Friday, July 22, 2011

A Hand Up Not a Handout

Below I included an excerpt from an excellent article.  These are ideas that are truly revolutionary and transformational. Our mission has been involved in this kind of ministry since our beginnings in Manila, PI.  It takes time and patience, but such approaches really do make a difference in the lives of individuals who are trapped in poverty and its accompanying despair.  :

Why Enterprise and Business Are Changing Our Approach to Poverty Alleviation


Poverty: the Church's Role

By Robby Butler
The Church has a strategic role in overcoming internal and external factors in poverty. This outline is representative rather than exhaustive:
  • Internal Influences must be defeated through relational biblical discipleship:
  • Fatalism: Poverty is our destiny.
  • Hopelessness: Effort will prove unfruitful.
  • Laziness: Change is too much work.
  • Lies: God hates me and wants me to suffer.
  • Identity: I am a victim, inferior to others.
  • Addiction: I must numb my pain.
  • Limited Good: If you or I benefit, the other must lose.
  • Individual Circumstances may need such practical assistance such as micro-enterprise mediated through accountable relationships:
  • Subsistence: Where water acquisition consumes a family's time and energy, improved access to clean water allows pursuit of better employment.
  • Bonded servitude: High interest on even a small debt enslaves many, and micro-finance loans can create freedom to seek other employment.
  • Lack of skills: Training can empower a more profitable contribution to the community.
  • Lack of capital: Micro-finance loans enable entrepreneurs to increase the supply of existing products or services (subject to local market saturation or global competition).
  • Societal Environment, best improved through local and international advocacy:
  • Corruption: The best long-term remedy is widespread Biblical discipleship.
  • Lack of Infrastructure: Advocacy can encourage governments, charities and businesses to collaborate in developing infrastructure to facilitate commercial enterprise.
  • Lack of Basic Goods, Services and Employment: The Church can encourage and assist the development of healthy, enterprises which provide employment and discipleship while serving the community.
God didn't simply address our poverty by giving us instructions and resources. Christ emptied Himself and dwelt among us. The most effective approaches to breaking the poverty cycle include incarnational ministry which develops collaborative relationships to hear, serve, learn from and influence the poor, through biblical discipleship, practical assistance, business development and advocacy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for Oboe Solo

 Another oboe piece that I am seeking to resurrect from my musical past is the Six Metamorphoses after Ovid.  This set of 6 songs for the oboe are delightful to listen to and to play.  I never performed the complete work, but I did play two of the 6 as audition pieces for a scholarship once. I got the scholarship. That was awhile ago.  They are not really technically all that difficult, but the devil is definitely in the details on this one.  There is no other instrument to help the poor oboist, either.  One is completely exposed, and every little imperfection is magnified. One nice thing, though, is that the player can take all the time they need to get a good breath between phrases because of the liberal use of both fermatas and breath marks.  Evidently Britten loved oboists.

These are a lot of fun to play.  This work fits into  the genre of programme music. That is, the composer attempts to tell a story through the music.

I had to take about a week break from the oboe because of a very unexpected emergency surgery.  Not fun, but not all that bad either.  I'm working on I. PAN for now.  Here is a performance of that piece by British oboist, Nicholas Daniel. Does it sound like the god, Pan, playing on his pipe, which was really his beloved Syinx?  Not sure, but it is a nice song well played by an excellent musician.

The background information for this post was taken from Wikkipedia.  It is the easiest and most concise reference online, though it has not established itself as a completely reliable source.  It is still very handy, especially since my intention is not to become an authority on the life and works of Benjamin Britten.

I sang parts of two seasons in the Bremerton Choral, and we did 2 of Brtten's pieces during that time.: A Ceremony of Carols and Rejoice in the Lamb. So, these three pieces are pretty much the extent of my direct musical  experience with Briten's works.

The Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for Oboe Solo was composed by Benjamin Britten. It is his Opus 49 and was written in 1951 for Joy Boughton.  She was the daughter of a friend and fellow composer, Rutland Broughton.

Britten was a 20th century British composer, conductor, and pianist.  He is best known as a composer of opera, but he also wrote some instrumental works.
This work for oboe was first performed at the Aldeburgh Festival on 14 June 1951.

The six pieces are titled.:

 Pan, who played upon the reed pipe which was Syrinx, his beloved
 Phaeton, who rode upon the chariot of the sun for one day and was hurled into the river Padus by a thunderbolt. 
 Niobe, who, lamenting the death of her fourteen children, was turned into a mountain. 
Bacchus, at whose feasts is heard the noise of gaggling women's tattling tongues and shouting out of boys. 
Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image and became a flower. 
Arethusa, who, flying from the love of Alpheus the river god, was turned into a fountain. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Both Wikkipedia and You Tube enrich my life!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hindemith Sonata for Oboe and Piano

Way back when I was in high school, shortly after the earth cooled, my oboe teacher had me working on the Hindemith Sonata for oboe and piano.  He liked 20th Century music quite a bit, and always had his oboe students working on unusual pieces.  I never performed it.  My interests lay more in the music of composers like Mozart, Bach, and Cimarosa. I did perform some of their works.  It was a lot more fun to spend hours working on the Mozart Oboe Quartet than  atonal music.

That was many years ago, and after many moves from one place to another, one country to another, and back again I began to try to recover some of my musical past that got left or lost along the way.  The Hindemith Sonata is one of those pieces.

Hindemith lived 16 November 1895 – 28 December 1963 and was a German composer, conductor, violinist, violist, teacher, and music theorist.  He had a complicated relationship with the Nazis, sometimes in favor and other times not - as is true with all artists living under the despotic, socialistic systems of the 20th century.  He finally emigrated to Switzerland, and then the US in 1940. His wife was Jewish, so that  was definitely a good move.  In the mid-30s, he spent some time in  Turkey helping them to develop their music education program. 

In 1946 he became a US citizen, and then in 1953 moved back to Germany, living there until his death. All of the bio info is from Wikkipedia.  Click on the word "Wikkipedia" to see the article about Hindemith.

The Sonata for Oboe and Piano - or  Sonate Für Oboe Und Klavier - was written in 1938.  Hindemith wrote sonatas for many, if not all of the instruments of the orchestra. It is an atonal.   Here is the Wikkipedia definition of that kind of composition. 

"Atonality in its broadest sense describes music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale function independently of one another (Kennedy 1994)."
- Wikkipedia

I suppose that it is a kind of egalitarian approach to music theory and harmony. 

Here is a note from the Music Minus One, Oboe Classics - for the Intermediate Player compiled and edited by Elaine Douvas.  She includes I. Munter (Lively) in her book.  

"Hindemith's style is 'neo-classical' and 'contrapuntal.'  That means he wrote complimentary, architecturally constructed, independent lines similar to Bach.  Clarity and line are essential to bring out the counterpoint."

She suggests that many oboe students try to play this piece too heavy.  It is actually light, lyrical, sparkling, and dancing - her words.  I think that she is on the right track.  Many musicians make the same kinds of errors of interpretation with Bach and other Baroque composers, playing their pieces too heavy and serious.  

Personally, I do not think that Bach and Hindemith are in the same category of genius, but I suppose that he believed himself to be using ideas borrowed from Bach, but brought into the 20th century.   

The piece has 2 movements.  The second movement begins with a very slow passage.  The first two phrases are supposed to be played on one breath each.  I am focusing on these two phrases for now.  This is for personal reasons. For one thing, I think it is the prettiest part of the whole sonata.  Then, it is a challenge for me because of the breathing difficulties I have because of asthma.  It is good for me to make myself play these phrases as they should be done - no cheating.  

The first phrase consists in 28 beats at  ♪=54.  Kinda' slow, but I can do it.  It begins p and grows over the first 3 measures to mƒ, then decrescendo back to p.  I love my Fox 300 oboe which is an asthmatic's dream. :-)  Anyway, I'm having fun with this. 

The 2nd phrase is similar to the first, but enough different to not make it redundant. It begins pp, grows over 21 beats to f and then back to p in 11 beats.  So, 32 beats at 54.  I'm having a harder time making that one on one breath consistently, so we'll see.  

Then there are 4 beats rest followed by a 22 beat phrase.  The last 6 measures of the first part of movement II are made up of 4 short phrases broken up by rests.  Hindemith did have some mercy on this poor oboe player.  The marking of the movement is "Sehrlangsam"  which must mean something like "slow as sorghum molasses, making the oboist languish."  

Here is a recording of Movement II.  The guy cheated and breathed in the middle of the phrase!  ...or maybe my teacher was too demanding...just because Roger Cole could do it...I think that the oboist in this recording captures the light, lyrical, sparkling, dancing nature of the piece. I don't think that the brain fishing drawing complements the piece all that well, though.

I just checked this post out, and see that the brain fishing version of this sonata is no longer on You Tube.  Too bad. I liked it.  :-(  

This version by a frenchman is quite nice, I think.  Lovely, even.  He really does capture the light, lyrical nature of this piece, I think.