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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Music and the Space Center

Hello Troops,
I get to work with scores of staff and volunteers as the Director of the Space Center. Each one is unique in his or her own way, but there are similarities - such as a common love of music.

Those of you familiar with a Space Center mission know it is an interactive play complete with lights, sound, the spoken word and music - lots of music. In fact, music plays almost nonstop in some form or another from the first word of the mission story to the last triumphant celebration or mournful death.

Our obsession with music, and the roll it plays in our missions, stays with us even when we aren't at the Center working a flight. For example, every time I go to a movie, I follow the story and listen intently to the sound track. I'm searching for that next great melody I'd like to use in a mission to convey a feeling or celebrate a victory or loss.

You'll often find the staff discussing music whenever they get together. They share awesome pieces with each other. You'll hear debates on what's good and what isn't and what works and what doesn't. In fact, one can't become a Flight Director without his or her own library of music. Part of their training includes demonstrating they know the correct use of music in flight to transform a room of computers into the bridge of a starship set 300 years in the future.

I'm pleased to see that most of my older staff have quite a good palette when it comes to music. I've heard them use everything from show tunes to classical to Hindu music in their missions (although I've yet to hear anyone use Country music in a mission but that's not to say it won't happen). I'm hoping our younger staff learn from the older and broaden their appreciation of music and the role it plays in our lives and in good storytelling.

I see snow falling on the valley below as I look out my living room window. It reminds me that Christmas is approaching and I'm OK with that. I don't like the snow but who doesn't like Christmas? One of my favorite things about the holiday is its music. Christmas carols, in all their variety, carry some of the best tunes written. They are songs we enjoy singing year after year.

To celebrate this time of year (even though its a bit early) I'd like to broaden the musical experience of my younger staff and volunteers by introducing them to some of my favorite music of the holiday season. This is the kind of music they normally wouldn't listen to, but in my never ending quest to urge them to broaden their choices along the FM dial, I'm going to present a few of them here on the blog in hopes they'll listen and say "That was good. I'd like to hear more."

Today I start with Bach. His Christmas Oratorio is one of my favorites. It was first preformed in Germany during the Christmas season of 1734. Then dismissed until resurrected again in 1834.

And now, Jauchzet Frohlocket - the opening piece of Bach's Christmas Oratorio - sung by the St. Thomas Church Choir of Leipzig, Germany. I chose this rendition of the piece because St. Thomas was Bach's home church and the church where the piece was originally performed in 1734. Bach was the church's choirmaster and sang in the choir as a boy.

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