Can Music Reverse Global Warming? Here’s Hoping

May 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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It seems universally acknowledged that music has a positive effect on people. From Mozart CDs for babies to the music played for the senior residents through the Musicians Care Project at Hebrew Healthcare, society embraces music, and particularly classical music, as a means for improving intelligence, social interaction, and personal development. Although the “Mozart Effect” fad of the early 90’s has been somewhat debunked, there is still overwhelming evidencethat focused participation in musical ensembles and active listening to music has positive effects on the brain.

But can music positively change the physical world? Next month, the HSO will perform a piece that might suggest it can. The work is Alternative Energy by composer and West Coast DJ Mason Bates.

Bates says about this piece:

“Alternative Energy is an ‘energy symphony’ spanning four movements and hundreds of years.  Beginning in a rustic Midwestern junkyard in the late 19thCentury, the piece travels through ever greater and more powerful forces of energy — a present-day particle collider, a futuristic Chinese nuclear plant — until it reaches a future Icelandic rainforest, where humanity’s last inhabitants seek a return to a simpler way of life.”

Bates’ takes his inspiration from the things that physically fuel our world today. He walked around a particle collider, recording “huge power surges, epic hydraulic releases, [and] alien-sounding high frequencies,” which are interspersed into the hall in a surround sound like experience for the audience, as if they are inside the particle collider.

 

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Bates also asks the performers to create and play on a drum set made out of foraged car parts. Last week, HSO Principal Percussionist Robert McEwan traveled with the HSO Tech crew to a local junk yard to seek out the pieces he would need to make the drum set.

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HSO Percussionist Robert McEwan looking for drum set pieces

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They left with a muffler, a tailgate from a truck, a gas tank, a fender and a few other miscellaneous pieces. In a few weeks this junk  will be transformed into an orchestral instrument. Not only do we think these pieces will look fantastic on The Belding stage, but with one perfectly timed mallet strike our musicians will turn this garbage into music.

Will our performance of Alternative Energy reverse global warming?  Alternative Energy will do what music does best- make us take a step back and think about ourselves and our environment. It suggests a path for the future where we rely on our existing resources, like musical instruments made from recycled junk. Will the audience be inspired to decrease their own carbon footprint, advocate for cleaner fuel sources, and teach the value of environmental conservation to future generations? Here’s hoping.

Musicians Care Project

September 17th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

I will be the first to admit that, as a writer, brevity is not my strong suit.  It would be completely fair for anyone who reads my writing to accuse me of being both long-winded and verbose.  Well, in this post, I am going to fight that urge and let someone else do the talking (well, most of it at least).

Over the past year, the Community Engagement & Education team at the Hartford Symphony Orchestra has embarked on a new challenge called the Musicians Care Project.  Thanks to the generosity of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the HSO has been able to establish a strong presence and partnership with Hebrew Health Care.  Through this partnership, the HSO has been able to bring live musical performances to hundreds of people whose healthcare needs would prevent them from taking part in traditional concerts.  The HSO is committed to being a source of artistic excellence and community service in our community.  Knowing firsthand the power of music, we are hoping that the Musicians Care Project will help to broaden an understanding of how music can directly impact the wellness of patients, their families, their caregivers, and the musicians who participate.

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I could certainly go on for a number more paragraphs telling stories of my visits to Hebrew Health Care during the pilot phase of the Musicians Care Project.  Some could bring tears to your eyes, while others would almost surely have you doubled over with laughter.  However, I am aiming to brief in this post, and I think there is a better voice to talk about the power of a program like the Musicians Care Project.

The video below is an interview I conducted with Pamela Atwood, Director of Dementia Care Services at Hebrew Health Care.  A musician herself, Pam is a certified gerontologist who has worked with HSO musicians in preparing for the Musicians Care Project and attended many of the performances at Hebrew Health Care.  I promised to be brief (or at least more so than usual), so I’ll let Pam’s words do the rest of the talking about the profound impact the HSO is making on our community through the Musicians Care Project.

— Jeff Martin, Director of Community Engagement & Education

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