Monthly Archives: October 2011

“I’m worried about you,” I said. “Tell me what I can do to help.”

“You want to help me change my life?” Mom asked. “I’m fine. You’re the one who needs help. Your values are all confused.” – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

On Wednesday, Strings Music Festival will present a one-hour theatrical adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle. This performance strays from our typical music concert and I thought it appropriate to address one of the themes of the book. If you haven’t read it, perhaps my editorial below will entice you to read the book, attend the performance, or both.

Poverty continues to exist in America and countless organizations across the nation are devoted to providing food, shelter, and clothing to the poor. But before we try to solve the poverty problem, first we must look at why it exists. Some say there aren’t enough jobs or that wages are too low. Others say the government’s definition of poverty is inaccurate. The list goes on, but most agree that external factors, such as unemployment rates and welfare, may contribute to some of the poverty problem. However, we also must take into consideration the internal factors, individual psychological make-up, that may lead to poverty.

In Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, she tells her own story of growing up in poverty. Yet, none of the typical assumptions seem to apply to her. Her parents both had jobs, and chose to leave them. Her mother owned a house and land where they could live at no cost. Her mother also inherited some land that may have been worth as much as one million dollars. So why did the Walls never have enough food to eat or adequate shoes on their feet?

Internal factors may explain some of the reasons. Jeannette’s parents, Rex and Rose Mary, ultimately quit their jobs because they had bigger dreams. Her mother wanted to be an artist and so quit teaching so she could focus on painting. Her father wanted to be an entrepreneur, so he quit working for the mines to design new inventions for gold mining. But her mother never became a famous artist and her father never did build the glass castle.

Rex and Rose Mary Walls needed some guidance to make their dreams come true. With some instruction, Rex could have moved from the design phase to the implementation phase. Perhaps he really could have struck it rich with some help on how to turn an idea into reality. Rose Mary could have used some advice on owning a house or perhaps being a landlord. Once the family moved from their house, she could have rented it to have a stable source of income each month. She could provide for her family and have free time to work on her art. But Rex and Rose Mary Walls chose not to seek help, or heed advice, and instead opted to live in the moment, ultimately leading to a life in poverty.

While individual psychological make-up can lead a person to poverty, it can also let her escape. In her memoir, Jeannette illustrates this point once she is old enough to have some freedom from her parents to make her own decisions. She works many jobs and saves all her money. She takes her schooling seriously and seeks out mentors who help her dreams to come true. She puts together a plan, follows through, and ends up with food on the table and a bed to sleep in every night.

Jeannette sums up the pull between external and internal factors near the end of the book:

One day Professor Fuchs asked if homelessness was the result of drug abuse and misguided entitlement programs, as the conservatives claimed, or did it occur, as the liberals argued, because of cuts in social-service programs and failure to create economic opportunity for the poor? Professor Fuchs called on me.
I hesitated. “Sometimes, I think, it’s neither.”
“Can you explain yourself?”
“I think that maybe sometimes people get the lives they want.”
“Are you saying homeless people want to live on the street?” Professor Fuchs asked. “Are you saying they don’t want warm beds and roofs over their heads?”
“Not exactly,” I said. I was fumbling for words. “They do. But if some of them were willing to work hard and make compromises, they might not have ideal lives, but they could make ends meet” (pg. 256-257).

Jeannette Walls

Poverty is not the only theme of The Glass Castle. The book also touches on other topics, including child abuse, sexual harassment, and alcoholism, all of which form a starting place for discussion. If you haven’t read the book, the one-hour theatrical verbatim performance, will give you all you need to know about the story. Afterwards you will be able to participate in a full discussion on the themes.

Glass Castle Events:

November 1, 6:30pm Library Hall: Interactive drama-in-education discussion of The Glass Castle with seasoned theatre professionals from The American Place Theatre.

Free – RSVP to jlay@steamboatlibrary.org

November 2, 6:30pm Strings Music Pavilion:  A 90-minute with pre and post show discussions. 

$15 for adults; $10 for teens – buy tickets online at stringsmusicfestival.com, by calling (970) 879-5056 x 105, or by visiting the Strings Music Festival Office or the Bud Werner Library front desk.

November 3, Soroco High School: An Outreach performance with students who have studied The Glass Castle will include workshops with actress Sarah Franek and education specialists from The American Place Theatre.

Posted on October 31, 2011
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“My fondest Strings memory is the llama kids concert with a llama on stage. And the front page of the Steamboat Today with a picture of the orchestra and our current music director with the llama.” Mary Ann Duffey – Strings Music Festival Board of Directors

Can you guess which Strings affiliate appeared with the llama in this picture?
Hint: the photo was taken in 1996. Post your answer below!

Posted on October 28, 2011
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Many argue that Americans place more emphasis on professional sports than on professional music. Athletes make millions of dollars a year, while musicians are lucky to make a hundred thousand. Sports arenas constantly get makeovers, while theatres and performance halls look the same as they did when they were first built. Yet professional athletes might not be as good as they are today without the help of classical music.

Since the 1970’s when professional football player Lynn Swann first announced that he took ballet lessons to help improve his agility on the playing field, ballet has become a staple of American football. And professional football players aren’t the only ones to dance. NBA player Clyde Austin Drexler, Olympic Track and Field Star Maurice Green, and professional snowboarder Louis Vito all have history with dance. Even here, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has started a dance program to help with pre-season training. Not to mention the hit television series, Dancing with the Stars, that puts pro athletes up on stage with pro dancers.

So what are the benefits for athletes taking dance lessons?

On the physical side, dance lessons improve balance, flexibility, agility, stamina, and strength. Peak Performance relates in great detail many of the benefits football players specifically can gain from dancing. Cross-training is an important part of any sport: soccer players lift weights, marathoners swim laps, and athletes of all sports run to improve cardiovascular ability and endurance. Dance is just another sport in the cross-training line up.

But dance is different than other cross training options, because dance is not just a sport, but it is also an art. With dance, there is music. Specifically, traditional ballet pairs with classical music, both for warm-up barre routines and elaborate ballet corps performances.

While athletes are training for their next game they are also gaining appreciation for classical music. In the dance studio they learn about tempo, rhythm, dynamics, and phrasing, just as a classical music student learns in a music class. Athletes may even recognize some of pieces if they flip to a classical music radio station. Classical music becomes familiar and recognizable.

By taking a deeper look, we see that classical music has not really disappeared, but has just changed. Today our society gathers at the playing field rather than at the opera house. But there is still music on the field. The athletes themselves move to the music, the team works together like a synchronized ballet corps, and then fans sing along to their favorite fight songs.

Posted on October 25, 2011
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Quirky musicians are as much a part of Strings Music Festival as the music that they play.

We try to prepare for everyone’s needs with our abundance of supplies backstage. We have bobby pins, lint rollers, band-aids, make-up, and anything else you could think of to help beautify before a concert. We also know that mysterious holes develop in bags and socks, jackets, and ties disappear, so we’ve got extras of those too. For our musicians who forget to eat before they come, we’ve also got chocolate, nuts, trail mix, mints, and other snacks. But sometimes we just can’t guess what our artists will want.

Pam Geppert’s favorite Strings Memory is when the Avett Brothers requested peanut butter, jelly, and milk for their backstage food. I guess Moms know what’s up when they send their kids off to school with the PB&J lunch. If it’s good enough for the Avett Brothers, it’s good enough for you!

What else do you remember about our musicians? Post it here on our blog or email it to cristin@stringsmusicfestival.com.

Posted on October 21, 2011
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“For the first season of Strings in the Mountains, we planned a series of eight concerts to run throughout July 1988; four short Wednesday concerts on the deck of the Steamboat Athletic Club and four regular length chamber music concerts on Saturday nights in the conference room of the Athletic Club. We hoped for a total of 200 people to attend all eight concerts. An hour before the first concert was to begin on Wednesday evening, hoping that someone would attend, we walked out the front doors and were startled by a what seemed to be an endless line of people waiting to get in. In a panic we quickly scavenged the entire building, grabbing every chair or stool in every room to accommodate all the enthusiastic people who had come to experience the first concert of Strings in the Mountains! When we ran out of seating on the deck, we expanded into the conference room and restaurant and even removed windows to let the audience seated inside hear the music. The weather was spectacular, the concert was wonderful and Strings was launched.” Betse Grassby – Strings Music Festival Operations and Programming Director

Who knew that this first concert 25 years ago would evolve into a staple of summertime in Steamboat Springs. To celebrate Strings Music Festival’s 25th birthday, we’re going to bring you fun facts and memories of Strings every Friday. Have a memory you’d like to share? Post it here on our blog or email it to cristin@stringsmusicfestival.com.

Posted on October 14, 2011
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Numerous Guinness World Records and Hall of Fame inductions, 26 American Music Awards, 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles and now a number one cell phone application. More than two years after his death, Michael Jackson is still in the limelight, but this time for more than one million downloads of “The Michael Jackson Doctor Trial App.” Even with no new music, The King of Pop still hits the top of the charts.

With the help of the new phone app, the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray has dominated internet news, and blogs are brimming with discussion over what really happened on June 25, 2009. Only 18 days before he was set to launch the This Is It Tour, Michael Jackson was pronounced dead due to an overdose of propofol, a sleep aid drug. With a tour that would go down as “The biggest audience ever to see an artist in one city,” “The most amount of people to attend a series of arena shows,” and “The fastest ticket sales in history” looming, it’s no surprise that Jackson was nervous. Millions of fans anxiously awaiting the return of a pop star, who had supposedly hung up his touring career more than ten years ago, would undeniably cause sleepless nights. Everyone seems to have an individual theory on the death, including one woman who insists that Jackson is still alive, according to Huff Post blogger Tanya Young Williams. Certainly with theories like that the court has a difficult task in finding who’s to blame for the overdose.

Yet how ironic that a tour titled This Is It really was it for Michael Jackson. With apparent health issues long before he decided to go on tour, the grueling schedule of a concert nearly every day for six months could have led to doubts if he really had it in him. Perhaps the title was meant to tell the world that this tour really would be the last, similar to Michael Jordan’s third retirement speech. Or maybe he knew that merely launching the tour would be the last thing he ever did for his music career.

But it’s not all depressing in the world of Michael Jackson. Coinciding with the Murray Trial is the opening of a new Cirque du Soleil show, Michael Jackson – The Immortal World Tour. Other famous musicians including the Beatles and Elvis have already been commemorated with a Cirque du Soleil show, so it’s logical that Michael Jackson be immortalized along with the rest of the music pioneers of our time. During the show, Jackson’s music morphs into more than just the hits we remember today. Moonwalking above the stage, actors dressed like the Jackson 5, life size bats flying to “Thriller” create a new life for his number one hits.

In the end, the This Is It Tour was never really “it” for Michael Jackson. Long after the trial verdict is made, all the new photos and videos have been streamed on the internet and Cirque du Soleil moves on to a new commemorative show, the Michael Jackson’s music will still play on the radio, be performed in local bars and fill homes around the world.

Posted on October 12, 2011
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