Category Archives: the power grid

Lone Hometown.

 

“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it”  – Winston Churchill.

Just spied that as the heading to another WordPress blogger’s post, of this day. Hoping, at the moment, that the other blogger won’t mind the borrow; Churchill’s words are just too illuminating a heading for that which must be said here, as well.

No, dear readers, friends, enemies who also read. I do not intend to write history.

In this, my hometown, my options for shaking the earth have diminished to nearly nil.

Why? Because, in this blog of well over 500 essays and poems, whether the reader wants to hear about them or not all my sins are confessed. Before you, I am unafraid. I defend only truth.

This is a challenge to the actions of those who render the vulnerable both implicated or condemned. The late Fr Mike Annis, beloved man of God and brilliant mind, told me my ability to read others was uncanny and that I should be careful to avoid alienating until trust was established. This has been a difficult charge. But, I have learned, approaching the age of 61, that some people – for reasons driven by unspoken motive – will not be trustworthy. It is these I have sought to expose, in an attempt to nullify the power they wield over those they seek to control.

But in this, my hometown, there will be those whose sphere of power will just grow larger. The truth will be buried by their actions. Because, as soon as these are challenged, all their energy will be spent contriving ways and means with which to discredit the truth teller. And, with enough resources at their disposal, they might silence the lone voice.

Yes. Sometimes, too many become convinced that the story they have been given is the truth. Famous words: if a lie is repeated enough times, it becomes a truth to those who accept it.

At this juncture, perhaps you, my reader, can relate. Perhaps you, too, have held a truth all alone. Perhaps you have watched those who would have rallied in support of your veracity retreat toward those who have nefariously captured their trust. Perhaps you know the isolation.

At moments like this one, faith is the only buoy. We really do find faith when all else has failed us – all people, all circumstances, all events, all hopes or dreams.  I am convinced, now, that faith is far more than the substance of things hoped for or the evidence of things not seen; beyond this, faith is further evidence that humanity carries within its collective soul an ultimate gravitation toward the higher Spirit. We do not seek that Spirit often – only at moments of absolute finality, when all else has truly failed.

I may very well carry to my grave the truths which burden my heart, today. But, my Creator knows exactly what they are, and in that source of the truest power I forever place all my trust.

To the rest, I say: go forth, and write the history you intend for the world to believe. Most of the history books of the past seventy five years are being revised, as we speak. Apparently, the truth they should have contained is only finally coming to light.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo   4/3/18    All rights those of this author, who speaks the truth, and whose name appears above this line. May God strike down all evil forces, everywhere, which rise up in protest.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

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The Erie Chamber Orchestra Will Rise, Again.

 

Some things must never be said.

And, other things must never be done.

After last night’s performance of the Erie Chamber Orchestra, I can contain myself no longer. Having been urged to keep quiet about everything until now, it is time. I must speak.

I come to you as the principal cellist of the orchestra whose inception took place in the mind of one Bruce Morton Wright. An Erie boy, raised by faithful parents, he grew to express musical talent early on – earning enrollment at our local Mercyhurst College as a music major, on tenor sax. After completing his degree and spending several years “playing out” at various jazz clubs, he found himself in the audience of a symphony orchestra.  As he sat, listening, Bruce had an epiphany.

I can remember him telling us about it.

Bruce could always tell you about it. The man had stories, each more vivid and hilarious than the last. This one was fairly straightforward; as he sat there, in the audience, the thought occurred to him: “I could do this. I could start an orchestra.”

Never daunted, that is exactly what he did. Bruce traveled, first to Vienna, Austria and, from there, to Colombia, South America, to study conducting and gain experience. Upon his return to the states in the late 1970s, he and his wife Merja came home to Erie to establish his first orchestra. And – ever the maverick – the new maestro took his newly formed ensemble one step beyond the norm; Bruce vowed to make his performances available to anyone who wanted or needed to hear them. No admission charge. None.

Nearly 40 years hence, through a couple incarnations ( originally named the Erie Bayfront Orchestra, housed at a local urban center and, in its second decade, enjoying a CNN special feature interview broadcast world wide), Bruce’s orchestra still breathes life into the works of the greatest composers, living and dead. And, March 3rd’s concert was shimmering testament. We performed the Barber Adagio, Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings, and – incredibly – the entire Vivaldi Four Seasons with none other than the brilliant Buffalo Philharmonic Concertmaster, Dennis Kim, as leading soloist. And, we did THAT in a 15 minute Tutti read and one 90 minute rehearsal.

N.o.b.o.d.y. does that.

The Erie Philharmonic doesn’t do that. I would wager that even a top ten tier orchestra doesn’t put Vivaldi’s Four Seasons out to the public on one rehearsal.

If you were in our audience, you heard the outcome. Thank you, so very much, for coming.

Now, here’s the ugly part.

Though the ECO was being sustained by both the Musician’s Trust Fund and the generous endowment of one Clarence Byers, about twenty years ago Bruce entered into an agreement with Gannon University. Founded by Catholic Bishop John Mark Gannon, it would become the region’s primary science and technology institution, attracting a long history of pre med students( in a partnership with Hahnemann Medical School) and  an ever increasing multitude of potential engineers of every persuasion, many of them foreign students. Gannon agreed to subsidize the orchestra.

From Gannon Bruce commanded comparatively little by way of compensation, and received for his musicians not a penny. As for staff, well, Bruce was everything: musical director, baton, librarian, publicity agent, and stage crew. Many a conversation in trusted confidence occurred after rehearsal, as Bruce stocked chairs and stands into their proper storage. As a single, self supporting woman teaching music in the public schools, I had no more valued an advisor or counsel than that of my chamber orchestra maestro.

In 2011, Bruce succumbed to multiple myeloma. We grieved, deeply.  But, in keeping with his vision, we pressed on; hiring a new musical director, as well as a general manager (knowing full well that Bruce could never truly be replaced), we never missed a beat. By fall, we were ready with our season. And, we thrived; our repertoire expanded, and our audience burgeoned to 800+, creating a lovely problem: we needed a performance space large enough to accommodate our audience!

Therewith the following six years.

According to the story we were given, in the fall of 2017 Gannon discovered that they could no longer support us financially. We aren’t entirely sure when, as an institution, they came to this conclusion; we only know that the news came to us, as a professional organization, when we read about it in the local paper.

Yes. Forty years of collective professional commitment and artistry, and we received the equivalent of that which a parent experiences when he/she first hears of a child’s death on the televised news.

Not a single one of our section principals was consulted. Our newest Maestro, Bradley Thachuk – also totally ignored. We were never even apprised of the ongoing financial concerns, yea the threat, of dissolution as it emerged; instead, we found out by reading the published announcement that our beloved orchestra would fold at the end of the season.

This act, on the part of Gannon University, was unconscionable.

Not only does it reflect badly on Gannon’s management but, far worse: their action represents a sin of omission, a complete abdication of the precepts upon which they, as a Catholic institution, were founded. What they did to us was callous, low class, and professionally unforgiveable.

Had any number of the orchestra’s membership been contacted with any degree of warning, we could have done several things. We could have set about to solicit regional support; we could have appealed publicly, via the news media; we could have prepared for the worst, in order to save our orchestra.

Instead, we were left high and dry, offered only the option of accepting the venture created by the one person Gannon contacted, allegedly on our behalf: our former general manager, who now worked for another orchestra!

Gannon actually promised our remaining funds to this individual, who created a chamber series (quartets/trios, et al) and went public about his plan. The only problem with this series is: the vast majority of Erie Chamber Orchestra members, both recent and of longest standing, are set to be displaced by this venture, which will only be utilizing contracted members of the other orchestra. At last count, there were only a handful ( I count eleven) of Erie Chamber orchestral musicians (total membership: 40+ ) holding contracts with the other orchestra.

I am among those displaced.

As fifteen years’ principal cellist with the Erie Chamber Orchestra, and member since 1986, I performed cello continuo last evening to Buffalo Philharmonic Concertmaster Dennis Kim’s Vivaldi. As of April 29th, 2018, I and dozens of others are officially without a position in a professional orchestra.

The blogosphere is world wide. You, dear readers, are hearing this story because it is a.) true; b.) worthy of your ears, and c.) of critical importance to the entire artistic community. We cannot let our educational institutions behave like hostile corporations. We cannot permit them to play with lives as if these are mere pawns on the chessboard of their own, self serving interests. And, we must preserve those entities which consistently produce the beauty and truth which the highest art embodies.

We need to start, from scratch. We need a new name, the funds to pay a conductor, plus enough to cover basic musician’s wage and advertising. Yes; we are already taking the steps to regroup. If/when we re-emerge, we hope to have your name proudly attached to those who care most about the ideals we bring to life. We hope for your support.

We have never asked much. Four rehearsals, plus performance, plus the unlimited number of hours in private practice preparation for a paycheck not exceeding $250 per musician. That is a pauper’s wage, in our time. If you were to step up to help us, our love for you would grow with every breath.

And, Bruce Morton Wright, from his spirit, would thank you.

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© 3/4/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo – Principal cellist, ERIE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA. Erie PA. PLEASE, SHARE LIBERALLY, WITH CREDIT TO THE AUTHOR, WHO WRITES ON BEHALF OF MARIAN BYARD, JAMES PEARSON, NICOLE MACPHERSON, GEOFFREY WANDS, BRIAN HANNAH, ERIK SUNDET, MEGAN RAINBOW, BRIAN WALNICKI, TED SMELTZ, MERJA WRIGHT, ANNA ROSE WELCH, CARL LAM, ANDREW SEIGEL, LAURA NELSON, JENNIFER DAUB ASHBAUGH, MICHELE NAPOLITAN, MAUREEN CONLON-DOROSH, HILARY PHILIPP, CARRIE BORLAND, KENT TUCKER, SLOAN LADWIG, HOWARD P. LYON, LOUIS NICOLIA, AND THE REST OF THE WONDERFUL, EQUALLY QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS WHO FILL THE REMAINING SEATS OF THE ERIE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

The Premise.

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When the English arrived on the North American continent, and discovered its wealth of natural resources, they encountered a native people whose culture was already well established. Instead of considering a peaceful co-existence, and setting about to form such an agreement, one side attempted to suppress the other and was successful in their efforts.

That was the premise upon which our land became a nation. Superiority, via suppression.

Freedom to worship? No; that was just what we were taught in elementary history class. Likely, those who sought a break from the Anglicans were merely encouraged to populate the New World by reserving a seat on the Santa Maria.

Freedom of speech? That came later, too. The first of these was a presumed freedom to lord it over those already rightfully in domain, and preceded the founding of our country by significant bloodshed.

Is it any wonder, then, that the two party system is still in power over the people of these allegedly United States?

We have an entrenched ideology of conquering by division. We, the people, appear to remain confined by two, opposing sides, forced to choose with which of these to align.

And, the two sides, instead of making any real effort to find common ground, persist in digging their heels deeper into the turf of their precious purposes.

Ask a third grade teacher what children tend to fight about. Then ask the teacher if each of the fighting children are permitted their way. Ask, finally, if they are allowed to continue fighting.

Could the drive to fight to acquire that which belongs to another be programmed into our DNA, an adaptation traceable to our forefathers?

Until we, as a nation, return to the premise upon which this continent was conquered, take our independence from its founders seriously, and reach out to what remains of its native people in a spirit of reparation, we can fully expect that their spirits will continue to retaliate from the grave.

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Stand with Standing Rock.

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(Oh; and, my grandfather was an Englishman.)

 

© Ruth Ann Scanzillo   11/20/16        Please respect the author’s rights, with acknowledgement, when sharing. Thank you.

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