The Invisible Ones

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With the cold weather approaching, I’m more and more aware of the homeless communities in the cities we’re visiting on tour and at home in New York City. This man was sleeping outside of a shopping center in downtown Oklahoma City, surrounded by all of his belongings. As the temperature drops around our nation, let’s commit to doing what we can to help those in need and give them the dignity they deserve as fellow human beings.

You Have to Mean It

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Conducting is one of those practices you cannot hide behind. You are, in essence, a dancer, musician, and director. The tension you hold in your shoulders will come out in the music. If you lose your way for an instant, everyone feels it. You have to maintain an air of confidence and control all the while acknowledging the fact that you can control very little. At best, you can suggest music with your gestures and observe the result. It is at once an empowering and profoundly humbling profession. Conducting employs momentum and gravity and levity, tension and release, precision and ambiguity. To me, the conductor is a living abstract sculpture, hinting at melody and harmony and begging the observer to respond accordingly. The conductor is a dancer, wrapped in some intimate pas des deux with the orchestra, both constrained by the composer’s voice and also liberated by the freedom of the moment. I think, above all, whatever you do on the podium, you have to mean it. You have to lean into the gesture with the full weight of your convictions and accept the outcome, successful or otherwise. It is, as with most worthwhile endeavors, a most frightening and noble pursuit, and I have the utmost respect for those who do it well.

Constellation No. 4

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In front of Zhao Zhao’s Constellation No. 4 at the Oklahoma City Art Museum. This work is part of their “My Generation: Young Chinese Artists” series on display through January 18.

Thank God for Deciduous Trees

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Thank God for deciduous trees. We caught Springfield, Missouri right in the middle of a remarkably beautiful Autumn, and the trees are bursting with color. It’s mild here, warmer than any of us expected. Having traveled much of the country, Richard and I sometimes play the “where could you see yourself living” game. I’m not so sure I could see myself in Missouri, but I’m certain I’d want to wind up in a place that had some sort of Autumnal season. There’s something about the cool air and warm sunshine, the flavors of pumpkin and root vegetables, hipster acoustic guitar-driven music softly cooing in coffeeshops (yes, I’m that guy). This is a season for writing novels, celebrating thankfulness, and wearing cable knit cardigans. We’ll be here in Springfield for another few days, ironing out the technical kinks of the production, and then we ship off to Oklahoma. In the meantime, it’s flannel shirts, chai tea, and Instagramed photos of foliage. It’s all very pretentious, I know. But damn does it make me happy.