Music, Music, Music, Everywhere!

Oh, I’m just full of music this morning, and more than ever aware of the musical clock in the living room that I’ve programmed to chime Christmas music every hour on the hour. Just heard “joy to the world” 17 minutes ago and now feel compelled to spread a little of it wherever and however I can.

Yesterday we helped to chaperone our 3-year-old granddaughter’s class on their first Montessori field trip to the 38th Annual Holiday Tree Festival in Salt Lake City. Never have I seen one quite as big as this one.  The Festival is organized by a volunteer board of 85 women and thousands of other volunteers-at-large whose efforts have resulted in more than $21 million for needy children at Primary Children’s Medical Center since 1971 ($1,604,021.64 raised last year). Every penny raised goes to help children in need at Primary Children’s Medical Center. It was a very appropriate way to pep up the holiday spirit and focus on giving rather than receiving, also an auspicious beginning to what turned out to be a music-filled day.

Later on, we finished out the day by arriving nearly an hour early for a violin/piano concert at the University. The plus of being early is that we got a parking place nearly in front of the auditorium, the obvious minus was that we had a bit of time to kill. (I think we were actually the first to arrive! That never happened before.) The concert hall is located at the University, however, so we just went into the adjacent reading room where there were comfortable couches and tables and chairs and all manner of music students quietly working with computers, or reading books and looking very studious.

I wondered what they thought when two oldsters like us wandered in and chose a music magazine to read (that’s about all the magazines there were) he, a periodical featuring 20 tenors it considered the best in the world; I the latest issue of BBC Music with a feature story about Leonard Bernstein, one composer I’m fairly familiar with. Besides the BBC take on how brilliant they thought Bernstein was, they had little music-based tidbits sprinkled throughout. A magazine I thought would be way above my comfort zone was actually very interesting and I learned quite a lot for my “wasted” time.

I learned, for instance, that John Reznikoff, President of the University archives in Connecticut turned over  10 strands of Beethoven’s hair from their celebrity hair collection to a Chicago based diamond specialists to create a diamond, for which they expected to raise money for charity. The experts proceeded to extract the carbon in the strands and subject it to extremely high temperatures, just like “real” diamonds are made, after which they placed it under an enormous weight for two weeks. (Alas, no explanation about this enormous weight. Trade secrets, no doubt.)

During that time under that mysterious weight, the carbon grew into a 0.56 carat blue-hued diamond, the very first diamond to be made from a celebrity’s hair, which was then auctioned off on eBay in September for $202, 700, a little shy of the $500,000 it was expected to bring. All is not lost, however, as the Connecticut archives still holds hair samples from Napoleon, Albert Einstein, and Abe Lincoln among others.

Who knew? Now if I can only figure out how to extract carbon from hair strands and then what would be a heavy enough object to press it with, it might be worthwhile thinking about sweeping up all those strands of hair at my hairdresser’s salon next time I go for a haircut. I’m thinking a diamond made with my flat, color-treated, non-celebrity hair, might fetch . . . maybe $500?!

Another little tidbit I’d like to share with those of you who like free stuff, and who doesn’t? If you’re in Venezuela, you can get a free CD of Hugo Chavez’s debut music CD, “Canciones de Siempre” which translates roughly to Songs For All Time. It seems Chavez hosts a Sunday radio/tv program that features guest musicians and dancers, with whom Chavez regularly sings folk songs at the close of each broadcast. Anyway, he loves singing so much that he decided to produce his own CD in which he sings Venezuelan folk songs. The decision was then made to distribute the album for free in Venezuela. Isn’t this freebie one you’re absolutely dying to hear? Maybe not worth an airline ticket to Venezuela, but if someone who lives there cares to send one along? I doubt that he’ll be arriving here to distribute them anytime soon!

I’ve saved the best for last. My multi-talented friend Ginger in Las Vegas sent me this news about a new project by YouTube to produce the world’s first online orchestra, the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. (Ginger’s daughter and several friends are excellent musicians by the way.) If you or anyone you know is a musician you think would like to be a part of this worldwide effort, you’ll want to check out the video below or pass the word along. I’d audition myself but I’m out of practice on my rusty old harmonica, which is about as popular now as the old accordian I have stored downstairs anyhow. 

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