27 June 2016
a Commencement Speech
for the Graduates and Beautiful, Great kids of Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music
Though delivered just 3 days after the funeral,
this speech was written prior to the eulogy written for my Father.
It was slightly edited before delivering it on the 27th.
Prelude: In the score notes to “CRUZIN’… for there is much to dare,” are these words by Howard Walter in 1906.
I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave,
for there is much to dare.
In just 2 short months since being asked to deliver this 1st commencement speech I’ve ever done... and I do hope to honor you... there have been some Global Goliaths: Orlando, the British leaving the European Union, Floods and disasters. These “Global Goliaths” will change names but these many things will be with you all throughout your lives.
Keep that in mind.
Life is short, but very wide. Here are just a few personal things that happened in the brief Time between being asked to speak to you less than 2 months ago and now.
Dame Mary Barraco got pneumonia. She’s 92. She was a POW of the NAZIs when she was your age. She had her teeth broken, her back was bared to the bone and much worse. She was sterilized. She watched her fiancé executed. She survived all of that to become a Freedom Fighter in Belgium at age 17. Belgium knighted her for her service in WWII. She survived pneumonia and is still with us... carrying on.
Keep that in mind.
A 7-year-old girl named Anaya Elick from Chesapeake, VA, won a “Best Handwriting Contest.” She has no hands.
Keep that in mind.
Over those 2 months, completing a film score, I quoted my favorite mathematician, Kurt Gödel, many times to several people, all of whom seemed to have the same name of… “David.” Gödel authored an axiom that paraphrased says, “if you devise an axiom, the opposite is also probably true.” Here’s a demo: “Haste makes waste.” But… “He who hesitates is lost.” Or one of my favorites: “Two heads are better than one.” But the Chinese say, “Tie two birds together and though they have four wings, they cannot fly.”
Keep Kurt Gödel in mind.
My Father, already pummeled by his 2nd bout with Cancer got pneumonia and went into NY Presbyterian ICU not once but twice, and came out smiling, ready to start his 15-hour work days again. He turned 81 on May 31st, which is more than four of your complete Lifetimes. I had wanted him to be here, but sadly he passed away on Father’s Day. We buried him just 3 days ago. I share this with you to bring as much poignancy as possible to this moment. For your sake, I want these words to ring True. They come from my Heart.
Keep that in mind.
When I graduated from high school, our commencement speaker was Geraldo Rivera. We were outside. It was hot. I was sitting in the band. We played “Pomp & Circumstance” 20 times. Prepping for this moment together, I tried to remember what he said, but I couldn’t remember a single word.
When I look back… and it’s 41 years now... what words do I wish I had heard? What words would have provided vision and strength in the great struggles and battles ahead?
Of all the many many stories I could share with you, I want to tell you about “David and Goliath.”
You think you know this story, right? The little guy, the underdog who faces the overpowering, menacing Goliath and wins?
But let’s look at that same story the way Kurt Gödel might have looked at it, or Anaya Elick, the girl born without hands… or my Dad, who doctors had written off more than once in the hospital but died his way working at home.
And THIS is my message to you graduates today!
David was not the underdog. Goliath was.
Little David had the deck stacked completely in his favor, and he had won that battle long before stepping onto the field.
David was young. Light! Quick-moving. He wasn’t weighed down by cumbersome armor the way poor old Goliath was. David was well-trained. During his years as a shepherd he was practiced in the use of the sling, a weapon that could strike from tens-of-yards away instead of just a few feet like a heavy sword.
David had so much on his side! To Goliath’s slow, was David’s fast. To Goliath’s clumsy movement was David’s grace and Bruce Lee-like-stealth. David had already defeated a lion and a bear! Poor poor Goliath. He was big, but only a human being... certainly no lion or bear! The guy never had a chance. Can you see it now?
And David had one other thing, one transcendent, massively immeasurable thing that made him the winner even before the confrontation would begin! To Goliath’s arrogance and assumption of Victory, David had Faith.
David believed in something higher than himself. That belief gave him Purpose, and Purpose gives a person great Strength. It makes him or her a Survivor… a “freedom fighter!” As I have recently seen lived out in my Dad, and heard from many an ex-POW… “It’s hard to kill a Man if he don’t wanna die.”
So Take Heart!
We live in a matrix-like world where attempts to control the future and present are made by the rewriting of History… so you need to go and study the Past, for the sake of the Now and the Future. You are its story-tellers, You are its documentarians! You do it with Music!
I know people who are literally waiting for those who have lived their incredible Stories to die, so that in their re-telling they can be un-encumbered with little trifles like the Truth.
We also live in a political-technological world where a handful of Goliaths have their paws on the reigns, and many of those Goliaths will stand as obstacles to you in YOUR personal quest to be True!
As Rocky Balboa would say, “Life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.”
So get ready for rough roads ahead. But be inspired! … because there can be no DAVID without a Goliath.
Be grateful for the Goliaths you will meet! And yes, you will confront many!
When you hear someone spout a normally, quickly accepted ”truism” like, “well, the world is gray, nothing is black and white,” hoist an imaginary red-flag in your mind. Is there an opposite? Can that opposite also be true?
Or how about this one, “When you grow up, you’ll see how the world really works, and you too will sell out…”
(I’ve actually heard that countless times in my Life.)
You think Kurt Gödel might help you? To visit all the potentials within your own mind?
If you came into this world metaphorically without hands… can you still win a hand writing contest?
And… can you be down for the count not once, not twice, not three times, but on and on and on… and get up to work 15-18 hour days in your 80s and 90s, four Lifetimes from now?
Seems a long way off, but I’ll bet this graduation felt that way to you just 4 short years ago. Right?
You see… Time is short. Life is short…. but thankfully, it’s really wide!
In your Music-making, in whatever form that takes…You need to fight the Good fight so that those who follow you will be inspired. They need to look at you and see DAVID. They need to see in you that Goliath really never ever had the ghost of a chance. It just seemed that way.
So, my friends… in the Times ahead, be DAVID… because you already are. Keep David alive within you. BE well-trained, BE well-practiced… as you are right now.
… and above all, keep the Faith!
You must be true, for there are those who trust you;
You must be pure, for there are those who care;
You must be strong, for there is much to suffer;
You must be brave…
for there is much to dare.
I love you guys. Thank you for allowing me the great honor and privilege of making Music with you and speaking with you.
Godspeed into your Futures!
DAVID at the STORMSite
Twenty-five years ago I was in Los Angeles to score the 1201PM short that was later nominated for an Academy Award. I was there with the same Director, Jonathan Heap, whose new film, The Unwilling, I just finished scoring today!
We were in a famous Los Angeles bar. “Bar 1,” I believe but don’t quote me. There were a number of stars there, Dan Ackroyd for one, Michael Douglas, a few big names. And there was Steve. Tight haircut, wearing a crew collar sweater, I looked like “Johnny Prep.” I was never one for bars anyway and only went with Jonathan and Phil because… well, they said I had to!
At one point, a Prince song came up on the house system. A smile came to my face! In that same 25-year-ago SYNC-circle, I was just 2 months away from the premiere of a stage work entitled SON of the STORM, which as the SYNC of today would have it has been resurrected … 25 year later … and is currently in its final weeks of mixing.
I said, actually yelled to Jonathan, “You know Prince is a Genius!”
“You like Prince?”
“Wow,” said a surprised Jonathan over the noise. “I didn’t think you listened to that kind of Music.”
“Hey, man!” I shouted. “Genius is genius, and you know what? I want that guy to play the part of The Creature in SON of the STORM. Of course, how the heck do you get in touch with a guy like THAT!?”
At that very moment… PRINCE walked into the bar!
He was accompanied by two massive, and I do not use the word lightly, bodyguards. These guys were immense, one to Prince’s right, the other to his left.
I remember thinking, “how did he know his song was going to be playing? Did he time his entrance on purpose, or was it just a weird accident?”
Prince and his bodyguards walked in a non-engaging circle… into the room and then toward the exit. No one, not even the big name stars made eye contact with him, let alone do the somewhat expected pat on the back and say, “Hey Dude, how’s it going?” In fact, they looked away and down.
Perplexed by the way everyone was treating… freaking PRINCE… I sort of shook my head in question. Even my buddies seemed unimpressed with his presence.
Prince was just about to exit when I ran up in back of him and shouted, “I really LOVE your Music, man!”
The three of them stopped cold and turned toward me. The room seemed to go quiet as I could feel ALL eyes on the four of us!
Now… think about what I might have said:
“Oh Mr. Prince, how severely I enjoy your Music-making, sir…”
“Hi, Mr. Prince. You know, I’m a Composer too, and you need to be The Creature in my…”
“I want to congratulate you on your many…”
Instead, and just like the little boy I really am, I repeated myself and said to a guy my same age, “ I really LOVE your Music, man!”
Now… think about what Prince might have said, because you see, this is the crux of the story!
“Why thank you. It’s not easy being great…”
“Oh… are you someone who might help me further in my career? You see I don’t normally speak with peons, who dress like they are at prep school.”
Prince turned around, his 2 bodyguards mirroring the move. An honest smile came to his face. he was calm an seemed somehow relieved. He made direct contact with my eyes. Did I see loneliness there? He was warm and sincere and kind. He extended his hand and while we shook hands he said, “Thank you. Thank you.”
He turned around and left the place. Everyone was now staring at me.
I have spent many years, 25 to be exact, wondering about what all of that meant. When Prince left us just days ago, that story of his Genuineness and Kindness and Sincerity and Genius came flooding back.
I have taken into my own the hand of many many people across the many years of my Life. The moments of genuine connection are always rare indeed.
I wanted to share this story about Prince for a simple reason. There are certain things you can’t fake. You really can’t fake Sincerity, or Warmth, and though you can act Kind, you can’t fake real Kindness.
Prince was real. I admired him greatly. Still do. I believe he is a genius… but more than that, I believe he is a good soul. I will always remember shaking his hand and looking into his eyes and in that brief moment, connecting with an immensely gifted and good man.
THAT WE MIGHT LIVE
Closing Remarks Honoring Our Veterans
Saturday, 23 April 2016
Dismal Swamp Trail
1113 George Washington Highway
Chesapeake, VA 23323
Speech written to honor the Souls of Bataan & Corregidor
by STEPHEN MELILLO IGNA 22 April 2016
If you do this again next year, remember these stories. Remember the names and places. Learn about them, and then when you take each step next year and the year after that, let the Story of these Great Souls become a part of you and your families forever.
I am honored and burdened to share this with you.
This December is the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Approaching 71 years ago, WWII in the Pacific came to an end, but NOT for the Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor, ex-POWs who put up a valiant 4-month fight, already beginning their starvation and using 1918 WWI ammo that failed 9 out of 10 rounds, with muzzle-bursts injuring their own Men. It would take them as long as 40 years before they would begin to tell their stories, where for 3 years, 8 months and 25 days, 31,095 were sacrificed to sub-human, brutal conditions and hardship.
They held off the Japanese invasion long enough to profoundly affect the outcome of the war. 78,000 were “Surrendered.” 10,000 died on the Death March.
On 9 April 1942, 14 days and 74 years ago, during the hottest month of the year, they began UPHILL on a zig zag road. To falter even for a moment meant a bayonet thrust, or a beheading. Some were dragged and run over by tanks.
After surviving a step by step, desperate mile by mile “Death” march to hell-hole POW camps like Camp O’Donnell, Cabanatuan, Mindanao & Palawan, they faced years of day-by-day torture, despair, abandonment and a thirsty-hunger not just of the body, but of the Soul.
After years of agonizing imprisonment, they were herded into filthy ship holds, there to risk insanity and death, packed standing without rest… sweaty flesh to skin-and-bones flesh.
21,000 Allied POWs died at sea in the “Hell Ships.” About 19,000 of them were killed by US Forces.
They faced continued “Agony” as slaves in the mines of Japan, and were paraded naked in the streets where they could be further debased and humiliated. Some were put into zoo-cages so children could laugh at them. Others were burned alive for sport.
Still wearing the same tattered clothes they had worn in extreme heat, they were now freezing, emaciated, and plundered from 190 to 67 pounds, carrying as many as 26 parasites in their bodies, while they dreamed of Home.
When contemplating the Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor, a word I cannot imagine without a “capitol S” is “Suffering.” Their Suffering.
Of the 31,095, only 14,473 were released after the war.
Who are these Men? They were reduced to the most base form of “animal.” Some hated themselves and claimed that it was the “good” who died. After years of imprisonment and punishment, they were freed by Americans wearing uniforms they did not recognize.
Food was dropped to shriveled, starving survivors. In more unthinkable irony, some who had endured so much for so long were killed by the canisters. And what did some of these battered Men do? They gave their food to starving Japanese children.
That’s some history, a little background, some facts, but there’s a MISSION here.
Let’s take a small sampling of boys, like different spokes of the same wheel, and see if we can zoom in on a common hub... something they all shared. Maybe, it will help us as we too, “fight the Good fight…”
The greatest “rock stars” I’ve ever known are the people I’m going to tell you about. Though largely forgotten even in American History books, these special people deserved groupies more than any Hollywood actor/rock star you can think of.
I first read about “The Bataan Death March” when I was a kid. I went to New Mexico to meet an authority on the Subject. Instead, her husband came out… bright blue eyes, big smile, a cane. He sat down and started talking about “The Bataan Death March.”
His name was Jack Aldrich. We talked for over an hour before I finally said, “Wait a minute… you were there!?” He nodded.
“Jack,” I said in a reverent whisper, “you’re a Hero!”
He closed his eyes in quiet reflection… tired of having heard it so often and said, “I never had to storm a beach, or hold a hill. I never jumped from a plane or liberated a town. All I did was survive. The Heroes are the ones still over there.” Then he said… “I have seen men die, and, dying say, ‘Tell them how it was.”
Jack also neglected to say how he fought for 4 months in the jungle with failing ammo, eating shoe leather, insects and leaves, with “no Mama, no Papa, no Uncle Sam,” but hopefully you’ve already heard that.
Lorenzo Bañegas said, “We didn’t Surrender. We were Surrendered.” Then he said. “We were in the hold of that ship (the hell ship) and I looked at the cross in the beam and I said, ‘Lord if it is your will for me to live then I’ll live, and if it’s your will for me to die then I’ll die.’ I gave myself… (in other words, the first time he Surrendered himself …) to God.”
Evans Garcia was 92 when I met him back in 2002. By the way, I also met a guy who was 14 when he was captured.
Evans stole medicine from the sick bay. A guard caught him. They stood him up to face 9 Japanese soldiers with rifles. The officer raised his stick to give the order.
“Nine Japanese,” yelled Garcia!
“What?” screamed the officer.
“Nine Japanese!” yelled Garcia.
“What?” screamed the officer again.
“It takes 9 Japanese to kill ONE American!” said a defiant Garcia.
An enraged officer said, “I’ll show you how many Japanese it takes!”
Garcia was then beaten, supposedly to his death by the guard. After all of that, he and a small group stitched together an American Flag. Ever see “The Patriot?” Keep in mind, these guys were being beheaded for humming “God Bless America.” That was a very important “code” to them and a way of communicating their longing for home.
Ward “Big Red” Redshaw was born in New Mexico. With the 200th Coastal Artillery, he defended the attack on the Philippines, was captured, went on the march, survived the camps, the hell ships, slave labor, and get this now, watched the New Mexico-built A-bomb hit Nagasaki from his prison cell. He passed away from throat cancer which is believed to have been a result of the radiation from that bomb. Embodied in that one human life is all of the Beginning and the End of WWII in the Pacific... and ALL of that, in Suffering.
Ben “Bull” Benini, our most recent and local ex-POW from the Bunnys group was put into the Hospice and went 7 weeks longer than the doctors predicted. He said, “They wrote me off… well, I’ll show them.”
Consider the physical state of the POWs described earlier. After 6 thirsty, Life-taking days in one of the hottest days on record in the Philippines, and up to 90 miles on the Death March depending on where you started, and after being carted into a train, denied water, with buddies being executed along the way, some tied to barbed wire to be eaten by ants, and dying from dysentery, dehydration, malaria and many other tropical diseases, with Men in his camp dying at a rate of 30-50 a day… under THOSE conditions, here is what Mr. Benini did.
“Our Mission” he said, “Our MISSION was to take out Jap planes. The airstrip was our detail. Me and this other guy took the rocks they used for night landings and slowly changed them using seashells to reflect the light differently. We eventually crashed a plane.”
He laughed. Even as a wasted-down, abused POW he was on a Mission.
Genro Lambiosa, learned to speak some Japanese before the war. As a NAVY Diver, he wound up unloading supplies for the Japanese who were searching for the submerged Philippine Gold Treasury. Genro and Charlie Dowdy used to joke about keeping some of that gold for themselves while hiding significant portions from the Japanese! While putting a wrench in the works, Genro raised pigeons for food on the dock. He shipped with the American Rover in Norfolk until he passed away in his late 80s working on a ladder. These guys never gave up.
Charlie Dowdy was a tough one. It took 3 years before he felt comfortable with me. (that is 3 years plus 40, remember.) One day he said, “You can’t understand what happened over there.”
I said… “You’re right. No one could except you guys, but if it’s okay, I’d like to hang around with you.”
One of the great personal triumphs was finally making Charlie laugh. Charlie was a NAVY Diver too. His story begins at Pearl Harbor. His ship was hit in the attack!… and ends in Fukua Prison Camp as a Slave laborer. He had many stories about “lugao” and he would talk about how he made deals for things like a piece of rope, or half of an old tent from which he could stitch new pants. Charlie named his Guard/Torturers “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck.” Like so many others he was defiant, even in humor.
David “Top” Topping was a walking encyclopedia. He knew everyone from Jesse Owens to Louis Zamperini. After the war, he took it upon himself to keep records of all the American POWs and the Hell Ships they endured. Dave was almost 190 pounds when they captured him. He was 84 pounds when he was liberated.
One morning he said, “We couldn’t even sit.”
In a studious, articulate Dave-manner, he said, “At that weight, the coccyx bone is so exposed, it’s difficult to sit.”
I thought I had heard enough, but there was always one more story, one more unimaginable nightmare for these guys to overcome.
Jim Downey was Filipino. His ordeal began with not one, not two, but THREE ships being shot out from underneath him. Three times he went into the water, three times he went treading with sharks. Ironically, he was training for the Olympics as a swimmer when the War snatched him. Jim survived the 3 sinkings and sharks only to be captured and then… You know the rest.
He would hold up his hand and say, “See that? Steady as a rock. I can still shoot. I’d go again if they let me. I love America.” He would get teary-eyed. “Yeah, I really love America.”
Another guy who went into the water was Stanley Woody. Woody was on the USS HOUSTON and was one of only 249 Americans to work on the River Kwai rail system. Watch the movie, “Bridge on the River Kwai.” Woody used to joke, “Yeah, they got William Holden to play me.”
He also said and always with a laugh, “I was only 19 when they got me. That’s why I look so young!” He once said, “I fought for Freedom, and I would do it again. After I read the book they did on us, that’s when I got scared.”
Interestingly enough, the Japanese used to BOW to Woody before giving him a small can of rice for the day. Why? Because the USS HOUSTON kept firing and went down while firing.
Sam Ring was a 6th Army Ranger who after living next to our Bataan Vets for 60 years finally learned about Mr. Blair’s Breakfast at Bunnys. Sam turned 18 on January 18th 1945. For his birthday, he was shot through the thumb with a Japanese .25 mm machine gun bullet and was ripped up the right side by a hand grenade. For the remainder of his life he had 21 pieces of shrapnel in his body. Eleven days after his birthday, Sam took part in The Great Raid, the rescue of the POW’s at Cabanatuan. Sam simply referred to that as “another mission.”
Unknown to him at the time, Sammy saved Sergeant Sam Ring, Sam’s Father who was captured at age 41, put on the March, and survived until his own Son rescued him at Cabanatuan.
While doing research for the Musical Tribute, THAT WE MIGHT LIVE, we found footage made by the Army Signal Corps. I showed the Footage to Sam.
“Steve! That’ my Dad!.”
“Where did you get this?” he said getting choked up?
“Don’t you remember ever doing this interview? It had to be a big set-up with tripods and everything else?”
“No... I don’t remember.”
Maybe Sam didn’t remember, because AFTER the Great Raid he was on the front lines against the Japanese until the End of WWII. Then he fought in Korea. Then he did 3 tours in Vietnam. I always asked him, “Hey Sammy… How much is enough?”
He would say, “I’d do it again if they’d let me. I fought for Freedom and I’d do it again.”
Norman “Jack” Matthews BEGAN the Death March wounded. Both he and his Brother, Ed were captured. Ed died in Jack’s arms.
The Japanese commanding officer said on their arrival, “It would have been better for you if had you died on the march.”
After 3.5 years of Suffering and anguish, Jack went into the sardine-like confines of a Hell Ship. In the hold of that ship there was no fresh air. There was a bucket for defecation. There was unending heat, thirst, sweat, stench, vampirism and every other horrible torment you might imagine. The ship was damaged by US Forces and it took 69 days to repair. 69 Days in THOSE conditions… 69 days on a CRUISE SHIP would be a nightmare... but can you imagine? That ALONE would be Hell.
But Jack survived “HELL” only to wind up as a Slave-laborer in Japan, and when finally liberated, he chose not to come home, but to remain as part of the occupying force.
One day, Jack was talking about his Brother.
“Jack? Why do you think he died?” In his whispery quiet, soft-spoken, years-of-carrying-a heavy-burden-way, Jack said, “He was good.”
In so many words, Jack was saying, “ I am not good,” and that is why he believed he survived and that is what he carried inside for so many years.
Jack Suffered his own private HELL like all the guys did… and yet, he would say things like, “It’s so great to be able to get up in the morning and have some breakfast. Life just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Louis Sachwald, who had his legs run over by a Tractor during the March, and Marion “Turk” Turner passed away on the same day. Separated only by distance, the guys were, and probably still are “connected.”
Louie was forced to dig his own grave and lie in it until he died. When he didn’t, he was allowed to get out and face 3 months on the Hell Ships.
Turk was buried at Sea courtesy of the USS BATAAN. (one of many reasons we love the Bataan Crew…)
At Turk’s Funeral, I played Taps… and for the echo Taps, I played Reveille. That’s who this guy was… and remains. And if it was good enough for Winston Churchill then it was good enough for Turk.
He came out of the Depression, like most of the guys, and when the War started he said, “Well, if we gotta fight, I ain’t walkin’. I’m gonna ride this one out.” So he joined the NAVY and served on the USS PERCH.
Now, in a scene that rivals anything you’ll ever see in a good movie, Turk was the 2nd to last man to get off the scuttled submarine. He was half-way up the cargo net on the Japanese ship when he looked back and saw his Captain staying with the Perch. With one of his arms wounded, Turk dove back in and rescued his Captain, pulling him up that cargo net.
One day I asked him,“What can you tell me about Corregidor?”
Always with a smile, “Oh that place had the most beautiful sunrises!”
One day he said, “I could only get to the number 12 when they beat me. Then I would pass out on my feet. Didn’t know what was happening after that.” Then he would say, “One of the hardest things to do is kill a man if he don’t want to die.”
Every day, Turk would say to fellow POWs ready to let go and die, “They’re comin’ tomorrow. They’re comin’ tomorrow!” He said that for 1,294 days. On the 1,295th day, he was right!
I think Webster’s should replace their definition of Optimism with a photo of TURK TURNER. He was holding Spencer (my 11 September 2001 born Son) on his lap, both of them with blue eyes blazing… when he said, “My Life just keeps getting’ better and better.”
JESSE BALTAZAR let us go just 11 days ago.
Due to lost records it took over 70 years for 71st Battalion’s Jesse Baltazar to finally receive his Purple Heart at age 94. John was the first native-born Filipino to join the Air Force in 1948. He joined the U.S. Armed Forces Far East (USAFFE) in 1941 after Pearl Harbor. His camp was bombed on 15 March 1942, at which time he suffered shrapnel wounds to his leg. Under those conditions, he did the march! But what does Jesse want most? That the medal representing his story and the story of his friends gets passed on to the next generation. SIR! We’ll see to that!
As small worlds would have it, Daniel Crowley was born in Greenwich, CT., where I went to High School. Did we get to meet him? No… wasn’t on any History Class agenda, I guess.
Daniel fought on Corregidor with the 4th Marines until they were officially surrendered by General Wainwright on 6 May 1942. Daniel went from Camp O’Donnell to Cabanatuan and then to Palawan (and like I said, if these names are new to you, please research them for the Love of these Men.) Daniel helped build an airfield in the blazing sun with little clothes, no hat, no shoes. Half the prisoners died there, and if it were not for an American doctor’s convincing act, Daniel would have been returned to Palawan and burned alive with the remaining prisoners at the airfield. Daniel was then hell-shipped to Japan were he slaved in an ancient copper mine until 14 August 1945. He was liberated on 4 September 1945 and has spent his life fighting for the legacy of those who fought with him against all odds.
JOHN MIMS went in at 190 lbs and came out at 67 lbs! On the march, his teeth were broken out with a bottle and his legs were broken for trying to escape. He watched his friends killed in random firing squads. When asked how it was that he survived, he said, “God intended it. I think God was looking out for me.”
By all means, please rub your elbows with these Great Souls.
I can’t help but REALLY love these guys. I hope you do too.
So here’s the MISSION WRAP: Ready?
It is said that we stand on the shoulders of giants. True… but we also stand… maybe even kneel… on the shoulders of average, common, often unknown, never-really praised or singled-out, forgotten by history, completely ordinary, day-to-day people who have been called, or have indeed volunteered to do the EXTRA-Ordinary and the UN-Common… some of whom... Sacrificed EVERYTHING … that we might live.
They were called the “Greatest Generation,” though these guys in particular, the greatest of the great, saw themselves as anything but Great.
So to you, the Greatest Generation in progress, upon whose shoulders will stand more of the unnamed, and their children and their children’s children, let’s recap:
Surrendered but never surrendering
Fighting on even while you’re going down
Unswerving Audacity & Optimism while looking out for your friends…
Carrying the Torch into Future Generations...
The Love of Freedom…
That’s just some of it.
I offer these small, edited stories in words and in Music. They lived them in Blood.
If you serve in the Military or if you support them in any way, I come to you with unmeasurable Love and Respect. You’re the next Greatest Generation… and it’s not possible to thank you.
Thank you for your Time and listening, for getting inspired to learn more.. and for becoming part of their story, a story that will go on and on and on, for as long as there is a need to defend Freedom.
*** *** ***
Family includes: Charles Melillo, an ex-POW of the North Koreans, and since passed on. Dennis Chiarella, an ex-POW of the North Vietnamese. Pat Viscusi who served in World War II, Korea and Viet Nam. Dominic Melillo, Rudy Antonucci, Bruce DeFilippo and Dominic Vallette who served in World War II. Ray Primm, who served in Korea. Don Marturano who served aboard the Intrepid during the Viet Nam War.
from a letter edited by Santa Claus
On 1 December 2009, after a return from Todd-AO in Los Angeles and the film-mix session for “Dwegons & Leprechauns,” I had a dream. I was visited by Santa Claus! He asked me to write a letter about him and his life. I was asked to share the letter with my kids on Christmas Day, and really any kids who wanted to hear Santa’s message.
Determined to finally “capture” Santa on film, I set up a camera with a motion-detector attached to the shutter on 24 December 2007.
The images captured became a part of the set-up film above and more importantly, a part of Santa’s “corrected” letter! You see, Santa himself, obviously a stickler for accuracy, came into the house that Christmas of 2009, got into my computer and made “corrections” to the Dream letter of 1 December! Talk about “stealth?”
Santa’s edited letter is below. Feel free to share it with your kids! Godspeed! S
More from Thanksgiving 2015.
Nico, Naoko, the kids and I went to see CREED on Thanksgiving. I confess it as loudly as possible. I LOVE Sylvester Stallone. I love what he shares of himself and what he tries to package as a lasting message. I grew up watching ROCKY and admiring Sylvester Stallone. I often share his messages with my kids. In fact… Here’s the SYNC with ROCKY and a small film clip to share.
Thanksgiving 1976. (Time of the 333 Prayer on the Bridge.) ROCKY! I loved it. Saw it many many Times. Loved Bill Conti’s Music. Loved Sly.
Approaching Christmas 2006. ROCKY BALBOA. We were in Connecticut for my Mom’s funeral. All the kids from mine and my Brothers' families went to see it. When that light bulb needed replacing, I leaned over and told Nick, “Watch, in some later scene he’s gonna come back with a light bulb. No show… just a bulb.” How did I know? Because that’s just what my Grandfather would have done, just what my Mom would have done. Missed “Midwest” that year and then lost my taste for it. It was a Time for my Mom and Christmas.
Thanksgiving 2015: CREED. There are so many SYNCS in this film I can’t list them. I mean that there are SYNCS that seem planted there just for my family. LOVED CREED. Love Sylvester Stallone. Here’s what I want to share:
Together in Connecticut for my Mom’s funeral in 2006, we took the kids to see Rocky Balboa (6). This is one of my favorite dialogues. I was reminded of it tonight watching CREED, which has its own timely messages.
Right after the Rocky scene… you’ll also find one of my all time favorite dialogues from Superman. Enjoy.
Rocky Balboa: You ain't gonna believe this, but you used to fit right here.
[taps on the inside of his hand]
Rocky Balboa: I'd hold you up to say to your mother, "this kid's gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid's gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew." And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you're no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain't gonna have a life. Don't forget to visit your mother.
Dialogue starts at around 2:00
JONATHAN KENT, much older now, stands with stooped shoulders, a scythe in one hand. He looks care-worn, but deeply concerned as CLARK joins him in the yard.
I don't mean...to show off, Dad.
It's just that...
You got all these amazin' things you can do
and sometimes you think you'll go bust if
you don't let other people know ..
I could score a touchdown every time I had
the ball. Every time, Dad. Is it showing off
for a person to do what he's capable of? Is
a bird Showing off when it flies?
I'm sorry, Dad. I know I made a promise,
but I just don't think I can handle it anymore.
CLARK turns away. JONATHAN watches with compassion.
Look, son. You've been nothin' but a blessing to your mother and me. In the beginning - when you first
came -we thought they'd take you away from us if
people found out about. . . the things you could do.
But a man thinks different as he gets older, 'thinks...
better. Wiser. Starts to see things clear. And I
know now that as sure as we're gonna see the moon
tonight there's a reason why you're here. Don't ask me
what reason, don't ask me whose reason.
But whoever, and whatever, there's one thing I do know...
It ain't to score touchdowns.
It’s 13 November 2015, and I wanted to get this out there, albeit hastily between the many projects. I wanted some sort of record “before” the next full downpour of soda cups, toys, dolls, and the newest must-have light-sabers! (My kids have a custom-built light-saber RACK by the way, from before the dark times… before the Empire.) Don’t forget the “new” conveniently scripted Darth mask, for our new "mysterious masked man!"
To set the record straight, I want you to know that I paid 43 times to see the original STAR WARS movie. I have seen it many more times than that, but 43 paid times to be blown away again and again, and experience it in various theaters just to measure audience reactions and the effects of differing sound-systems, etc.
Today's share excludes JOHN WILLIAMS! It is my opinion that if it were not for John Williams, and his mammoth talent, his vision, his homages to Erich Korngold and Gustav Holst, his Romantic, Operatic vision, STAR WARS would have dwindled long ago.
When EMPIRE STRIKES BACK hit the screen in 1980, I was in my first high school teaching job. When the band kids did something well, I would cup my hands over my mouth and say, “Impressive. Most Impressive.” It wasn’t until I brought the entire band to the movies to see EMPIRE that they even knew what I was talking about! The theater erupted in laughter when Darth Vader said it to Luke.
Thirty-Five years ago in 1980, at the height of my Romantic idealism and naivete, I wrote a letter to George Lucas. Handwritten, mind you! In it I praised him and all of the artists involved in STAR WARS. I was convinced they were making the masterpiece, masterwork of our Time! I try to describe to my kids the CHILL of hearing Darth Vader say, “I am your father” when no one knew in advance, on a huge screen, in a theater with an incredible sound-system. It was our generation’s BEN HUR, and a moment that cannot be recreated even with the most careful descriptions. You had to be there.
When posters for RETURN of the JEDI came out I began to explain to like-minded friends what the poster meant!
“I’ll bet you that at some point in the movie, the camera pans down from that image of the 2 hands on the light saber to reveal… Yes… DARTH VADER. He is the JEDI! You’ll see! What we will learn at the end of RETURN of the JEDI is that Ben Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker devised a daring plot… later revealed in the first 3 movies of the 3 part- 3 part- 3 part trilogy!”
Yes NINE Star Wars movies! I was so excited, me the guy who paid 43 times to see “A New Hope.” I was totally convinced of this!
“But Steve,” said my friends, “what do you mean that Darth Vader is the Jedi? They can’t do that. Darth Vader is a bad guy. Don’t you see?”
“Don’t you see? Luke goes to the DARK SIDE! It is the ultimate modern-day Opera! Then, we are literally shot into YEARS of Freaking Suspense-Limbo while we wait! Eventually, we are entreated to the backstory of the first trilogy of 3 movies. Get it? The first trilogy will be about HOW and WHY Ben Kenobi and Anakin plotted to go under cover and send Darth Vader into the Empire as a grand ultimate Spy of the Resistance!”
“Man, listen to me! These guys are GENIUSES! (Meaning Lucas and Williams, etc.) Who does Darth Vader kill? He kills his own Generals of the Empire, right? Apology accepted Captain Nido… and remember when the Emperor says… (In the version BEFORE they changed it!!!) … ‘Beware the Son of Skywalker.’ That is the Emperor sensing that Anakin’s son, Luke, who on the one hand could become a potential ally of the Dark Side, could ALSO wind up helping Ben and Anakin to overthrow the Emperor!”
But it also carried a delightfully layered set of potential meanings. “It also meant that there was a yet-to-be-revealed dangerous game played by Ben and Anakin. It was a plot-precursor to Luke’s Son, Anakin’s Grandson in the 3rd trilogy, setting things straight, films 7-8-9! See it now?”
Like you probably, they just thought I was over-the-top.
We went to see RETURN of the JEDI together. Luke shows up in black! “See? See!?” I poked at them! And right up to the scene where Luke saves his friends, I was CONVINCED that we would see Luke call in the Storm-Troopers with a wrist communicator. They would fly in over the sand dunes. The Storm-Troopers would salute Luke as "General Skywalker" and apprehend the new prisoners!
Remember that scene when Darth Vader says, “I see you have constructed a new light saber.”
Now imagines those SAME lines with the NEW acting and meaning… “I sense the goodness in you father.”
Only this time an apprehensive Anakin, wondering if his and Ben’s idea will fail answers, “Luke, it was never supposed to be like this. When Ben and I…”
“Ben!? Father, what are you keeping from the Emperor?” Etc. Etc.
Remember when Darth Vader blocks Luke’s lightsaber attack on the Emperor? Now imagine it the other way around. The profound, tragic, Shakespearian Irony when it is Luke who protects the Emperor with his block of Vader’s attack!
In absolute Operatic darkness, Anakin, our newfound Hero, the Jedi returned… is killed. We leave the theater in shock, and thoughts that will take years to fix! So much is left unsettled for us, the devoted followers of this story! Who will save Luke? Is salvation possible? What was Ben’s and Anakin’s original plan? Why did Darth Vader risk so much to go under cover, including his own son? All these questions were to be answered in SIX more films!
Alas. They instead made the RETURN of the JEDI we all know and still find it within ourselves to love, a movie for little kids.
Now… why am I so hurriedly telling you this boyhood story from 35 years ago and after the fact? The answer is simple.
STAR WARS 7 is brought to you with tons of money and PR from the new Empire. JOHN WILLIAMS will make it worth the exerience! Special effects will be glorious!, but let’s face it… if you haven’t figured it out yet, they are going to try to RE-release the cat out of the bag and have it both ways. Yes, Luke will be on the Dark Side (as it should have been in RETURN.) Or maybe not! Maybe they will keep Luke "pure," realizing that they can't suddenly undo the damage already done to the story line, and make Leia's son the new Darth. It'll be something like that. More "family" stuff where the entire forces of the Rebellion are mere backdrop for a small family problem. Perhaps the new bad guy is the nephew twice removed of an unknown impoverished uncle who was once a homeless victim of a yet-to-be-mentioned attack.
Might be something different... but really, for those of you who have been around the block and are not young enough for the new seduction, sisters and brothers and aunts twice removed only goes so far.
With HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars you can sell anything, even bad ideas. Frankly, I am amazed that they still expect an “ooh" and an “aah” from the audience. Kids they’ll get, as usual, but what of us, what of us? Like Kirk, “What of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?”
Brace yourself for the next X number of in-your-face-Star-Wars-is-just-so-cool years as your LIFETIME is consumed by a franchise that might have been epic, but is now just a lesson in what might have been and money-making. Then again, much is possible. When you rewrite History, even fictional history as we have seen before with the new STAR TREK movies, you can do whatever you want. It’s just like waiting for the remaining Survivors of the USS INDY to pass before you release your version of their story. Sad. True.
Imagine that we can go back in Time. STAR WARS 6 (the 3rd movie) is made as suggested. STAR WARS 1-2-3 is made with all the fine detail of the plot to assassinate the Emperor. Luke gets in the way. We then need STAR WARS 7-8-9 to complete the Story and set things straight. Skywalker’s Son.
Well, friends, I needed to get this out of my system more quickly than ever. SW7 approaches. I just wrapped on a new commission, perhaps synchronously entitled, “In the Darkest Darkness,” and SYMPHONY IIII will premiere just 8 days from now. As we speak, I am prepping ideas for a new film score, ironically for one of the friends with whom I had shared my ideas 35 years ago. He is directing! SYNC!
I do hope you've gotten the gist of my rapid-fire ideas, my twinge of frustration, and that your imaginations will run wild with what “might have been.”
In the meantime, if you’re like me, and you were a teenager when STAR WARS hit the big screen, you’ll still wind up bringing your family and maybe even buy some new toys just in time for Christmas! Wow! What a coincidence! ; - )!
FOREVER STRONG, a Tribute to the USS Indianapolis
is up for Album of the Year in the 58th Grammys
Please click on"FOREVER STRONG" in the menu to learn more.
SYMPHONY IIII: Lightfall
will premiere on 21 November 2015 with the Canton Symphony Orchestra
Gerhardt Zimmerman, Conducting
The UNWILLING, a film by Jonathan Heap
coming soon as the next Film Score
This letter was written to the kids of Bishop Ireton HS... 20 years ago. I post this letter today on 16 April, as Israel sounds the Siren to commemorate the Holocaust, discovered 70 years ago during this Time.
A Journey into the Storm by the
Premiere Forces of
FESTIVAL of LIGHT!
IGNA 8-9-11 April 1995
There are those who have silenced resonance with the Great Music that exceeds all laws of probability and coincidence. This is not for them.
It begins at 3:33pm on a Bridge in Boston. Impossible to list all of the subsequent events including the numbers 3, 33 and 333, we fast-forward to the completion date of Festival of Light, commissioned by Garwood Whaley and the Bishop Ireton Musicians. The horn solo, a symbol of the Eternal Light was written at lapsed-real-time 3:33, and was composed at 3:33pm. The entire work was completed and saved to disk at 3:33am.
333’s accompanied Brian and I on the trip from New Jersey to Alexandria. License plates to restaurant tabs... $13.33 for instance. Three times, hawks flew over our car during the trip and each time, they were in groups of three. Now, onto the piece!
Festival of Light was supposed to be delivered and premiered in 1996. I had completed it much earlier and sent it. The other commission for 1995 fell through. Dr. Whaley received Festival of Light at a time that allowed him a new option. While writing, I had no idea that Bishop Ireton High School was a Catholic school as was Iona Prep, where I spent my 9th-grade. When Brian and I walked in, we saw the jackets and ties and realized what was happening.
After our first RE-hearsal on Friday, we attended an assembly at which a survivor of the Holocaust spoke. She met her husband-to-be in the slave labor camp. We dedicated the piece to her and her husband. They were in the audience that night. At this rehearsal we determined that Brian needed to play the chimes. Brian is Jewish, and in many ways, he was an inspiration for this piece. It is in the chime part that we find the iteration of the 8 days of burning Light.
If you check out the 4/4-5/8 section, you will see that they are in units of 8. Why 4/4-5/8? That is because there are 13-1/8th notes, or 8 units of 13. These are Fibonacci numbers. And why 13? Jesus was the 13th person at the Passover, a Passover we are soon to approach.
This brings us to the Ram’s Horn, the Shofar, which we obtained from the Rabbi. He told the story of the Ram’s Horn... how it came from the sacrificial Ram of Abraham and how it symbolized a “loud voice” that was used to call upon God.
Fitting. When Dr. Whaley told me over the phone that he couldn’t get the trumpet player back to the tam for the initially written effect, I decided to get a real Ram’s Horn. Later that same day, we went to a Dodge Ram dealer. The logo on their car, the one we purchased for a friend... was, yes, a Ram, complete with horns. Interestingly enough, when we returned on Sunday, The Ten Commandments was on TV. Brian called me when he got home and told me to watch. We had been talking about Moses and more. When I turned on the television, there was a scene playing that I had not remembered. Incredibly, Moses was hollowing out a Ram’s Horn!
A Ram’s horn grows in the proportion of the Fibonacci Series, the same mathematical underpinning for the Stormworks and for the Stormworks Logo... and indeed, Festival of Light. Again, there is much too much to write. The Fibonacci Series, in my work and its far reaching implications to the ever expanding world of connections is Monumental.
Monumental. Now there’s a good word. Prior to my trip to Alexandria, I was in Oswego, New York... the same number of miles from Ramsey... oh, my God... RAMsey... as was Alexandria... only North. There we delivered The Fountainhead... the last movement of which is called, Monument to the Spirit of Man. This is the first line of the program notes from The Fountainhead. “God Architectured the World and then in the greatest Storm, Architectured Man, granting Him the miraculous ability to Architecture Himself and His surroundings.”
Festival of Light was premiered in... yes a Monument, a Monument to George Washington, and more than a Monument, a Temple, and not just a Temple, but a Temple whose fundamental bricks were modeled after the exacting brick-dimensions used in King Soloman’s Temple of Jerusalem. Do you remember our discussion about “architecture” prior to ever visiting this Monument/Temple?
Keep all of this in mind as we continue into this miracle.
As Brian and I drove up to the Monument/Temple, I asked Brian, “What would you do, if after the concert, we came out and right up there, above the Monument, we saw a Star of David?” Looking back, I’m not even sure why this thought came to me, but you could feel so much Good in the air.
Brian smiled. “Well... it would be a miracle,” he said.
Festival of Light is dedicated to “all those who believe in miracles”...
The fact that our concert was rendered with the US Air Force Band is still, yet another significant connection/coincidence. That story is involved. Suffice it to say, that it was the USAF Band that first commissioned Stormworks, the piece... and that the man who recorded the concert was the same man who first conducted the premiere of that piece.
You guys have played Stormworks and Escape from Plato’s Cave!, two pieces which were intimately connected to the flow of events regarding this night. The dedication is on video tape. Maybe someone could send me a copy. I mentioned many of the things written in this letter. My intention was to suggest a “coming together of forces.” In every part of me, I felt that we were their for a reason, an important reason, which many of us may never know! The great and noble purpose of Music is to give. I’m glad we were given the opportunity to give that moment to the Spiegels and every person in that room.
After the concert, Brian and I stayed, needing to pack up and discuss a recording project. It was approaching midnight. The night was special, windy and moist. The misty sky was hazily lit by a half-moon. The night watchman said, “Hey, have you ever been up to the top?”
We squeezed into the rickety 70-year-old elevator and pulleyed to the top of the Monument. The door opened. The night watchman said, “This ... is a replica of King Soloman’s Throne.” We were in a room dedicated to the historic creation of the Temple of Jerusalem. Museum-like, the room was filled with artifacts from Jerusalem, with Hebrew writings on the walls and tiny statues of people mentioned in the Bible. In a large glass case was a Bible and it was opened up to 1 KINGS... The Temple Building. The passage described the building of the Temple of Jerusalem. It was built in the 2nd month of the year 960 BC. Please check the date on the score! It was built in 3 parts, one of which held the ark of the covenant. It had 3 outer walls, which were 3 stories high.
It was from this SAME passage, presented behind polished glass that I gathered the mathematics needed to compose Festival of Light!
After reading The Fountainhead in high school, and having just premiered the Music, I was intrigued by this well-honoured documentation of Architecture. On top of a closed building, behind a glass case, the Bible was opened to this particular chapter... in a room replicating King Solomon’s Throne. The room was atop the Monument/Temple where we had just premiered Festival of Light , a work dedicated to survivors of the Holocaust, who found Love in the face of great adversity.
There is more. Since I am at a loss for words, there will be more Music.
But in closing, allow me to tell you what it was I saw in the glass case... at eye-level when the elevator door opened. It was a Shofar, a Ram’s Horn. You must go up and see it. The Shofar was the same color and about the same size... with only one difference. You see, our horn was apparently from the Right side of the Ram... and the one in the case was from the other side!
So runs the great Storm of Time and wonder and miracle. There are those who would say that all of these many overlaps are pure coincidence. For them , I feel sorry. I would ask them to contemplate the number of variables beginning years and years ago... and all the countless subsequent events that would need to be aligned in order to have this one moment in the great expanse of Time occur just as it did. Think of it.
There is one more thing, something I saw with Brian. It is subjective and I shall leave it out of this compendium. Suffice it to say that as I was leaving the Monument on early Sunday morning, I looked up... and... well let’s say I saw something interesting.
GODSPEED always. Stephen Melillo
PS: By the time you get this you will have returned from Europe. I hope you enjoyed your trip and that you experienced many wondrous things.
PS 2: I love you guys.
PS 3: 9 April is a very important date in History. Please discover it. Then, 11 April. On this day, unplanned and off by one year because of a “coincidental” mishap, we premiered Festival of Light. On that DAY... 50 years ago to the day... the Allies discovered and liberated the first of the concentration camps.... where the Spiegels were. I learned of this just last night, on 23 April 1995!
Life is short, but so so wide....
"Steve: I’m sitting here crying like a baby, listening to your Symphony. Such powerful music you have composed for us.
Thank you - Thank You - THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
May I call you around 1:30 PM. I need to get a hold of myself. You, my friend, have touched a very dark place within me.
Best Always and Love,"
6 September at 8PM:
Raymond Jones will kick off his "This Just In" Radio Program with Music from Dwegons & Leprechauns. You can listen anywhere around the world live on WHRO. Tune in on 6 Sep at 8PM to enjoy the Score Live!
"Fantastic music!!!!! I'm putting it on the new releases show Saturday Sept. 6th - I've been playing it on my car stereo last night and today, and it is really a marvelous score - 'A home run, Steve!' " Raymond Jones, WHRO
"I listened to the CD tonight....it brought tears to my eyes...what a great body of work!... I am so proud that this CD of music is the score to my movie! Wow!.. The quality of the CD is incredible. Be proud!!!.. this is a CD of greatness!!!!... I'm glad I made this movie if for no other reason that this music was then composed!" Tom Walsh, Creator of Dwegons & Leprechauns, CEO, EnterAktion Studios/TW3 Entertainment
To listen to all of the STORMWORKS Music for Ensembles of the 3rd Millennium™ Recordings, now sorted into Grade Levels 1-2-3 and 4-5-6. STORMTracks™ Sort.
Enjoy & Godspeed! S
What does a recent discussion with Students and Teachers from Pennsylvania, with History, Art, Science, Astronomy and Mathematics, have to do with STORM WORKS & STAR TREK?
What a title!
On 29 June 1988, I completed S-MATRIX, Symphony Number Numberless in 21:00, in 4 movements. It was my 404th piece and the very first Time I felt worthy of making the self-directed proclamation, “Now, I am a Composer.”
The form of the work is involved. Suffice it to say that each note was part of a pre-determined Matrix, and composed/orchestrated to transposed score without any instruments save pen and paper. Writing by means of this self-imposed challenge, each and every aspect of the work represented a significantly recursive, “left-brained” undertaking.
The 19 November 1992 premiere brought the first standing ovation in the Memorial Auditorium’s 40-year history. Interestingly enough, listeners said, “Wow, what a total right-brain journey that was!”
I just returned from Harrisburg, PA. Many of the hard-working kids, future Mozarts to be sure, asked questions. Their curiosities always get to the heart of what Music actually IS, and why we make it. I always begin with “The Silent Language.” Yes, what affects us most about Music is actually Silent. It becomes manifest in sound, but just as a Cathedral or a garage become manifest in brick, so does a great work or a passing one become manifest in sound. It is the “architecture,” the “design” to which we respond.
Rather than go into some heady discussion on this, which works MUCH better in person, let me direct you to an article by a brilliant person named Kevin Muldoon. He lives in New Haven, CT., most likely somewhere near Pepe’s! (Yes, I am envious!!!)
The SYNC is this. When I got back, a good Friend sent me the article linked below. I just had to smile. I said, “Now, I am a Composer,” after 404 pieces, but as an 11-year-old, the very first notes I ever wrote down, with backward 1/8th note stems and all, was the THEME from STAR TREK. The Original Series, of course!
And darn if Kevin’s article does not totally explain why I love THAT Enterprise and never cared for any of the spin-off “Enterprises” that followed!
What a SYNC-Eye-Opener!
Whether you are new to the ideas of Fibonacci, Sacred Geometry, Pythagoras, Phi, or not… whether you are a curious Mozart of the Future or a dedicated Music Educator who wants to learn more, Kevin’s article is a great way to start.
As I’ve hinted, Kevin uses the USS ENTERPRISE (NCC-1701 version) to illustrate the purpose and elegant Beauty of Phi and the Fibonacci Sequence and more.
In the photo above, I illustrated the infrastructure of just one 3:34 Composition. This internal Silence is embedded not only within each of the “Storm” works… but in all of the STORMWORKS Chapters beginning with Chapter Zero. I am working on Chapter 34 as we speak.
The USS ENTERPRISE, a ship I have loved since I was a boy, is fashioned in the same proportions as “Art of the State,” the 3:34 piece I analyzed as an illustration of the “Storm” Works. What can I say? I knew it? Though I still get chills, I’m no longer surprised!
StormWorks… Star Trek. Connected! Of course? Love it!
If you’d like to talk more over Pizza, just let me know!
Here is Kevin Muldoon’s article. Enjoy & Godspeed! S
For those of you with young kids, or for those of you whose Hearts are still young, you might enjoy this letter from Santa.
Originally received in a dream back in 2009, it was actually corrected by Santa!
It’s yours to personalize and share.
Merry Christmas and Godspeed in 2014!
The Letter! (in PDF)
On today's Birthday anniversary of Franz Liszt, I've decided to cast my 24 votes for the 56th Grammy Awards. Since August, I have heard some really fine Music created by very gifted Composers, Songwriters, Arrangers, Musicians and Producers from around the world. It was a great Journey to this point and I look forward to casting my votes.
For you and for your friends who are voting members of NARAS, Stormworks Chapter 21: WON WAY is on the ballot in 8 (eight) categories!
1. Best Classical Compendium - MELILLO: STORMWORKS Chapter 21 - WON WAY
2. Best Instrumental Composition - 21 WON WAY (Stephen Melillo, composer)
3. Best Classical Vocal Solo - MELILLO: ALL THIS SHALL BE YOURS
4. Best Choral Performance - MELILLO: THE PRAYER OF OUR LORD
5. Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance - MELILLO: DUETTO PER TUBA
6. Best Classical Instrumental Solo - MELILLO: #1016 FOR CLARINET & ORCHESTRA
7. Album of the Year - MELILLO: STORMWORKS Chapter 21:WON WAY
8. Best Instrumental Arrangement - WERE YOU THERE? (Stephen Melillo, arranger)
Great strides for our Music bridging the world in many different ways.
HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY #2 (which, though a MIDI demo only is bonus track on the Chapter 21 DigiCard)
7 July 2013
Today is the 153rd Birthday of Gustav Mahler. Mahler is more than a personal Hero.
There are so many stories to share about Mahler. I discovered his Music at age 16. I sat in a car by the water's edge and listened to one 20-minute excerpt from the 10th Symphony 100 times in succession. Later en route to Japan to record the Chapter 5:8 World History-making CD Set, I did the calculation and yes, I had listened for 33.333 uninterrupted hours. It was a chilling moment to discover that fact a Lifetime later while on a plane over the Pacific.
In SYNC with this day, here are some recent images. Enjoy & Godspeed! S
Thoughts on the Stephen Melillo Clinic
Two weeks ago today, the orchestra members who visited Virginia Beach experienced a gap in the societal-time continuum and accessed real, transcendental LIFE through nearly perfect Communication. To some of you, that may sound overly Romantic, and I would agree with you that Romanticism has no place in the communication form called “Language,” which is the type of communication you and I and Mr. Hensil are all engaged in. But my goal in using Language right now is to approximate another form of communication, MUSIC, an impossible task, as communication forms are like spatial dimensions and cannot directly describe each other; someone in the third dimension, for example, cannot image the fourth. The only way to experience what we experienced would be to participate in the clinic with us, which is, to everyone’s extreme misfortune, impossible.
Mr. Hensil took us to meet Stephen Melillo in part to expose us to the full force of Communication. Melillo lives MUSIC. Unlike Language, which uses a long string of words to try to approximate a single idea, MUSIC’s words are emotions, each of which explodes vibrantly outward to fill a multitude of different notions. This is the way Stephen Melillo lives his life: he communicates through intense emotion to whoever is around. His passion for what he is doing is palpable. His energy is infectious; every single person in the room was consumed and propelled by it, making it the first of many wonders of the afternoon and evening. This energy derived from an uncommon belief, namely that preparing for reality is a contradiction. Reality is reality; there is no way to prepare for it; all methods of teaching that pretend to be somewhat real are inherently false. As Stephen Mellilo loves to say, You Can’t Fake Real. So he leapt with us up several levels of society’s “preparation” checkpoints and believed us able to play like professionals. Not advanced high school students. Not conservatory level musicians. Reality demands real MUSIC be played by professional musicians; it was that level of MUSICALITY we were expected to reach. Imagine a calculus class learning equations while repairing the Golden Gate Bridge. Imagine English students learning advanced sentence construction while reporting for Time magazine.
Every orchestra member was awestruck by not only this high expectation, but more so by Mr. Mellilo’s undying, electrifying belief that we would be able to achieve this real level of MUSICALITY. What do I mean by MUSICALLITY? It is the ultimate level of communication articulated via sound, related in passion to other forms of expression but in many ways distinct, as discussed before. Many human endeavors illicit the goosebumps moment that come with the transference of ideas—maybe if I’m lucky, some of you are getting goosebumps while listening to this—but MUSIC is the only form of communication that physically surrounds listeners and performers with waves of energy. We were surrounded in the clinic by this physical presence of the sound we were creating, all striving as one to mold it to perfection, to give it the shape necessary to rearrange the very elements of the human soul. This was our heroic task.
MUSIC is also one of the few performance forms that requires such complete camaraderie between so many people. Firstly, the person actually transferring the ideas, the conductor, is not actually participating in the production of the communication medium; he makes no sound. His power lies in inspiring other people to communicate for him. Stephen Melillo is exceedingly good at his job. In a way perhaps only possible in MUSIC making, he was able to propel his emotion and energy through us, throwing us up toward the transcendental meaning of the piece and connecting us to each other in the process.
One of the things I have learned in Orchestra is that there is nearly nothing more fulfilling than the connections created with other members of the Orchestra while playing MUSIC. Souls shine through eyes, windows to the immortal across stands, scrolls, and bows. Every person experienced this, from the section leaders to the back of the sections. The full impact of the moment did not discriminate; it permeated every person equally and gave the orchestra unconquerable momentum from the back of the sections to the front.
And because the person who was the catalyst for this expression was someone who exists in environments of intense creativity and passion on a frequent basis and unlike many, many people, will settle for nothing less, he lifted us to his plane of professional ARTistry as almost no one else can. This instantaneous transport to a level of real connection and life, a level that makes normal existence seem pale and rote, was perhaps the most overawing facet of the clinic. And also the most important. For not only were we able to express ourselves in a professional, extremely Real way, exchanging thoughts and emotions fluidly with each other’s minds and souls, but we caught a glimpse of what a passionate, inspired life can be.
Even for those of us who do not plan on being professional musicians, watching and participating in the joy of this overtly fulfilled man doing the thing he loves most showed us more than any other class what the purpose of life should be. No matter what form of Communication we decide to pursue—in other words, no matter what “major” we study in college—this clinic taught us that Reality—passionate, inspired, Reality—must be the goal of life. Accepting society’s limitations on Real passion, and, what’s worse, enforcing our own limitations is not a path to accessing Life. New relationships, new stories, and new paths to Reality: this is what Stephen Melillo gave us, and as a soon-to-be graduate who took all the quote unquote “best courses” offered, those are experiences and lessons more important and completely absent from anything else one can learn.
What It Means to be Caught in the Storm (2013)
by Russell Maclin, Cellist and senior at Central Bucks South HS, PA
SET-UP: Perhaps my most recently acquired frustration with high school is its apparent lack of inertia. I don’t mean the building itself; I’m sure that if the bricks and cement were thrown, they would take enormous force to halt. Instead, I am referring to the fact that people commonly make that mistake, thinking that the name “CB South” refers to those bricks and cement. What happens within these walls is not enough to overcome them: the base level of inspired energy—among students and among almost all teachers—seems to be a firmly rooted zero. Attendance is an obligation; classroom connections are fleeting; personalities are façades jaded students erect against the negative energy that pulses from within them and from the otherwise-deadened white walls. People rush away at 2:30 like repelled magnets, and when school is not in session, most internal communities are abandoned—not only is the building empty; school in the metaphysical definition is deserted as well.
The VISION: I want to be a part of an academic community that has momentum, a community whose personality exists separate from itself, eternal, intangible, infectious, engulfing. Instead of an environment in which every pursuit must be hauled and heaved up from scratch just to possess a spark, an inertial environment has a continuously rumbling energy under it, like smoldering embers ready to be enflamed at a moment’s notice. In contrast, we commonly find ourselves collecting timber time and time again.
Enter STORMWORKS: Quite suddenly, though, I have found myself initiated into the Third Millennium, which is quite possibly the most momentous—derived here from “momentum”—community I have ever witnessed: altogether without physical boundaries, the Third Millennium is connected by a common philosophy and purpose; it is sustained by pure momentum without any forced connection. It has a language all its own, a history all its own (our fledging membership is proceeded by decades of experiences before us), and a philosophy that is in stark contrast to the normal, tepid maxims fed to schoolchildren. And the originality and driving force behind this language, history, and philosophy create a legacy of energy so sweeping that those dedicated to membership are swept along—in effect, “Stormworks” is exceptionally literal: those who take part in this body of work are swept into a cerebral, philosophical, and communal storm.
The PIECE and more: In “Stormworks 1988-2013,” momentum is all. The “relentless” rhythm brings momentum to the literal realm, but there’s also an intangible realm of momentum driving through this piece: echoes of adventures past, of emotions, of performances reverberate off the page and add depth and wind to the storm-like inertia. And playing along with the percussion track brings a conceptual momentum as well as a physical boundary of forward motion: practicing at home, I am forced to constantly conform and live up to the standards of the professional musicians whom I have never met yet are who are miraculously accompanying me. The track is a glimpse of the end product—it will never change; we are the ones who must match its established force and inflection. Clearly, the base level for this piece is far above zero. It’s incredible that compared to my time spent in school—in the proximity of thousands, there appears to be little intellectual spark or vigor—practicing “Stormworks 1988-2013” by myself, at home, feels almost claustrophobically inhabited by sheer human will.
The MUSIC: I am enthralled by this experience because it reasserts everything I love about MUSIC. I love the community, the communication that will eventually occur across the stage, but for now is replaced by a different connection—one of experiences across time and space. Lofty goals are hardly set for students anymore, yet here we are pinned up against professional quality and must, in a matter of months, leap to the occasion, and contrary to popular belief, people love to leap. A community so individual and so idealistic is a pleasure to get swept into, and I love the storm that is engulfing us all. A storm without sides, without limits; a storm that has lasted for over two decades, silently smoldering in the background of society, ready to jump to flame anywhere around the globe—a universal storm that shocks everyone in its range with lightning that reaches into the Romantic depths of passion, commitment, and idealism...
This is shaping up to be the perfect storm, 2013.
Free Recording, Score & Parts.
Please get your free recording, your free Score and Master Set of Parts to Courageous, and then please share this gift with all of your many friends, family, colleagues and networks.
We're looking for an orchestra. Can you help?
Curt DeMott, Sandy Hook Parent & Stephen Melillo
Every Day's a Miracle on Chapter 34 Street!
Miracle on 34th Street was released in 1947 with Oscar winner Edmund Gwenn as Santa. The film was written and directed by George Seaton. He won an Oscar for best screenplay, and was nominated for Best Director and Best Film. I love this film.
Santa is perfect. The "psychologist" he whops on the head with his umbrella is timeless enough to make that scene one of my all time favorites.
The best is John Payne’s character Fred Gaily. He’s the attorney who risks his career by taking on the “impossible” task of proving Kris Kringle to be the "one and only" Santa Claus.
Doris (Maureen O’Hara): You're not really serious about this?
Gaily: Of course I am.
Doris: But it’s “impossible” to prove he's Santa Claus.
Gaily: Why? You saw Macy and Gimbal shaking hands. That wasn't possible either, but it happened.
Doris: It’s completely idiotic. What do your bosses say?
Gaily: That either I drop this impossible case or they will drop me.
Doris: I can’t believe you would risk everything to prove the impossible...that there IS a Santa Claus!
Gaily: But no one else has the courage to stand up for Kris, and what he stands for!
It's okay to stand up and be courageous for underdogs… and even for yourself when your back is to the wall. Do your relate? Have you ever marched into hell for a heavenly cause? It's okay to be something other than the flavor of the month. Have you ever been David in the stand against Goliath? It's okay to do something good for someone who needs you and gives you the chance to stop "wasting your time on this earth."
If you've lived these challenges, the stuff of Christmas... and I'm sure you have, then listen to your Life's Soundtrack! It is STORMWORKS Chapter 21: WON WAY, inspired by and dedicated to Roberto Clemente. You haven't ordered a copy yet?
It's Christmas! Merry Christmas! Godspeed in your Story and our Story yet to come!
Share this email with a friend, a future STORMAficionado™ who also faces the Storm. http://www.stormworld.com/SignUpForm.html
Reactions just coming in…
"Steve, I just finished listening to Chapter 21 start to finish. All I can say is... "Wow!" Very powerful and moving things... You were not kidding when you said the music deals with situations going on in the world today… Words cannot express my gratitude for sharing your music with me. You once again proved that "You can't fake real."
"You can’t fake real…. I heard those words from Stephen Melillo in 2006 when I was an undergrad at Troy University. We were beginning a recording session for his Stormworks Chapter 1P, Wish to the World. Steve, and his music, push and pull you to the limit with every emotion imaginable. Joy and happiness only build tension into the darker places of the world and the human soul. He has written and recorded meaningful music for the turbulent times in which we live, and then inspires Hope. His music is a testament to the strength and resilience of the human soul. Passion is a trademark of his music. Steve and his music are one of the most Inspirational forms of classical / orchestral or any other media you can find today." Andrew Stawick, Percussionist
"Steve, The hour is late. Been playing with my GrandDaughter all Day/Night. After bedtime I listened to Won Way. Half way through, without the libretto, yet, tears are flowing. You, the Master of Before & After. You, the Believer in Everything. A culmination of the obvious. Dude, this is It! Glad that I have been a small part of the Struggle. We shall continue the Fight. I Love you, Man. I Love the Music/Struggle." Mike Lee, Synth on Chapter 5:8: Writings on the Wall.
19 August - 21 August... The CD Set comes in the 40th Anniversay
Roberto Clemente’s Birthday through the 21st
Personal Message: A Road Less Traveled
21 years ago, Stormworks Chapter 34: SON of the STORM was composed. This 88-minute “musical” spiraled from the 1988 piece “Stormworks” and its precursor, ONLY for NOW and became the basis for the following 21-year sojourn, divided into Chapters and called, “Stormworks.”
21 years ago, I had scored the Academy-Award nominated 1201PM. In 2010, 210-minutes of new Music were written. Chapter 21 is a part.
Adventure compels us to leave the Highway, take an exit that might lead to open skies. Off the ramp, there are a number of directions to go. Gravity assists. Let’s go this way. Through uncharted back alleys and parts of town unknown, you realize that you never know where you haven’t been until you go there. Potholes appear, heightening the road-dance. Bumps fail to detract. Instead, some inner engine urges faster, forward driving, further and farther away.
The Highway vanishes, somewhere beyond the rear-view mirror. Civilization passes. Gas runs low. At some indeterminate point, the road becomes cobbled… then dirt, and finally a scanty scratching in the earth’s surface. All you see is dust if you drive too fast. The road gets narrow. More narrow still. Trees and shrubs and unmanaged brush encroach. Suddenly it’s a Path. The car becomes expendable. You leave it. By foot, and with limited water, you venture ever forward. Through dark shadowy woods, then merciless jungle and incessant insects you stay on the waning Path until you are quite sure that no one has yet trampled the dry, dusty grass beneath your now aching feet.
The jungle fades. Night approaches. Should I have left the Highway? Then it happens. The road… the dirt Path, the footpath and any possibility of it… stops. You have reached the end. No Rainbows. No song in the end credits. Instead you lie on your back and for the Eternity of the night, you prayerfully smile back at the countless smiling stars in the now open sky. Ah! A meteor!
Morning comes. The Sun rises. You look at a magnificent world, outstretched before you in Time and space and realize: You are Free. The roads are gone, but where there are no roads… all directions are possible.
This less traveled road, this Ganó Camino is the Heart of Stormworks: Chapter 21: Won Way, summed in humble dedication to Roberto Clemente and others like him. Roberto Clemente who condensed all of what he accomplished in his brief Life into a simple, daring statement: “If you have the chance to do something good for someone, and you don’t, you’re wasting your time on this earth.”
This Music stands as a document that will extend beyond all the apparent roads, and “road-scholars” of this day. Under open skies, the Message of great Men like Roberto Clemente and others like him, will ring for as long as we are here to carry on.
Godspeed! Stephen Melillo
DESPITE ALL ELSE... HERE WE STAND! is the prototype work by HEARTStorm, composed and orchestrated for combined Symphonic Metal, Chorus, Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and the upcoming "Theatro-Metal™" HEARTStorm CD coming soon.
If you've ever been kicked a few times while down, or slapped in the face after many turnings of the cheek, you'll relate to this standing-tall shout of defiance and triumph.
Joined by Musicians aged 9-73 from Austria, Germany and around the world, and then joined by a Chorus of Church Bells from Moscow, Paris, London, Rome, New York, Budapest, Berlin and more as the piece rings in its Victorious conclusion, DESPITE ALL ELSE… HERE WE STAND! is HEARTStorm's Manifesto. It tells where we came from, where we're going and why. We know where you've been too. Here is your anthem! Enjoy!
MISSION: To Create Shared Life-Experiences in Music… and do it in a Ground-breaking, pioneering way that bridges Musical worlds from the Symphonic Orchestra to Progressive Metal and Beyond™.
Now… I need for you to listen and BUY this track. For .99 cents a 9:33 track "ain't bad." Then I want you to spread the word and get this into YOUR networks of family and friends. Here are the links:
We are also on http://www.reverbnation.com/Heartstorm and facebook.com/heartstormofficial
Our Manifesto... a prototype of Music yet to come.
DESPITE ALL ELSE… Here We Stand!
Symphonic Metal Version for HEARTStorm
#1030 for Metal, Chorus, Band 3M & Orchestra
Music & Lyrics by © STEPHEN MELILLO IGNA 11 November 2011
Do you think we're standing here because of you?
Hammered to our knees with all your rules?
Thank you for the Heartache,
Thank you for the Slander,
Thank you for your Lies and don't forget to Pander!
Thank you for the kicks when I was on the ground and
T`hanks for taking me around and around
Despite all else, we've beat your Fear!
Despite all else we're standing here!
If you want to know the Truth
I'm grateful to you!
Beaten to a pulp, all black and blue.
Thank you for the Struggle,
Thank you for the Hardship,
Thank you for the nightmares
Thank you for the Pain!
Thank you for the slaps and turnin' my face red!
I'll still be around even after I am Dead!
Despite all else, we've beat your Fear!
Despite all else we're standing here!
Standing tall, we're stayin' here!
Despite all else we're Stand-ing here!
Do you think we're standing tall because of you?
Cowards are the fools
You use as tools.
Thank you for the Darkness,
Thank you for the taxes.
Thank you for your lectures
That cut us down like axes!
Thank you for the P. C.
Thank you for the put-downs,
Thank you for the Lies
That took us 'round and 'round!
Despite all else we're standing here!
Despite all else, we have no Fear!
Standing tall, we're stayin' here!
Despite all else, we're standing here!
Despite all else, all else!
Do you think we're standing here without duress?
Living in a world you've made a mess...
Thank you for your small brain
Thank you for your small heart
Thank you for your Wars and for killing all the Art!
Thank you for the deals you closed behind the door!
We're still standing here, and we're mopping up the Floor!
Despite all else we've beat your Fear!
Despite all else we're standing here!
Standing tall, we're stayin' here!
Despite all else we're standing here!
The 2 CD Set, STORMWORKS Chapter 21: WON WAY is currently in production involving Musicians from all over the world aged 9-73! From Austria to Australia, from the US to Germany, with fine Musicians playing intimate solo works to large scale neo-Romantic MUSICDramas™. The Music is inspired by and dedicated to the legacy, message and ideals of Roberto Clemente who said, "If you have a chance to help someone, and you don’t, you are wasting your time on this earth.”
My friends! The previous insane record of online order to customized parts received and into the printer was 3-minutes! THIS was beaten... now listen to this. 2:25!, around the world to David Polain, Conductor of The Police Band of Adeleide, Australia! 2:25! David is also the FIRST Australian Official STORMDirector!
"I printed out the set of parts to "Take Back" and we had our first blow through at work last Thursday - the band loves it !! Stephen Melillo in Australia!!!!! And.... drum roll.... I finally did it. I hope, looking at the photo you may understand why it took a while to take. I had to decide on a t-shirt design etc etc. (The photo was taken on my front lawn). Chat soon. Cheers," David Polain
For those of you who may be in the area, I have the good fortune of conducting the official world premiere of Pasodobles para Santa Cecilia y los Héroes de España with the Madisonville North Hopkins HS Band from Kentucky. As part of the NY Wind Band Festival, the work will be premiered at the Showcase Concert on the evening of the 26 February 2012 at Carnegie Hall.
The night concert features Madisonville NH HS Symphonic Band and California State University Long Beach Wind Symphony. Tickets are available at www.carnegiehall.org.
27 January 2012: On this cornerstone date, the births of Mozart, Jerome Kern, and the anniversaries of the 1201PM recording session, the completion of Only for Now, the Music to Picture film-scoring text and the 19th Anniversary of STORMWORKS. The link above is a Gift and memento. As always much yet to come! Enjoy & Godspeed! S
On 28 October, after several live performances, The Concerto for Violin and Orchestra will be recorded. Previously recorded on the STORMWORKS Chapter 5:8 CD Set: WRITINGS on the WALL as my own transcription, this recording will be of the original work, composed for Violin and Orchestra.
The work will be played by Carla Leurs. The conductor is Joos Smeets
Here is some information regarding this very fine Musician, Conductor and Orchestra.
Review Excerpt by Joachim Buch
6 August 2011 Concert concluding one week at the
Bavarian Music Academy in Marktoberdorf, Germany
"After music for the tapping feet (composer name) and for the head (composer name), the next part of the body after the intermission was the heart. Under Melillo’s baton, who conducted the world premiere of five new works, there was emotion pure, not only in conducting and in music, but also in the composer’s presentation. A treatment of the spiritual "Were You There?" was without further ado dedicated to a boy from the Allgäu region, who died in autumn 2009, only seven years old.
Melillo, who names his compositions for band, "Stormworks" and collects them into "Chapters," dedicated his recent "Chapter 21: Won Way" to Roberto Clemente. This former baseball player was the first Hispanic in this profession who gained national fame. He died 40 years ago during a self organized relief-action for earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Melillo and the band found very well together in this one week. The "Function Chorales," developed by Melillo had a very good impact on the band’s intonation. Incited by Melillo’s art of motivation one experienced a totally relieved way of making music, honored by very long applause.
Joachim Buch (his own translation form the original German Article. Concert on 6 August 2011, concluding one week at the Bavarian Music Academy in Marktoberdorf, Germany)
70 minutes in 3 days.
We just completed the recording of the STORMWORKS Chapter 21:WON WAY Music
in Austria. Karl Geroldinger conducted the fine Musicians of SBO-RIED with players ranging from
10 to 73. An experience FANTASTICHE!
Now, we are making Music at the Bavarian Music Academy with Beautiful, hard-working people.
What Heart and giving. Again... Fantastiche!
We will premiere many new pieces from Chapter 21 on Saturday.
Because ONLY for NOW, a young adult novel composed on 27 January of 1978 needed reformatting for uploading as an ePUBlication, the work was recently revisited. Now, in its 33rd anniversary it is getting a reprinting by the publisher! The Story remains as Timely as ever... and needed.
Watch for the book on Amazon, iTUNES, BookBaby, Kindle, Nook and more.
The PRINT version of ONLY for NOW should be ready by the Summer of 2011. Until then please enjoy the the newly revised 33-year-anniversary ePUB version at Barnes & Noble.com Click!
I will once again be running the "Composer's Workshop" at the Bavarian Music Academy this summer in Marktoberdorf, Germany. 29 July-7 August 2011. I will also be this year's guest conductor. We have selected all new Music from the Chapter 21: WON WAY CD, which will have been recorded only ONE WEEK prior to the Bavarian Music Academy Session! I look forward to working with you!
Starting today, not just DWEGONS, but the recently scored PLURIPOTENT will play in the 2011 CANNES Film Festival.
Watch for the animated children's feature film, DWEGONS. We made use of a fine 70-piece Orchestra from Sofia, Bulgaria. Their regular conductor, Martin Panteleev is also a very fine violinist and is preparing the Concerto for Violin. Stay tuned in the coming months of 2011!
PS: IN addition to this date being the anniversary of the SYMPHONY 2: AT LIFE's EDGE Premiere, it is also Martin's Birthday! Happy Birthday, Martin! And also to Max Steiner & Dimitri Tiomkin!
Piece #1000 was premiered in a Beautiful German Hall with fine players and chorus. Thank you!
Here is an article translated from the German Magazine:
“I love the German Language”
and his 1000th work
by Klaus Härtel, translated by Petra Buchmann
Surely you wouldn’t be wrong, if you said that Stephen Melillo is a productive composer. Because in the last 53 years - that‘s how old he turned on December 23rd - the American didn‘t compose less than 1000 works. That are - if he would have began composing on Christmas Eve 1957 - 18 works a year. Or calculated differently: Stephen Melillo writes a different work every 20 days.
The world premiere of his Anniversary work was a short time ago in Rot a. d. Rot in a baroque church. For the world premiere of a work - along with it‘s numbers and layered meanings - a musical milestone, composers and interpreters often search for great locations. For example, Carnegie Hall in New York. Or the Royal Albert Hall in London. Or the philharmonic in Berlin. Adequate to the incidents.
Not Stephen Melillo. The work “The Prayer of Our Lord” was premiered in the ministry of Rot a. d. Rot and Rot a. d. With respect, Rot didn‘t make music history as a stronghold for extraordinary world premieres... so far (although the “Antiphonarium ad usum chori Rothensis” - the red Choral manuscript - by Michael Haydn, who composed it for the men of choir of the Premonstratensian abbey)... and who saw and listened to the premiere, surely recognized, that there wasn‘t a better place for it.
It was the same observation for Stephen Melillo and the publisher family Rundel from Rot a. d. Rot, who connects with Stephen through a longlasting friendship. They knew each other since a performance of Stephen Melillo‘s work “Godspeed!” in 1998, says Thomas Rundel. And since the early “zero-years” they have worked closely together. “With the time we became close friends,” added Stephen Melillo. “Thomas and his family provided access to my music in Germany and in then the whole world. They are loyal and dedicated and I believe, that they hold my music in high regard.
The one-thousandth work is dedicated to the Rundel Family. This setting of the Lord‘s Prayer is made possible by Claudia, Thomas & Stefan Rundel and is lovingly dedicated to Antonie & Siegfried Rundel.”
“Every night I pray with my kids.”
"The Prayer of Our Lord” is scored for Wind Orchestra and choir. As lyrics he uses the “Our Father”. Stephen Melillo was musically inspired by the Hungarian-American composer, Miklós Rósza, who he calls, “my personal hero and role model.” Stephen Melillo characterizes how his one thousandth work arose: “I always pray these words in my thoughts. I listened to the Prayer in my Heart... and I wrote it down, what I felt, when I spoke those words. I tried to imagine the different level of meaning that can only happen when music surrounds and uplifts the prayer. Music visualizes, what might have been felt when the prayer was spoken the first time (in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6,5 to 15)... and portrays the emotions that are there when we pray it every day. I pray this prayer every night with my kids and every night it is a ‘new’ prayer. The words are profound, what Jesus tells us. The prayer encompasses great darkness and misery and yet ends with a promise that extends into many thousands of years.”
The work was premiered by the choir and the wind orchestra “Kreisjugendmusikkapelle Biberach” under the direction of Tobias Zinser. The conductor, surely honored to have the possibility to premiere an authentic Melillo work, knows the composer well and knows, what the composer wants. “The work is very much a Melillo work”, says Zinser. It begins piano and ends in fortissimo, an attribute, that is not atypical for the US-composer. “The horns can‘t be too loud or too high,” tells the band leader. And the work is more a “sound work” than a “melodic work.”
The choir is assembled as an additional timbre - and definitely as a vehicle of the text. The challenge was, explains Zinser, that the choir persists in the loudness against the band. But the speech was clearly distinguishable. In the comparatively short work (3.13 minutes) “there is more drama and dramaturgical message than in many 30-minuteworks,” says Zinser.
Firstly, Stephen Melillo’s many pieces appear as American-declamatory works, but they are authentic. An intensive work with mathematics, natural science and philosophy are always reflected in his works. You can always find significant numerical symbolism. By example, the change from measure 33 to 34 is always important in his works.
In “The Prayer of Our Lord” you can see it in the text - from “but deliver us from Evil” to, “Thine is the kingdom” - and also in the instructions - from “Death... Rit...” to, “The Resurrection of All”. Measure 33 is designated through a ritardando, that shows the power of evil. Because of a crescendo this part is intensified, like the quint in the wood winds. In the deep registers you can find frictional passages, while the horns churn up with declamatory signals. With the turn to God we have a clear D-major chord in measure 34 again in constant forte. “Thine” - in the German version, “dein” - is punctuated with brilliant Trumpet sounds.
“Music speaks its own language - beyond
English and German”
Stephen Melillo didn’t need to give musical instructions. “That wasn‘t necessary, except from the leveling of the German text. I’ve always known that the music was in good hands with Tobias. We didn‘t talk about the music per se. I believe, music speaks its own language - beyond English or German.”
In the concert in Rot a. d. Rot they performed the German version. The text was reworked by Ludwig Kibler. “You wonder if you can begin with ‘Unser Vater’ instead of ‘Vater unser,’’’ says Kibler. He was allowed to. Unser Vater fit better because “Vater” sounds in D-major, when “unser” has a minor-chord.
The perfectionist Melillo rubber-stamped this. The composer says that he has not yet heard the German version, “but I know, that I will love this version, because I love the German language... and I know, that the German singers will sing with their hearts and with great respect for this prayer. In German the prayer appears older - timeless - Particularly when it is sung in the language of Beethoven and Bach. I hear it in my head.”
He doesn‘t speak German, but nevertheless he hears it as music and knows its meaning. “That is the great thing about music. It is awesome in every possible language. We are all Brothers and we should respect all the prayers across the whole world. I just returned from China, where I visited a Buddhist Temple. I’m sure that every honest prayer reaches into heaven.”
Stephen Melillo admits that he doesn‘t remember every single piece of his 1000 works. “I can do that when I look into my data base,” he laughs. “When I began to compose, my aim was to compose one single piece so that I could become a better teacher. I continued composing - obviously. But I only called myself a composer the first time when I had completed my 404th work.”
That must have been in 1992, when Stephen Melillo created his “S-MATRIX Symphony # Numberless,” which was premiered by the conductor, Gerhardt Zimmerman and the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra. But that still would be about 600 compositions in the last 18 years. 33 per year... every eleventh day another work.
“I was surprised myself about this one-thousandth work,” says Melillo. “Many years ago, I thought that maybe I could write 1000 pieces in my entire lifetime. In my imagination I was a very old man. I was in between many important works, and this very special number 1000 just happened... without any planning. I‘m glad, that I received this inspiration to compose the ‘Our Father’ - and that this work would mark such a milestone.”