Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Dance Your Blues Away

(Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash)

Dance Your Blues Away

by Dawn Pisturino

Most of us remember the romance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gliding “cheek to cheek” across the stage; the high intensity of John Travolta in his white disco suit gyrating under the strobe lights; and the graceful pirouettes of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker ballet.

Dancing has always been popular entertainment in the United States. And since the 1940s, it has been used therapeutically, as well.

Dance movement therapy is a recognized form of psychotherapy which uses movement to encourage free expression in people with emotional, mental, behavioral, and physical problems.

Recognizing that the mind and body work together, dance therapists use the rhythmic movements in dance to promote relaxation, wellness, and social interaction.

Dance therapy is often used to help victims of rape and sexual abuse to express the trauma of their experiences. People with physical disabilities improve their balance, coordination, and self-esteem through movement exercises. Chronically ill and terminally ill people find temporary distraction from their pain, fear, and anxiety. Even children and senior citizens benefit from the unrestricted movements.

Dance is a form of creative expression which integrates body, mind, and spirit. In Asia, it developed largely as a form of sacred expression. The Hindu god Shiva, in the form of Nataraja — the Cosmic Dancer — is shown in ancient statues and engravings dancing the rhythm of the universe and its ever-revolving cycles of birth and death, creation and destruction. In quantum physics, he beautifully symbolizes the ever-changing energy of the universe in its many forms.

Dancing is a great form of aerobic exercise which anybody can do. Just put on some music, and let yourself go! It strengthens the muscles and improves flexibility and coordination. It reduces muscle tension and stress, increases circulation, and opens up the lungs. But most of all, it’s just plain fun!

“Dance till the stars come down from the rafters,

Dance, dance, dance till you drop.”

W.H. Auden

Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, June 12, 2007.

(Vera Ellen was one of the most energetic and phenomenal dancers in Hollywood, but she was overshadowed by more famous performers, like Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse, Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, and Gene Kelly. This clip from White Christmas showcases her talent. I can’t even imagine dancing like this in high heels.)

Dawn Pisturino

2007; December 14, 2022

Copyright 2007-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All rights reserved.

39 Comments »

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn to Winter

by Dawn Pisturino

The old year is fading

and Autumn blows

the misty clouds

of Winter our way.

(A runaway grizzly bear meets Jack Frost and Old Man Winter in this vintage cartoon from 1934. My father loved these old cartoons.)
(My favorite Thanksgiving hymn – “We Gather Together”)
(George Winston playing his beautiful and inspiring piece, “Thanksgiving.” My mother adored George Winston.)

My parents always came for Thanksgiving. Now that they are gone, I always think of them at this time of year.

PSALM 95:1-5 (NKJV)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.

PLEASE NOTE: I WILL NOT BE POSTING ANYTHING UNTIL SOME TIME NEXT WEEK.

Have a joyful and blessed Thanksgiving!

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 23, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

58 Comments »

Ode to Joy – Schiller ~ Beethoven

November is the month when we count our blessings and express gratitude and joy here in the United States.

~

Ode to Joy (“An die Freude”)

by Friedrich Schiller (Published 1786)

Part of this poem was used as the choral finale

(4th movement) in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (1824),

which Beethoven composed when he was completely deaf.

Listen to the choral section here (in German):

(This short but inspiring video is fantastic! – a rousing way to start your day.)

~

Ode to Joy (Schiller) – English translation, with notes


Joy, beautiful sparkle of god,

Daughter of Elysium,

We enter, fire-drunk,

Heavenly, your holy sanctuary.

Your magics bind again

What custom has strictly parted.


(1785 version: What custom’s sword has parted.)

All men become brothers


(1785 version: Beggars become princes’ brothers.)

Where your tender wing lingers.

Chorus

Be embraced, millions!

This kiss to the entire world!

Brothers, above the starry canopy

Must a loving Father reside.

Who has succeeded in the great attempt

To be a friend’s friend;

Whoever has won a lovely woman

Add in his jubilation!

Yes, who calls even one soul

His own on the earth’s sphere!

And whoever never could achieve this,

Let him steal away crying from this gathering!

Chorus

Those who occupy the great circle,

Pay homage to sympathy!

It leads to the stars

Where the unknown one reigns. 

All creatures drink joy

At the breasts of nature,

All good, all evil

Follow her trail of roses.

Kisses she gave us, and the vine,

A friend, proven in death.

Pleasure was given to the worm,

And the cherub stands before God. 

Chorus

Do you fall down, you millions?

Do you sense the creator, world?

Seek him above the starry canopy,

Above the stars he must live

Joy is the name of the strong spring

In eternal nature.

Joy, joy drives the wheels

In the great clock of worlds.

She lures flowers from the buds,

Suns out of the firmament,

She rolls spheres in the spaces

That the seer’s telescope does not know. 

Chorus

Happy, as his suns fly

Across Heaven’s splendid map,

Run, brothers, along your path

Joyfully, as a hero to victory. 

From the fiery mirror of truth

She smiles upon the researcher,

Towards virtue’s steep hill

She guides the endurer’s path.

Upon faith’s sunlit mountain

One sees her banners in the wind,

Through the opening of burst coffins

One sees them standing in the chorus of angels. 

Chorus

Endure courageously, millions!

Endure for the better world!

There above the starry canopy

A great God will reward

Gods one cannot repay

Beautiful it is, to be like them.

Grief and poverty, acquaint yourselves

With the joyful ones rejoice.

Anger and revenge be forgotten,

Our deadly enemy be forgiven,

No tears shall he shed

No remorse shall gnaw at him 

Chorus

Our debt registers be abolished

Reconcile the entire world!

Brothers, over the starry canopy

God judges, as we judged. 

Joy bubbles in the cup,

In the grape’s golden blood

Cannibals drink gentleness

The fearful, courage —

Brothers, fly from your perches,

When the full cup is passed,

Let the foam spray to the heavens

This glass to the good spirit 

Chorus

He whom the spirals of stars praise,

He whom the seraphim’s hymn glorifies,

This glass to the good spirit

Above the starry canopy

Courage firm in great suffering,

Help there, where innocence weeps,

Eternally sworn oaths,

Truth towards friend and foe,

Men’s pride before kings’ thrones —

Brothers, even if it costs property and blood, —

The crowns to those who earn them,

Defeat to the lying brood! 

Chorus

Close the holy circle tighter,

Swear by this golden vine:

Remain true to the vows,

Swear by the judge above the stars!

(The 1803 version ends here; the 1785 version continues with the following.)


Escape the tyrants’ chains,

Generosity also to the villain,

Hope upon the deathbeds,

Mercy from the high court!

The dead, too, shall live!

Brothers, drink and chime in,

All sinners shall be forgiven,

And hell shall be no more.

Chorus

A serene departing hour!

Sweet sleep in the shroud!

Brothers—a mild sentence

From the final judge!

(Other translations may differ)

Beethoven Choral (English translation)

(Baritone)

Oh, friends, not these tones!
Let us raise our voices in more
Pleasing and more joyful sounds!

(Baritone, Quarter, and Chorus)

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter fire imbibed,
Heavenly, thy sanctuary.

The magic reunites those
Whom stern custom has parted;
All men will become brothers
Under thy gentle wing.

May he who has had the fortune
To gain a true friend
And he who has won a noble wife
Join in our jubilation!

Yes, even if he calls but one soul
His own in all the world.
But he who has failed in this
Must steal away alone and in tears.

All the world’s creatures
Draw joy from nature’s breast;
Both the good and the evil
Follow her rose-strewn path.

She gave us kisses and wine
And a friend loyal unto death;
She gave lust for life to the lowliest,
And the Cherub stands before God.

(Tenor Solo and Chorus)

Joyously, as his suns speed
Through Heaven’s glorious order,
Hasten, Brothers, on your way,
Exulting as a knight in victory.

(Chorus)

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
daughter of Elysium,
We enter fire imbibed,
Heavenly, thy sanctuary.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.

(The verses repeat here until . . .)

Joy, Daughter of Elysium,
Thy magic reunites those
Whom stern custom has parted;
All men will become brothers
Under thy gentle wing.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Joy, beautiful spark of Gods!,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of Gods!

(Other translations may differ)

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 7, 2022





28 Comments »

Bach and Halloween

How did Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565 become a staple among Halloween favorites? After all, Bach lived 300 years ago and wrote high brow classical music during the high Baroque Period — not exactly popular music for pranksters and merry-makers. And yet, this organ masterpiece has become associated with Halloween as surely as dark, haunted mansions and creepy carved pumpkins.

Bach wrote it in two parts. The first part, the Toccata (from the Italian toccare, meaning “to touch”), was meant to show off the performer’s skill as a virtuoso organist, so it is characterized by many arpeggios (broken chords) and light-fingered gymnastics up and down the keyboard. The second part, the Fugue, uses repetition in various keys (“voices”) to highlight a central musical theme. A minor scale was used to give the piece a dark, ominous, foreboding, and dramatic tone. Organs have a deep, rich, and powerful quality, so writing such a magnificent piece for the organ (especially a large, full-bodied organ with pipes) was sheer genius.

Movie audiences were introduced to Bach’s piece in the opening scenes of the 1940 animated Disney classic, Fantasia. Instead of using the organ, however, conductor Leopold Stokowski arranged the piece into an orchestral number. But the music became associated with horror films when it was used in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), Gremlins 2 (1990), and The Babadook (2014). And, truthfully, if you ask music lovers what images come into their minds while listening to Bach’s organ piece, many will tell you that they envision ghostly encounters in haunted houses, mist-covered cemeteries, scary pumpkins, mad organists in Gothic churches, and vampires and other creatures of the night.

But experience it for yourself!

(Organ version performed by Hannes Kastner)

(Orchestral version from the 1940 animated film, Fantasia, arranged and conducted by Leopold Stokowski)

Have a spooky day!

Dawn Pisturino

October 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

22 Comments »

The Clown School

(Red Skelton and Lucille Ball)

When my daughter told me she was going to go to clown school, I thought, Okay, what new adventure is this? Is she going to join the circus? The rodeo? What’s up with this?

After a few chuckles, she explained to me what clown school is — a school for performing artists to learn the intriguing history of clowns, a variety of new acting skills, and a way to incorporate playfulness and fun into theatrical acting.

The Clown School, located in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, California, is one of the top clown schools in America. People from TV and film attend the school in order to further their careers. My daughter, who is a professional singer and performer, has been taking their online classes, and she loves it.

One famous TV clown was Red Skelton, but Lucille Ball was also considered a clown. Her comedy routines, playfulness, and ability to make people love her and laugh, are legendary. I Love Lucy re-runs are still on traditional TV and streaming.

Clowns have been around for thousands of years. In 2400 B.C., Ancient Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty saw priests assuming the role of clowns in order to promote social and religious concepts. Jesters were common in China as early as 300 B.C. They were used in India as interpreters in 100 A.D.

Greek and Roman theater featured clowns and mimes. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, fools and jesters entertained members of the public and the royal courts alike. They were often used to promote religious concepts for the Church. In the 14th century, clowns began to appear on tarot cards.

The Aztecs were employing court jesters for entertainment when the Spanish arrived in 1520 A.D. The Commedia del Arte established the tradition of the three Zannis in 16th century Italy, which included the character of Harlequin.

Among Native Americans, clowns were used to make social and religious statements. Their antics made people laugh and think about the message the clowns were trying to deliver.

The first circus clowns were brought to England by Philip Astley in 1768. And Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837), a British entertainer, expanded the role of the clown and earned the title “Father of Modern Clowning.”

For more information about The Clown School, click here: http://www.theclownschool.com.

Have a fun-filled, happy day!

Dawn Pisturino

September 28, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

21 Comments »

What Happened to the Age of Aquarius?

If there’s one song that best captures the hopes and dreams of the 1960s, it’s the medley, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” from the Broadway musical, Hair (1967). The 5th Dimension, who compiled the medley, really rocked it. I still want to get up and dance to the music. But, whatever happened to the Age of Aquarius?

Lyrics:

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

Alright, everybody
C’mon now, we gon’ use other words for this song
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
C’mon, sing along with it

Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in (you’ve got to feel it)
Let the sun shine (you’ve got to feel it)
Let the sunshine in (ahh, open up your heart)
The sunshine in (and let it shine on in)
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in

Songwriters: Rado James, Mac Dermot Arthur Terence Galt, Ragni Gerome. For non-commercial use only.

Data From: Musixmatch

Astrologically, nobody really knows when the Age of Aquarius is supposed to begin or if it already did. If you go by these lyrics, it began with the Hippie/New Age Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. But some people believe it began in the 1800s with the Industrial Revolution. Others believe it happened with 12/12/12 and the Mayan prophecy of spiritual realignment. Still others believe it arrived with the COVID-19 pandemic and officially established itself in February 2021. I saw one theory where Jesus and the Apostles were the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Another one promoted Valentine’s Day 2009 as the beginning. So, who knows? One thing is certain – the lyrics do not accurately reflect its beginning, according to astrologer Neil Spencer, because “Jupiter aligns with Mars several times a year, and the Moon is in the 7th House for 2 hours everyday.”

According to New Age adherents, the Age of Aquarius can be identified by certain hallmarks:

  1. A rapidly-changing society, dependent on technological innovation and intuitive creativity;
  2. Universal unity, harmony, patience, love, brotherhood, peace, resilience, interconnectedness, and elevated consciousness;
  3. Increased self-awareness and self-realization, empowerment, positive thinking, personal responsibility, and intuitive guidance;
  4. The body-mind-spirit connection will resonate at a higher vibration than ever before in the history of the human race.

Some people see two paths emerging: the path of totalitarianism and enslavement by powerful elites; and the path of liberation and spiritual evolution by the masses.

In the meantime, while we wait for our astrological guides to enlighten us, we can work on these qualities as individuals and gain more control over our own lives and our own mental, physical, and spiritual development through mindfulness, yoga, spiritual practices like prayer and meditation, healthful nutrition, exercise, and kindness.

Dawn Pisturino

May 16, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

41 Comments »

Up, Up and Away!

In spite of all of our worries and cares right now, life goes on, and it’s far too precious to waste. Last night, I hopped into the car and took a long drive. It was quiet and relaxing, the weather beautiful, and the sunset gorgeous. I couldn’t help thinking about some of the happy music that I’ve heard over the decades, and this song, in particular, popped into my head. I remember listening to this song on the radio at breakfast every morning before school. And, guess what! It’s still a happy song!

The 5th Dimension – one of the best groups of the 1960s. I always loved Marilyn McCoo’s luscious voice.

Have a happy weekend! Do what you love to do! Go where you want to go!

Dawn Pisturino

May 13, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

11 Comments »

Meditate with Music

Photo by Max on Unsplash

Meditation doesn’t have to be done in silence. It’s nice to sit there quietly, watching the fluffy white clouds of your thoughts float silently away until your mind turns into one big void of nothingness. But, if your goal is simply to relax, clear away your negative thoughts, and ease your tense muscles, there are scores and scores of musical recordings out there that can meet your goal: New Age, Celtic, East Indian, Native American, Chinese, Japanese, Easy Listening, Jazz, Classical, and more.

Music can alter our mood and our consciousness and take us away into a magical world of peace, harmony, and complete relaxation.

Here’s a classical piece that is just heavenly, written by Jules Massenet, and performed by the renowned violinist, Itzhak Perlman. Give it a try!

May you be blessed with a peaceful, relaxing day today!

Dawn Pisturino

April 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

27 Comments »

Guest Blog: Culture of Pub Music/Ariel Pisturino

(Dublin pub musicians. Photo by Jeremy King, Flickr.)
Culture of Pub Music

by Ariel Pisturino

In 2019, I spent a few days in Dublin, Ireland, exploring the city with my partner. Ireland is a magical place, full of history and folklore. One night, we were out and about and it started to drizzle, as it does in that part of the world. Looking around for a place to duck into, we started to hear some raucous music. We stuffed ourselves into this little pub. It was PACKED with wall-to-wall people, and everyone’s attention was on the group of musicians playing traditional Irish music on traditional instruments. It was such fun and a different experience from being in America. It got me wondering about the culture of Irish music.

Traditional Irish music began as an oral tradition, with generations learning by ear and passing it down. It’s a tradition that still exists today. Irish music originated with the Celts about 2,000 years ago. The Celts were influenced by music from the East. It is even thought that the traditional Irish harp originated in Egypt. The harp was the most popular instrument and harpists were employed to compose music for noble people. When invaders came to Ireland in the early 1600’s, that forced people to flee the country. Harpists roamed through Europe, playing music wherever they could.

The most famous composer/harpist was Turlough O’Carolan (b.1670-d.1738). He was a blind harpist, composer, and singer. He traveled all over Ireland for 50 years, playing his music. He is considered Ireland’s national composer.

The main traditional instruments are fiddle, Celtic harp, Irish flute, penny whistle, uilleann pipes and bodhrán. More recently the Irish bouzouki, acoustic guitar, mandolin and tenor banjo have found their way into the playing of traditional music.

Irish pub songs are part of a tradition of storytelling by the fireside. People used to visit their neighbours, friends and relatives in the evenings after work or on a Sunday after mass, sit with them by the fireside, and share stories. In between the stories there would be songs, usually unaccompanied.

There was a big revival of pub music during the 1960’s with popular bands singing traditional Irish music, usually accompanied by guitar. (Think: The Chieftains.) In the 1970’s, local singers started forming singing clubs to focus on the traditional songs. One of the first singing sessions was hosted in Dublin during the 1980’s. These sessions became more regular and popular amongst pubs to host these groups, and that’s how pub music evolved into what we experience today.

Previously published in the unSUNg Concerts Newsletter, March 17, 2022

Ariel Pisturino graduated from the Thornton School of Music at USC with a Masters in Vocal Music. She teaches part-time at three different colleges and universities, privately in her own music studio, and performs with various opera companies and vocal groups in the Los Angeles area. She is the Curator and Artistic Director of the unSUNg Concert Series, which is dedicated to reviving previously-composed, forgotten vocal music and sponsoring new composers and young vocal artists.

Ariel Pisturino as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore:

Ariel also does a lot of church singing and concerts:

unSUNg Concert Series: http://www.unsungconcerts.com

Ariel’s current project: Musical Director for the student production of Working!:

Find Ariel on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Ariel Pisturino: http://www.arielpisturino.com

~

Dawn Pisturino

March 23, 2022

Copyright 2022 Ariel Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

16 Comments »

Autumn Leaves

Photo by Yue Xing Yidhna Wang

In 1955, pianist Roger Williams recorded the pop hit, “Autumn Leaves,” which became the biggest selling piano recording of all times — even today. The song hit #1 on the Billboard pop music chart and earned a gold record. Williams, born in 1924, was a popular pianist who scored 22 hit singles and 38 hit albums during his lifetime. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.

“Autumn Leaves,” performed by Roger Williams. Incredible mastery at the piano!

“Autumn Leaves,” performed by Nat King Cole.
Jazz version sung by Eva Cassidy.

Autumn Leaves

The falling leaves drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold
I see your lips the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Giorgio Canali / Francesco Magnelli / Gianni Maroccolo / Massimo Zamboni / Giovanni Lindo Ferretti

Autumn Leaves lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Dawn Pisturino

November 11, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

9 Comments »

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