Posts Tagged 'excellence'

Doing Our Best Work

In the great symphony of life, we all have important parts to play. While some people are best suited to be conductors or soloists, their contributions would be diminished considerably without the individual musicians that lend their artistry to the fullness of an orchestra. The magical accents of the percussion section might sound random and out of place without the music they accompany. But any one member of an orchestra, doing less than their best at their particular part, can destroy the harmony of the whole piece, such is their importance. So although we may not receive the same amount or quality of attention as another, all of our contributions are valuable and integral to the success of the whole.

When we do our tasks well, we infuse them with our unique energy, making each act a gift. Each of our personalities and talents are suited to different roles of support. Even leaders and star performers support others in their own way. We can look around us at any moment to see that while we nurture some people with our work, others are supporting us with their gifts. Doing any job from this place within us allows us to do our part with humility and gratitude, while also learning lessons that move us steadily toward our goals.

When we can be fully present in every job that we do, we bring the fullness of our bodies, minds and spirits to the moment. Our contribution is enhanced by the infusion of our talents and abilities, and when we give them willingly, they attract the right people and circumstances into our experience. Anything we do begrudgingly limits the flow of our energy and closes us off from the good that is available to us in every situation. But by giving the best in us to make the world around us better, we open ourselves to receive the best from the universe in return.



Music Monday: October roundup

Autumn is always a time when I get into a folksy, introspective mood, so the playlist result is not too surprising – although Kate Bush wedging into the middle was indeed a dark horse. I’ve been following Wendy Rule on Facebook, as she traipsed about Greece, and listening to her music again (and again) just followed from there. Loreena… just give us some new material soon, okay? Please?

Female voices and overwhelmingly string instruments – the piano is one, too – just fit the light and colouring. Just before November and NaNoWriMo bring out the instrumental stable once more.

1. Loreena McKennitt (194)
2. Kate Bush (161)
3. Wendy Rule (108)

Music Monday: Anonymous 4 meet John Tavener

…I have no words. Which is rather a good thing, because this is the time to listen, not talk.

Music Monday: Cantori Gregoriani

With medieval chant established as a major mainstream force in the music industry, it’s easy to see two distinct trends among the genre’s performers: On one hand, the monastic choirs, who treat their material as a devotional, recording in liturgical venues (like the Benedictine Monks of Silos, who really got the ball rolling, back in 1994). On the other hand, there are the musicologists, who may not give a fig for the religious aspect of the material, but will do their utmost to preserve the musical treasure. (Okay, there’s a third category, the dilettantes who just want to make a quick buck or ten by riding the trend, but we’re not dealing with those here.)

I Cantori Gregoriani lean mostly towards the latter. Early music specialists to the last singer, they construct their albums following the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, covering material for most of the year’s feasts. Disciplined, though not aseptic, it little matters what they actually believe about their material – what dos matter is that they give it the royal treatment. Go ahead, sample these bits, then go here for much more.

A Diva Destroyed

20 years after Maria Callas’s lonely death, Michael Tanner looks back at the highs and lows of the great soprano’s career, following her from a turbulent childhood, through her loves and losses to her solitary end in a Paris apartment.

At the end of her last tour in 1974 Maria Callas went back to her Paris apartment and spent her time listening to her own records and flicking the switch on her television. She refused to see her old friends, talked of resuming her career while knowing she wouldn’t and sank into apathy. On 16 September 1977 she got up at noon, collapsed from a heart attack, and died two hours later, aged just 53. It was an inglorious end of an era. 25 years earlier Callas was the most celebrated soprano in the world, and soon one of the two or three most famous women. She became an emblem of glamour – between December 1952 and April 1954 she lost 62 pounds – and thus helped to appease what Walter Legge, her producer, called ‘her superhuman inferiority complex’.

Setting new standards in appearance, acting and singing, her every performance became an occasion of possible scandal, especially at La Scala Milan where scandal interests the audience much more than art. Soon, naturally, opportunities for criticising her arose, even though she was the ultimate professional, knowing everyone’s part in all the operas she sang in, not only her own, and a fanatical worker. For eight years she reigned supreme, though her highly individual voice and the peculiar intensity of her performances always made her controversial.

Continue reading ‘A Diva Destroyed’

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