"I’m here to inspire and facilitate"

There was a show that premiered on ABC last fall that I really, really liked but apparently no one else did. That show was Eastwick, rather loosely based on the book The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike. The show was cancelled rather abruptly at the beginning of the December, yanked from the schedule, and the final two episodes were relegated to the graveyard hours of the night. Somehow, I managed to record the last episode (although not the penultimate one, which resolved all of the stuff that happened on the final episode of November sweeps) and I finally watched it Monday morning.

The character of Darryl van Horne (Jack Nicholson in the movie, some extremely handsome actor I didn’t recognize in the show) is kinda sorta the devil. The three “witches” are women who feel powerless in their lives and relationships and then suddenly find each other and their powers. Their lives are turned around and they are able to take control of the things that had been spiraling out of control. Suddenly Darryl shows up and their powers grow stronger, often much to their chagrin.

Anyway, a bunch of things happen and on the final episode, Darryl explains that he was drawn to them because of their strength and that he was not the cause of their powers, because they existed within them the whole time. And then he said a line that just took my breath away:

“I’m here to inspire and facilitate.”

Now, if you Google this line, you will find that there are 575,000 occurrences of its use in various educational and self-improvement venues, from weight loss to business strategies to creativity. But it sounded new to me, even though I’ve probably heard it 575,000 times.

I hate it when a student’s parents say, upon his or her successful performance, “Wow, thank you. You did this.” I always smile and say, “No, he/she did it. I just provided the materials and he/she ran with it.” I hate it because I grew up with parents who didn’t believe I could do anything on my own, that if I did something outstanding, someone must have told me how to do it.

Yes, I love that my students do well, and perhaps I’m just really good at inspiring and facilitating, but when it comes right down to it, they’re the ones who are doing it. Just like I was the one who “did it” all the times when I did something outstanding, they are the ones who are doing it now.

I wonder what lessons I will learn from the series finale of Ugly Betty. We’ll find out in a few weeks.

Richard F. Weber

On Sunday, March 21, I decided to take myself on an “Artist’s Date” (see Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for info on that concept) and go see the Florentine Opera’s Elmer Gantry at the Marcus Center. It was wonderful, although I did decide that the title character and the baritone portraying him bore a strong resemblance to Don Draper of Mad Men.

When I returned home, my husband told me that a private investigator had swung by to see if I have heard from Richard Weber. Richard is an organist and choral director who I have known for about 25 years now. I first met him at Calvary Presbyterian Church on 11th & Wisconsin, and when I returned to Milwaukee, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. He has been a great source of wisdom (musical and political) and humor (ditto) for me for this time, as well as a source of some income for both me and my students who I have sent his way for Christmas and Easter gigs.

I spoke to Richard last on January 2 of this year, and he told me that he had left Beth Luth and was going to be working at St. Stanislaus on the South Side. He sounded very upbeat and eager about this new job. Apparently, that was one of the last conversations anyone has had with him. He has not been seen at his apartment nor at St. Stan’s since January 4, which is when they gave him a check… which has not been cashed.

I’m very concerned about Richard. His 70th birthday is this Friday and I’m hoping that we hear from him soon; or at least hear something.

A Classical Celtic Concert

Yesterday afternoon, the MacDowell Club put on a concert called “Bits of Blarney,” which I was asked to coordinate. (Had I known it was going to be called “Bits of Blarney,” I might have balked… or at least requested a name change!) Because of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, we did an Irish theme.

I have always wanted to be Irish. Maybe because I’m Slovenian and Estonian and as a child, I was greeted with “You’re a Sylvania light bulb? You’re a stone?”, I wanted to be an ethnicity that people had actually heard of. I wouldn’t have minded being Italian. I would’ve loved to have been Jewish. (Boy, that would have thrilled my parents.) I didn’t really want to be Polish or German – that was too common, especially where I grew up. I just wanted to be something that had traditions, had a strong sense of family (and extended family, not just the in-house unit), and had strong social and cultural ties to the community.

The Irish literary heritage was appealing to me. The importance of music in Irish culture and in Irish family life – goes without saying that I would’ve loved to have that be part of my life.

And then I met Bill O’Meally, and I became Irish by marriage. We spend every 3rd weekend of August at Irish Fest, rain or shine.

So it was perfect for me to coordinate an Irish-themed program and to be able to explore Celtic music that was not “die-dee-die-dee” music but to find music that was (excuse the term) “legitimate.” Music that was written by Celtic composers, or based on Celtic poetry, or in some way explored Celtic culture.

We did a pretty good job with yesterday’s concert, but I want to take this further. Milwaukee has the world’s largest Irish music festival every summer – but only of trad music. Why can’t we establish an annual concert of music by Irish composers (or Celtic composers – after all, I’ve heard a lot of stuff from Cape Breton or Nova Scotia that is much more French or Scottish than it is typically Irish)?

Next week, I’m going to touch base with the director of the Ward Irish Music Archives to see if we can find a way to work with them next year. Perhaps they can co-sponsor the program – perhaps we can do it AT the Irish Fest Center….

To be continued!