What do you get when you bring together an eclectic group of MSIA singers, musicians and players of all ages and let them know their music can be from lust to love of the divine and it’s all “In The Name of Love?” Boy, were we all ready to find out!
Kevin McMillan, our MC for the evening welcomed everyone to Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens, the headquarters of MSIA. He shared that this was the second in a series of concerts, each one in different musical styles. The concert was broadcast over the Internet around the world. Kevin explained the theme of the concert in this way: The first half of “In the Name of Love,” focuses on how we all come together, in personal love, romantic love, and then the second half of the concert focuses on unconditional love and love of the creator, God.
Watch the archive of the concert below:
Our first entertainer was James Hassett on guitar and singing, “‘Till There Was You,” written by Meredith Wilson for “The Music Man”, and later recorded by the Beatles and performed on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. James dedicated the song to J-R, who taught him to see beauty in what is present. James sang and played with sweetness and delight in his expression. Appropriately, it set the tone for the first half of the evening: “There were bells on the hill, but I never heard them ringing, no, I never heard them at all, ’till there was you…There was love, all around, but I never heard it singing, no, I never heard it at all, ’till there was you.”
Next, Ania Sara, accompanied by Merrill Collins on piano, sang, “My Funny Valentine.” This well known Rogers and Hart jazz love ballad composed in 1937 was made famous by both Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis. As Ania opened her mouth to sing, a hush entered the room, and we were treated to the intimacy of backroom super clubs of decades past. Her velvety smooth voice wrapped us in the essence of Mother-God. Sweet!
Our third performer, was Severin Browne, Melinda Browne’s husband. Severin has over 40 years of performing experience, he played guitar and sang to us, “When It’s Right, It’s Right!” He shared he and Melinda got together and then got married within a couple of months! And of course, when it’s right, it’s right! and that’s when he wrote the song. What a sweet down to earth love song it was, straight to the heart! I hope we hear more of his music in the future.
Pretty Clara Beatrice Jaramillo also played guitar and sang a romantic love song, and explained that when she found the love inside, she called off the search. And, then she sang, “Call Off the Search.” This was the modern love song of the evening, and was first released by UK singer, Katie Melua in 2003. Clara sang in a very bluesy fashion, very mellow until the bridge, when she started whistling! Soon, she came back to the refrain singing, “Now that I’ve found you, I’ve called off the search.”
Newcomer, Carlos Saenz came to the piano to play his, “A Lust For Love.” He introduced it as an unfinished love song he’s played for many years; and every time, he plays it differently. For quite some time, he played only left handed, keeping the rhythmic energy going and adding a bit of harmony. Finally he broke into a driving movement with both hands creating melodies as the music moved swiftly. It was a like a gathering storm of emotional notes moving across the sky of the foyer … and his right hand adding in sudden lightening strokes to this rippling music. Carlos played the piano with the most intense passion of tonight’s “In the Name of Love” concert.
Next was our lovely Cheri Stark, as the little Mermaid, tells the moon, she is still loving her prince. Accompanying Cheri on piano is Ron Beimel. Cheri sings “Rusalka’s Song to the Moon,” by Antonin Dvorak.” The theme of this romantic opera evoking a mystical forest stillness is illuminated by the moon. Cheri’s voice expresses the joy and wonderment, and then the pathos when the moon is clouded over. The words are: “Silver moon upon the deep dark sky; through the vast night pierce your rays. This sleeping world you pass by, smiling on men’s homes and ways. Oh moon ere past you glide, tell me, tell me, oh where does my loved one abide?”
Our last performer before intermission is Alethea Lamb on clarinet, with Merrill Collins on piano. Alethea looks so angelic, sweet and peaceful. Suddenly Merrill clicks her fingers 3 times, and Alethea breaks into jazzy swing music playing, “Don’t Be That Way.” This is the famous Benny Goodman tune! Goodman, a clarinetist opened his concert debut at Carnegie Hall in 1938 with this song. Known as the King of Swing, his concert continues to be the most significant in all jazz history. Alethea’s jazzy jiving clarinet music just pierced the angelic look and we saw her become our Queen of Swing ….. and looking down, seeing those hip boots on her feet, it was obvious this was one hip chick! What an upbeat, jazzy tempo to end the exciting first half of the concert!
After intermission, Kevin welcomed us all back to the second half, for the sacred side of Love songs and music, starting with Merrill Collins solo at the piano. Merrill shared when she was single, she was bumbling around in unconditional loving, romantic love, and she was very sensitive. So she created this song, “Unconditional Lover.” She too, started off playing with just her left hand playing wind chimes, as her right hand played melodies of piano chords, and the unconditional and unconventional sounds of piano and wind chimes came together, playing with both hands. The music was gentle, rippling effects flowing harmoniously, all as if touched by the wind blowing, the wind of Spirit through the music filling the air, throughout the foyer and up the grand staircase. Unconditional loving is natural, is flowing, and the chording creating healing music to our listening hearts. Gently chording up the octaves and playing the wind chimes, isn’t this the essence of Unconditional Love? To just bring surprise and de Light! Soothing, healing, to the highest note at the end, and we listened to the silencing of the last wind chime.
Susan Frye stood at the microphone and sang a song, “Let Me Be Your Handmaiden,” with Estelle Day accompanying on harp, This is a song of prayer Susan composed years ago. Her music sounded middle-Eastern Israeli in tones and style, and then like a chant song from Medieval times, back to the of ancient times of Sabbath songs sung by the female Apostles as they drew close to the Lord. Her musical voice, straight from the heart, filled with Spirit.
Estelle Day played a medley of 3 songs on harp, starting with the Intermezzo from the Opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni. This opera set on an Easter Sunday, was first performed May, 1890 in Rome, Italy. As you listen, to the soft sweet tones, you recognize instantly the musical background to J-R’s recording of, “Our Song of Love.” Flowing right into the second song, a modern hymn, “A New Commandment”, the words are: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you, by this all men shall know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The words of Jesus the Christ, from Gospel of John 13:34-35. Estelle plays sweetly, flowing, as the harp gently takes us further within. She plays the last song in this medley, “The Rose.” First sung by Janis Joplin, and then Bette Midler, the music still echoes the promise of Love in the last verse: “Just remember, in the winter far below the bitter snow, lies the seed that with the Sun’s Love in the spring becomes the rose.”
Performing a solo, Ron Beimel is back at the piano playing, “Beethoven’s Appassionata, Sonata 2nd movement.” Written in 1804-1805, the Appassionata was considered by Ludwig Von Beethoven to be his most tempestuous piano sonata.” As I listen to Ron, I remembered the after midnight playing he’d do at Prana, and now how he has become a master of 88 keys. The strength of Spirit energies filled the foyer, bringing the Traveler’s energy of Beethoven present. His brilliance playing the triplets and chords lifted us, and it was as if Ron had four hands instead of only two playing over the octaves.
Alethea Lamb is up once again, with Merrill Collins accompanying on piano. Alethea is playing Clarinet Concerto to 2nd movement by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and do you recognize it? It was used in the “Out of Africa movie.” Alethea has such a wide range playing on clarinet from deep base to high octave range, as she trills, and this Concerto sounded almost modern today. Over and over the melody is like a bajan in it’s simplicity and I can almost find myself chanting to this. What a wonderful way to come to the ending of the concert with the music of two Mystical Travelers through the Ages!
And surprise, the last song composed by Merrill Collins as she once again solos at the piano and wind chimes playing, “My Love Will Never Fail”. The piano music and wind chimes seem to chase each other flying and flowing like the wind scurrying over the earth, as it is blowing through the trees, and then tenderly touching down, leaving air kisses on the face of flowers. The brilliance, brightness of this flowing music radiates the warmth of Loving in the room, just as the Sun shines upon us all. This is heart music, it is flowing in the Spirit touching and blessing us all. The sparkling sounds of the piano, the bells, the chimes, the sound currents of Love.
All, in the Name of Love.
Marjorie Eaton, eNDH Reporter
If you have trouble viewing the slideshow below, click here to view the photos on Flickr
A brief Bio of all our performers:
James Hassett – has been playing music all his life. Guitar, drums, bass, recorder and piano, creating radio commercials, CD’s, etc.
Ania Sara has been singing all her life in church choirs, and is a member of “Showcase Du Jour”, a performance workshop.
Severin Browne – singer-songwriter, guitarist has 40 years of performing and recording many albums. An artist signed with Motown Records, he’s released many albums through the years. He teaches guitar and songwriting at Old Town Music in Pasadena.
Clara Beatriz Jaramillo – soprano singer, writer and actress has performed at The House of Blues, The Metropolitan in Antioquia, and has studied with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Clara received her Masters in Voice Performance at the American Conservatory in Chicago. She is a coach, inspiring people through music and dance.
Carlos Saenz – classically trained on piano in childhood, has played piano for 24 years, and he is now playing more new age music.
Ronald Beimel – another musician all his life has studied piano, voice, violin, and recorder, and graduated from Brown University with a degree in Music Theory & Composition. Though he played piano tonight, we’ve heard him sing opera at Conference.
Cheri Stark – soprano singer has performed with the USC Opera, the Intimate Opera Company, Repertory Opera and currently with the Long Beach Opera in the “Diary of Ann Frank.” Cheri received her Bachelor of Music degree from USC’s Thornton School of Music.
Alethea Lamb – clarinet, has studied East Indian music, inspirational music, classical, jazz, pop, rock and soul music. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music at Huddersfield university in England and her Master’s degree in Music Composition at Southampton University.
Merrill Collins – piano has been playing since age 4. She received her Master’s of Music Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She’s composed many albums, and heads up the “Spiraling Music Company”.
Susan Frye – soprano and composer has a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin College. She sings classical music, and as a composer has produced original albums, and sings in the Choir Arete.
Estelle Day – a church organist, pianist, music teacher, and therapeutic harp practitioner, plays harp with the Heartreach Union of Prayer Communion & Circle of Light, and plays bedside for patients at the UCLA/Santa Monica Hospital. Estelle earned her Bachelor of Music from Oberlin and her Master of Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.