Sunday, October 21, 2012

Follow Your Heart, Follow Your Head...That is Success

Concordian Dawn - Christopher Preston Thompson, Brian Mummert, & Nicholas Tamagna
(photograph by Joshua South)
I remember how I felt when I heard Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane's album for the first time. At a bar with friends, I had to sit back and let the tracks wash over me. I went to the jukebox and programmed it to play the entire album. Twice. To this day, that album is one of my favorites and my foundation of what I call experiential music.

I recently spoke with Christopher Preston Thompson, co-founder of Concordian Dawn, an ensemble of three musicians who present Medieval and early Renaissance music. These men perform acoustically and each is a singer and instrumentalist. Before you think that early music is not your cup of tea, in Christopher's words, this power trio is "a Medieval boy band." Take that, One Direction. Christopher describes the early music they sing as "raw, purely and innately human, nothing fabricated." 

Earlier this year, Christopher, a tenor and gothic harpist, joined Nicholas Tamagna (countertenor and percussion) and Brian Mummert (baritone and portative organ) to establish Concordian Dawn. The trio's premiere concert was on October 5, 2012 at NYC's Church of the Transfiguration. It was called Here: Then and Now. And that captured perfectly why this is the time for Concordian Dawn. Christopher said, "We, as human beings, haven't changed [since the Medieval era]. Things around us - technology, the way we say things - are different but in large part we're singing about the same things as people did then."

The men believe "very simply that early music has a place in the contemporary scene." How can this be, I wondered, centuries later. The music is "Relevant. Philosophically, Socially, Spiritually, Tonally," Christopher shared. With passion in his voice he went on, "And there are similarities and differences between the music of then and now. We highlight those because the perspective is evocative for today's listener." 

One way Nicholas, Christopher, and Brian evoke perspectives is through mixing Medieval and contemporary songs. While highlighting similarities and differences, mash-ups of Albertet de Sestaro, Gace Brulé and Alanis Morissette and Peire Vidal and Bjôrk bring to life intensity, joy, anger, hope, and so much more. Upcoming mash-ups include Lady Gaga and the Dixie Chicks. 

When an a cappella singer, I dabbled in Renaissance music and I never understood why the technique needed to be specific. Christopher explained, "Concordian Dawn applies historical performance practice and that opens up a whole new soundscape." Soundscape is ideas, culture, and music in a variety of combinations. The performance precision makes for truer messages.

As I'm committed to being yourself to make our world better, I asked Christopher why Concordian Dawn is a trio and not a solo act. The group is "good friends and good colleagues who work well and sing well. And [they] trust each other." Add true musical talent to those and their connection and commitment are clear to the audience. Check out this terrific combination of classic and new. You can hear some of their work here

Like always, support up and coming musicians and artists. Today's talents can be tomorrow's spotlit Grammy winners with our encouragement and love.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Make the World Being Yourself

Modesto Flores Community Garden, NYC, 10/06/12
(photograph by Kate Harvie)

Top of the fourth quarter 2012. Lots of intense things going on around the globe. Some we can do things about and some we cannot. That's challenging for everyone be they problem solvers, solution providers, caring witnesses, those caught in the experience, and anyone observing.

And to make your life - and the lives of those around you (which will have a ripple effect on communities, villages, and populations) - happier and more livable, apply what's below here. While I do not stand as an expert on anything related to this, I know what I know. 

Being who you are with ease and honor is underscored by these four things:

1) Ask for what you need.
This includes everything from needing Lactaid for your coffee because you're lactose intolerant to asking people to call you when they get home because you care. Matters not why you need it. You need it. And you are better off by seeking this instead of suffering in silence. People are not psychic (at least none that I know) and they would rather do their part to get you healthy, happy, and true. Trust that. Believe it.

2) For work, do what you want. Rather, be who you want.
Check this: you majored in something as an undergrad. You went to grad school for something else. You joined a family owned business. You worked in an industry for a decade. And you want nothing to do with any of those things. News: you will provide more, make a difference, contribute greater, stand as a stronger role model, and be happier when you have a job that you love. There is no absolutely no shame in this. Speaking as someone who has been on this path (and continues on it) the world needs you to be God honest about this. Costs very little and everyone (globally) benefits, especially you.

3) Be inspired by those you admire. Without apology.
Each of us is encouraged, motivated, and brightened by different people. And that's how things should be. Just as the best burger you've ever eaten can be from a local dive (Swenson's in case you were wondering) and not from an establishment known for its decor and luxury pricing, we find our spark from anyone. And that's beautiful. It keeps our world interesting.

Personally, my light shines brighter thanks to Daniel Milnor, Chris Guillebeau, Robin Thicke, Andrew Byrne, Danielle LaPorte, Scott Stratten, Mastin Kipp, and Iyanla Vanzant to name a few.

I don't know where I would be without Mikala, Josh, Lisa, Hanif, Dave, Corinne, Laura, and more friends who'd lay on train tracks for me as I would for them. Whoever the people and wherever the places are for you, be glad to know them. Share the inspirations they provide you with others.

4) Express love. Without holding back.
Beyond the people you love who love you, sharing your appreciation with those who make your life better is an everyday...hmm...not an everyday task and not an obligation. It's an everyday joyful responsibility. The person who makes an impeccable martini at your local bar. The person who holds the door for you. The person who let you know that you had spinach in your front teeth at the restaurant where you were on a date with someone so your big smiles looked like they were made with green Chiclets (ask me about this). 

Look someone in the eyes. Smile. Say "thank you," "you're awesome," "I love you," something clever and grateful and meaningful. Easy to do, costs nothing, everyone benefits.

On this and on these, please comment, share, and remind yourself every day and twice on Sunday that the world is ours to make great. And we can do that by being ourselves.