Lesson for 2013: Kindness to Self

January 1st, 2013 by Peter McDowell No comments »

flowersI was recently asked by my friend, the excellent Chicago-based Fundraising Consultant Mark Warner (MDW Consulting), to write a guest column for his January newsletter. I decided that I would share with readers a short list that changed my life in 2012, taken from Howard Schubiner’s excellent book, Unlearn your Pain. Nominally the book is about back pain, but the words below can be used effectively in work and career situations to unblock situations and to help move forward with projects and goals in a positive, healthy way. I have used these with my clients and will continue to do so in 2013. Schubiner’s words are simple, yet powerful, as quoted below:

“One of the most important aspects of…improving your psychological health is to be kind to yourself. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is very easy to develop and maintain a self-critical attitude. I urge you to take time each day to be kind to yourself. You can do this…by catching yourself in self-critical thoughts, and by doing some things for yourself. If you forget a task or don’t finish all the work or errands on your list, be kind to yourself.

Here are some examples of what I mean by being kind to yourself.

  1. Accepting that you are human and that you cannot be everything to everyone.
  2. Accepting your faults and realizing that you are a good person.
  3. Forgiving yourself for your mistakes, just as you would forgive others whom you love.
  4. Learning to say “no” to certain requests.
  5. Sending positive and caring messages to yourself.
  6. Recognizing that many others have been in your situation and have survived and thrived.
  7. Accepting your feeling as being normal.
  8. Catching yourself when you send critical messages to yourself and replacing those with kind and understanding messages.
  9. Figuring out what you need and not being shy about asking for it or taking steps to attain it.
  10. Taking time for yourself to do things just for you or just to allow you to relax and enjoy life.
  11. Standing up for yourself.
  12. Realizing that you are an important person on this earth and that you deserve to be happy and healthy.”

Read this list everyday, and you will find that certain burdens, fears, or concerns will dissipate, freeing your mind and your energy for active pursuit of your goals and happiness. My best wishes to you for a happy, healthy and productive 2013!

Blair Thomas: MOBY-DICK (excerpt) at Storefront Theater

December 21st, 2012 by Peter McDowell No comments »
January 20, 2013
2:00 pm

1W8A3200Blair Thomas & Company, a national and international touring puppet theater company founded in 2002 by puppeteer and director/designer Blair Thomas, presents work-in-progress excerpts from its future production of Moby-Dick on Sunday, January 20th, 2013, at 2pm at Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph, Chicago. Admission is free – for reservations visit www.blairthomas.org or email blair@blairthomas.org

Narrator Ishmael recounts his journey on the Pequod as Captain Ahab’s relentless pursuit of the White Whale leads the entire crew to the depths of the ocean’s great unknown.  The words of this great American novel are brought to life on the stage through bunraku puppets and rolling paper scrolls.

Blair Thomas & Company is a national and international touring puppet theater company that was founded in 2002 by puppeteer and director/designer Blair Thomas.  They have made over a dozen original puppet theater pieces including: Cabaret of Desire, a staging of short works by Federico Garcia Lorca; The Ox-herder’s Tale an interpretive staging of the Buddhist parable of 10 painting of enlightenment; A Kite’s Tale a collection of piano pieces staged with silent narratives including Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Chopin’s Scherzo in b minor.   They have also toured with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  They have made collaboration productions with other companies such as Pierrot Lunaire a staging of Arnold Schoenberg’s song cycle with the chamber music ensemble eighth blackbird; an original adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant and an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Houdini Box both with the Chicago Children’s Theatre.  Twice Blair Thomas & Company has received the international UNIMA awards for excellence in the art of puppetry.  Twice the company has performed at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, once during when Blair was the first artist chosen to fill the Jim Henson Artist-in-Residence position at the University of Maryland.

In the Works is a performance residency program that gives emerging and established performing artists the opportunity to test-drive new work in a public setting. Each residency is tailored to the needs of the artist or company and their project and each showing is a unique opportunity for audiences to get a behind-the-scenes look at new work by Chicago artists. This program is made possible through a grant from The Boeing Company. Admission is either free or low-cost.  Visit www.chicagocultuturalcenter.org for a complete schedule.

 

 

Chicago’s Chinese Fine Arts Society Receives NEA Grant

December 13th, 2012 by helen No comments »
December 1, 2012toDecember 31, 2012

The Chinese Fine Arts Society has received an NEA grant to support it’s amibitious “Five Elements Project”.  The grant is one of 832 Art Works grants totaling $23.3 million in funding nationwide.

CFASlogo

Chicago, IL – National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced today that Chicago’s Chinese Fine Arts Society(CFAS) is one of 832 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The Chinese Fine Arts Society is recommended for a $17,500 grant to support the 2013-14 Five Elements Project.

The Five Elements Project, dedicated to the memory of Barbara Tiao, the late founder of the Chinese Fine Arts Society, is a multifaceted, two-year initiative seeking to create several important new pieces of music that will touch on the theme of the traditional Chinese elements, namely Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. 2013 is the five-year anniversary of Ms. Tiao’s passing, and 2014 is CFAS’s 30th anniversary, making this a momentous two-year period for the organization. This project engages two of the United States’ most lauded Chinese composersZhou Long (2011 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Music) and Huang Ruo, to create compelling works of music that explore the theme of the Chinese Five Elements, to be premiered in a concert series in 2014. Mr. Long’s composition will be comprised of five movements and scored for clarinet, pipa, piano, violin, viola and cello. Mr. Ruo’s will be a violin piece written for longtime CFAS collaborator and friend, Rachel Barton Pine.

“I’m proud to announce these 832 grants to the American public including The Chinese Fine Arts Society’s Five Elements Project,” said Chairman Landesman. “These projects offer extraordinary examples of creativity in our country, including the creation of new work, innovative ways of engaging audiences, and exemplary education programs.”

“My late mother, Barbara Tiao, would be so pleased” says CFAS Board President Julie Tiao Ma, “She strove for excellence and for creating a new canon of Contemporary Chinese music. To engage the best of today’s composers will be a thrill and an honor for CFAS.”

In March 2012, the NEA received 1,509 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $74 million in funding. The 832 recommended NEA grants total $22.3 million, span 13 artistic disciplines and fields, and focus primarily on the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing works for the benefit of American audiences. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at www.arts.gov.

Pianist Inna Faliks at Salle Cortot, Paris

December 13th, 2012 by Peter McDowell No comments »
February 18, 2013
8:30 pm

0050 b&WMEDIUMPianist Inna Faliks will appear at Salle Cortot in Paris, France, on Monday, February 18, 2013, 8:30pm, under the auspices of Pro Musicis. Salle Cortot is located at 78 rue Cardinet – 75017 Paris – Tel : 01.47.63.47.48. The mixed program will include works by Beethoven, Schumann, Shchedrin, and Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin.

Program will include:

Shchedrin Basso Ostinato
Beethoven Polonaise in C op 89
Beethoven Sonata Op. 57 Appassionata
Ljova “Sirota”, written for Inna Faliks in 2011
Schumann Davidsbundlertanze op. 6

Pianist Inna Faliks has set herself apart in thousands of performances as a sincere, communicative and direct performer whose virtuosity, power and risk taking serve the depth, intelligence and poetry of her interpretations. Inna’s command of standard solo and concerto repertoire is highlighted by her love of rare and new music, and interdisciplinary and audience-involving programs and lectures. These include her award winning Music/Words, where she alternates music with readings by contemporary poets, her program of piano music of the poet Boris Pasternak (on MSR Classics Sound of Verse, which drew comparisons to Argerich and Cliburn), 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg – new variations on Bach’s Aria , music of women composers, and many other programs. She makes sure to present programs that include both beloved crowd pleasers and music that is new and challenging, creating an adventurous, moving and involving experience for the audience. She is a musical omnivore. Faliks debuted as a teenager with the Chicago Symphony and at the Gilmore Festival to rave reviews, and has been exciting and moving audiences worldwide since then.

Downton Abbey Star Featured
in Exclusive Chicago Production of
ADMISSION: ONE SHILLING

December 3rd, 2012 by Peter McDowell No comments »
January 29, 2013
7:00 pm

Devised by Nigel Hess and presented by the International Music Foundation, Admission: One Shilling is a unique, one-night-only theatrical evening that tells the extraordinary story of Myra Hess and her famous World War II National Gallery concerts. This production starring Downton Abbey actress (Mrs. Patmore) Lesley Nicol and pianist Inna Faliks will take place at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets (maximum 4 tickets per request) are free of charge and may be obtained by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to International Music Foundation, 30 East Adams Street, Suite 1206, Chicago, IL 60603.  Ticket requests must be post-marked after January 7, 2013.  Requests post-marked before January 8 will be discarded.

In Dame Myra’s own words – compiled by her great-nephew, composer Nigel Hess – and with piano music by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Schumann and Chopin, we hear how the ‘great adventure’ of these 1600 lunchtime concerts in the National Gallery began, and how it continued on a daily basis for 6 years, even while bombs rained down on London. It is fitting that the US premiere of this work should take place in Chicago, a city which continues to honor the memory of Dame Myra Hess with the weekly Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts presented every Wednesday of the year at the Chicago Cultural Center by the International Music Foundation. This performance is made possible through the generous lead sponsorship of BMO Harris Bank, with major additional support from the English Speaking Union and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

Actress Lesley Nicol spent her formative years in a small town in Lancashire. Daughter of a Scottish GP and a Welsh actress, she discovered early on that accents and being funny were very useful at school, and compensated for fairly shocking results in any subject other than English and Drama. When she was studying for ‘A’ levels in Manchester, she discovered the Library Theatre – became besotted – and gently nagged them, until they employed her at £1 a week. She then spent 3 years at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the early 70’s and has been acting ever since. Lesley has enjoyed a hugely diverse career, and this continues to this day. She started her musical career in Jesus Christ Superstar – the first production! – sang her way round the theatres of Great Britain, then found herself in the West End for 3 years playing Rosie in Mamma Mia and Kath Casey in Our House. Her television career has encompassed drama and comedy. Perhaps one of Lesley’s strengths is the ability to make you laugh, and also to move you. When she was in Mamma Mia, fellow actress Anne Reid said to her – ‘You have learnt to put your arms around an audience’. She plays Mrs. Patmore in ITV’s hugely successful Downton Abbey written by Julian Fellowes and co-starring Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.  Lesley’s film career is small but beautifully formed – the multi-award winning UK feature East is East, and the sequel West is West which was released in 2011.

Pianist Inna Faliks has set herself apart in thousands of performances as a sincere, communicative and direct performer whose virtuosity, power and risk taking serve the depth, intelligence and poetry of her interpretations. Inna’s command of standard solo and concerto repertoire is highlighted by her love of rare and new music, and interdisciplinary and audience-involving programs and lectures. These include her award winning Music/Words, where she alternates music with readings by contemporary poets, her program of piano music of the poet Boris Pasternak (on MSR Classics Sound of Verse, which drew comparisons to Argerich and Cliburn), 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg – new variations on Bach’s Aria , music of women composers, and many other programs. She makes sure to present programs that include both beloved crowd pleasers and music that is new and challenging, creating an adventurous, moving and involving experience for the audience. She is a musical omnivore. Faliks debuted as a teenager with the Chicago Symphony and at the Gilmore Festival to rave reviews, and has been exciting and moving audiences worldwide since then.

Nigel Hess, the creator of Admission: One Shilling and the great-nephew of Dame Myra Hess, works extensively as a composer and conductor in television, theatre and film.  He has composed numerous scores for both American and British television productions, including A Woman of Substance, Vanity Fair, Campion, Maigret, Dangerfield, Just William, Wycliffe, Ballykissangel and New Tricks.  He has received the Ivor Novello award twice for Best TV Theme (Hetty Wainthropp Investigates and Testament), and is well-known to Classic FM listeners for his film soundtrack to Ladies in Lavender. Nigel has written many scores for Royal Shakespeare Company productions, and was awarded the New York Drama Desk Award for ‘Outstanding Music in a Play’ for Much Ado About Nothing and Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway.  His recent work at Shakespeare’s Globe includes the scores for The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet and Henry VIII.  Nigel has also composed much concert music, most recently his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales.

The International Music Foundation has presented the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts under the magnificent Tiffany stained-glass dome in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. since 1977.  The concerts are broadcast live over WFMT Radio (98.7FM) locally, and are streamed globally over www.wfmt.com. The concerts are an important showcase for local, national, and international emerging classical artists, and follow in the tradition of Dame Myra Hess, one of the most eminent pianists of the 20th century, whose assistance to young musicians was a constant during her career.