Friday, June 9, 2023

Live. Breathe. Sing. Love.


 Live. Breathe. Sing. Love. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philipians 4:8

   And finally, brothers and sisters, as I hope is the case for so many of us in this presently numbing moment, my sadness can be greatly diminished, perhaps even overcome, only by the power of unfettered gratitude. Gratitude for the blessed gift, the gem, that is Gerhardt Zimmermann.

  Thank You, Maestro, for stirring, indeed igniting, my soul. Thank You for listening to what has called you. Thank You for the truly profound impact of your artistry, the sheer nobility and praiseworthy excellence of your loving vision and passion.

   And so to my readers, here is the letter which Gerhardt recently wrote to his family of orchestra musicians.


Dear Canton Symphony Orchestra Musicians,

I hope this letter finds you well and surrounded by the joy of music. It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that I write to you today to share some difficult news. After nearly 50 extraordinary years of leading this marvelous orchestra, it is my responsibility to inform you of a significant decline in my health and my transition to Hospice care.

Throughout the past half-century, it has been an absolute privilege and honor to stand before this exceptional group of musicians as your conductor. Together, we have created unforgettable experiences for ourselves and our audiences. The dedication, talent, and passion that each of you brings to our performances have made the Canton Symphony Orchestra a beacon of excellence in the world of classical music. The music we have brought to life, the harmonies we have crafted, and the emotional landscapes we have traversed are a testament to the power of our collective artistry. The Canton Symphony Orchestra has become my musical family; it is the gem that many people search their whole lives for and never find and I was lucky enough to have it for so many years.

Though my body may weaken, my love for music and the incredible talent each of you possesses remains undiminished. I implore each and every one of you to continue nurturing music; embrace the beauty of every note, find inspiration in every measure, and strive for excellence in every performance. Cherish the camaraderie that exists within this orchestra, for it is the bond that fuels our collective brilliance.

Please understand that I will forever be with you in spirit, even if I am unable to stand on the podium. Your dedication, talent, and commitment have made the Canton Symphony Orchestra an artistic force to be reckoned with, and I have the utmost faith in your ability to carry that torch forward. May music always be your guide, and may the passion in your hearts continue to ignite the souls of your audiences. Never stop pursuing the beauty that lies within each note.

Sitting in the orchestra for the first time at Bowling Green, it was as if the heavens opened up. From that moment on, a conductor was all I wanted to be. In life, if you're going to do it, give it all you can. Live it. Breath it. Sing it. Enjoy it. Love it. Sing, sing, sing...


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Avian Ardor


Avian Ardor 

Ring Around the Rosie

Moonlight Duet

Jewel of the Summer Garden

Sugar Plums

Through the Woods

Into the Blue


By Tom Wachunas 

“A bird is joy incarnate.” — Myrtle Reed

“Birds are the first and the greatest performers.” — Olivier Messiaen

“My heart swelled with uncontrollable delight.”  - John James Audubon

EXHIBIT: The Golden Aviary – Paintings by Katrina Polhamus / at John Strauss Studios, 236 Walnut Ave NE in downtown Canton, Ohio, THROUGH JUNE 16, 2023 / Gallery hours Monday-Friday 10a.m to 5p.m.

   Here are some excerpts from the artist’s statement (included in the above hyperlink):

   “ As a former landscape designer turned stay-at-home mother and artist [in Hudson, Ohio], I endeavor to communicate my love for the natural world and home life in my art… Each painting combines realistically-painted birds, a golden structure, and a stylized or patterned background. These elements work together harmoniously to give the painting its own unique mood and/or narrative…The use of metallic gold creates the environment for the birds, and its reflective qualities set it apart from the rest of the painting. The backgrounds are inspired by home decor patterns, sometimes modern, sometimes nostalgic, giving the birds an in-home context…I try to project a feeling of optimism and happiness in my work which are central to who I am as a person and artist."

   These truly stunning acrylic paintings by Katrina Polhamus are endowed with a rich suggestibility beyond simply “giving the birds an in-home context.”  Yes, there are certainly aspects of personal domesticity in those bright, patterned backgrounds that might be local landscapes and gardens, or wallpaper, or curtains, carpeting, even clothing. Yet the “in-home context” also feels like it has acquired a deeper vintage dimensionality and symbolism, compelling me to ask: Is Polhamus constructing shrines, making ornithology a spiritual experience?

   Her birds are indeed superbly rendered with ample scientific precision, capturing all the intricacies, both crisp and soft, of their feathery forms. Her color dynamics are rapturous and not unlike the shimmering luminosity of stained-glass window narratives you could encounter in a church.

   And those gold ‘structures’! They’re much more than stylized perches or cages. Call it a geometric religiosity. Framing and focusing our attentions, these gilded linearities often harken to the calligraphic configurations seen in the illuminated manuscripts made during the Middle Ages. Just as those marvelous artworks inspired fervent meditations on the divine, so too Polhamus’s birds. They send our reverent hearts soaring.