There is one thing that is universally human: death. Sad as it is, each and every one of us will experience the tremendous loss of losing loved ones or close relatives. Another thing that is universal, but frequently varied, is the way we each deal with grief.
Some people become depressed by death; others try to avoid feeling anything, and even others deal with it in their own way (be it anger, frustration or questioning). However, local health center Casa de la Luz Hospice wants to try something different this November (coincidentally, National Hospice Month) with Night of Light.
Night of Light is a candlelight ceremony in honor of loved ones who have died. It embodies the spirit of mourning. Casa de la Luz Hospice, along with Heartland Hospice Services, Odyssey HealthCare, Tucson Medical Center Hospice, Valor HospiceCare and VistaCare Hospice, came together to form Partners in Hospice Care and have constructed a brilliant way to remember those who have passed.
On Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m., all Tucson residences, businesses, hospices, churches, synagogues, assisted living centers, hospitals, senior centers, neighborhood centers, funeral homes and skilled nursing facilities are invited to light a candle in honor of someone who has died. The simple gesture will, in theory, create a magnificent Night of Light across Tucson and pay homage to the deceased. As Casa de Luz Hospice notes in their press release, "Night of Light will be an evening where love, honor and commemoration can be shared by the entire Tucson community." --M.P.
With all the recent buzz surrounding heavily populated, choral-influenced bands like Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire and The Polyphonic Spree, people may forget that the number of these bands is small potatoes compared with the real thing. And the real thing will be performing Sunday when the 150-voiced University of Arizona Community Chorus performs Felix Mendelssohn's St. Paul at the Catalina United Methodist Church.
Under the charge of director Dr. Elizabeth Schauer, the UA Community Chorus will perform Mendelssohn's masterwork from 1836 based on the conversion of Saul (Paul) and its relevance to Mendelssohn's own conversion after the urging of his father. St. Paul was the first of three planned oratorios (yeah, I had to look it up, too--thanks, dictionary.com: "A musical composition for voices and orchestra, telling a sacred story without costumes, scenery, or dramatic action") by Mendelssohn. He would only complete two.
Dr. Schauer brings an impressive resume to her new position at the UA. Aside from receiving countless awards and recognition for her work with choirs, Schauer has also performed under the direction of big names like Leonard Bernstein and Riccardo Muti, and with high-profile groups like the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Now, a year into her new gig, Dr. Schauer's responsibilities include conducting the Symphonic Choir, the University Community Chorus and vocal jazz ensembles. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in conducting and choral techniques, as well as mentoring graduate conductors and advising the undergraduate student division of American Choral Directors Association.
To see the talented Dr. Elizabeth Schauer conduct Mendelssohn's St. Paul, head on over to the Catalina United Methodist Church on Sunday. Tickets are $12. --M.P.
Back in 2000, there was a bluegrass music revival. This was due in no small part to the soaring popularity of the kooky Coen brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou? The film's soundtrack, which featured bluegrass tunes performed by the likes of Ralph Stanley and Emmylou Harris, even won 2001's Album of the Year Grammy.
However, before that film was even on the radar, Tucson was celebrating bluegrass with an entire festival dedicated to the musical genre. Put on by the Desert Bluegrass Association--a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization--the Tucson Bluegrass Festival has become a much-loved event.
Mike Headrick, one of the festival's coordinators, notes in an e-mail interview that bluegrass fans are not shackled by the festival's running time when it comes to having fun. "Almost all bluegrass music fans are also want-to-be musicians, and one of the real highlights is the informal jamming in the evenings," Headrick says. "Our stage show runs from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., but then we all break out our instruments, and the jamming begins in the campground and parking lots."
The Tucson Bluegrass Festival is not just a place for amateurs to get together and perform music; it also happens to be a hotbed for some of the best national acts in bluegrass music. Among this years performers are the Kathy Kallick Band, the Special Consensus and Blue Moon Rising.
Headrick is quick to point out this festival has a lot more going on then the usual music festival. Along with workshops for everything from improving your instrumental skills to singing harmony, there are food, beverage and craft vendors. "Many people simply enjoy the weather and the atmosphere," Headrick says. Tickets are $18 for daily admission and $30 for weekend passes, and children under 16 get in free with a paying adult. --M.P.
As regular readers may note from last week's bizarre tale of my scorpion-filled Halloween, I'm not very inventive when it comes to Halloween costumes. A fisherman? Yeah, and the others haven't been great either (a Mortal Kombat ninja comes to mind).
However, if you happen to be one of those people who lives to dress up for Halloween, or the parent of a little trick-or-treater, then the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association has the perfect event for you: a Halloween costume contest.
Do not expect just another run-of-the-mill costume contest, as those Fourth Avenue merchants have a couple ghoulish tricks, and treats, up their figurative sleeves. Judging from the event's seven-hour running time, you can expect to make an evening of it. Yes, there will be the costume contests (the kids' contest is at 6 p.m., and the adults is at 7 p.m.), but there will also be a live DJ (J-Cat), music by the Brad Harris Band, candy and scary movies. No word on what the movies will be, but with the mixed-aged crowds, don't count on mature fare like Halloween and Aliens.
Oh, and costume wearers with either a) a great imagination, b) a ton of money or c) a ton of time on their hands can walk away with a nice grip of moolah. Although I was not able to get a comment about whether both the kids' and adults' costume contests feature cash prizes, the press release does note that it'll be worth the countless hours of sewing and avoiding the outside world. $400 will be given away, with $250 to the first prize, $100 to the second prize and $50 for the third prize.
Perhaps, just perhaps, I'll bring the ol' fisherman garb out of retirement. --M.P.