A Fateful Day in 1963; and in 2011

“One Red Rose” recalls a national tragedy, the day President Kennedy was assassinated, through specific impressions, filtered through 50 years of subsequent insightImage and experience. The three-movement work is for string quartet; its title derived from a detail reported by a Secret Service agent who examined the presidential limousine.

Recently, the Brentano String Quartetperformed this deeply emotional and thoughtful work by composer, Steven Mackey. The finale, “Anthem and Aria,” similarly juxtaposes collective anguish and acutely felt private grief.

I was on my way home from a chorus rehearsal, just 12 years old, and I heard the news on the radio not really knowing the true meaning of this horrifying news. I came home finding my Mother working on her stenography with the many LP’s of voices dictating letters at all speeds. When I told the news that Kennedy was shot and killed, she stopped and froze; it was the first time I ever saw my Mother weep.

I knew only then what really happened and that my message to her, blurted out by an innocent and naive child, wasn’t a news bulletin at all but more like daggers to the heart. It was only some five decades later that I saw that same profound sadness in my Mother’s eyes but amplified to deafening decibels; at my Father’s funeral.



Phil Kline continues to wow us all with Unsilent Night performances!

Unsilent Night“People who have no background in music are drawn to it just as professional musicians are. It makes the community so strong and connected to music.” Sunday, December 22, marked the 20th Anniversary of Unsilent Night.”

The brainchild of Phil Kline, who composed the music in 1992, it was intended to be played on portable cassette players, which participants shouldered as they walked through the streets of Greenwich Village.

The work, made up of sustained chords, bells and, toward the end, wordless choral singing, is recorded on four separate tracks; parade participants receive one of these to play on their devices. Some participants naturally pair up with another complimentary “track-holder” and then moves on to another.

These days, boomboxes have been replaced with iPhones and mp3 players. New York City has always been a city of music and theater. This combines those 2 in an improvisational flash mob. The Holiday Season in the Big Apple is to be experienced.

With such diversity and millions of inhabitants, the sprawling New York Campus become a Musical Village. Over 30 cities from around the world will take part in the Unsilent Night experience.

Muscial America Special Report: Use of new media and technology is transforming and expanding audiences

In Musical America Special Report for 2012, much is discussed about the year in review. What is most fascinating are the predictions from some of the big names on music; a symphony and opera CEO, a music critic, a Dean of one our most prestigious music conservatory, a record executive, a fund-raiser, and a musician. There seems to be a common theme no matter who you talk to:  the use of social media, reinventing the concert space, the use of untapped technology.

All these ingenious techniques are there to reach a larger and diversified audience; inclusion is the magic word as was so evident in the recent New Philharmonic’s Philharmonic 360 concert at the Park Avenue Armory; a surround sound experience that draws the audience into a special sensory experience.  We are only limited by our lack of imagination. Fortunately, many Orchestras are embracing the 21st Century performance experience. The use of technology is not a gimmick; it is 21st Century reality.

In this special report, there is an article by Albert Imperato &Jessica Lustig, Founding Partners, 21C Media Group. They predict that the future will bring “new online audience experiences.” They believe that “the growing role of digital technology and the online experience are already having a transformative impact. Webcasting of concerts is an encouraging trend, especially of such big events as the

Philharmonic 360 concert at the Park Avenue Armory in June. There is a massive online audience; in 18 months, 76,000 people all over the world watched a master class by a London

Symphony Orchestra contrabassoonist! We have better tools than ever for finding people interested in what we do, and for delivering the highest quality work to them.”

“Delivering the highest quality work”–to all those who have “technophobia,”we can still deliver a product of immense quality but now we can deliver it to more people. And isn’t that idea of performing, to reach the greatest number of people in an environment in which they feel comfortable and welcome. There is room for everyone around the table. Let’s keep the door open to all and let us continue to find more ways to bring even more people to our table. There will always be room. Additionally, let’s keep our ears open and listen to those who come. Listeners have some fantastic ideas as well.

Autism (ASD) and Music–Insights and Lessons for All of Us

“Emmanuela reported feeling more confident about being part of the school band. She showed pride when she received her report card with a “B” in music.  Emmanuela for the first time in her life felt part of a group. She complained about other situation when she was not accepted, even during lunch break when students still move when she comes to their table. Emmanuela feThe Kolman Familyels like she belongs to the band, and even brags about being much better than other band members.”

– Grace Y. Kolman, M.A. in Counseling; Early Intervention Graduate Assistant, University Health Center’s Substance Abuse Prevention, James Madison University

 Teaching children and adolescents with ASD to play an instrument is a matter of inclusion more than performance. The ability to recognize emotion in music is preserved in their brain, and it would not be an issue.”  – Grace Y. Kolman

School counselors need to work close with music teachers to support them and the children during the learning process. Music is an open avenue to communication due to its universal language.”  – Grace Y. Kolman

” Be aware of ethnic and cultural differences is very important. Repertoire should be sensitive to these differences.” – Grace Y. Kolman

Quotes from Emmanuela:

“It is difficult to learn how to play, but you don’t give up.” 

“Mamma and Daddy, I got a B in the band, are you proud of me?” 

“You never give up” 


Postscript to A Family Project–Music for Autism Therapy

On November 16, My wife, Grace, and I presented our findings regarding Autism and Music. This concluded a four month investigation of the effect if any clarinet lessons would have on my daughter Emmanuela, who has been diagnosed with highly functional autism, and me as her father, conductor and clarinet instructor. I kept a journal of each lesson and Emmanuel also kept a journal.

My wife presented a case for music and its regenerative powers of certain portions of the brain. “Mano” explained how difficult it was to play the clarinet but expressed her happiness of finally being accepted into a group, her school Band with a grade of a “B!” She is very proud of her accomplishments as we are.

It was difficult to hold back the tears when we talked further about Mano’s many challenges in middle school, socially (she is often a target of bullying) and scholastically with English intense subjects like history.

As a grand finale, Mano and I performed two duets from her Band book. Mano performed very well and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. This was a special experience for me as a parent and my ties with my daughter have never been stronger.

It was a family affair of collaborating with Grace, a counselor, and myself, a musician. This was Grace’s idea that was first suggested during the summer. It was a great journey that still has not ended.

Autism Spectrum: Emotional Regulation through Clarinet Lessons at 2012 VASC VCA Convention

Grace Kolman, Doctoral Student at James Madison University and Maestro Barry Kolman, currently Professor of Music, Washington & Lee University presented “Autism Spectrum: Emotional Regulation through Clarinet Lessons” at the 2012 Virginia Counselors Association Annual Convention. The annual convention was held at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center on November 15 -17, 2012. 

The presenters explored the significant emotional benefits of teaching music to adolescents with Autism. One particular case was assessed with a live clarinet performance. The instructors and students then reported  on how the experience changed their lives.