Music Connects Us.
Notes from our Artistic Director
~ February 1, 2021 ~
Welcome to February, the shortest month of the year, the month that’s the border between winter and spring. Admittedly, it’s still snowing as I set to writing this text but at least there’s one good sign of what’s not too far ahead, the arrival of the 2021 seed catalogue from Veseys in PEI. So, in the positive spirit that looks towards Spring, especially at this point when we all need confident thoughts and medical miracles, may I turn your focus to the one force we specialize in sharing here at Huron Wavesmusic.

I’ve a trio of musical directions that I think you’ll find creative, interesting and quite informative for this month. None of these selections takes very long to explore, so please open these links and enjoy how these musicians and artists around the world are some-times exploring new routes and sometimes returning to familiar chestnuts, all of which can bring us comfort and hope towards the time when better days arrive…as they will.

How an Opera Comes to Be … For instance, a Norwegian arts company, Bergen Nasjonale (National) Opera, has created a unique virtual experience about their specialty…opera. In English, and with wonderful animations that one directs on the computer’s screen, OperaQuest reveals the various stages and the creative teams that build an opera from an idea through to its performance.

Be patient and use your cursor generously to speed the flow of the animation but remember that this was created primarily for children (of all ages, say I) and that’s why, I assume, the flow takes its time more carefully than it would were this just for us adults. OperaQuest is great fun…and definitely edifying.

Beyond the music, my online exploring OperaQuest has led me online to explore the city of Bergen so now I’m thinking that when all this lockdown pressure is over, I want to travel, and why not return to Norway, to visit Bergen for its geography as the gateway to the Fjords but also to experience such a creative organisation as the Nasjonale in live performances. Click on this link.

Five Minutes and You’ll Love… For some time I’ve been enjoying – no, I’ve been sincerely moved by – a semi-regular feature in The New York Times that invites readers to take just five minutes to enjoy the pleasures of music, one instrument or one composer or one style of composition at a time. With concise prose, beautiful musical excerpts, delightful graphics, and a mere five minutes of concentration, the newspaper thinks one can be lead to falling in love with, for instance, the flute, an instrument based on the most fundamental sign of life:  breath.

With deep appreciation and acknowledgement to The Times, here are links to some of these remarkable revelations. You’ll find the musical excerpts inside each segment’s text. Take your time. Relax, close your eyes, with the music.

the Flute: 

Classical Music:

the Cello:

Baroque Music:

the Piano: 


the Violin:  

Someday I may write about the influence Mr. Ma has had on my own career; more than two decades ago it was he who encouraged me to take a leap into the challenges of artistic leadership. Since 1999 when we first met to plan for his receiving Canada’s Glenn Gould Prize, I’ve closely followed his life and his example. Late last year, as his personal effort to reach out to a world struggling with the dismays of the Covid-19 pandemic, he released a new Sony Classical CD compilation, Songs of Comfort & Hope.

One of Yo-Yo’s collaborators in this project was the composer/performer, Wu Tong, who wrote a note about his composition,Rain Falling from the Roof.  On the CD the version is for cello and piano but my own, preferred version is with Tong’s instrument of note, the sheng. Before you hear the two men in this beautiful performance, read Wu Tong’s:

There is a story that has greatly inspired me from (China’s) Northern Song Dynasty (AD 960-1127). It is about a novice Zen monk who experienced a moment of enlightenment by observing rain falling from the eaves of a roof. The story is told in the form of a Zen riddle.

One rainy day, a novice monk asked the renowned Zen master Guixing about the fundamental meaning of Buddhism. The master pointed to the raindrops dripping from the eaves of a nearby roof. The novice monk who had been perplexed for a long time suddenly experienced an epiphany. He immediately improvised the following koan:

“Raindrops dripping from the eaves, clear sound of splitter-splatter falling on the leaves; Heaven and Earth then take a breath, for in that instant my mind is at peace.”  (In this Zen koan a Chinese word representing Heaven and Earth “Qiankun” is used. This term not only refers to material existence, but also represents the concept of Yinyang, and in a Buddhist sense refers to time and space. A mind at peace is a state achieved through mediation, whereby one comes into contact with their true nature unfettered by prejudice and selfish subjectivity.)

It was during a rainstorm that I first read this story. At that time, the entirety of humankind was dealing with the trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic. Upon hearing the sound of the falling raindrops, I also had a realization. It was a reminder that people depend upon peaceful coexistence with each other and with Mother Nature to live in true harmony. No one exists in isolation.

Here is the song interpreted by composer and cellist.

Rain Falling from the Roof  is my choice to complete our February newsletter because I hope it can bring us all some comfort as we personally struggle towards the end of this grim era.

Till we’re together again, stay safe and healthy.  And remember that Music Connects Us.

John A. Miller, Artistic Director                                                                     February 1, 2021

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