Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lawrence of Arabia

In a few days, the 1962 grand epic film “Lawrence of Arabia” by David Lean, and starring Peter O’Toole and a cast of huge names (Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, and Arthur Kennedy), will be re-released in an all new digitized format. This movie is not only celebrating its 50th anniversary, but also celebrates the life of one of the amazing people in history.

Thomas Edward Lawrence was born in 1888; he was the son of a Lord but his father never married his mother. As World War I unfolded across Europe, there was an equally intense conflict in the Middle East, particularly centered in Arabia, Syria and Turkey. Lawrence, who had spent his early professional life as an archeologist in that geographical area, found himself as a lieutenant in the British army in the position of cartographer in Cairo. Through his archeological studies, he had also become conversant with several Arabian languages and dialects, and in 1916 was publishing an Arabic newspaper through which he tried to gain attention to the Arab struggles for freedom, not only from the Turks but from the British also.

T. E. Lawrence had a definite distaste for the limelight and for bloodshed; however, his role in the Arab Revolt covered him with both on a daily basis. He was a most reluctant hero.

During this war, Lawrence kept a journal of his thoughts and observations, and eventually published them in a book called “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” which was finally published 1926.

In 2009, after having read Seven Pillars for a second time, I was impressed with Lawrence’s use of imagery and poetic language. In homage to the Seven Pillars of the title, I chose seven particularly beautiful phrases from the text and composed instrumental music to express each short segment:

  • Silences of Stars
  • Off the Pilgrim Road
  • Granite Spires
  • The Mirage Had Begun to Dance
  • The Hallowed Ground Re-echoed
  • Circle Beyond Circle
  •  Last light of the West/Dance of the Sunbeams

These pieces, amounting to around 23 minutes of music, are collected on a CD which I also titled “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” and are available through Amazon .
There is also a video presentation of section 2: Off the Pilgrim Road, on Youtube .
I hope that you will take a few moments and watch the video, and share it with friends.

And although the film is somewhat fictionalized, it is amazing how much of Lawrence’s writing, and some of his dialog, are included in the context of the film. If you haven’t seen it, go see it (or get it when it’s released on DVD. If you know the film, now is a good time to watch it again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Settling In

When we moved to Chenango County in upstate New York, there was a gentleman who regularly asked us if we were settling in…for about the first 5 or 6 years he asked us that.

Now we find ourselves in a new area, southern Indiana. We’ve been here now for about 2 months, and the answer to the question is: Yes, we are settling in.

In many ways, it’s like starting all over again from scratch. None of the acreage around the house was plowed up for a garden; much of the lawn was overgrown; there were no structures that would house any animals so we had to build one. Musically, because I know so many people all over the country, I wasn’t at so much of a loss, although having to establish my teaching studio is going to be harder than I thought. After all we were in our last location for the better part of 25 years.

The internet has been very useful in helping me find names of organizations and people; my email program has been working overtime these 8 weeks.

Composing music and working on recordings has taken a back seat to getting the homestead in working shape. In the past 2 weeks I have begun working on two songs: a new baseball song and a church anthem. It feels good to get back to it.

We have met so many really nice people out here in the Hoosier State, many of whom have helped us out in ways that surprised even us. Like for instance, how many people do you know who have two (2!!) neighbors who own backhoes with bucket loaders? It restores one’s faith in humanity.

So, yes, we continue to settle in, and continue to rebuild our rural paradise in a whole new geographical and social setting. As things unfold, and we finally break all the ties with New York, we will begin to see this Midwest reality as normal. Until then…we’re still settling in.