do *you* "move through life?"
One of our friends, Jenny, is a wonderful *ballerina*.
Perhaps you'll have an opportunity to watch her dance, one
of these days. If you hope that *your* life, day by
day, and over the years, will be "beautiful music,"
it's incredibly important to step back from the "busy-ness"
of life, from time to time, and do things like watch Jenny
dance. The fact is, *all* of us "move through life"
... but do we move though it as beautifully (and *deliberately*!)
as Jenny does when she's dancing?! Such things as Ballet
remind us of how it is possible for us to live.
We feel strongly that, deep inside, people want their lives,
in *all* aspects, to be "beautiful music."
If we truly do aspire to a "beautiful music" life,
it is a *very* good idea to take the greatest possible advantage
of the *role models* we have available to us, such as Classical
Music and Ballet, role models which demonstrate, in the clearest
possible terms, what beautiful music *is*. When such
Beauty is fresh in our minds, it is *much* easier to try to
live each moment of our life in a way which is as gorgeous
and inspiring as the most beautiful Classical Music and Ballet.
But... There's been a problem. It goes *waaay*
back in time. The "beautiful music" role models
we're talking about have been around for hundreds of years.
But, for the most part, people ... the vast *majority* of
people ... have not had access to them! For
a long time, Classical Music was seen and heard by royalty
... kings, queens, princes, princesses, maybe a few dukes
and duchesses, and some percentage of the "elites"
who were the favored buddies of the royalty. <smile>
By the time our great-great-great-great grandteachers,
Fred and Franz, were performing, which was only a little over
150 years ago, only the *tiniest* percentage of the population
got to see and hear them. For instance, when they performed
in salons in Paris, only a *handful* of the city's approximately
3 million people ever got to see and hear them perform.
(And, of course, not even *radio* had been invented, yet,
so the people in the room at any given performance were *it*
... the only ones who had access to the beauty and inspiration
of their playing.) [This is especially interesting to
us because the metropolitan area in which we live now has
about the same number of people as Paris did back in those
days. What an awful thought, that so few people would
have access to something so beautiful and important.]
Not much changed, in terms of access to Classical Music, until
*recorded sound* was invented, and *records* and *radio* came
to the fore. Suddenly multitudes of people,
all over the world, had access ... albeit a *limited* access,
since it was only aural, and not visual ... to Classical Music.
But of course the *sounds* of Classical Music are magnifient,
and the large percentage of the population which listened
to recordings, and to radio, fell in love with the music.
Those who listened to Classical Music on their records and
radios still didn't have access to "the full picture,"
of course... But as technology continued to emerge,
such things as advances in the domain of *transportation*
allowed the great Classical Music artists to move more easily
from city to city, and country to country. So more people
were able to actually see and hear Classical Music.
But the percentage of the population which had *full* access
Then, of course, television came on the scene. And,
for a while, at least, people began to be able to not only
*hear* Classical Music, but to *see* it, too! But television
was preoccupied with a wide range of content and, for those
who were strongly drawn to Classical Music, the number of
programs was hardly satisfying ... Classical Music programming
was relatively infrequent, and only a very small percentage
of the *best* of Classical Music made it into people's living
rooms via "the small screen." [An aside, of
sorts: the *speakers*, through which television audio is piped,
have always been notoriously poor, so the full *quality* of
Classical Music was *not* well-represented during, say, the
first half-century of television's existence. The effect
was similar to trying to look at the beauty of a natural vista,
perhaps the Grand Canyon, through a veil of gauze. Also,
television's emphasis on short attention spans, and regular
interruption by commercials, are antithetical to the intensity
of Classical Music and the uninterrupted engagement required
to have its full benefit!] In any case, television has
featured less and less Classical Music, over the years, and
its presence has almost completely vanished from that medium
as we've entered the 21st century. But TV at least provided,
for many people, a *glimpse* of the *visual* beauty of Classical
... a radical development
A while back, Johnny and Chris were asked to provide all of
the musical entertainment at the opening night gala of an
*amazing* exhibit, held at the Phoenix Art Museum, of *all*
the bronze sculptures done by Degas. The evening (which
was a fund-raiser for the museum) began with a chef-catered
dinner for about 200 patrons. After dinner, the guests
went to a different part of the Museum for the musical portion
of the evening (about an hour and one-half's worth).
Since Degas was known as "The Painter of Dancers,"
the Museum also imported a *terrific* young ballerina, a little
older than the boys (Jenny, who we mentioned above), who danced
to the boys' playing, including a *stunning* ballet ... over
six minutes long (longer than almost any ballet solo a person
would see) ... which she choreographed to, of all things,
a Nocturne by our great-great-great-great grandteacher, Fred.
(It is not exactly "usual" to see ballet danced
to Fred's music, but she had heard Chris play the
piece, and *loved* it, so she had decided to choreograph and
dance to it!)
The evening might be said to have been very "old fashioned."
The guests were quite wonderful (we had the opportunity to
talk with many of them) ... but it was a very, very small
gathering, at least in comparison to the number of people
around the world who we know would have *loved* to have been
able to watch and listen. We know they would have loved
to have watched and listened because of what happened at our
first rehearsal with Jenny. Chris thought her dancing
was absolutely magnifient, beautiful and inspiring ... so
much so, in fact, that he really, really had difficulty keeping
his eyes on the piano he was playing ... instead, he kept
looking up and staring at Jenny while she danced. Chris
took quite a bit of teasing about this, to which he replied,
"Hey, I didn't make any mistakes on the piano, did I?!"
<smile> Also ... Papa Rice, who had driven Johnny
and Chris to the rehearsal, was so moved by Jenny's dancing
that he just stood there crying. And Jenny's Mom, who
had driven *her* to the rehearsal, stood there crying because
she thought it was so gorgeous to watch and listen to Chris'
playing of the piano! The point, of course, is that
the music and dance were a major blessing to those who got
to see and hear it. Wouldn't it have been lovely if
a *lot* more people could have seen and heard it?! Through
time, it has been a terribly sad fact that so few people have
had access to such things.
But then, something truly radical happened. Jenny asked
Chris if he would please play the Nocturne again, this time
in collaboration with a younger ballerina (Samantha, by name),
who would be taught the ballet by Jenny. Jenny requested
that Chris participate in four performances to be held in
the State of Utah, which is quite distant from our home.
Chris did that. However, he did not travel to Utah for
the performances. Instead, his playing was broadcast,
*live*, from our very own living room, to a theater-sized
screen at the University's gorgeous Marriott Dance Center.
The astonishing thing, historically speaking, was that the
broadcast was accomplished by use of no more than our family's
video-camera, fire-wired to our Mac computer (with Broadcaster
software installed), which was attached by a cable to our
home's high-speed internet connection! We sent a "single-stream"
broadcast, which was captured by a computer at the university
and re-directed to the theater screen. *However*...
If we had channeled the stream through a server (which
is something a family can set up in their own home, or obtain
easy access to from many internet service providers), people
anywhere in the world could have watched the performances
on *their* computers!! *Imagine* what it might have
been like "in days of olde" if, say, one of the
duke and duchess' kids could have used a simple video-camera,
hooked up to the castle's computer and high-speed internet
connection, and broadcast a performance by Papa Joe or Wolf
directly to the homes of all the *other* youngsters in the
world who might have been interested!! In other words,
the times have *really* changed. And, given the advances
in both audio and video technology, including such things
as HD TVs and excellent speaker systems, it is now possible,
at *spectacularly* low cost, for a huge percentage
of our population to have *access* to the phenomenal blessings
of such things as Classical Music and Ballet!
even better than *that* (!!) ...
We're immensely glad that technology now exists which expands
the number of people who, to use the old radio and television
phrase, can be "welcomed into your living room."
If Classical Music is something you enjoy, or wish to begin
exploring, you'll *easily* be able to have very direct access
to it, and you'll be able to have that access when you *want*
it, instead of when it happens to fit into some television
network's ideas about "priorities!" This is
part of the "on demand" revolution which is now
emerging, again thanks to developing technologies. It
is interesting, isn't it, that new technologies can make such
a phenomenal contribution to something which has been around
as long as Classical Music! But then, technological
advances and Classical Music have *always* gone hand-in-hand
...for instance, modern *pianos* are *so* superior to the
earlier, less technologically-advanced forms of keyboards!
But, y'know... While it's simply *amazing* that we can
now broadcast a performance from our home to yours, something
which used to require a full radio or television station to
accomplish... Well, a mere broadcast from us to you
is sort of ... impersonal. From our viewpoint, the really
*exciting* thing which is now beginning to emerge is referred
to by names such as "video-conferencing."
Are you familiar with video-conferencing (which major corporations
have used for a while now, but which is only now becoming
something which even *families* can afford)? If we set
up a video-conference between your home and ours, the communication
runs in *two* directions, not just *one*!! (In other
words, when you invite us into *your* living room, we can
invite you into *ours* at the same time!) So, if you
like, we can play Classical Music for you ... but we can also
listen to *you* playing music for *us* ... or, for example,
we can listen to your *child* playing the piano or other instruments,
from time to time, and offer encouragement! We can actually
*talk* with one another during the course of the evening.
We can even share a Civilized Evening together, no matter
how far apart we may live! [Have you read about our
Civilized Evenings, and the Civilized Evening Movement?
If not, you can read about them by clicking
It is even possible to link *many* homes together in a single
video-conference! Of course, this doesn't just mean
that, when you want to, you'll be able to see and hear, for
example, Johnny playing Beethoven's Waldstein Piano Sonata,
or Chris playing Beethoven's Appassionata Piano Sonata ...
or, for that matter, Johnny and Chris performing their stunning
cello-piano ensemble of Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante ...
it also means that grandparents will be able to not only *hear*,
but also *see*, their grandchildren's musical development
... even if they live far away from one another!! Merely
hearing a grandchild play over the phone really, really pales
by comparison with being able to *see* them play, too.
When it comes to grandparents and grandchildren, who wouldn't
want "the full package," if such a thing happened
to be possible?! It's the same issue we were talking
about, above, when we said that something *valuable* is missed
in being carted through the woods blindfolded, or merely *listening*
to Classical Music, instead of being able to access the *full*
beauty, the sights *and* the sounds!!
Our goal is to have Classical Music seen *and* heard in as
many formats as possible, such as video-conferencing, DVDs
and "vidcasting" (which is like "podcasting,"
but also includes *video*). As you may be aware, The
Rice Brothers have completed their first DVD, "Classical
Music and the Beautiful Music in *You*," which is available
It is the first in a series which introduces children to classical
music and encourages children to find the "beautiful
music" in them, whether or not that "beautiful
music" involves such things as instruments. The
Rice Brothers are also close to completion of two "performance"
DVDs, each of which will give viewers/listeners an idea of
what it is like to attend one of our concerts. In our
DVD series, we intend to introduce children to wonderful young
musicians who play *many* instruments. We also plan
to make DVDs which feature collaborations between musicians
and artists such as dancers and ice skaters. And of
course we plan to encourage as many Classical Music artists
as possible to produce DVDs of their music, so that it can
be seen as well as heard. (We'll be offering technical
help, when that's needed.) If you would like to participate
with us in such pioneering projects as these, please send
us an e-mail, so we can talk about what we can create together!
SEND YOUR E-MAIL TO ONE OF THE ADDRESSES IN THE BOX BELOW.
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Music and the Beautiful Music in *You*!(TM)
site are copyright © 2003, 2004 and 2005 John, Jean, Johnny and Chris
Rice. All Rights reserved. No copyright claimed in brief quotations
from other authors for purposes of review or scholarly comment.
John, Jean, Johnny and Chris Rice
period and composer)
** We (The Rice Brothers) have not played very much of this composer's
music, so we do not consider ourselves to be on a first name basis with
(1900 through present)
(1900 through present)