Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Finlandia

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia”:

Need I say more.

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The Missing Instrument

The Classical Four set up for their two-hour practice session in the Park and put out the sign that read “Practice Session”. They took their seats on the pillows that cushioned them from the hard seats of the folding chairs.

Gabby lifted her violin out of the case and rested it on her shoulder. George settled his flute against his lips. Grace checked her clarinet. Haley did a couple of strums on her guitar. They were ready for the park.

“It’s time to boogey,” Gabby said to her cohorts of the Classical Four.

Gabby ripped her bow across the strings. And they were off. It was Sunday. For ten years, the four went to the park and played all morning. Two hours of practice, then an hour long concert. Then they were off to lunch.

They only saw each other on Sundays. Rain or shine the Sunday, they played together. If it was too cold or raining, they went to a restaurant or a mall. And they didn’t take time off for illness either. If one was out sick, the other three went on without them. One winter they were down to one. Gabby played even though she had the flu.

And they didn’t talk news either. They wanted to keep the group pure from all distractions. Gabby was a liberal. George a conservative. Grace a libertarian. Haley an atheist. For each of them, it was the music that matter.

At the end of each session, they decided what to play the following Sunday. Each had their favorites. Gabby loved Mozart. George not so much. He leaned toward Beethoven. Grace was a Bach freak. Haley was into Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Yet, they didn’t limit their playing to those composers. From time to time they took on Sibelius, Philip Glass and John Adams.

When they went to lunch, what did the four talk about? They talked music. Gabby would contribute an insight into Mozart. George could wow them over his love of Beethoven’s Ninth and what he learned the previous week. Grace kept quite about Bach. To talk about Bach was sacrilegious. It would take away her joy. Haley, all bubbly, shared her inspiration for composition. She was a composer.

Over the years, they had their regulars. Gabby met her husband in the park. George was hired for the symphony because he showed up and played.Gabby had her portrait painted there. Haley fell in love with the spirituality from the music she played in the park.

Music was their wind. And they were like trees who bent to that wind.

Then one week, at the lunch, a new subject was broached. Haley broached it. “I’ve been engaged to compose a sonata.”

“That is wonderful,” George said, squeezing his friend’s arm.

“Well, it is. And it isn’t,” Haley said.

Grace asked, “What do you mean?”

“I have to go to L.A. I will be gone possibly for months. You see, it’s for a film.”

“Can’t you do it here?” There was a sadness in Gabby’s voice. She spoke for the others.

“I have to spend time with the actors and the director. To get to know them and their movements and their voices and their language. I want to do it but I don’t want to leave you guys.”

“Can’t you fly back and forth?” George asked.

“I don’t know. I will be on call seven days a week. That’s what the director wants. Me and the screenwriter to work together.”

George was encouraging. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. I say you should do it.”

The others agreed. They would miss her.

The next three Sundays Gabby, George and Grace were in the park. Instead of the joy they brought to their music, there was a sadness. And each week the sadness grew. The first Sunday they played Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”. The second week it was the music for the Saint-Saens aria, “My heart opens itself to your voice”. The third week it was Bach’s “Come Sweet Death”. George had taken the pieces and arranged them for the three instruments.

On the fourth Sunday, Haley was there. They skipped practice and went into their concert. They started out with Vivaldi’s “Spring”, then went on to Handel’s “Water Music” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”. Finally they finished with Smetana’s “Moldau”. When they were through, there were over a hundred people in their audience there on the lawn of the Park. None of that audience had a dry eye.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Compromiso

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Alicia Sevilla with her composition, “Compromiso” from her album, “Memories”:

I like to find new artists and fall in love with their music. I found Alicia Sevilla’s on Amazon Prime Music and immediately liked it a lot. There’s such a beauty and peacefulness to it. I immediately wanted to share it with my followers. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do.

If you would like to know more about Alicia, here’s a link to her website.

 

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Gene Clark

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is Gene Clark:

Gene is the fellow on the left, doing lead singer on “Backstage Pass”. Roger McGuinn is in the center and Chris Hillman on the right.

Rock music has seen quite a few artists who have been recognized by a large public. But there are those who have sunk into the sunset and few know their name. Gene Clark was in the first rank of those artists.

Gene Clark is no longer with us and I miss him a lot. I can’t think of another musician who moves me like Gene does. I first got hooked on his music back in the day when he released his fourth solo album, No Other. There wasn’t a bad song on that masterpiece.

Gene Clark was a songwriter, musician and performer. The guy sure could write songs and he was one of the best lyricist to come down the pike. A songwriter learning their craft could do no better than to study Gene’s work. The songs I have featured here all have a wallop that leaves me moved. Only “Changes” was not his. (I include it here to give some idea what he could do with another fellow’s song.)

In case, you are unfamiliar with who Gene Clark was, he was a founding member of the American folk-rock band, The Byrds. It was Gene Clark who wrote or co-wrote many of their songs: “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”, “Set You Free This Time”, “Here Without You”, “You Won’t Have to Cry”, “If You’re Gone”, “The World Turns All Around Her”, and “She Don’t Care About Time” and “I’ll Feel a Whole Better”. Gene not only was the songwriter on that one but also the lead singer.

His influence was writ large on a number of musical genres: folk rock, country rock, alt.country, and psychedilic acid rock. He was there at the beginning, writing the songs and performing them. One of the first psychedelic songs, the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”, came from him.

He went solo in 1966 for a number of reasons, including internal squabbles with others in the band and a deathly fear of flying.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 as a member of the Byrds. But he is still mostly unrecognized for being one of the best songwriters of his time and as a solo artist by much of the public and by the Hall of Fame.

So give a listen and maybe you’ll be saying with me, “We sure miss you, Gene.”

Radio Song by Dillard and Clark.

The Virgin. 

Finally, here’s one he recorded with Carla Olson in the final years of his career, Phil Ochs’ “Changes“:

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Amherst

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight is the band Quoting Napoleon singing their composition “Amherst“:

This song is a beautiful tribute to the great American poet Emily Dickinson.

Emily

Scraps of Emily everywhere
no single room unattended
nor corner of the private worlds
hidden in New England shadow
unstudied by the thorough eye
of that reclusive brilliance
who gave Amherst a name.