Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cinematic Pop - What it's Like

Growing up in a family with a musical legacy, and studying music at an early age, I have deeply revered some composers with names that are not uncommon. Shouting these names out might sound cliche, but let's think just for a moment about Handel's Messiah, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (Ode to Joy).

While listening to, singing or playing instrumental parts for great works like these, or while learning about them in a musical history class, I would often wonder what life might have been like in the midst of "The Greats".  What might it have been like to watch a musical master in action?  Oh! What I would have given to have been there and feel the electricity in witnessing these kinds of men performing fresh, new, and beautifully grand music for their day and age.  

Mostly in these day dreams, I would wonder how would it FEEL to hear, and see, and participate in the experience of those kinds of musical moments that actually changed the world?

Well, it turns out that I didn't have to travel to Europe, and I didn't even need a time machine.

Here in my adult years, I've come to understand that one of "The Greats" lives in my home home town, even.  

His name is Rob Gardner.

Rob is a prolific composer of beautiful, sacred, and secular music that deeply touches the soul (sacred as in The Lamb of God, secular as in Truck Tunes--and just for the record "Truck Tunes" speaks to my 4-year-old nephew's soul in a very real way).  Many years ago, I attended his production called Saints and Pioneers at a time when I was suffering loss and grief, and was facing uncertainty in my life, and his song "Unanswered Yet" helped to heal my heart, renewed my faith in God & His timing, and gave me the strength to keep going.

Rob composes musical productions for symphony orchestras, grand choirs, and soloists.  He draws the best of the musical talent in any given geographical area.  His "choir" is not by any definition, a "normal" choir.  Maybe a decade or two ago, it could have started out that way - even back in the day, however, I remember hearing only the most talented local voices that could be found.  Over time, his choir has now come to hold only spots for the most elite & successful musicians of the East Valley.  Any local big name singer you might know vies to be in his choir.  I studied music education in college, took musical theater classes, studied all the instrumental methods for band, and have been invited to accompany some of these local artists in the choir.  I have also been teaching piano to others for 18 years, and yet I am a bit intimidated by the dream of being able to participate in such an experience whether in choir or orchestra, because I know very well, the level & quality of all the individual musicians involved.  (I also have 4 little kids at home to worry about - there are times and seasons for different kinds of dreams, I guess).  So for now I purchase tickets to his events for date nights with my husband when I need a vicarious kind of experience.

And I cry through all of his shows.  Not in a sad way.

In the most healing way there is to cry.

Like tonight for example - I've never cried so much while listening to pop music in my entire life.  I just can't even explain it - getting teary eyed during music like Sail, Listen to Your Heart, and Are We Human (or are we denser)...?  But then again, there's often a lot about myself that's so complex that I can't even explain to others. Just earlier this year I was talking to my sister-in-law about conflicts in my life when she said something really nice to me about how she wished she could be me.  But I told her there was NO way she wanted to be me, because I have all these overwhelming feelings all the time, and I don't always know what to do with them.  Sometimes I believe others around me think I'm crazy...possibly because they may jokingly have said things like that in the past, and I just need to forgive & forget.  Most recently I was faced with a foster/adoption situation that was causing me extreme worry & even a slump of depression because of the stress of it all.  I was suffering loss and grief and someone trying to wrap their mind around my reaction said, "You can't feel that way."  But the thing is that I DO feel the way I feel, and sometimes there's no way around the pain of what I feel or the deepness of it all.  Sometimes the only way through is through.

Tonight, at Cinematic Pop, before he performed "So Low",  Spencer Jones, explained what I've been unable to put to words from the ups and downs of my last year.  To paraphrase, he explained that he is a person who feels deeply (I personally gathered that perhaps others around him don't always feel exactly the same as he might), but he said that music is so powerful because when you feel an emotion in music, you know that someone else has felt that way before, and it helps you to know that you're not alone.  

If I needed to hear anything in the show tonight - it was exactly what Spencer shared.  My husband and I just listened & looked at each other in the audience. I had renewed confidence in who I am - I'm the kind of person who feels emotions deeply in regards to just about everything I involve myself with, and it's comforting to know that I'm not alone - that that's one of the reasons music speaks so deeply to me - that's why it was so extremely healing to me to listen to this gorgeously-beautified-pop-music-of-the-soul, because it helps me to know I'm not alone.  

McKane Davis (who lucky for us used to be my son's cub scout leader), his brother Drex had the idea for this unique kind of a project, and with Rob, they all worked closely on creating Cinematic Pop.  When their first show for Aug 27th sold out in no time at all, I had to bug them to open another show - I'm sure many many others were stunned that they couldn't get in either & made their upset known.  But I felt like they sort of opened up the matinee show just for me, and it was exactly what I needed.

I am so grateful for Rob Gardner,  McKane Davis & Drex Davis, Spencer Jones, Cosette Fife-Smith, McKenna Breinholt, Josh Mortensen, and the elite choir & orchestra for sharing their God-given talents, and showing the world through this new and edgy Cinematic Pop what it's like to be in the presence of a modern composer who is as talented as the great & renowned musicians of the past.  This music is already changing the world around it & it deserves the opportunity to go so much further - I can't wait to keep watching. 

P.S. - Watch these Cinematic Pop links.  You'll think they're amazing, but just know that you MUST see it live someday, because the experience is so much different live than recorded.  Not to mention the original compositions by Rob, McKane, & Spencer were just as moving or more so than even the cover songs.  When you get the chance to attend live it's all the more out of this world to have that kind of a unique sound production - classically trained choir & orchestra, intense conductor, and pop soloists....

The wall of sound is Gorgeous.  

The energy is Tangible, even.

It sounds Ethereal.  

It's Heavenly (even with the ADD, baby),  



Proud of my brother (and my dad who couldn't be found for a photo) for performing in the choir, and had fun running into our friends, Jeff & Cheri

We found Spencer Jones after the show!  So neat to be able to thank him personally!