NEWSLETTER – 2013 No. 2
by Elena Greco
Hello, again! It’s been a busy Spring, and the rest of the year is jam-packed with new adventures!
Spring is all about renewal. This Spring in particular it seemed that it was time to eliminate the unnecessary and make room for the new, and this is a phase I’m enjoying tremendously. It’s a wonderfully refreshing process weeding out what doesn’t nurture the soul, support the body, or expand my ability to offer music and healing to others. Old things, both tangible and not, are being let go to make room for the next chapter – which is still developing….
Food and water: Survival at its most basic.
For my Facebook Friends, I apologize for posting perhaps a wee bit excessively about genetically modified organisms and news concerning Monsanto and Nestlé. I consider these issues to be crucial to our ability to sustain life. If we do not have free access to clean water and healthy food, all of the other important issues we now face are irrelevant, because we will not survive and thrive. I know absolutely that we can overcome this threat if we are all informed and commit to safeguarding our food and water. What concerns me is that everyone does not seem to be aware of the threat that exists. And destruction of our supply of clean water and safe, healthy food is something that cannot be undone if we do nothing and allow Monsanto, Nestle and those who are hellbent on fracking to continue on their destructive course.
Sound ridiculous? Nestlé’s CEO Peter Brabreck has publicly stated that he thinks water is not a right and should not be freely available to everyone; he wants to commercialize all the water in the world. (Do a Google search of “Nestle CEO water” to find a video of his speeches.) As farfetched as that sounds, look at the companies Nestlé now owns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nestl%C3%A9_brands#Water. Notice that Perrier and San Pellegrino are both owned by Nestlé, along with about a hundred other bottled water companies. But we still have our local water, right? Well, not exactly. Many local water sources are now owned by corporations. And if fracking is allowed to proliferate – another extremely important issue pertaining to this subject – a lot of groundwater will be contaminated and unfit for public consumption for years to come. More about water:
As for Monsanto, they are intent on inflicting GMOs on Americans, and they cause undue hardship to a lot of farmers, forcing them to use their products or pay a penalty. Plenty of existing data indicates that genetically modified organisms are dangerous to our bodies and to the crops that sustain us. Once a genetically modified crop is grown in a field, nearby crops, including organic ones, are contaminated with the GMO seed the wind blows them. Eventually GMO crops will contaminate all fields so that there are no more organic crops. Daily we see new tests that show the profound damage that these crops do to the human body. If the food we eats harms us and does not sustain us, our quality of life will decrease enormously and many of us will die. Food is what creates the body we live in, so it’s good to choose food carefully and make sure healthy food continues to be available to us!
I don’t mean at all to be discouraging, as I believe we can turn this trend around if only enough people realize what is at stake and take simple actions to prevent this from happening. I encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about these issues, and to take whatever action feels appropriate to them, even simple things such as just sharing articles on Facebook or signing a petition. Or vote with your pocketbook and don’t buy GMO products, or boycott all products made by these corporations. And most of all, don’t vote for politicians who won’t stand up for our right to clean water and healthy food. All of our lives, and those of future generations, depend on it.
I have to confess that I didn’t really get Pinterest at first (www.pinterest.com). I mean, it’s just a bunch of images, right? Wrong! When I started designing the graphics, set and costumes for my latest project, I spent a little time learning to use Pinterest. It has been amazingly useful — and fun besides! And it’s so easy to use. Just click the Pinterest button, and the image you choose is automatically added to the board of your choice. Similar to looking at a story board, or a crime board if you watch police dramas, you can see everything that is related to your artistic vision at a glance. For me, this sparks further ideas and allows me to put existing ones together so effortlessly. And now there’s no need to keep bunches of pages I’ve pulled out of magazines and hand drawings and try to organize them so that they help my creative process instead of giving me a headache. I just open my Pinterest board, and it’s all right in front of me! Thank you, Pinterest!
SEEN AND HEARD
This is a new section where I’ll share books, movies, videos, recordings and other entertainment. I have no interest at all in being a critic, but simply to share things I’ve particularly enjoyed that I think others might enjoy.
The Grammar of Happiness
A documentary produced by the Smithsonian, The Grammar of Happiness, was full of surprises. An anthropologist/linguist spent decades with a group of isolated native Amazon people studying their language and becoming close friends with them over time. I struck by the obvious simple happiness and self-sufficiency these people experienced (prior to the introduction of modern appliances by the government, that is). I was equally taken back by the virulent opposition and retaliation this man encountered simply for making a discovery he made through his own experience public and publishing a resulting theory that contradicted a famous linguist’s theory on the structure of language. How can scientists and academics be so close-minded? was the question that kept going through my mind. And who knew that linguists could be so vicious? Like most singers, language is more than a passing interest for me, so I found the linguistic part fascinating as well. But I think what kept me interested throughout this show was the fascinating story of this man’s personal life, and the changes he went through, both positive and negative, when his spiritual beliefs changed as a result of his experience with these native people. He was truly changed through his interaction with them. I think I might have been a little bit, too.
I stayed home (New York City) this quarter to take care of personal business and begin work on some new projects. As promised in the last Newsletter, I snapped a few pix that reflect my daily life in NYC.
Here’s my trip to work in the afternoon:
OK, so that’s not the whole trip. But it is not unusual in the glamorous life of a musician in Manhattan to spend, as I do, up to an hour a day underground. I climb those 100+ stairs every day going and coming from my office job at night, and walk between one and two miles a day just to get to rehearsals and the office job.
Walking to the train or my destination is more enjoyable, though, if I remember to enjoy the view. People think of New York as a busy, quirky, in-your-face kind of place, and while it IS that, it is so much more. There are beautiful scenes to be enjoyed if you slow down just a bit.
(above are Upper West Side, by Elena Greco)
Something I see every day is the Ed Sullivan Theater where the Dave Letterman show is filmed; it’s right next door to my office (which is in the Broadway Theater). The Ed Sullivan Theater started out as a Broadway theater, then became a nightclub, then was bought by CBS and became home to many notable TV shows, including, of course, the Ed Sullivan Show.
Since my office is next door, I can look out the window and look down and see the top of the marquis.
In 2009, Paul McCartney did an impromptu concert out there on the marquis when he appeared on the Letterman show. I sat in the conference room window watching it, and it was so loud you could hear it through the windows. It was such a strange feeling for me. I still remember so vividly watching The Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show in black and white when I was a kid. It was a magical moment. And here I am, decades later, in New York, looking at the Ed Sullivan Theater, watching one of the Beatles perform. I can’t quite describe the emotion, a strange congruence between my childhood self and my current self. Did you know that 40% of Americans watched that Ed Sullivan Show the night The Beatles performed for the first time?
Sir Paul McCartney: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqI2vG7axvE (click the X to close the annoying pop-ups)
And now … The Beatles! www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOagjtyH1fM
The Music Salon™
The Music Salon™ is being reborn! Actually, it is returning to what it was originally intended to be. Read the upcoming blog post about The Music Salon in its new incarnation later this month. Exciting changes coming will make this experience far more valuable to singers and those who work with them.
I will be taking a vacation from hosting The Music Salon™ in August. I have not done so in the five years I have been offering it, and I need a break, already! In fact, I have decided to take a vacation every August in the future. The Music Salon will still be held every second Sunday of the other 11 months.
ELEMENTS™, a project that is very close to my heart, is now underway! If you know me at all, you know that I have a passionate love for nature. This new production celebrates nature with beautiful music about the elements of the earth. The music is preceded by a short presentation that begins with a little information about how we can each contribute to preserving the environment, followed by gorgeous images of nature. Then, musical theater, jazz standards, Latin jazz and music of the 1960s, with talented special guest artists, combine to provide a unique experience that everyone can enjoy. Set your inner hippie free with the final set of 1960s music, ending with a surprise!
I’m just finishing the programming, checking keys, toiling away on PhotoScore transpositions, designing the set, shopping for costumes, touring venues – the grunt work that always precedes the more rewarding work of musical and artistic development. I love it and I hate it. But I get excited every time I work on this project, because I love the music so much, and I love that I’m doing something to contribute to the appreciation of the environment – and hopefully its preservation. Now I’m designing a set that will give the audience the organic and wildly creative feel of that time, along with a touch of nature.
I’m awaiting a response from an amazing nature photographer who I wrote in the hope that he will give me permission to use one of his images to represent the concert. The instant I saw his work, I knew that it was what this concert is about. More about that soon.
Since the program ends with a set of music from the late 1960s, I began the exploration phase for this project by immersing myself in the music and images from the late 1960s. I was reminded immediately and intensely of the feeling of important change we were making in the world that we felt at that time, along with enormous hope and optimism for the future. It was a period of revolution, peace, love, and of returning to nature. I hope that this concert conveys that feeling deeply to the audience. I began to see how that time relates to the present, and that revolution and love are not antagonists, but can coexist and each can intensify the other. We can do the same now, with regard to the environment and to the other important issues we are facing now. I hope that this concert galvanizes the audience by allowing them to experience the feeling of the 60s, at the same time they are reminded of the beauty and awe of nature.
I have been struck in listening to that 60s music how much of the feeling of the time lives in the music itself. Every time I listen to it, I feel all of the things I mention above. This reminds me again what a very powerful transformative force music is.
The Flavor of Spain™ Part 3
I’ve just started programming the next concert in The Flavor of Spain™ series. Part 3, Unsung Songs of Spain, showcases music of little-known Spanish composers and little-heard songs of better-known composers of Spain. As in the previous two concerts in this series, a video presentation of images, music and historical points of interest introduces live music, guiding you deeper into the “flavor” of Spanish music. You will leave with an understanding of how this unique sound came into being, as well as a deep appreciation for this amazing genre and the beauty of the Spanish language in song.
I’m particularly excited to introduce the work of a Spanish composer I have come to love, one who is unknown to American audiences. This concert will be the first step toward production of a CD honoring this composer. And if at all possible, I hope to make the sheet music of this composer’s songs available, as well as transpositions of them, to other singers, which brings me to my next project.
Spanish art song transposition leads to … copyright seminar?
In producing The Flavor of Spain™ concert series, I have been locating and purchasing Spanish sheet music that is often difficult to find or obtain, scanning and converting it to PhotoScore, then painstakingly and sometimes laboriously transposing to a mezzo (or baritone) key so that I can perform it. By the time I finish this series, I will have transposed well over 100 pieces. Some of my transpositions are of out-of-print music that I have purchased from a library in Spain, while others are of more standard repertoire that are more easily obtainable and can be ordered online from Europe or the US. I would love to make these beautiful Spanish art song transpositions available, as I believe that would be a service to the repertoire and to the singers who want to sing it. It is not that easy, though, due to copyright law.
There is just as much Spanish art song as there is German lieder or French chanson, and most people will never hear it. Spanish music is not given the place in art song repertoire, particularly here in the US, that it deserves. I believe that the primary reason for that neglect is that the music is difficult to obtain, and if a copy can be obtained, it is likely to be in a high key that doesn’t work for most voices. I would guess the majority of US singers who are really interested in singing Spanish art song right now are mezzos, and there is just not much available in print in a usable key for them, nor for baritones.
I knew that there would be copyright issues involved in sharing my transpositions, and I set about to find a way to overcome them. My search for answers led me to want to share them with other singers – and to another project!
With increasing advances in sheet music technology, it is easy to get a pdf copy of a piece from a friend, convert it to music software and transpose it for yourself, all without paying a dime – and all of which is illegal. Publishing houses are aware of this and are beginning to seek a solution. Also, you might be aware that there is a growing effort by copyright owners to remove YouTube videos of copyrighted performances. It is extremely important at this time to be aware of copyright law and how it applies to you and your work as a singer. Ignorance is not a legal defense, and you don’t want to find yourself involved in an expensive lawsuit just because you didn’t know. You might recall the Napster affair in which thousands of ordinary people were sued, people who simply downloaded some music, and found themselves sued for thousands of dollars.
In working for an IP (intellectual property) law firm in the past, and through my own research – I was copyrighting some creative material and registering a trademark for a name at that time – I absorbed a lot of general knowledge about trademark and copyright. As a result, I used to lecture (with the firm’s senior partner’s blessing) about it to singers, with regard to trademark in particular.
Recently, in researching a way to share the Spanish library of songs I have transposed, I have gained a lot of additional information about current copyright and sheet music rights and how to protect yourself from litigation. I will be offering IP for Singers soon, a short lecture with handouts followed by a question-and-answer period that will address the issues above and some other very important information about copyright and trademark. It will be part of the first session of the new format of The Music Salon™ in September. Stay tuned for details!
And in case you’re wondering, I found that while it is not feasible for me to offer transpositions of music that is currently in print and still under copyright protection, with or without a fee, I AM going to proceed with obtaining permission to share some music by a Spanish composer that is unknown in this country that I feel almost an obligation to share with American singers and accompanists. Once I have the permission (cross your fingers!), I will not only share some of the music, but a presentation about this composer and his beautiful music. I’ll keep you posted as developments unfold….
Elena Greco Multimedia Productions™ (www.elenagreco.com/music/egmp/elenagrecomultimedia) is looking for singers and instrumentalists, as well as assistants for technical production, to join us in upcoming events. There will be three productions a year now, so there will be lots of opportunities for singers of every fach and genre and instrumentalists of every instrument and genre. And there’s always room for another solo or duet. A good way to get acquainted, musically and personally, is to attend The Music Salon, or you can email me at email@example.com.
Personnel for EGMP are always compensated. The following are needed for upcoming EGMP productions:
- All EGMP productions: Marketing. I have an urgent need for someone knowledgeable about marketing for classical or popular music, or both.
- All EGMP productions: Technical assistant (lights, projector, videocam, props)
- All EGMP productions: Box-office/general assistant
- Elements™ (November 21): percussionist (jazz standards, Latin jazz and late 60s music)
- Elements™ (November 21): guitarist (Latin jazz, folk and late 60s music)
- Elements™ (November 21): soprano (musical theater, or classical singer who crosses over)
- Elements™ (November 21): baritone (musical theater, or classical singer who crosses over; could perhaps be a tenor with a good low voice)
- The Flavor of Spain™ Part 3 (Spring 2014): tenor (Spanish art song)
- The Flavor of Spain™ Part 3 (Spring 2014): guitar (classical or flamenco style)
If you’re interested in any of these opportunities or would like more information, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for joining me again, and I look forward to seeing you again in the next edition of the Newsletter!
(Please note that this Newsletter is, and contains, copyrighted material, and I ask that you not use it without crediting or asking me, for the usual legal and professional reasons. Additionally, if I have not provided credit for images, it is either because, after a thorough effort, I could not find the source or because I have purchased the rights.)