A Life Worth Living

814wvha92ul-_sy445_How could a man who has lead such a noble and praiseworthy life be lead to attempt suicide multiple times toward the end of his life? The answer is not a simple one like he just did not know God or love enough people. The answer to his despair and the clue to his salvation comes from an extended community around him of which he was only slightly aware at first. The Swedish film A Man Called Ove touches the deepest heart of what it means to be human, especially for people who have grown old and no longer feel needed, useful, or loved. Continue reading

Best of the Best in 2017

survey-resultsDrum roll please… The results are in for the 2017 Best of the Best in all the respective media categories. Please see below and also the archives for previous years. Happy viewing and reading everyone, and as always, we would love to know what you think in the comment section below. And for those that follow the first release of this list in our printed Christmas Family newsletter, know that this list includes several titles forgotten on the initial run. Enjoy! Continue reading

Dickens Meets Shakespeare

Tuesday, November 15/28, 2017
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church
SMSG Publicity Shots - 15

Bob Cratchit & Scrooge, © Francois James 2017.

Have you ever thought of seeing a mash-up of Dickens and Shakespeare? If you love Dickens and Shakespeare, then Scrooge Meets Shakespeare’s Ghosts would be the show for you. If you have read the story A Christmas Carol or seen one of the movie adaptations, you are probably familiar with the plot.

In Scrooge Meet Shakespeare’s Ghosts  the Ghost’s are all different from the ones in the original tale. The Ghost of Christmas Past becomes the three witches from Macbeth. The Ghost of Christmas Present is played by Hamlet’s Father’s Ghost. The Ghost of Christmas Future is ghost of Caesar in Macbeth. The rest of the characters remain the same so you can see the rest of the show with the all-time favorite story by Charles Dickens. This rendition of Scrooge also features old carol tunes sung with original lyrics written for Dicken’s and Shakespeare’s timeless characters.

There are two shows in December and the price for tickets is not too much. If you would like to learn more and buy tickets please visit our website.

Continue reading

The 12 Days of Christmas

flierWorking up another Boston Byzantine Concert with Charlie Marge. This time, it is local to our nation’s capital in Washington, DC. Though our family is currently living in Syracuse, NY, we are still members of the Boston Byzantine Choir, attending practices by means of live streaming. I LOVE the 21st century, in which you can still play a part in a choir separated from you by hundreds of miles. Hey, if you are local to DC, come and see us in a few weeks for a program highlighting the 12 days of Christmas, Orthodox (byzantine) style. I promise all you theology nerds out there will NOT be disappointed. And for those who cannot drop everything and rush to Washington in the second weekend in December, there is Good News! We will be cutting almost everything we sing on a new CD to be released sometime in the next year in honor of the choir’s 25th anniversary. Stay tuned…

Playing the “Music” of Liturgy

Witnessed the yearly piano recital of my two oldest today in the public hall of the Waltham Public Library. Hearing their lovely melodies and inspired playing reminded me of one of my boss’ best articles on the subject of music, inspiration, and worship. Enjoy!

pianist

Katertyna Tereshchenko, Pianist by Ralf Roletschek; online at wikipedia.org

This past summer, my 10 year-old son made a significant breakthrough in his piano playing.  All last year, I watched him practice as though practicing was just one more task on his “to do” list before breakfast.  He marched through 20 minutes of practicing just as he marched through “make my bed,” “feed the dog,” and “pack my snack.”  Where was the joy, the appreciation of beauty, the sense of accomplishment?  Masterpieces from Bach to Bizet were reduced to equal footing with readied backpacks and signed permission slips.  The tasks were accomplished.   And music was nowhere to be heard. Continue reading

Fixing Our Hearts on True Worship

liberale-da-verona-monks-singingAlmighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  

Collect from Fifth Sunday of Lent, Anglican Book of Common Prayer

I could not believe my ears. When I had just begun college, my Pastor at the time was telling me that the music I then desired, the tunes which were my life blood would very soon grow old and seem trite to me. In other words, I was made for something more refined, more subtle, and significantly deeper in both content and form.

Up to that point in my life, I argued vehemently that the Gospel content could be and should be inserted into a variety of contemporary forms and that these forms had little to no impact on the essential message. This Pastor contended otherwise, that medium and message were not only inseparable but mutually co-inherent. Continue reading

Boys and Blizzards

61teuikzunlThe blizzard today in New England gave our own family the chance to read one of our favorite picture books by John Rocco. Blizzard tells the story from the author’s childhood  in 1978 Rhode Island when snow was so high that his family could not leave their front door or even shop for food at the local store. Little Johnny, according to the book, had been reading a survival book that informed him how to strap on tennis rackets to his feet and wax down his wooden sled runners to command 4 feet worth of snow without sinking through it. Continue reading