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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Now is the time to expand libraries and library services in Prince George's County

               If we cannot afford libraries in Prince George's County, it may be time to rethink government itself. Perhaps we need fewer high level political employees with 6 figure salaries. Where do our high priced political leaders think those of us without jobs wit find access to computers and the internet to apply? Madison pointed out that a functioning democracy needs open access to information for all citizens - we seem to be heading in the opposite direction - government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich.

               Now, more than ever, is the time to expand libraries and library services in Prince George's County. If our government cannot figure this out, perhaps now is the time to reexamine the government itself. Libraries in Prince George's County, the idea of public libraries, reach back more than two hundred years. The first library in Prince George's was in Upper Marlboro and chartered by the government immediately following the War of 1812. Among its foremost advocates was Dr. Beanes of Star Spangled Banner fame. He and his colleagues recognized the fundamental importance of equal access to information for a democracy in a representative government.

               Prince George's County needs to tell the political elite that, to paraphrase the Turkish playwright, novelist & thinker,  Mehmet Murat ildan,  you can build a thousand castles, casinos and strip malls; even with a thousand sanctuaries, you are nothing; when you build a library, you are everything! The high and mighty seem to have forgotten that, as “A library is a different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.” ― Zadie Smith

               “The public library is where place and possibility meet.”  ― Stuart Dybek

               “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.”  ― Claudia Alta Johnson

               “A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead”  ― Caitlin Moran

               “Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”  ― Laura Bush

               “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man”  ― T.S. Eliot

               “What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education.” ― Harold Howe

               “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” - ― Albert Einstein

               “In the library I felt better, words you could trust and look at till you understood them, they couldn't change half way through a sentence like people, so it was easier to spot a lie.” ― Jeanette Winterson

               “Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.”  ― Sidney Sheldon

               “He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing.” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

quotes taken from "Quotes About Library"

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Prince George's Philharmonic collaborates with County Highschool Students and with Peter Minkler, viola

               Once more the Prince George's Philharmonic rose to the occasion delivering a wide ranging musical performance last night in the Prince George’s Community College, Largo, Maryland, Fine Arts Building. The participation of Prince George's County students in a side by side performance of George Enescu's Rumanian Rhapsodie No. 1 in A Major, Op.11 showcased both individual musicianship and the conductor's, Mr. Ellis', command of the music.

               The students who played alongside the orchestra in a performance of Enescu's youthful work were:

First violin
               Melia Humphrey                                       Suitland High School
               Kayla Carlyle                                            Suitland High School
               Gabrielle Rogers                                       Suitland High School
               Victor Baules                                            Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Second violin
               Taisha Stewart                                         Suitland High School
               Dominique Marshall                                  Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Rose Pierce                                             Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Oliver Meade                                           Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Krista Hyppolite                                       No school indicated on program
               Megan Lewis                                           Northwestern High School  
               Ryan McDonald                                       Suitland High School
               Alfred Walfall                                          Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Katherine Skinner                                    Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Arianna Copper                                       Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Elizabeth Driver                                      Suitland High School
               Catherine Silver                                      Suitland High School
               Elliott Tapscott                                       Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Jacob Miller                                           Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Jan Knutsen                                           Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Josiah Herrera                                        Oxon Hill High School
               Emily Boluda                                          Eleanor Roosevelt High School
               Andrew Johnson                                    Eleanor Roosevelt High School

               The Rumanian Rhapsodie was completed on 14 August 1901, when Enescu was still only 19 years old and, so, is an appropriate programmatic choice and compliment to the skills and proficiency of our county's young people. The collaboration of the orchestra with Prince George's County's finest was heard by an almost well attended audience. One can only hope that you were there to hear the exciting dance rhythms of the glittering composition. The attacks were clear and as usual, Mr. Ellis found a way to highlight not only the solo parts at the beginning, but all of the enticing musical combinations that make up the swirling folks dance melodies of composition. From the beckoning simplicity of the opening clarinet to the fire of the end, the musical partnership made all us proud of our students and, for a moment, feel like Romanians.

               The concert started with another tipping-of-the-hat to student musicians with a world premiere performance of an orchestral work by Prince George's County's own Christopher Urquiaga, who was graduated in 2009 from my own alma mater, High Point High School in Beltsville.[1] Mr. Urquiaga's original composition, “Dance in 5” went by so fast that I was left wanting more. I hope we can hear an extended work by Mr. Urquiaga in the near future. Perhaps one of our county businesses might consider commissioning a piece by him as part of the bicentennial commemoration of Prince George's County's role in the War of 1812.

               The concert program was so filled with great music and performances that it is impossible to focus on one main part of the evening. In addition to the student partnering performances, the Prince George's Philharmonic collaborated with Peter Minkler, violist.[2]  At a preconcert dinner where I speak about the concert program I was asked about the viola. As we enjoyed a home-made treat of orange slices dipped in chocolate, it occurred to me that listening to a viola is akin to the pleasure found in the finest rich milk-chocolate treats. This analogy only begins to hint at the expressive all-enveloping music that Mr. Minkler brings forth when he plays his viola. His performance of the Romance for Viola and Orchestra in F Maj. Op. 85 by Max Bruch was exquisite. The orchestra was perfectly paired and supportive of the rich tones and melodic lines that wrapped us in a cocoon of musical velvet.  The sweeping main melody in all of its guises is still playing in my head this morning.

               Peter Minkler and the orchestra finished the night with Hector Berlioz's second symphony, Harold en Italie, Symphonie en quatre parties avec un alto principal (Harold in Italy, Symphony in Four Parts with Viola Obbligato), Op. 16, written in 1834. I have to say that I am drawn to the works of Berlioz for their technical brilliance, and, in the interest of noting my biases, not so drawn to their actualization in performance, his Symphonie fantastique, excepted.[3] That said Mr. Minkler soared last night bringing his technical proficiency and his artistic mastery to bear on this musical pilgrimage. The Prince George's Philharmonic worked its magic well allowing the viola to shine and ride above the orchestra in a true partnership that wonderfully framed the soloist abilities and command of the music. Mr. Ellis demonstrated his keen attention to showing off the abilities of his musicians as well as shepherding the ensemble through musical adventures. Given my musical bias towards this piece, I was much taken with the performance and still in awe of Mr. Minkler's artistry and command of instrument, the oft-times overlooked viola. If you get a chance to hear Mr. Minkler perform, you need to grab it.[4]

               After each concert, I continue to grow in my admiration for the level of musicianship and artistry we have right here in Prince George's County. And I continue to be amazed how few people have any idea what we have. You really need to come and hear for yourself what Prince George's County has to offer.

               The next opportunity is:

Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 8:00pm
Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, Bowie, MD
Anthony Elliott, guest conductor
Gabriel Cabezas, cello, Sphinx Competition Winner

Roussel                      Bacchus et Ariane, Suite No. 2, Op. 43
Saint-Saëns               Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33
Brahms                      Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

Single Ticket General Admission: $20, Seniors: $18, Age 18 and under free (ticket required). Single Tickets go on sale the night of the concert beginning at 7 pm, cash or check only. Tickets can be purchased in advance, by check. Please click here for the Single Ticket mail-in order form. All seating is unreserved. Free Parking.

[1] Virginia Terhune. 2013. "Former Beltsville student blends Latin, rock and classical influences in orchestral piece Orchestra debuts work by High Point High grad Saturday in Largo." Gazette.Net [accessed February 10, 2013.
[3] For me personally listening to this piece always reminds me of reading Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu while listening to Ravel's Bolero
[4] Susan Pearl. 2013. Interview with Peter Minkler soloist with Pri Geo's Philharmonic Sat Feb 9th. The PrinceGeorgian.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Interview with Peter Minkler soloist with Pri Geo's Philharmonic Sat Feb 9th

Peter Minkler

Interview with Peter Minkler
February 2013  
by Susan Pearl

This Saturday, February 9, 2013 - 8:00pm
Prince George’s Community College, Largo, MD
Charles Ellis, conductor – Peter Minkler, viola

Urquiaga                     New Work TBA
Bruch                          Romance for Viola and Orchestra in F Maj. Op. 85
Enesco                        Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1 in A Major, Op.11
Berlioz                        Harold in Italy, Op.16

Quarter Notes:  Thank you so much, Mr. Minkler, for taking the time to talk to us today.  We are very much looking forward to performing not one, but two wonderful pieces written specifically for viola.  Could we start with a little about your training and your current career?
Peter Minkler:  I began my studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Robert Vernon, and continued my studies at the Eastman School of Music with Francis Tursi.  I have been a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 1984.

QN:  We understand that you are active with the BSO Summer Academy and the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra.  So we’re especially pleased that you will be with us this February for our annual side-by-side concert, at which talented high school musicians join our Philharmonic in one of the concert selections.

PM:  Yes, I maintain a private studio for teaching viola students, and also enjoy coaching adult players at the BSO Summer Academy.  The Academy is a wonderful opportunity for adults who have enjoyed playing in an orchestra but have gone into other professions.  We have a week-long summer session which these amateur musicians attend, and perform a concert with the BSO.

QN:  And tell us about your connection with our Prince George’s Philharmonic.  This is the first time that we’ve had you as a soloist.
PM:  I’ve known Maestro Ellis for over 20 years, but have never worked with him and his orchestra, so I am delighted that he invited me to play with the Philharmonic.  And I am particularly happy that he is a “viola-friendly” music director!  It is not often that any orchestra schedules two viola soloists within just a few years.

QN:   That’s right, we had another viola soloist exactly two years ago, and we are delighted to have you for this concert, and especially for Berlioz’ Harold in Italy!  What a fabulous piece of music!  Is it a favorite of yours?
PM:  I have played this work before as a member of the orchestra, but this will be the first time I’ll have the opportunity to perform the solo viola part in concert.   It is indeed an outstanding piece, and one of the first major works that was written specifically for the viola voice.  In a sense, the piece is a narration of Berlioz’ own travels in Italy in the 1830s after he won the Prix de Rome, and the viola serves as the chronicler of this musical story.  It will be exciting to play it!
I’m happy also to be playing another smaller piece, the Romance by Bruch, which is a favorite of mine.  It was originally written for viola and orchestra - another fairly rare example of this combination.  Although I’ve presented it before in concert, the accompaniment was always with piano transcription, so I’m very happy to be playing it now with full orchestra as it was originally written. 
And what a wonderful program Maestro Ellis has put together!  Even the Enesco Rhapsody, which you will be playing with the side-by-side students, has a viola solo, which I hope the audience will be primed to notice.

QN:  This concert will indeed be a night of Viola Celebration!  Thank you so much; we are really looking forward to performing with you on February 9th! 

published with permission
Prince George's Philharmonic

Friday, February 01, 2013

Prince George's Philharmonic Featuring County High Students - Saturday, February 9, 2013

Prince George's Philharmonic

2012/2013 Concert Season

Featuring County High Students in side-by-side performance - see roster below

Saturday, February 9, 2013 - 8:00pm
Prince George’s Community College, Largo, MD
Charles Ellis, conductor – Peter Minkler, viola

              Urquiaga                     Dance in 5
              Bruch                         Romance for Viola and Orchestra in F Maj. Op. 85
              Enesco                       Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1 in A Major, Op.11
              Berlioz                        Harold in Italy, Op.16

from the notes of the music director and conductor, Mr. Ellis:

"...home to Prince George’s Community College. Join us for the world premiere of Prince George’s composer, Christopher Urquiaga’s Dance in 5; the season’s annual side-by-side performance; and Hector Berlioz’ Harold in Italy, with Peter Minkler playing the solo viola obligato."


Melia Humphrey, Suitland
Kayla Carlyle, Suitland
Gabrielle Rodgers, Suitland
Victor Baules, Eleanor Roosevelt
Taisha Stewart, Suitland
Dominique Marshall, Eleanor Roosevelt
Ayana Crutchfield, Bowie
Rose Pierce, Eleanor Roosevelt
Violin Alternates
Oliver Meade, Eleanor Roosevelt
Jela Douglas, Suitland High
Perry Gordaon, Eleanor Roosevelt
Camille Jones, Bowie
Nubia Floyd, Suitland
Mary Commins, Eleanor Roosevelt
Justine Josey, Suitland
Megan Lewis, Northwestern High
Ryan McDonald, Suitland
Alfred Walfall, Eleanor Roosevelt
Katherine Skinner, Eleanor Roosevelt
Arianna Cooper, Eleanor Roosevelt
Elizabeth Driver, Suitland
Catherine Silver, Suitland
French Horn
Elliot Tapscott, Eleanor Roosevelt
Jacob Miller, Eleanor Roosevelt
Jan Knutson, Eleanor Roosevelt
Josiah Herrera, Oxon Hill
Emily Boluda, Eleanor Roosevelt
Andrew Johnson, Eleanor Roosevelt