Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A song for the season...

. . . and for the rest of the year, in my book: track #11, Stille Nacht. This is the Mannheim Steamroller version of Silent Night, arranged by Chip Davis and transcribed for violin and piano by Chuck Penington. I LOVE this piece!

There are several reasons why I've included it on this CD, which is meant to be enjoyed year-round, not just at Christmas. The main reason is that I am filled with a very real, very tangible sense of peace every time I hear and play it. (Except when I was recording... for some reason, this is the only piece that I felt nervous playing in the studio! After feeling unsettled through the first couple of takes, I suggested we move on - to my two hardest numbers left, ironically - and we came back to it at the end. Guess I had to get my mind off the other stuff ahead of me first.) When I get anxious in the crazy traffic around here, listening to this song is like pushing a magic "Relax" button for me. With this I sense that really "all is calm". Or at least that all of me can be calm.

I love the tender yet powerful phrasing in this music; through it Chip Davis sensitively approaches the range of emotions surrounding the birth of the Tiny King. I feel that the melody could be spun on and on and I'd never wonder when it would end. Just like my need for Him, my love and gratitude for Him, and my awe of what His life means in relation to my own.

I knew this track needed to be last on the CD because usually the last song I hear is the one that stays in my head. And in this case especially, in my heart. I need some of that heavenly peace to be mine. I need the daily reminder that the Son of God came with love's pure light and that His redeeming grace is enough for me. It is somehow, miraculously, enough for all of us.

May this peace be yours and mine all the year through. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A beautiful reminder

Hi everybody, hope you are enjoying this holiday season! I am really looking forward to Christmas myself. Just before Thanksgiving we held a family Holiday Planning Meeting and asked our boys what traditions they'd like to continue or begin this year. It was eye-opening (and somewhat amusing) to hear their ideas and memories and find out what was really important to them. I'm not a Super-Mom who can do everything and make it look easy, but there is one tradition I can say we're fully enjoying and can cross off my list every day before we even have breakfast: the Chocolate Advent calendars are up to date!

Go grab some chocolate for yourself, and then take a minute to watch this video interview with my good friend, Heidi Johnson. She served as a missionary in Austria and wrote the story for the movie, "The Errand of Angels," based on some of her experiences there. I also served as a missionary (in Seattle, Washington) so I can really relate to the situations, emotions, challenges and joys portrayed. Even if you haven't served a mission, it's an enjoyable, touching story I highly recommend seeing.

I love this interview for lots of other reasons, though, because it goes a step deeper and shows us a few of the things Heidi learned while working on the movie. I feel like I can say my own "amen" to it from my experiences working on my CD. There are things for each of us to do that no one else can do for us; we all have our own challenges before we see the miracles; none of us has to do what we came here to do alone. In fact, we can't do it alone, and that is the point. Once we get it, amazing things happen. This interview is a beautiful reminder. I hope it will give you some inspiration today!

P.S. If you're still looking for Christmas present ideas, Heidi's movie and my CD both make great gifts!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Has anyone ever told you that you look just like..."

Okay, so this is admittedly not my most thought-provoking post, but it does have to do with an "Aha!" heritage connection I made today. And I do think it's a mildly entertaining topic.

From people who know me well, to total strangers, I've been told for years now that I look like Barbra Streisand. I even have two friends, from totally unrelated phases in my life, who've both nick-named me "Barb". It happened to me again today. One of my neighbors who I've only waved to in passing, stopped me today and told me that every time he sees me, he thinks, "She looks just like Barbra Streisand!"

So my "Aha!" moment occurred when I started thinking about where this look might have come from that so many people have observed over the years. Take a look back at this picture of my Great Granna and I think the mystery is solved!

(No relation to Barbra as far as I know.) But I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree, I just never noticed it until today.

So, who do you look like?

Monday, November 23, 2009

So much to be thankful for

Six out of seven nights around here, we have a hard time getting our 7-year old son to fall asleep. He has mastered the art of distraction, the art of discovering sudden (and often rare) ailments, and the art of pushing our buttons. Anything to stay up just a little longer with us.

Tonight, hoping to cut to the chase rather than play the all too familiar games, I spent almost an hour laying down with him to help him relax and fall asleep. I knew if I stayed much longer I would soon be out as well, and with lots of other things still on my to-do list today, I finally got up to go. He had grabbed onto my shirt so that if I left after he'd fallen asleep, it would wake him up. Of course he hadn't drifted off yet - that would have been too easy - so he grabbed onto me and asked me to stay for another minute to hold his hand so he could remember what it feels like to have me there with him, once I was gone. He told me, "Mom, you're always in my heart. Right in the middle of it."

I am thankful for children who know how to express their love and are not afraid to do it, even if it might mean hearing "I love you too, now go to bed". I am thankful that tonight, I had the patience to spend the extra time with him and that the stuff on my to-do list can be patient for me to get back to it. Yep, it's still there!

I came downstairs, got on my laptop and read an email from the daughter of my good friend, Lincoln, who I wrote about in my very first post. He is almost 101 years old, but is not doing very well now. So many times I have wondered if a trip to see him would be the last hug, or if at the end of our weekly phone calls, we've said our last good-bye. I've saved every email we sent each other, which was until he was 98 years old. We both still remember the first time we met (he was 89, I was 22) and talk (and laugh- it's a good story!) often about that day. He has surprised and amazed us many times by bouncing back from health issues, and I've almost come to believe that he just will every time. I think it's that I have a hard time picturing the empty spot in my heart when he won't be there to answer his phone anymore.

I am thankful for older friends and relatives who have experienced far more than I can even guess, and who still delight in their relationships with younger people running around, still trying to figure it all out. I am thankful for their insight, wisdom, encouragement, and most of all, their love. Even when they have gone on, their examples and love have not. Yep, it's still there!

I could sit here all night and write about things I'm thankful for - I really have been richly blessed - and it would be good for me to do so. But for now my heart is full with just these things. They are more than enough. I am thankful I have been given this time to love.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Rosalee, who won Rachelle's drawing for a free CD! I hope you'll enjoy it!

Today one of my friends here in Virginia shared something with me that made me smile. She is a 6th grade teacher, and has set aside time each day for her students to listen to music while they are working. This past week she took my CD in to give them something new to listen to, and they are really enjoying it. I thought that was fun to know!

Have a great week, everybody.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Family Heritage projects - some food for thought

Lately I've heard a lot of powerful statements on the importance of connecting past generations to our future posterity. Maybe it's because I've just finished this project and that subject has been on my mind, so I'm more attuned to things of that nature right now. Maybe it's because there's still more I need to do so it keeps coming back to my attention. Either way, I want to share a couple of my favorite quotes that are inspiring to me.

“Not one of my children has any recollection of my grandparents. If I want my children and grandchildren to know those who still live in my memory, then I must build the bridge between them. I alone am the link to the generations that stand on either side of me. It is my responsibility to knit their hearts together through love and respect, even though they may never have known each other personally. My grandchildren will have no knowledge of their family’s history if I do nothing to preserve it for them. That which I do not in some way record will be lost at my death, and that which I do not pass on to my posterity, they will never have. The work of gathering and sharing eternal family keepsakes is a personal responsibility. It cannot be passed off or given to another.
- Dennis B. Neuenschwander

In a BYU devotional entitled "Keep the Chain Unbroken", Gordon B. Hinckley recalled a time when he had been reflecting on the lives of his great-grandfather, his grandfather, and his father. He was with his daughter, his grand-daughter, and his great-grandchildren.

"I suddenly realized that I stood right in the middle of these seven generations - three before me and three after me. In that sacred and hallowed house there passed through my mind a sense of the tremendous obligation that was mine to pass on all that I had received as an inheritance from my forebears to the generations who have now come after me."

One of the exciting things to me about the idea of passing on our inheritance is that it can be done in so many ways. Preserving, compiling, or reproducing pictures, letters, journals, stories, artwork, music, poetry, video footage, recipes, heirlooms, documents, traditions, favorite sayings, little songs, family jokes, dreams, goals, memories...there is so much of our ancestors in us and so much of us that is or will be in our posterity. What a gift to understand a little more about who we are and what we're made of.

One of my favorite memories with my great-grandmother (Great Granna, pictured here at age 30) is when I was in my early twenties. She came out to Missouri to visit and gave me a hot pad she had just crocheted. When we said good-bye, she gave me a hug, looked me in the eye, and said, "Now, you make sure you don't change a bit." (I thought she was going to say something like, "Because you're great just the way you are.")

But her reason surprised me and still makes me laugh: "Because you're short, just like me!" It's true, there we stood eye-to-eye at five-foot nothing! And I am happy to be just like her in that way, in addition to all the other things I've received from that great little woman. That was the last time we saw each other; she passed away at age 99. If I can only be as gracious and clever as she was to the end of my life, too! This is one cute little story that I need to tell my boys. I think I'll do that today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Welcome, Wilkinson Quints blog followers!

Rachelle is one of my favorite people in the whole world - a fun, dear friend who came into my life just at the right time. But with my family’s frequent military moves, we lost touch over the years. When I recently found Rachelle on Facebook, I looked at her profile picture and thought, “How fun that she and Jayson got all their nieces and nephews dressed alike for a picture! They must have just been to a reunion.”

You can imagine my shock when I realized that those were actually their own children…all five at once! Suddenly my own busy life was put into a whole new perspective. (Not nearly as busy as Rachelle’s must be!) And she continues to be a great example and inspiration to me.

I’m happy to share my new CD with one of you for free! I hope you’ll enjoy my blog along the way. Be sure to take a look at "Why I made this recording". Email your answer to: Wqplus2@gmail.com

A couple of new features...

I now have a Paypal "Buy Now" button on the sidebar, and I've just added another audio clip to my music player. Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Open House Highlights

Doesn't it just feel good to look at this? Mmmm....

What a treat to perform in such a gorgeous home, with a wonderful accompanist, for people I love.

I'm thankful for such great friends who hosted this beautiful evening!

Friday, October 23, 2009

CD Feedback

I want to share a few comments I've received about my CD so far...you guys are great! Thanks so much for the feedback, everybody.

"I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful CD that you made. It's so eerily beautiful. Your work is so special, creative and sweet... Thank you again for your music, it's given me endless hours of pleasure." - California

"...I loved, loved, loved what I heard!" - Virginia

"I thought your CD was beautiful from every perspective. You are quite a musician and you show great compassion and sensitivity as you play." - Virginia

"We listened to it today after my husband came home from a long day of church duties. Needless to say, it had a wonderfully peaceful, calming effect. You really know how to make the violin 'sing' - probably because you are a singer also." - Missouri

"I just finished listening to your beautiful music. You are truly an artist...this collection is very special. Your beautiful spirit and testimony shine through and I could feel the love. I heard your Grandfather play Meditation at a BYU Ward...and he played so beautifully. It was great to read the story of the special meaning it had in both of your lives." - New Mexico

"...it is so very beautiful, Arian. You certainly have a gift. We were just mesmerized by it!!!!" - Illinois

"...it is so pleasant to listen to. It certainly had a calming affect on me. I have listened to it all day long - I don't think that I will tire of it. I was also impressed with the family history that was included on the inside of the CD cover. What a perfect tribute to your musical heritage." - Missouri

"We got your CD and it is fabulous!! I have enjoyed listening to it and only wish it was longer." - Iowa

"Arian, I was so happy to get my CD today. It was like music from an angel. So far my favorites are hands down...tracks 9, 10, and 11. I couldn't put it on fast enough." - Alaska

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why I made this recording

When I was nine years old my parents asked me if I'd like to learn to play the violin. My dad and Grandad both played the violin, so I said yes, and I fell in love with it! But that isn't really the beginning of the story.

When Grandad was eight years old his dad asked him if he'd like to start playing an instrument, and he chose the violin. Grandad and I used to play Meditation from Thaїs together on our violins each time I came home from college. That's when he told me he used to play it for his mother when he came home from college.

I miss that tradition now that he has passed on. It was my privilege to play Meditation from Thaїs at Grandad's funeral on his gorgeous old violin. His brothers told me it took them right back to when they sat at their mother's feet, and he played that piece for her as she listened from her rocking chair.

At that moment, I knew this connection that spans four generations was more than just a story; it is a deep, important part of who I am. It is in this spirit that I have approached this project - to honor my heritage, and to make sure my children will know what Meditation from Thaїs sounded like to their great-great grandmother. With each piece I express gratitude that in this life, I have been given a time to love.

(Pictured from top to bottom: me, my dad, my grandad, and my great-grandparents)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Couldn't have gone better

The CD release open house was a wonderful night! It truly could not have gone any better. Thank you so much to the women who hosted it and to all of you who came.

Pictures will be posted soon. In the meanwhile, if you'd like to know what I talked about, here is (more or less) what I said:

When I first had the idea to record a CD as a heritage project, I immediately pushed it away. “I’m not good enough to do that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Updated "How to buy a copy" on right

For return visitors to this blog, just wanted to point out that

Sunday, October 4, 2009

CD release open house

Friday, October 16th is my official CD release!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

This has been a sharp learning curve for me, getting this blog up and running. I've stuck with it, though, because I want to have a place for sharing information and comments about my CD. Thank you to those who've given me helpful tips along the way!

One of my favorite stories so far comes from my friend who is 100 years old in Anacortes, Washington. He is one of the dearest people I've ever known. When he got my CD in the mail he didn't have way to listen to it, so he took it down to the cafeteria at his assisted living home and had them play it for everyone there! He said it made a lot of people very happy. Can you just picture it? Since then he has gotten a CD player in his own room, and told me that he listens to it over and over again to his heart's content. And that made me very happy.

Yesterday my 4-yr old and I were listening to it in the car, and he said, "Mom, I love this song. It makes my heart feel so good." And then the next track: "Mom, this one makes my heart feel really good, too."

That is exactly what I hope will happen for everyone who hears this. Please feel free to leave your comments about it here!

Friday, September 18, 2009

About Kirk Davies

Kirk Davies studied piano accompaniment at the University of Utah, completing his degree in 1986. He now serves as an active duty colonel in the United States Air Force and is presently stationed at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. He and his wife, Cynthia, have three children. When time allows, Kirk enjoys writing hymn arrangements and usually has two or three new tunes rattling around somewhere in his head. Kirk composed this arrangement of "Love At Home" for a church choir he conducted. He liked the words found in the LDS hymnal, but thought the text would benefit from a more appealing musical accompaniment.