arts advocacy

A Journey to America on NPR’s FROM THE TOP

I shared this post on my other blog a couple of weeks ago, but its message is so important that I wanted to share it here, today, as well. Music can truly be like a candle lighting the darkness, whatever darkness might surround a person. This post will show how music created light in one young person’s life. Back in February of 2017, on my blog The Starborn Revue, I posted about the NPR program, From the Top, which celebrates “the power of music in the hands of America’s kids.” Kids from all over the United States — as young as 8, all the way up to those about to leave their teens — give amazing performances on many orchestral instruments, or vocally, or sometimes on other instruments, as in the performance I want to highlight today. I listen to From the Top online, at the website of Classical MPR (Minnesota Public Radio). On MPR, From the Top is heard on Sundays. Recently, one of the featured performers was a young classical guitarist, originally from Iran, named Parsa Sabet Rasekhi. The segment featuring him began with him telling his story — the story of how he came to be a guitarist, and the very moving story of how he left his home country and came to the United States. As he spoke, he softly played his guitar. After his story, he played the very beautiful “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” (Memories of the Alhambra), by Francisco Tárrega and “Danza in E Minor” by Jorge Morel. I was deeply moved by his words, and his music. I invite you to listen, as well. To do so, go to minute 31:20 in the podcast linked here. As we learn from his story, it is truly a privilege to have the freedom to study and learn and play and enjoy music and all forms of the arts. It’s a privilege we celebrate, and one we cannot take for granted.

In the Spotlight — Mary Aalgaard, On the Page and Off the Page

Some of you may remember that in 2012 I participated in the amazing blogging challenge, the A to Z Challenge,  in which bloggers post every day in April using the letters of the alphabet as their daily prompts. I made some great friends through that challenge. One of those friends is Mary Aalgaard, who is in the spotlight today. Mary is a freelance writer and reviewer. She is also a playwright who gets both kids and adults excited about creating original plays. Actually, it’s hard to know where to start when talking about Mary. Her creativity takes her in so many directions.

International Dot Day — Make your Mark!

If you’ve read either The Dot or Ish, Peter H. Reynolds’ fabulous picture books about celebrating creativity and making your own kind of art, even if you (or others) don’t consider you artistic, then you’ve already encountered the basic principle behind International Dot Day — making your mark in some artistic-ish way, and celebrating your own creativity, and the creativity of others. You can find a Perfect Picture Book review of The Dot at both Patricia Tilton’s blog and Heather Newman’s blog,  and a PPB review of Ish at Joanna Marple’s blog. In The Dot, a little girl is adamant that she cannot draw — until her teacher encourages her to try. From her first simple marker-dot on a page, and the teacher’s empowering “now sign it” which validated the girl’s artistic expression in her dot, she went on to explore more and more ways to make her mark. When teacher Terry Shay read The Dot, he decided to have his classroom celebrate their own creativity by creating their own dots — and the idea has expanded over the past nine years into International Dot Day, a worldwide celebration. This year there are over one million participants in 64 countries! Every year around September 15th (September 15th-ish, to use the terminology of Peter’s Ish book) people create dots, either simple or elaborate, whatever their imagination wants. You can see examples in the Gallery of the Dot Club. There is also a site where authors and illustrators post their dots — Celebri-dots. You’ll see all kinds of creativity there! It’s not too late to join them — check out the information at the website of The Dot Club. And for those of us who are bloggers, Patricia Tilton of the wonderful blog Children’s Books Heal suggests that we create dots and post them on our blogs — see her post here. One of the key lines in the book, The Dot, is “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” That is what we’re all encouraged to do on International Dot Day. I’ve made my dot — have you? To see mine, click “read more.”

Festival Time!

Summer theatre festival time, that is. In this final post in my mini-series about summer theatre offerings around Canada and the United States, we’re going to look at some festivals — both well known and lesser known. Some of these festivals have resident troupes of actors, as well as attracting some of the finest actors in the world — while others feature an eclectic variety of performers. Some festivals focus on theatre classics, augmented with newer plays that are well known; some give opportunities to new playwrights and avant-garde productions, while others have a particular cultural focus. There is something for everyone in the summer theatre festivals in the U.S. and Canada. For just a taste of what’s available, click the magic “read more” box…

‘Tis the Season — for Summer Theatre

You’ve spent the day at the beach, you’ve had a wonderful time, but you’re not ready yet to go back to the hotel or the campsite (or home). How about going down the street to the theatre? Although most theatre companies wind down their season in May or perhaps June, some theatres are just revving up for their main season. Some theatres are mainly, or even exclusively, summer theatres with offerings that span the summer months, often lighter fare that will delight, amuse, and send the audience out smiling. Unlike last week, when we were under the stars, or out in a sunny park, the productions we’ll be looking at today are indoors, in a variety of venues across the United States and Canada. Although my space is limited here, and I can only feature a few, perhaps there’s something similar where you are! Get your ticket ready for the summer stage experience —

Going Out(doors) to the Theatre

Slather on some sunscreen, get the insect repellant and put on a hat – we’re going to the theatre! While those may not be on your list of usual preparatory items for a night at the theatre, they’re highly appropriate for the places we’re going today, where the actors and audience are out in the open, under the sun or the stars (or perhaps a canopy) in one of the many outdoor summer theatres across the United States and Canada.

Support Your Local Theatre

A recent letter on the editorial page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune spoke of high ticket prices for touring Broadway shows. A response to that letter  (scroll down to THEATER PRICES) spoke well of the myriad opportunities to see good theatre by supporting local theatrical companies.

Susan Verde, Debut Author — Interview

I met Susan Verde last summer, on the first day of the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference, when Pat Tilton eagerly introduced us to each other as fellow Children’s Book Hub members and picture book writers. I soon learned that Susan was looking forward to the publication of her first picture book, and I have been eagerly awaiting it ever since! I’m delighted that Susan agreed to this interview about her writing, and about the events that have led to the publication of THE MUSEUM (illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds).  You can find a review of Susan’s book on Pat Tilton’s wonderful blog, Children’s Books Heal. Do come back here for the interview, though! AND don’t miss the giveaway mentioned below — one lucky commenter will receive a copy of the book AND an original watercolor by Peter H. Reynolds inspired by THE MUSEUM. Susan Verde grew up in a brownstone in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City with her older brother Michael. She spent much of her time as a child clad in bell bottoms and rainbow suspenders, roller skating up and down her block with a skate key around her neck and a piece of chalk in her pocket (for spontaneous hopscotch). Susan’s household was filled with books, music and the smell of mocha chip pies, which her mother made for their neighborhood restaurant. Susan often wrote stories and poetry to share with family and friends and even her high school poetry magazine. Susan’s love of literature began in utero (according to her mother) and never dwindled.  She can, to this day relate very well to Amelia Bedelia. Ultimately, she moved to the Hamptons and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s in reading remediation and become an elementary school teacher at a private school in Bridgehampton. She has also participated in the Southampton Children’s Literature Conference at Stonybrook University. Although no longer a school teacher, Susan is a certified kid’s yoga instructor which allows her to frog jump and wag her tail in Downward facing dog with great frequency. Currently, Susan lives in East Hampton New York amidst an explosion of Legos, art supplies, and picture books with her twin boys Joshua and Gabriel and her daughter Sophia. They are the constant inspiration for her writing. They never let her forget how to see things from a child’s point of view and keep the kid in her alive and kicking.

Scroll to Top