Wednesday, April 15, 2015

MYCincinnati Ambassador Ensemble Project.

"The Ambassador Ensemble is a collective of diaereses and equal voices. When we are together, we feel appreciated, listened to, supported, challenged, smart, intense and powerful. We are musicians - each with unique talents and ideas- we have come together to make the community better." 
Kalla, Kerrie, Keyonte, Rashel, Sebastian and Ziyad. 
The Ambassador Ensemble

Last Sunday I had the good fortune to attend the very first performance of The MYCincinnati Ambassador Ensemble as a part of the Constella Festival.
I knew that these young musicians are talented and I was looking forward to seeing them perform, but I was emotionally unprepared for what this group delivered.
I was awestruck... and after a few minutes of unsuccessfully fighting back the tears, my friend Libby and I gave up and wept for the remainder of the show.
We cried because we are both moms to teenagers who are, or have been 14 years old, which is the average age of these musicians. And we wept because we remember, all too clearly,  feeling the confusion and intensity of being 14... feeling both powerful and powerless and hopeful and defeated, all at once.

The six young musicians are glorious.
They are each insightful, talented, hard working and extremely courageous to do what they could as young musicians to stand up against inequality and work towards social justice.
Eddy Kwon is an extremely talented musician and teacher. He has served as a trusted mentor and friend to these six, making them feel safe and heard...asking questions, listening to their responses and supporting them in all the best ways.
I am proud of my city for wisely naming Eddy Kwon as an Art Ambassador and then helping to support him while he does his good works. He is a true gift to Cincinnati.
Michael Wilson, and his son Henry Wilson, were there too... doing what they do best, documenting the moments then putting it all together in a beautifully edited documentary that should go to Sundance.
Nine incredibly talented people, 6 of them young teenagers, all worked together for a year and created something beautiful. And everyone who has ever been 14 or who loves someone who is a young teenager, should go see this musical performance and documentary film.
The show is about an will wish that it was longer, and you will leave inspired, impressed and hopeful.
But please remember to take your hankies, I can garantee that you will be personally moved by the talent and grace of this group of young musicians.

The MYCincinnati Ambassador Ensemble will be together on stage for only four more free shows.
Do yourself a favor and attend one of these performances.

April 17th 8:00    UC African American Cultural Resource Center
(UC President Santa Ono will be joining them on cello for his first performance in many years!)

April 19th 1:00 Cincinnati Art Museum

April 24th 6:00 LISH Art Gallery Price Hill

April 26th 4:00 Clifton Cultural Arts Center

Monday, April 13, 2015

Love You, Love You, Love You... more.

I am extraordinary fortunate for many reasons and one of them is that I got to be a lucky niece to one of the kindest and most generous women ever. 
My Aunt Donna may have died a week ago, but her love, grace and ferocious optimism remain.
She is ever present and will always be in our hearts and minds, and most definitely remain a huge part of my brilliant cousins... her three remarkable daughters who are so much like their mom. 
It was important to Donna that everyone who loved her understood that she never ever, ever, gave up. More than anything she wanted more time to be with her family... to live longer and to love more. 
She did whatever she could to stay, and kept on getting braver and braver until she made the most courageous choice of all. 
She chose her to change her course and to live her final weeks on her own terms. 
And she did just that. She died as she lived, in her home, where she felt most peaceful, surrounded by her family and the blessings of those she loved the most. 

While she was home, she received pages of notes and emails from those who she touched during her life. The letters were of gratitude and appreciation to Donna for sharing herself in so many ways. 
Many many people reached out to thank her for giving so much of herself and for making a positive difference in their own lives. 
She received messages from those who loved her deeply as well as those who knew her less well, but were touched and moved for the better by something that she said or did. 
True to her humility, Donna was surprised by the number and intensity of these messages, she didn't realize that she had made such a difference in the lives of so many. 
But she did and will continue to do so because she was a teacher in the most honest definition of the word. She taught by example, the power of kindness and encouragement, and all those who followed her example will continue to do so in her honor. 
She believed that everyone had tremendous capability to do wonderful things and with a little bit of encouragement, and a few kind words, everyone was completely capable of great success. 

My Aunt Donna did everything just right and the celebration of her life was indeed, exactly right. 
A beautiful celebration of life and love. 
Donna's fingerprints were on every part of her service. She chose the Celebrant, a warm and lovely woman who listened and understood. And she asked that her favorite James Taylor song be played...You Can Close Your Eyes. She requested that instead of flowers, donations be made to a charity that benefits she strongly believed in the hope and future of the very young. 

She also very kindly suggested that we please not wear black. 
We all listened, and the room was overflowing and more than full of happy spring colors. 
Easter colors of springtime hope and grace and renewal. 
Donna's colors.  
And it was more than fitting that the closing words of the service were her signature message of 
"Love You, Love You, Love You..." 
because for Donna, one "Love You" was good, but three were far better. 
 Donna in color at a family party with her adoring team of sisters.