My GroundHog Day birthday will be rainy, but I don't care. Spring is definitely on its way.
The coming spring brings forth all sorts of creativity for me in the comings weeks and months.
This past week, I was invited to participate in a creative brainstorming session with my friends at The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah in Kansas. I have been blessed to develop a beautiful friendship with this community and it has become a home away from home for me.
The weekend was devoted to musical and liturgical brainstorming that would help the congregation move forward with its vision of creating its own definitive "sound". Rabbis Art Nemitoff and Daniel Kirzane, Executive Director Jeanne Adler and Music Director Coleen Dieker were joined by me, Choral Director Krista Blackwood and Noah Aronson for four concentrated days of creative and inspiring work.
It was special treat for me to finally meet Noah in person and to work with him, as we were charged with beginning each day with a short time devoted to prayer and meditative music. Noah is a talented, sensitive musician and composer, and together with Coleen we had a great time playing and praying with our voices and instruments. The non-musicians in the group asked questions like "How do you know what's coming up in the music just by looking at each other!?" and we had fun explaining to them how music works as a language.
In the end, we all went home with, well, some homework. Mine is to write some music and also some alternative liturgical texts. I am excited by this challenge and am already percolating some ideas.
Two days after my birthday, I'm off to Bend, Oregon for a Shabbaton at Congregation Shalom Bayit. I'll spend Shabbat with them, leading the community in song Friday night and learning Torah with them on Saturday morning; performing at a concert Saturday evening (open to the whole community) and sharing more music with Bend's Jewish Community School on Sunday. Rebbetzin Judy Shiprack and I have excitedly assembled a great weekend of music and learning that will be hugely joyous for all ages. If your travels will bring you to Bend this weekend, join us!
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of working with videographer Chuck Masi to create an entry for NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Contest. Chuck was wonderful to work with -- smart, sensitive, easygoing and very patient. I learned a TON working with this guy and would highly recommend him to anyone in the Portland-Vancouver area looking for someone to film their next project. I posted the video to YouTube on Friday just before Shabbat. You can also find it over at my Pix and Vids Page. Finalists will be announced later in the spring. Enjoy the video and please share the link with your friends!
After a wonderful morning of music and movement fun with the kiddos at the MLK Day Celebration a couple of weeks ago, I am now working with PJ Library in Portland to share music at a series of fun events on Portland's east side. UPDATE! Dates for PJ Library Story Hour in North Portland are now posted at my Calendar Page.
Finally, I am very happy to let you know that I will return as the music-leader for Havurah Shalom's annual Community Seder, to be held this year on Saturday, April 23. One of my favorite events at Havurah, This second night seder is open to the whole community by advance reservation. Check the Havurah Shalom web site in the coming weeks for information.
On GroundHog Day, I will celebrate the return of spring -- and my birthday! -- by enjoying an early breakfast and then heading outside to look for my shadow. May spring bring its signs to your part of the world very soon!