ends:

IT IS NO wonder, then, that in small communities like ours there burns brightly the single hope for all men, brotherhood.

And as we look with agony and dismay upon the storms that may swirl around us, we need not despair.

For along the ravines are heard again the words that say all that can or need be said of Christmas. They are the words of the Christmas angel:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace, good will toward men.”

 If I could, I’d sing that with you.

Autumn Roses and The Hukilau

Friday, November 16th, 2012

“Sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” –Itzhak Perlman

Last June I started spending most Thursday mornings with the Mother Pluckers, a group of ten women aged 48 to 80 who have been strumming ukuleles and singing together for about four years. They are an amazing bunch with a wealth of experience from their other, non-ukulele lives: jeweler, psychologist, university professor emeritus, artists, middle school teacher, art quilt maker, photographer, world-class sailor. What they have in common is their dedicated effort to learn new stuff on the ukulele, to make music together.

Making music! L. to r., Margaret Liston, Carolle Rose, Danielle Carr and me

Today four of us provided music when the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wells Fargo Advisors gave a ten-year old boy and his family a trip to Hawaii. The whole 35th floor of the Wells downtown offices took on a South Seas flair: the reception area a tiki hut, a corner office done over as an undersea grotto, the big conference room luau-ready, everyone in Hawaiian garb.

The boy, who is battling leukemia, seemed at first overwhelmed by all of this – or maybe it was our lusty rendition of Aloha Week Hula? He hid behind his father. But he warmed up as we launched into The Hukilau, and he donned swim goggles and ‘swam’ into the undersea room, searching for gifts under the hip-high balloons. He seemed quite pleased with the shave ice and pineapple pizza luau lunch, as well.

Back home, Izzi and I headed out for our walk. There’s a bite in the air, and I expect there will be frost tonight. I clipped the last baby roses so we might enjoy them a few days longer. And I thought how here I am in the autumn of my life, still trying to bloom. And how my sisterhood of strummers shows the way. Like music, stories come out of the ideas and insights, skills and experiences we gather along the way. In fact, that’s how this blog post came to be.

 

– First posted November 9, 2012 on our critique group blog, BooksAroundTheTable.


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