05/06 – What’s Goin’ On….

Just an update for people wondering what I’m up to. First of all, I’m absolutely loving it up here in Washington State. I feel like I’m “back home”. I am totally blown away by the strength and talent of the arts up here. Very inspiring and I’ve made a lot of great new friends in this area.

AIDA went very well. I conducted that at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon Washington for three weeks, show finished in April. Very soon I’ll have pics posted. That show was produced by the Theatre Arts Guild of Skagit Valley and I had a total blast working that crew.

Right now I’m in rehearsal with Annie Get Your Gun with Lyric Light Opera. Show will run three weeks in July at McIntyre Hall and then two weeks at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center. While doing that we’re starting to prep for Seussical produced by Meta Performing Arts, I’ll conduct that at McIntyre Hall in November. If you haven’t been to McIntyre Hall, check out the opening flash sample at http://www.mcintyrehall.org/ – It’s an amazing performance venue.

I’ve been music director at Mount Vernon Presbyterian for several months now and am totally digging it. The choir has been very adventurous to perform a wide mix of music from Mozart in Latin to modern Gospel music. The group averages about twenty members and is growing. This week I’m starting to work on some original anthems and liturgical music for them to sing at the services. The congregation here is very warm to me and appreciative of a wide range of music styles. I have also enjoyed the theology and studies I’ve been involved with so far. If you’re interested in finding out about Presbyterians – Visit the Presbyterian Church USA website.

PIPE ORGAN! – The church has an 8 rank pipe organ. Real pipes, what a treat! I’ve been taking organ lessons for several months now working on pedals, etc. Also been learning Hammond and Wurlitzer organ technique. My instructor loves Bach and Hammond Organs, so we get along great. I’m a total Bach nut, so to finally start playing some of Bach’s work on a real pipe organ is a real thrill. Some friends at the church have been taking me to organ and choir concerts. That has been incredible.

INTERNET! – Today is the first time in a long time I’ve been able to work on my sites again. I’m finally caught up on orders and will be bringing back more of our forum communities shortly. Amazing it’s all still running, now I can start building it again.

STUDIO – After a two year hiatus, the studio is now open again! I’ve set it up in my house with dedicated rooms for tracking. For now I won’t be open to the general public. I’d like to focus on writing original sheet music and soundtracks for now. It’s so beautiful to see everything running again. For info on the old studio visit Road Records.

GETTING OLD – Yes, on May 27th this year I turn 40. Yikes! Fortunately I have rehearsals all day so I don’t have to think about it.

I guess the most exciting thing about it all right now is that I’m able to once again start working on original music projects again. There’s a lot of irons in the fire, I’ll post more about those as each one is finished.
And to close, my favorite line from the Desiderata:
Remember that in the face of aridity and disenchantment, love is as perennial as the grass.

🙂

Conrad

Jerry Falwell and the Moral Right

I have been critical of Falwell on this website and others for his pompous representation of Christianity and for the Liberty University approach to science, if it can be called that. All Christians do not share Falwell’s views. His views on education, science and his apparent hotline direct to God are not universal Christian attitudes. God told me he will die in May of next year, but that doesn’t make it true.

The concepts of Moral Right and having a culture that has it’s roots in faith are beautiful to me. But so is Marxism, in theory. When some of these ideas are played out in the real world they can become ugly.

May 1979: Falwell, a televangelist and Baptist pastor in Lynchburg, Va., is recruited by
far-right activists Howard Phillips, Ed McAteer and Paul Weyrich to form the Moral Majority, a vehicle for bringing fundamentalist Protestants into the Republican Party with the aim of unseating President Jimmy Carter. The move was an about-face for Falwell, who advised his congregation in 1965, “Preachers are not called to be politicians but soul winners.”

March 1980: Falwell tells an Anchorage rally about a conversation with President Carter at the White House. Commenting on a January breakfast meeting, Falwell claimed to have asked Carter why he had “practicing homosexuals” on the senior staff at the White House. According to Falwell, Carter replied, “Well, I am president of all the American people, and I believe I should represent everyone.” When others who attended the White House event insisted that the exchange never happened, Falwell responded that his account “was not intended to be a verbatim report,” but rather an “honest portrayal” of Carter’s position.

August 1980: After Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith tells a Dallas
Religious Right gathering that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew,” Falwell gives a similar view. “I do not believe,” he told reporters, “that God answers the prayer of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew.” After a meeting with an American Jewish Committee rabbi, he changed course, telling an interviewer on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “God hears the
prayers of all persons….God hears everything.”

1980-81: After the election of Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority begins advocating for
constitutional amendments banning abortion and restoring school-sponsored prayer. The
group also demands tax aid to religious education.

September 1982: Falwell announces a drive to register 1 million new voters before the
November elections.

July 1984: Falwell is forced to pay gay activist Jerry Sloan $5,000 after losing a court battle. During a TV debate in Sacramento, Falwell denied calling the gay-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches “brute beasts” and “a vile and Satanic system” that will “one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven.” When Sloan insisted he had a tape, Falwell promised $5,000 if he could produce it. Sloan did so, Falwell refused to pay and Sloan successfully sued. Falwell appealed, with his attorney charging that the Jewish judge in the case was prejudiced. He lost again and was forced to pay an additional $2,875 in sanctions and court fees.

November 1984: Reports from the Federal Election Commission indicate that Falwell’s “I
Love America Committee,” a political action committee formed in 1983, was a flop. The
PAC raised $485,000 in its first year—but spent $413,000 to do so.

May 1985: Falwell apologizes to a Jewish group for seeking a “Christian” America. From now on, he says, he will use the term “Judeo-Christian.”

January 1987: Falwell holds a Washington news conference to announce that he is changing
the name of the Moral Majority to the Liberty Foundation. The new name never catches on
and is soon abandoned.

October 1987: The Federal Election Commission fines Falwell $6,000 for transferring $6.7 million in funds intended for his ministry to political committees.

November 1987: Falwell tells reporters he is stepping down as head of the Moral Majority and retiring from politics. “From now on, my real platform is the pulpit, not politics,” he says at a news conference.

February 1988: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a $200,000 jury award to Falwell
for “emotional distress” he suffered because of a Hustler magazine parody. Chief Justice
William H. Rehnquist, usually a Falwell favorite, wrote the unanimous opinion in Hustler v.
Falwell, ruling that the First Amendment protects free speech.

June 1989: Falwell announces that the Moral Majority will shut down its offices and
disband.

January 1991: Siding with Americans United, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously
rejects Falwell’s quest for $60 million in state bonds for his Liberty University. During the
litigation, Falwell tried to camouflage the school’s rigidly fundamentalist character, telling the
court that the school would no longer discriminate in hiring or force students to attend
mandatory chapel (renamed convocation). All the while, Falwell assured his congregation that
Liberty had not changed, insisting chapel will be mandatory “until Jesus comes.”

January 1993: In the wake of Bill Clinton’s election to the presidency, Falwell mails
fund-raising letters nationwide asking people to vote on whether he should reactivate the
Moral Majority. He later refuses to say how much money the effort raised and tells reporters he has no intention of reactivating the organization.

February 1993: The Internal Revenue Service determines that funds from Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour program were illegally funneled to a political action committee. The IRS forced Falwell to pay $50,000 and retroactively revoked the Old Time Gospel Hour’s tax-exempt status for 1986-87.

March 1993: Despite his promise to Jewish groups to stop referring to America as a
“Christian nation,” Falwell gives a sermon saying, “We must never allow our children to forget that this is a Christian nation. We must take back what is rightfully ours.”

September 1993: Falwell announces he will not reactivate the Moral Majority but will
instead do political work through a group called the Liberty Alliance.

March 1994: Falwell announces the formation of a new group, Mission America, which he
claims will mobilize like-minded clergy across the country. Falwell describes the group as a
“personal ministry” and says it will have no budget or staff. Nothing more is heard from it.

May 1994: Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Flame newspaper runs an article calling TV preacher
John Hagee a heretic for saying Jews can be saved without accepting Jesus Christ. Falwell
urges every pastor to “take this information to the podium next Sunday.”

September 1994: Falwell endorses former Iran-Contra figure Oliver North for a U.S. Senate
seat in Virginia. Falwell glosses over North’s legal problems, saying they happened “in the
past.”

1994-1995: Falwell is criticized for using his “Old Time Gospel Hour” to hawk a scurrilous video called “The Clinton Chronicles” that makes a number of unsubstantiated charges against President Bill Clinton—among them that he is a drug addict and that he arranged the murders of political enemies in Arkansas. Despite claims he had no ties to the project, evidence surfaced that Falwell helped bankroll the venture with $200,000 paid to a group called Citizens for Honest Government (CHG). CHG’s Pat Matrisciana later admitted that Falwell and he staged an infomercial interview promoting the video in which a silhouetted reporter said his life was in danger for investigating Clinton. (Matrisciana himself posed as the reporter.) “That was Jerry’s idea to do that,” Matrisciana recalled. “He thought that would be dramatic.”

April 1996: Falwell hosts a “Washington for Jesus” rally in the nation’s capital where he holds a mock trial of America for engaging in seven deadly sins: persecution of the church,
homosexuality, abortion, racism, occultism, addictions and HIV/AIDS (acronym:
PHAROAH). He declares the nation guilty “of violating God’s law.”

July 1996: Falwell announces a series of “God Save America” rallies in evangelical churches
to stop the United States from entering a “post-Christian” era.

February 1997: Falwell sponsors a pastors’ briefing in Washington, during which he
threatens to form a new political party if Republicans waver on abortion.

June 1997: Falwell announces a plan to urge fundamentalist churches to intervene in partisan
politics. He vows to send sample candidate endorsement sermons that pastors can read in
their churches and says he has already done this in the Virginia attorney general’s race. Falwell drops the plan after being reported to the IRS by Americans United.

August 1997: Falwell pleads for funds for a new group, the National Committee for the
Restoration of the Judeo-Christian Ethic. In a fund-raising letter, he promises to “get back in
the ring” and be a “spiritual George Foreman.” He pledges to register 4 million new voters and mobilize 50,000 pastors. After publishing a couple of fund-raising letters, the group is never heard from again.

November 1997: Falwell accepts $3.5 million from a front group representing controversial
Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon to ease Liberty University’s financial woes. The
donation, and several Falwell appearances at Moon conferences, raised eyebrows because
Moon claims to be the messiah sent to complete the failed mission of Jesus Christ, a doctrine
sharply at odds with Falwell’s fundamentalist Christian theology. (In 1978, before the Moon
money started flowing, Falwell told Esquire magazine, “Reverend Sun Myung Moon is like
the plague: he exploits boys and girls, and he should be exported.”)

February 1998: Falwell accepts a $70-million donation from insurance magnate Art
Williams, for his debt-ridden Liberty University. Falwell says the contribution will free him to
focus on politics again.

April 1998: Confronted on national television with a controversial quote from America Can Be Saved!, a published collection of his sermons, Falwell denies having written the book or had anything to do with it. In the 1979 work, Falwell wrote, “I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!” Despite Falwell’s denial, Sword of the Lord Publishing, which produced the book, confirms that Falwell wrote it.

October 1998: In a fund-raising letter, Falwell announces plans to expand his ministry and to
“immediately rededicate myself to use my God-given skills as a national spokesman for
morality and return to the moral/political arena….[W]ith God’s anointing and your prayerful
support, you will soon think I am omnipresent.”

January 1999: Falwell tells a pastors’ conference in Kingsport, Tenn., that the Antichrist prophesied in the Bible is alive today and “of course he’ll be Jewish.”

February 1999: Falwell becomes the object of nationwide ridicule after his National Liberty Journal newspaper issues a “parents alert” warning that Tinky Winky, a character on the popular PBS children’s show “Teletubbies,” might be gay. (Americans United was responsible for releasing the information to the national press.)

Attitude

ATTITUDE

by Charles Swindall

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on my life. Attitude to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…..a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the past…..we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude…..I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…..we are in charge of our attitudes.

Annie Get Your Gun – July-August 2006

Presented by Lyric Light Opera of the Northwest. Directed by Brenda Mueller and Produced by Leslie Asplund.

Coming to McIntyre Hall, Mount Vernon, WA!
Fri Sat Shows are evening – Sunday shows are matinee

July 14-16, 2006
July 21-23, 2006
July 28-30, 2006
Fri & Sat 7:30pm – Sun 2pm

For ticket information:
Please call (360) 416-7727
www.mcintyrehall.org

Coming to Kirkland Performance Center!

August 4-6, 2006
August 11-13, 2006
Sat Aug 5th and Sat Aug 6th also have 2pm Matinees
Fri & Sat 8pm – Sun 2pm

For ticket information:

Please call (425) 893-9900
www.kpcenter.org

*********************************

MUSICIANS: Check here for updates and rehearsal schedule.
1) Musicians need to wear all black clothing for shows.
2) Musicians need clip-on music stand lights, stands will be provided.
ORCHESTRA REHEARSALS
June 27 Tuesday 6pm – Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church – All music
(MV Presbyterian is located at 15th and Broadway in Mt. Vernon –
across from Skagit Valley Hospital)
*CHANGED* July 3 Monday 6pm – Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church
July 6 Thursday 6pm-10pm – Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church
*NEW* July 7 Friday 6pm – Orchestra Mt. Vernon Presbyterian
Mon-Tue July 10-22 6pm – Load in at McIntyre Hall – Conrad will be there both nights.
*(This added rehearsal is not contracted, hope all will attend if possible. We will be in the orchestra pit)
July 12 Wednesday – Dress Rehearsal 6pm McIntyre Hall
July 13 Thursday – Dress Rehearsal 6pm McIntyre Hall
August 3 Thursday – Dress Rehearsal 6pm Kirkland Performance Center

*NOTE* We will have additional matinees on Sat Aug 5th and Sat. Aug 12th 2pm

MUSICIANS INFO FOR KIRKLAND RUN:

Here’s info on the upcoming Kirkland run of AGYG. This is just for musicians contracted for Kirkland, in other words all musicians that have signed a contract.

Kirkland Performing Arts Center Website:

Home


350 Kirkland Ave.
Kirkland, WA 98033
Box Office: 425.893.9900

Here is a mapquest.com link for directions

DIRECTIONS FROM MOUNT VERNON:
Take I-5 South
Merge onto I-405 S via EXIT 182 toward BELLEVUE / RENTON.12.2 miles
8:Take the N.E. 85TH ST. exit- EXIT 18- toward KIRKLAND. 0.4 miles
9: Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto NE 85TH ST / WA-908. 0.4 miles
10: Turn LEFT onto 6TH ST. 0.1
11: Turn RIGHT onto KIRKLAND WAY.0.1 miles
12: Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto KIRKLAND AVE. 0.1 miles
13: End at 350 Kirkland Ave
Kirkland, WA 98033-6221, US

DATES TO BE IN KIRKLAND:
August 3, 6pm – SOUND CHECK AND DRESS REHEARSAL
August 4, 8:00 PM
August 5, 2:00 PM & 8:00 PM
August 6, 2:00 PM
August 11, 8:00 PM
August 12, 2:00 PM & 8:00 PM
August 13, 2:00 PM
Adults $25.00Â Sr $20.00 Youth $18.00

Please arrange carpools if needed while we are at McIntyre.

WeHaveLupus.com Back Online

WeHaveLupus

WeHaveLupus.com is back online. This site is a free internet forum community for patients and family members diagnosed with Lupus Erythematosus. I started this website in November 2001 for a good friend of mine who’s daughter succumbed to Lupus in 1999. The site is moderated by “SaySuzie” who has been an incredible source of inspiration and support for me personally. I worked with her a lot in the studio and produced several soundtracks for her including a solo CD project.

What I like most about this site is how many people it has helped who are at their wit’s end. Lupus is an especially frustrating disease because patients often physically look healthy, and it can be very difficult for friends and family to understand why they are in such pain and experiencing fatigue. Lupus can go in remissions and come back at any time. Some patients may go dozens of years without recurring symptoms. It can hit at any time at any age, but my understanding is it typically surfaces in early adulthood.

Major kudos to Saysuzie for helping develop this community which is now helping so many people. And thank you Saysuzie for standing by me!

ChristianViewpoints.com Back Online

ChristianViewpoints.com is back online after a three month hiatus. I’ve had several emails from members looking forward to it coming back online.

For those new to our forum network – we have two sister sites with Bible-Discussion.com and ChristianViewpoints.com

Bible-Discussion.com is open to all for debate of scripture, bible translation, bible history and theology. It is open to Christians, skeptics, atheists, Buddhists, and everything in between. It is a very active debate community representing a wide range of belief systems. There are many ordained ministers on the site as well as college science students. I love the diversity on that site.

ChristianViewpoints.com is different. CV is a Christian fellowship site specifically for Christians. We politely ask skeptics, atheists, et al to refrain from posting on this site, and to limit posts to Bible-Discussion.com – Members have been very good at respecting this difference between the two sites. CV is one of the few sites in my network that is not categorically open to all members. Why? First and foremost, although I am a strong believer in free speech; our communities are guided by the members and moderators. The members and moderators at that site want a place they can have Christian fellowship and study without being interrupted by non-Christians ad nauseum. They have voiced a strong desire to have that site free of non-Christians. Because Bible-Discussion.com is open to all, I think that’s a fair request on their part.

My Christian guitar forum is also back open now at www.GuitarDiscussion.com

More Forums Back Online

I have another group of discussion forums coming back online in the next 72 hours. I’ve tried to bring the most popular forums back first, or those that specific members have contacted me they would like to have back. Squeaky wheel gets the grease here, so if you have a favorite forum that is NOT online by March 30, 2006 – Please email me and I’ll bring it back. My email is on the “contact” link on the right hand side of this blog.

Thank you to members for their patience, and thank you to all the mods that keep me informed on issues in our many different communities. As you can imagine, the forums can very quickly eat up a lot of time and I try my best not to get hooked into ongoing debates – because it’s very easy to get lost in it. So I’ll try my best to keep my distance and just maintain things as needed.

The empire is now located in the Pacific Northwest about 60 miles from Seattle, WA. I’m really enjoying it up here and feel like I’m back home. Any members between Seattle and Anacortes that want to hook up let me know – it’s always fun to meet community members in real life.

Enjoy the discussions and have fun. As one of our mods ACFixer likes to say “Relax, it’s only the internet.”

🙂

Martin Luther on Music

I ran across this, and it’s just too good to pass up. It is from a letter by Martin Luther of the Reformation. Parts of these can be found at http://www.thrivent.com/heritage/music/16/church.html – I consider the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans website to be a solid reference source.

The thought of the day for this is: Music is not our gift to God, but God’s gift to us. Interesting things to think about.

Here is my absolute favorite excerpt:

A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Foreword to Georg Rhau’s Collection, “Symphoniae iucundae”.

“I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ!

I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God.

The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them…. In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits…

Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms.

This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God.

However, when man’s natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace.

A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”

– Martin Luther

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And one more for good measure:

I am not satisfied with him who despises music, as all fanatics do; for music is an endowment and a gift of God, not a gift of men . . . I place music next to theology and give it the highest praise.” – Martin Luther

Kontakt 2 Software featured for Northwest US Premier of Elton John’s AIDA

PRESS RELEASE

Kontakt 2 software will be used for the Northwest Premiere of Elton John’s AIDA. Developed by Berlin, Germany based Native Instruments, Kontakt 2 is a virtual synthesizer software application used primarily for high end audio production and sampling.

Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA plot is based loosely on the original opera by VERDI written more than a hundred years ago. Elton John’s updated musical includes a rock score incorporating multiple guitars, percussionists and traditional orchestral instruments.

“We have a pit group of 10 musicians that includes seven keyboards performed by three players”, says musical director Conrad Askland. “Kontakt 2 will be utilized for performance of specialized world percussion, music effects and industrial foley.”

Askland says tech support at Native Instruments has been extremely helpful in assisting with utilizing the software on a laptop for the performances. Sound files used for the production will include sound effects from the Sony Music Library as well as Canada based foley effects provider SOUND IDEAS.

“The production of AIDA takes place in Egypt and calls for very detailed soundscapes during scene changes, dances and interlude music. Even with our small army of pit musicians including a dedicated world percussionist, they are hard pressed to deliver all of the sounds needed for a world class performance. Kontakt 2 will allow us to fill in with detailed samples of world percussion instruments and authentic native performances that would have been cost prohibitive to deliver with real instruments, ” says Askland.

The Northwest premiere of AIDA is produced by the Theatre Arts Guild in Skagit County, Washington and will run at the new McIntyre Hall from March 24th to April 9th, 2006. Ticket and venue information at mcintyrehall.org

The Power of Freedom of Speech and Open Discussion

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Absolutely chilling words if taken into the context of our constantly evolving social consciousness: Martin Luther and the Reformation, Slavery and the American Civil War, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, World War II and the Holocaust, etc.

Elements and situations that are accepted by one generation are condemned by later generations in a tipping point change in social consciousness. And in many instances the flames for change are fanned by one person who just happens to fit in at the right time and place; and has the courage to put it all on the line for that higher purpose.

In the background of all these social changes is the element of open discussion and freedom of speech. It is a powerful force. Most misunderstandings I have experienced in my life come down to people not having all the facts, and/or operating behind closed doors without open discussion.

If we sit in our comfortable protected pockets and refuse to interact with those of differing beliefs, then it’s very easy to continue with our current beliefs unchallenged. It can be our nature to create a world view of how and why everything is the way it is, and then to fiercely defend that regardless of the viewpoint’s validity. After all, it’s reality isn’t it? Maybe not.

Most things are perception, and the world view each of us creates is based largely on perception. How painful it is when we find something we thought was true, isn’t anymore. We are confronted with new information, new knowledge, paradigm shifts in our thinking. It’s a rebirth of the new, but a painful death to the old.

I strongly believe that when open discussion is encouraged and all information is available, that good things happen. I also believe that when people deal in half-truths and incomplete information they can make devastatingly bad choices in their lives. You don’t have to look very far to see this in action.

What is the good that happens with open discussion and full disclosure of information? We are better equipped to make better choices. There are many beliefs I have held in the past that only changed when I was bold enough to discuss them publicly. This enabled others to hear what I was saying, and offer me more information or alternative points of view. Some views that change might be very small, simply trivial facts. But every once in a while you get a thunderbolt that rocks the very foundation of a world view. Those are exciting times. Open discussion facilitates that.

What is the bad that happens when discussions are closed? We never get to hear the full feedback and additional information that might have been available. It takes a certain amount of courage to speak out, but that courage holds great gifts within it.

I am not immune from having preconceptions, perhaps incorrect, that affect my world view. We all have these; to pretend we don’t is naive and foolish. I am very thankful for those that have entered my life along my walk, those that have had profoundly moving discussions to share that have enriched my life and subsequently my effectiveness to serve.

For those of you from my Bible and Christian fellowship forums: Be particularly wary of taking individual scriptures out of context as an end-all-be-all without cross referencing your findings. I have seen it so many times in my discussion communities where someone comes forward with a particular interpretation, only to find they may have been misled when more studied members add clarification.

We’re all in this world together. Choose your walk and encourage open discussions when at all possible. We have great gifts to share with each other. Let’s share them.

AIDA – Pit Musician Rehearsal and Show Schedule

I look forward to working with all of you. Each of you has been hand picked and/or highly recommended to me. All shows will be at McIntyre Hall – visit www.mcintyrehall.org if you need directions etc. We will have one additional dedicated four hour block with the sound crew, this time is not set yet – I am hoping as many of you as possible can make this time when it is set to help with sound sculpting. Email me for my cell phone number if needed (click “contact” to right of screen for my email address).

All musicians need to bring complete gear, ie: guitar players need to bring amps. McIntyre is not accustomed necessarily to rock shows of this nature, and provide only sound reinforcement.
DRESS – Please wear all black, details are up to you. Stands, chairs and music stand lights will be provided.

REHEARSALS
MV Pres is Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church – located in Mount Vernon on 15th across from Skagit Valley Hospital.
Thurs 3/02 – 9pm – RHYTHM SECTION ONLY – MV PRES
Sat 3/04 – 10am on…. – All Day – MV PRES
Tue 3/14 – 6-9pm Music – MV PRES
Wed 3/15 – 6-9pm Music with vocalists- Cascade Commons
Sun 3/19 – SOUND CHECK – 4pm-8pm McIntyre Hall
Wed 3/22 – At McIntyre HALL 6pm
Thurs 3/23 At McIntyre – Dress Rehearsal 6pm
Please arrive 45 minutes before downbeat.
SHOWS
3/24 7:30 Friday
3/25 7:30 Sat
3/26 2pm Sun
3/30 7:30pm Thur
3/31 7:30 Fri
4/1 7:30 Sat
4/2 2pm Sun
4/6 – 7:30pm Thur
4/7 7:30 Fri
4/8 7:30 Sat

The Power of Positive Skepticism: A Reply to Deepak Chopra

Dr. Michael Shermer’s response to Deepak Chopra’s attack on skepticism is so great, so powerful, and so civil considering the outlandish topics to be addressed. I wanted to give this response special notice for those not hip to the current writings of Dr. Michael Shermer, and to those that have not had the opportunity to see well written response to Chopra’s careless abuse of science and incorporation of pseudo-science.

READ Shermer’s Response to Deepak Chopra

Currently I only have two references in my blog-roll referrals – Dr. Shermer and James Randi. It is because these two people continue to amaze and inspire me with their focus to the facts, and their determined stamina to continually take on pseudo-science in a style that is well written and well documented.

That Chopra and Shermer would go head to head on the Huffington Post website is impressive to me. I would have thought that Chopra would shy away from this encounter, perhaps he wasn’t ready for what he would get in return.

In my previous attacks on the current state of affairs of the New Thought movement, which in my experience have become irreversibly infested with New Age quackery, I had not addressed Chopra. Deepak Chopra was someone I used to read and try to follow. The latest work of his I read was just about a year ago – a close friend gave me his entire set of tapes on body types, etc. In going through his series it was one of the first times it donned on me, “this seems kind of made-up”. As I looked online I found countless professors and professionals who were bold enough to speak up on how much of the work was made up words, phrases and things that “sounded like they might be science.”

Chopra is above my head to address, but Michael Shermer makes fair game of the material. You can easily Google more rebuttals, but they tend to be VERY dry from academic sources. They have to be to adequately address the material.

Read for yourself, make your own decisions.

Cal Tech Lecture Series SOLD OUT!

I am so happy for Dr. Michael Shermer and the Skeptics Society, but sad for myself. I had flown down from Seattle and went to attend the Feb. 26th lecture at Baxter Lecture Hall on the Cal Tech campus in Pasadena today and arrived just at the lecture start time of 2pm. IT WAS SOLD OUT! So I crept around back to stand in the top exit corridor, and it was full of people! They were happy to stand for the two hour lecture in sweltering heat. BUMMER!

But Michael Shermer is so VERY cool, he just e-mailed me to say he would provide me with a DVD of the lecture. YOU ROCK DR. SHERMER!

You can read Dr. Shermer’s articles in Scientific American. His latest focus, as it seems to me, is to address the awe and mystery that is plainly available from the sciences. My not so humble opinion is that Dr. Shermer is almost single handedly promoting such public interest in REAL scientific study and academia, that we will someday see a “tipping point” where it is IN STYLE to be educated and studied in the FACTS that current scientific research has to offer. And yes, there is indeed a great deal of awe and mystery to be uncovered.
Here is the info on the lecture from the Skeptics Society:

Breaking The Spell
Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Sunday, February 26th, 2006, 2:00 pm

Dr. Daniel Dennett

One of the greatest thinkers of our age tackles one of the most important questions of our time: why people believe in God and how religion shapes our lives and our future. In this lecture, based on his new book of the same title, Dr. Dennett shows that for the vast majority of people there is nothing more important than religion. It is an integral part of their marriage, child rearing, and community. Dennett takes a hard look at this phenomenon and asks: Where does our devotion to God come from and what purpose does it serve? Is religion a blind evolutionary compulsion or a rational choice? In a spirited investigation that ranges widely through history, philosophy, and psychology, Dennett explores how organized religion evolved from folk beliefs and why it is such a potent force today. Deftly and lucidly, he contends that the “belief in belief� has fogged any attempt to rationally consider the existence of God and the relationship between divinity and human need.

Dr. Dennett is a professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, and the author of the highly acclaimed Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Consciousness Explained, and Freedom Evolves.

First Forums to Come Back Online

These will be the first forums to come back online, probably the week of March 8th.

fender-talk.com
religious-science.com
rapdogs.com
drumdogs.com
bassdogs.com
creationtalk.com
bible-discussion.com
cheerleading-cheers.com
prochoicetalk.com
christian-prayers.com

What’s Goin On…..

I’ve been getting a lot of emails wondering where I disappeared to and why the networks are down, etc. – So here’s a little update:

I’ve been in Mount Vernon, WA since mid-January rehearsing for Elton John’s AIDA which runs March 24th to April 8th. The producers, crew and cast have been great to work with so far and I’ve really enjoyed my time up here. Many of the members have been nice enough to introduce me to little underground music spots up here, and it’s absolutely fantastic.

While being in Mount Vernon I’ve found a church that has a need for a music director and I’ve agreed to take that position. I’ll be starting in mid-March. So to facilitate that I’m flying down to California, putting stuff in storage and shipping up what I need so I can still do my audio production work. It’s not fancy, but people have put up a place where I can work, and I look forward to writing more music to be performed in church. In my typical prima donna fashion I have already told the church they need a new piano…..I think my exact words were “If Zeus were still alive and hurling thunderbolts this piano would be a cinderblock”. I’ve been very spoiled in my life when it comes to having fine instruments to perform on (and hope to continue in that fashion!).

I consider that work at this church a time to serve. Some have voiced their disappointment at me taking such a low position, but I’m willing to take a chance that this is where I should be, and that I can do a lot of good here.

Am I moving to Mount Vernon, Washington? I don’t know. I’m going to work here and live here for a bit since I see work that needs to be done. I don’t know if that work will be for a couple months or twenty years. I’m walking on faith. In the meantime, my belongings will be in California so if Disney finally hires me I’ll be ready.

INTERNET NETWORKS: Our public forum network was compromised in early January and it’s still not up yet. Several tech blunders, and new people that were supposed to do the job didn’t. I had to put this on the back burner. Most regular members understand that the network is run by my own money, and run on my own time – Right now I don’t have alot of either. ON THE UPSWING – I do have a new server in place, it’s actually been in place for a couple weeks. I just haven’t had the time to get each community back up and running. But it’s there, waiting. The last six months of 2005 I learned a LOT about code which will be very helpful in the future. But now I think I need to learn linux server maintenance, security and get better with mysql to do the things I need to do.

A very big thank you to my friends in California that are still standing with me through all this, and thank you to my new friends in Washington that are setting me up. Somehow I always manage to find people that will clear a path so I can do my work. And I am very ready to get back to work.

Is it true that we own nothing, that it is only given to us as caretakers for a time? That’s my latest pondering……

Namaste,
Conrad

Forum Network Crash January 2006

I’m constantly amazed at the conspiracy theories that abound about my forum network, especially since our early January 2006 crash. Most people have been very supportive and understanding. There’s a small pocket of people that have been absolutely toxic about the situation, each one seeming to have their own special conspiracy spin on everything.

I refuse to constantly explain and defend the network across other people’s forums. Several people have acted as spokesman and have been no help at all, in fact they seem to encourage flaming. If you have a question you can e-mail me. When I do explain in part, those that are mean-spirited have a tendency to twist my words and/or fill in with conspiracy details that don’t exist. If you want info on blackouts, then come here to www.conradaskland.com. I’m happy to provide info here. Some people said they have contacted me via regular mail and/or phone – my mailing address has changed as well as my phone numbers since I’ve relocated up to Washington.
So for those that are interested, here’s all the details of what happened. There’s been a couple of people I have detailed everything to, and as I tell them I notice their eyes start to glaze over. It’s not highly interesting, and I admire anyone who has the fortitude to read all the details here. But here it is:

First of all, to answer a few questions that come up ALL the time:

WHY HAVE THE NETWORK?
When my company was very prosperous, I set up the forum network as a tithe back to the community at large. It was our goodwill donation. When my company scaled back I have tried to keep the forum network going because I have seen so many lives positively impacted by it. It’s fun and I’ve made a lot of good friends through this network. When my company scaled back I started incorporating some ads to offset the costs of running it. Running a couple boards doesn’t cost much, but I’m running about 100 – so yes, there’s some cost and time involved in running it.

DO YOU MAKE MONEY OFF THE NETWORK?
No, I have never made a profit off it. Making a profit was never the point. Many people have pointed to a grand master plan – but there never was one. It just is what it is. I try not to badger people about donations, etc. – but that option is available for those that feel like donating from time to time.

WHY DOES THE NETWORK KEEP CRASHING?
For those that run a couple forums and compare it to what I’m runnning, I’m sorry but there’s no comparison. Because my network at it’s conception was tied in to my other networks, there are many processes that run across multiple servers and call information from non-local databases. A couple people have offered to temporarily host certain forums, but to do that I have open IP access to our other networks to pull in data, and they would be privy to all the backend info that accesses our other servers – I’m not comfortable with that, in addition I have to deal with members of other communities wondering why THEIR forum isn’t coming up. At the time the network was created I had a full time staff of techs that would oversee it and make repairs as needed. In January 2005 my servers were completely compromised due to shoddy security work by my former techs. I got things back and running, and in mid-2005 had some new techs work primarily on disengaging our forum network from my other networks. In the last half of 2005 I started to learn how to do upgrades, etc. on our forum software and how to navigate our custom server and database setups. What I am working on now is simplifying our forums and splitting them across multiple servers so we never have a full blackout on all forums.

WHY DID WE CRASH?
Our server was compromised. The software we run, phpbb, has a long-standing problem of security exploits which are uncovered over time by hackers. That is why they release a new version about every two months – primarily for security reasons. Our server was compromised in early January and the hosting company shut down the server. It is normal for hosting companies to monitor servers and typically will shut down a server if it’s compromised to keep the rest of their networks safe. Were our sites specifically targeted? Probably not. Hackers that exploit the security vulnerabilities of phpbb typically have software that is automated to search out sites runnning phpbb. Why do they hack? Usually to use the server for sending spam. The hosting company says our server was being used to send spam. PHPBB released their version 2.19 on December 31, and I had all forums updated the next day on New Years Day. So I’m assuming the hack was from a previous version release, or maybe an exploit of a pre-2.19 – So the next question would be, why don’t I switch all forums to different software? To be clear, most all forum software has occasional security problems, just that phpbb historically has had more. Because we’re running 100 forums, it would be cost-prohibitive to switch all forums over. I did buy a different software format in December 2005 and was experimenting with that as a text for future conversions – so in time we may switch. Having 100 phpbb forums makes us a prime target for vulnerability crawls.
WHY DIDN’T YOU EMAIL EVERYONE THAT THE SERVER WAS GOING TO SHUT DOWN?
This is one comment I have seen a lot, and befuddles me a bit. Our server was compromised and terminated by the host, there was no warning. Some people seem to think our server was shut down over a money issue, and that I had warning. If it had been a money issue, then yes I would have had warning – but I’m more resourceful than that and would have found a way around it. But, that wasn’t the case, the server was compromised and shut down by the host.

YOU SAID THE SERVER WOULD BE BACK UP IN A COUPLE DAYS
Yes, I did. Originally the host gave me two options – 1) Have their techs reformat the drive and reinstall from my former hard drive. But I would have to send them a list of each file to be copied over, anything not on the list would be omitted and there was not guarantee of functionality of their work. This server, needing to pull in info from other servers, etc. I thought was far too complicated for house staff, and tech support was very negative about what the outcome would be. 2) Option two was for them to Fedex the drive to my server admin who could reinstall info remotely. I chose this option and thought it was a good opportunity to review security on the server and give the tech a chance for suggestions on streamlining the server. This tech works on several of my other servers and had done a good job up to this point. The PLAN was that the server would be with the tech in two days, within two days after that we would have all sites back up. This is where everything fell apart.

GETTING THE SERVER BACK – THE DRAMA BEGINS
First mistake, I had the hard drive sent to my tech on the East Coast, which is where I send all my payments. Turns out that’s just the head company, he lives on the West Coast and hadn’t told me until the server was enroute. We had the server rerouted – but by this time it took a week for the server to reach the tech on the West Coast. By this time he was in Florida working on a major install job. He told me no problem, he would have one of his employees mount the hard drive and he would work on it remotely from Floriday. He had a four hour block at a certain time, which was now a week after the crash. I called to verify he was ready to work, then had the server company re-open the ports to the server. The had reinstalled a fresh version of the operating system and were waiting for me to tell them to open the ports. So at this point, I’m thinking everything is cool and the tech said we’d be up within a couple days, maybe even the same night.

Three days later we’re still not up (Now 10 days after the crash). I contact the tech who says it will all be finished the following day. The following day he calls me to say he can’t get on the server. Turns out he never started working on the server four days before, he thought he would work on it later. What the tech didn’t understand is that when this particular host opens up a server – they open it up with absolutely no firewalls or security measures. They leave it wide open – so of course within this four days the server was hacked again. I called the hosting company to tell them to reformat the hard drive a second time and to wait for my call to open it up – the hosting company tech support said my account was under review because they think I’m a spammer. I had to wait three days for them to say they reviewed my account and would keep me as a customer. Meanwhile I relieved my tech of duties and had him send me the hard drive – I didn’t want him messing up again. In retrospect, this was a mistake of mine – Maybe I should have given him a second chance, but I had lost trust in him after he misled me.

At this point I’m leaving out of state for a three month job. The job is time consuming so I can’t devote lots of time to getting the forum server back. I spend another 10 days out of state trying to find a tech to assist me, had one setup and he kept flaking. Went online and found a good tech in Sweden, we finally arrange a time where we can chat online while he works on the server – it’s now the end of January – I call the hosting company to open the ports and they inform me my account has been closed and that I’m a spammer. In mid-January I told them to do a third fresh reinstall and to close all ports – that I would call when I was ready to open. Turns out they did a fresh reinstall and left it wide open again! Unbelievable. I called tech support to inform them of their blunder, and was told they wouldn’t talk to me because I was a spammer. I called customer support and was told the same thing. I think I threw the phone across the room and broke it on a wall. I was really steamed. So, there’s the first month of what happened.

I still cannot get around how a hosting company could open a server wide open with absolutely no security, and without notifying the owner that the server was open. An impossible scenario.
I’m getting kind of bored of detailing all this, pretty dry stuff. Add to this trying to get my server hard drive mounted so I can use it remotely, interviewing for other jobs in my new area, not having my computer gear with me (it was all back in California), and needless to say everything was very time consuming to deal with.

I spent about a week looking at new hosts and now have a server setup with a new company. I’m going to go to California and ship up all my computer gear. It will be a little slow getting the first forums up. I have to clean things up a lot and disengage our dependency across different servers. I’m also going to split the network up into subgroups.

And last but not least, some people seem really steamed I didn’t return their emails. I received over a THOUSAND emails on my AOL account in mid-January, most regarding the forums. I just couldn’t respond to them and it clogged my account so I had to delete them. My company emails don’t have a limit like AOL does, but I didn’t have access to them because all my passwords were back in California. Many of the processes I need to use are IP restricted, and being out of state on a rotating IP I didn’t have quick access.

Check back, I’ll post news as forums become active again.

Askland to Conduct AIDA

Conrad Askland will be conducting AIDA at McIntyre Hall March 24 – April 8, 2006, Mount Vernon, WA.

Aida 2AIDA is the adaptation of Verdi’s original 1871 opera by Sir Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice. Conrad will be in production with the crew starting mid-January 2006. Rumor has it he will also be performing keyboard parts along with the show.

OVERVIEW
Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA is a contemporary musical take on the grand classic tale of the love between a soldier and an enslaved princess – a love that condemns them to death, but ultimately transcends the vast cultural differences between the two warring nations, heralding an unprecedented time of peace and prosperity.

AidaWith a pop-rock score that features stirring ballads and rousing choral numbers, Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA is a modern crowd pleaser that embraces multi-cultural casting and exuberant dancing, staging and singing.

Song Info – The Lord’s Prayer

My version of The Lord’s Prayer was originally written for Cathryn Howard and Carol Dinise for their second CD release. They are a Catholic music team and published by World Library Publications, a Catholic publishing company.

On the Dinise/Howard CD the whole song is performed first with solo female voice, then run again with full orchestration and choir. The version you hear on this page is a different mix of just the second half.

The Lord’s Prayer MP3 File

My first consideration for this piece was of course Albert Hay Malotte’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, the most famous version that most people associate with these lyrics. It was foremost in my mind not to copy any of the lines in Malotte’s, or to have any lines that could even remotely be considered “borrowed” or plagarism.

With the lyric content and the artists I was writing for, I knew it have to be reverent, but not too stiff. I intentionally kept the entire lead melody within the range of a 9th so it would be easy for other vocalists to sing down the road.

One of the elements in this piece I like best is where the choir repeats the lead melody in a sort of canon behind the lead vocal. This was a little tricky for me in some parts, kind of like a small primer for writing Bach inventions (I wouldn’t be so pompous as to say it approaches the complexity of a fugue). My favorite little moments in the piece is when the choir is echoing the lead vocal, but against different underlying chords.

This piece was composed in a traditional format – with pencil and paper at the piano. This was not a piece I could “cover up” weak writing style with production elements, nor did I want to.

Once the writing was finished, I started doing a MIDI rough draft with orchestrations. At the time I didn’t have ProTools yet, so all the tracking and arrangements were done on an 8-track 1/2 inch reel-to-reel with MIDI sync code. I had a lot of wires running to midi gear! This seems impossible to me know, but back when this was recorded I was using such a simple time code, that I could not sync up in the middle of a song. I actually had to rewind back to the beginning. I guess the good training in this is that I learned to have the parts worked out in my head before I started laying tracks.

The arrangement was laid down, a local choir was kind enough to volunteer to record the echo parts, and an opera singer I was working with at the time laid down some of the high descants you hear ala the “Star Trek” theme.

I had wanted to re-record this piece with a pop vocalist, just to see what the contrast would be with the traditional melody lines and classical style orchestration. Incidentally, my pattern for the orchestration was styled after Yanni at the Acropolis.

All the parts were laid down, but I hadn’t found my final vocalist yet. None of the studio vocalists at the time had quite the right feel for it. I just so happened I was playing with Freddy Fender in Vegas for a week at the Gold Coast casino, and had brought my recording gear with me to work during the week. I wanted these parts done right away so I went to the karaoke bar and heard an incredible vocalist doing Aaron Neville material, but this vocalist had a little more power than Neville.

I hired him to do the vocal part, which turned out to be a real fight. This version of the Lord’s Prayer had been written for a female vocal range, not male. And everything was laid down analog, I couldn’t just push a button in ProTools and transpose everything. The vocalist took the whole song UP AN OCTAVE to perform it, and I worked him very hard to get those high notes. There’s a high C at the end.

So that’s my one regret, I should have used a female vocalist on it. I would love to hear this recorded again with a real orchestra and a male/female vocalist with everything in a proper key for all. The song is in 6/8, which partly keeps it relegated to concert hall repertoire. I can’t hear it as a pop remake, etc. – and a country song it’s not. So 6/8 it stays.

I have received mixed reviews on this piece. Several people have told me directly and in no uncertain terms that they simply don’t it. Of course, I’ve also had many people say it has really moved them and they love it.

My version of the Lord’s Prayer was included on the Dinise/Howard CD, and this particular mix was included on New Faces Volume Three, a Road Records compilation CD. It was also performed at the 2004 High Desert Interfaith service with the Interfaith choir and myself at the piano. Karen Etheridge has also performed it several times, including Christmas 2004 at the Hi Desert Church of Religious Science.

Listen for yourself and let me know what you think. I believe that if it was re-recorded with a real orchestra and strong singers in a new key, it would be very well received and might even have a shot at becoming part of the regular repertoire for church’s. Of course, I’m a little biased. 🙂

I think I wrote this around 1999.

Music heads might appreciate this: In the Kurzweil PX1000 there’s that incredibly spooky patch called “Doppler Choir”. It’s one of the real standout patches of this unit. But where can you use it? It’s so bizarre. In the final few bars of this piece you’ll hear a little Doppler Choir run right before the final cadences.

The Lord’s Prayer MP3

Song Info – Honey Will You Love Me

Here’s a song I wrote that includes Freddy Fender playing on the guitar solo. Honey Will You Love Me (When There’s No Money in the Bank) is one of the few songs up to that time where I also sang the lead vocal, and one of the only tracks I don’t play on. I usually prefer to use studio vocalists as it’s always fun to see what different life they breathe into a song.

Honey Will You Love Me – MP3 File

There are some great players on this track. At the time I wrote this song I was playing with Freddy Fender of the Texas Tornados so I was lucky enough to have many of the Tornados players on this track.

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The inspiration for this song was my personal life at the time as well as Auge Meyers. Augie also played with Freddy Fender when I did so I was able to hang with him a lot. He is the true voice of Texas music and using “spanglish” on songs. He is the writer of Hey Baby Que Paso, Guacamole and dozens of other hits. I like the driving 8th note rhythm of “Who Were You Thinking Of” by the Texas Tornados, so I used that vibe for this song. Also incorporated a little “spanglish” and kept the content ideas very simple. It was fun to rhyme “millionaire” with “ran out of beer”, etc. Part of the colloquial charm of a piece like this.

This particular piece has gotten pretty good universal feedback from people. Much of my work is in such specific genres that only people in those genres appreciate it, but this piece seems to have a crossover appeal.

The instrumental tracks were recorded in Las Vegas, NV at the Gold Coast hotel and casino while we were playing there for a week engagement with Freddy. I think drum tracks had already been laid down previously. I lived in Victorville at the time which is just about 3 hours from Vegas, so I actually took a whole truckload of my gear and set it up in the hotel room so I could work during the week. Hotel security got called at one point because of the volume, so we hauled everything down to our dressing room down by the swimming pool and I finished tracking there. Freddy was very nice to play a short solo section on the track.

During that week I got an amazing amount of tracking done. There was a pretty busy karaoke bar at the casino, and I would hire vocalists from there to lay down tracks. The vocalist for my rendition of the Lord’s Prayer was also found there – at a Las Vegas karaoke bar!

This is one song I always hoped a headline artist would pick up.

LYRICS:

Chorus
Honey will you love me when there’s no money in the bank?
Digame baby, c’mon what do you think?
Now I aint much at being elegant
So I’m just askin’ you right up front
Honey will you love me when there’s no money in the bank?

Verse
Now the chica before you, she didn’t treat me so well
Said she loved me, but she meant just for a spell
She looked at me just like a millionaire
But that all stopped when I ran out of beer
So will you say “te llamo” when there’s no money in the bank?

Chorus
Inst Solos (Accordion and Guitar)
Chorus

Agnus Dei – Classical Duet by Askland

The Agnus Dei uses the latin text from the Catholic Mass. This duet was written for Karen Etheridge and Carlotta Diggs, both from the Southern California High Desert. I wanted to write a very traditional classic-style duet that was graceful and feminine. My visual for this piece was the scene in the Shawshank Redemption where all the prisoners stop their activities to listen to the classical music played over the prison loudspeakers. That was my favorite scene in the movie, and I wanted to compose a piece that would have fit into that scene equally well.

Here is the MP3 file of the song:
Agnus Dei by Askland MP3
Here is the original latin text and it’s following english translation:

Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who take away sins of world,

miserere nobis.
have mercy on us.

Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who take away sins of world,

dona nobis pacem.
grant us peace.

Being raised Lutheran and having performed many masses by classical greats including Schubert and Mozart – the words to me are particularly powerful. If you don’t have a background listening to masses, I imagine it may not have the same effect. The different movements of the Mass contain the core theology of the Catholic and Protestant churches going back deep into the history of Western culture. And to a devout Catholic these words could not run any deeper.

To me personally the words of the Agnus Dei are triumphant. It is the proclamation and announcement of the sacrifice that broke mankind’s bondage to sin. There is also the “have mercy on us” line which could be taken as a somber plea or joyful request that is known to already be fulfilled. To round this out, I have a middle bridge section in minor that features a short solo by each vocalist which ends in a minor chord false ending on the words “dona nobis pacem” or “grant us peace”. At that point the music modulates to a new major key to reinstate the major theme, or in my mind it “morphs” from the minor to the new major key.

Just a key change? Not to me. The statement is made by each individual vocalist that the lamb of God has come to take away the sins of the world, then together in a minor key they ask “Grant us peace”. At that point when the music builds to the final theme statement, that IS the peace being granted. Of course, if you’re not hip to what the Latin text is saying, this moment would be lost on the listener. I think I acheived this effect well, you can judge for yourself by listening.

I had always planned on completing the full mass, with this being just one of the short movements in it. I did start working on the rest of the mass movements in early 2005, but a very strong change in my personal views led me to resign from the church I was working at.

To me the Mass movements only work well to a classical audience that is well versed in the meaning and history of the music and text of the mass, or to a Catholic who would naturally be acquainted with the movements and their meanings.

The three of us – Karen Etheridge, Carlotta Diggs and myself have performed this piece live around three times if my memory is correct. The piece works very well with solo piano and voices. I would define this as a “period piece”, intended to appear from a different period in history. I would place the rough stylistic date of this piece to be around 1790-1820. I think I wrote this in 2001, can’t quite remember.

So until I work at a church again that will permit a performance of the mass, or until I am commissioned to finish it, my full mass remains unfinished.

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