Garr Reynolds: It’s not what you present, it’s how you present it 

Substance over style?  Not necessarily.  In communication, if “Samantha” doesn’t get your message because it’s addressed to “Sam.”, the message content becomes secondary, doesn’t it?  Reaching the right recipient is what communication is all about – its etymology coming from the Latin verb “to share” – and one of the oldest and most reliable messaging services available is the story.  Whether we know it, or not, we are constantly telling each other stories to entertain and connect (i.e. gossiping), to warn of danger, or to applaud heroic deeds.  Yet, there is nothing amateur about storytelling in today’s hyperactive professional environment.  Before you step in front of the board, you better have your story straight.  So, what might excellent professional storytelling look like?  Homer is considered an impressive pro storyteller.  We tend to imagine him seated at a campfire, the night sky inviting the audiences’ imaginations to create their own visual accompaniments to his story.  But in professional life, rather than a campfire, we are expected to use presentation software like PowerPoint to elucidate and reinforce every aspect of our story.  So, on top of telling an epic story through excellent public speaking, we have to create a powerful presentation to take the audience on an unforgettable multimedia journey.  “But I’m an orchestral conductor, not a graphic designer, filmmaker or computer scientist!” you might be saying to yourself.  Today, as specialists, we are also professional storytellers, believes Garr Reynolds, one of the world’s most sought-after presentation gurus, and multimedia presentation software gives us the keys to take our audience on a trip to new worlds.  Garr joins our show to tell us an inspiring story about humans reaching each other.  

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Erberk Eryilmaz: Can Contemporary Music be Beautiful? 

Erberk Eryilmaz, left, performs with the Apollo Chamber Players [Photo credit: Lynn Lane]

Some people shutter when they think about contemporary classical music.  Some even consider it a form of punishment.  Not long ago, a joke was going around France about a new law that would make parking offenders think twice: in lieu of cash fines, errant parkers would be forced to listen to Pierre Boulez’ music for ten minutes.  The strangely dissonant classical music of the Second Viennese School – meaning the early 20th-century music of Schönberg, Berg and Webern – was lionized by Boulez and other post-War classical music reactionaries in a way that only the School’s founders could appreciate: the disciples publicly repudiated the School’s music as not radical enough.  Any music that allowed even a single repetition of a musical expression (such as repeated rhythms, melody-forming pitches or larger musical sections) would resemble classical music and lose all relevance to music modernity.  That radical view reflects the era in which it was formed: the 1950s and 1960s.  Huge infrastructure investment was being made all over the Western world and a break with the past was probably welcomed in a Europe decimated by two World Wars.  Moreover, the same citizens who would have stared in awe at those never-before-seen wonders of architecture and mobility were constantly inundated with news that it would all be instantly vaporized by a single nuclear missile.  Today, globalization and the positive life outlook of citizens has led world leaders to consider total war nonsensical (the global reaction to Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine – as well as the Kremlin’s choice to keep the conflict limited – being a case in point) because prosperous peace and cooperation are the names of the game.  Today’s contemporary classical music reflects those values most prominently in the instruments and musical vocabularies it incorporates, both of which are sourced from every corner of the globe.  No one knows that globalization of Western contemporary classical music better than the composer Erberk Eryilmaz.  Erberk is a contemporary Turkish composer who earned a doctorate in Western classical music from one of the West’s most elite conservatories.  His music mixes East and West, classical and contemporary, and calls for an orchestra that is as diverse and rich as the world itself.  Come welcome Erberk to our show and let’s ask him if beauty is an attribute of today’s music modernity.

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Musica Española Switzerland 

Imagine you are a young, internationally-renown Spanish pianist traveling the world to play sold-out concerts before eager publics.  Then, one day, after a concert, you decide to settle down and promote Spanish music, its composers and musicians, in the unlikeliest part of Western Europe.  That’s the story of pianist Maria Luisa Cantos and, though, today, it’s hard to imagine the economic powerhouse as less-than-cosmopolitan, when Maria Luisa arrived there more than four decades ago, she became Switzerland’s famous, but lonely representative of Spanish classical music and culture.  Nevertheless, her adoptive homeland was curious about this exotic place called Spain – keep in mind that Spain and Portugal were omitted from the European political map for much of the 20th century – and encouraged her to create a unique organization called Musica Española Switzerland to promote Spanish music in Switzerland.  Musica Española Switzerland has been at work for nearly forty-five years now and Maria Luisa has been awarded the Kingdom of Spain’s highest civilian honor – Lazo de Dama de Isabel la Católica – for her tireless efforts.  Both Maria Luisa and her deputy, Hispano-Swiss pianist Amri Alhambra, join us for an exclusive look at a cultural organization that defies national boundaries and shows the power of classical-music diplomacy at home and abroad.

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Monica Chew: Composer/Pianist Seeking to Illuminate and Entertain 

What does classical music mean to audiences today?  Is it a “serious” intellectual endeavor, as implied by the Latin motto Res severa verum gaudium of Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra?  Or does it mean the perfect soundtrack to accompany your lunch break, as Colorado Public Radio Classical’s Midday Mozart program claims?  Maybe it means both: Composer/Pianist Monica Chew’s take on classical music is that it should be seriously illuminating and fantastically entertaining.  Her first recording of solo piano music was dedicated to the intense and mystic music of Bartók, Janáček, Takemitsu, Messiaen and Scriabin.  Yet, the music she, herself, composes is often about making the performer and listener smile with delight.  Things I Tell My Cat for voice and piano or Zoom Gloom for one or more cellos and track are some of her newest compositions.  Whither, then, are you speeding, classical music?  Come welcome the Bay Area’s Monica Chew to our show for a refreshing take on the many meanings of the music we call classical.

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Natalia Villanueva García: Spirituality as a Resource for Mental Health 

(Photo credit: Klaus Ranger)

Since fiscal year 2015, mental health expenditures have made up the greatest part of global medical expenses.  And if that defined the pre-Pandemic era, imagine the global mental health situation today.  The West calls it a mental health crisis and addresses it with a variety of therapies such as anti-depressant pharmaceuticals and in-person therapy sessions of so-called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).  Natalia Villanueva García, a Certified Expert in Spirituality proposes a third therapy: Spiritual Life Coaching.  Rather than supplementing the others, she views all three as complimentary tools with which to tackle a myriad of mental health issues.  So, what exactly is Spiritual Life Coaching and how can it improve mental health?  Come welcome Natalia to our show and feel its healing power for yourself!

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