Michael Ryan & Friends
“Songs from the Heart”
Concert & Reception
julian johnson, ken söderlund, hai muradian
michael ryan, martie echito, danny oberbeck, dylan oberbeck
Dedicated to the House of Ruth
Assistance for women, children and families with limited resources and
great need to heal from traumatic abuse.
Saturday, June 7th at 7:30 pm
University of La Verne, Morgan Auditorium
1950 3rd St., La Verne
$25 (concert only)
$50 (concert & reception)
Call House of Ruth at (909) 623-4364, Ext. 6054
Purchase Your Ticket Online Now
Spring is here and we are excited to welcome the warm weather and all the fun that comes along with it! Historically, Spring has been celebrated during the vernal equinox for it’s fertility and rebirth; which is why the bunny became the commercial symbol of Easter. It is the season of Spring Break from schools and the start of concert and festival season.
In Mexico, there are several celebrations surrounding the Spring Equinox. The actual day of equinox usually occurs between March 19-21, with Easter occurring on the first Sunday after the Full moon following the equinox; this year Easter falls on April 20! The children of Mexico participate in a spring parade and even dress as animals and flowers. An interesting spectacle is the casting of a shadow which appears as a snake on the steps of the Kulkulkan Temple. The shadow snake can be seen slithering for about an hour a day during the days around the equinox.
Thailand has a fun and engaging Buddhist celebration shortly after the equinox for the Thai New Year which involves a lot of water! Family, friends and strangers all gather together on a Sunday to splash each other with water in the Songkran Water Festival to cleanse each other of bad luck from the previous year.
The White House is hosting its 136th annual Easter Egg Roll on April 21, 2014. It is open to 30,000 guests and will involve several sport-related activities as well as reading and cooking stations. The theme this year is “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape” which is part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. A poster competition accepting submissions with this slogan from elementary and middle schools will result in the First Lady’s choice being displayed during the event. The Easter Egg Roll will also have collector’s eggs available with one special addition illustrated with the dogs of the White House.
There are non-religious festivals and celebrations taking place in the United States as well! The series of Carnegie Hall concerts entitled Spring for Music 2014 has a special deal now available online! The concerts begin in May and the ticket prices are discounted when one purchases tickets to all six concerts. If you are independently wealthy and have the free time to travel around the country to listen to beautiful music, you can click here to visit the site!!!
I hope that you all enjoy your Spring time celebrations!
When free-thinking individuals speak out about the injustices that they are noticing in their society, others who also see the injustices begin to band together in protest. The different ways that these protests originate vary across cultures and the string of events surrounding the highlighted issue. Song and music can be a very powerful force in supporting change. The documentary Searching for Sugar Man, describes the interesting story behind Rodriguez and how he influenced the apartheid protests of South Africa.
Apartheid, which literally means “aparthood”, had been a legally established practice of social segregation and control in South Africa by the Afrikaner National Party in 1948. The Population Registration Act of 1950 required that each resident be categorized by the color of their skin; either white, black or colored. The Act even went so far as to say that the speech and behavior of the citizen were also taken into consideration when determining their race; for example, if an individual looked white, but spoke “like a black person” that individual would not be considered white. A white person, by these standards had to come from two white parents and have the demeanor of a white person. Historically, South Africa’s oppressive state had worsened since the English invasion and colonization resulting from the Boer Wars near the end of the 19th Century. (source: http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~cale/cs201/apartheid.hist.html)
In the documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, we learn that the sounds of protest harmonized with the tunes of a man named Rodriguez. As the story goes, Sixto Rodriguez began as a young musician at local bars in Detroit, Michigan. He had recorded two albums with Sussex records at the start of the 70s, but by 1975 he was dropped from the label due to extremely poor album sales. His songs mainly involved “anti-establishment” themes which were new concepts to the South Africans who had encountered these records around that time. The CD versions of his two albums were released in Africa in early 1990. These spread like wildfire! South African fans began to question who this man, a catalyst for positive social change, was and what had become of him. Rumors spread that he had committed suicide, and in an attempt to find the answer, several fans started heavily researching and reaching out to anyone who might have had information regarding Rodriguez. When Rodriguez’ daughter, Regan, came across a website inquiring about her father, she commented on the page. The story began to unfold as the real Rodriguez came to light. He played a tour in South Africa of six concerts in 1998! The empowering messages for the troubled and poor inner city residents had been heard and internalized by the oppressed South Africans. Days of conforming were passing as protests were arising and tolerance for segregation was diminishing. (source: http://www.rodriguez-music.com/about/)
Rodriguez’ albums which started it all can be seen below:
About a year ago, The Rolling Stone wrote a piece about Rodriguez which gives us a little more insight into his life after the documentary. Rodriguez is still a simple man with a genuinely caring disposition. I recommend that you take the time to view this documentary. It is amazing how the voice of one man in Detroit can help to empower the actions of many oppressed people in South Africa. You can visit his website to learn more about this influential man.
We live in an ever changing world where societal issues arise and are dismantled quite frequently. The heads of government and policy makers hold most of the power and blame when we are determining the status quo for our society. The real voice of the people, however, resides with the people themselves. Individuals and groups alike will use painted signs at protests, give speeches at various gatherings or even post an updated status on an activist Facebook page in order to unite people in a way that will incite change and reform on culturally acceptable injustices. Conflicts of interest occur all over the world, and yes, even in our beautiful land of America.
When individuals feel oppressed or their rights are diminished, there is a natural tendency to want to speak out against the injustice to whomever is willing to listen. There is also a natural urge to retaliate against those who have imposed upon them. In this day and age it is so easy to learn about world issues by simply conducting a Google search and scrolling through the results. We can instantly be connected to the story of another person who is struggling to live a healthy and happy life in a different country, state or continent. This ability to communicate personal history and trials across cultures and generations has developed into a tool of empowerment which can provide outsiders with a perspective on serious dilemmas and inspire those who are in a position to help… to actually help!
The face of protest has many different looks. Billie Holiday brought awareness to the lynchings of African Americans which were taking place in the South during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The lyrics of “Strange Fruit” illustrated the lynching trees but sadly, this terrible practice did not end until nearly three decades after the debut of this somber tune. The famous classical piece by Dmitri Shostakavich, Piano Trio No. 2, was composed near the close of World War II to protest the actions of the Nazi regime against the Jewish population. Since the piece was obviously a protest to the current actions of government, it was banned until after the passing of Stalin.
In our present day crises, we can see that individuals are taking a similar approach to stop violence from escalating in the Ukraine. This photo from PolicyMic.com shows a Ukranian man, name unknown, playing Chopin and other folk songs before a squad of riot police. This beautiful approach to protest took place in December merely one day before the fall of Vladimir Lenin’s statue in Kiev.
Piano protests have spread across the Ukraine over the past couple of months, with several pianos painted blue and yellow to resemble the colors of the Ukrainian flag. An article from PBS.org includes a very important quote which states why this musical form of protest has gained so much popularity in the Ukraine.
“The piano has become the symbol of the revolution, of peaceful resistance,” Markiyan Matsekh, an activist who initiated the musical campaign, told the AFP. “There are different opinions in our country and we must unite around sure-fire values such as art.”
It is extremely important to honor the gift of life which is bestowed upon each of us and to appreciate and care for others around us who have also been given this incredible gift. We are a global community even more now than we ever were before. Individuals, who are by no means famous, have the ability and the privilege to speak to millions or even billions of other individuals through use of several digital platforms. With this type of connectivity at our fingertips, it is easier for us to understand the plight of our peers in different countries and social situations and help one another to achieve happiness.
To learn more about how artists use music to promote awareness and protest, click here to take a look at Sound Junction’s website.