Can We Sing for Hope in Chicago?

My opera singer friend/songwriter Javier Bernardo, whom I met last year at the production of Aida for The Lyric Opera of Chicago, has the following picture as his Facebook profile:

Javier Bernardo singing for Hope
Javier Bernardo – Sing for Hope

I liked the picture so much that I had to ask him the story behind it. It was not taken in Chicago, but in New York, and the piano he is playing is one of many artist-designed pianos placed around the city for the use and enjoyment of the public by an organization called Sing for Hope. The organization has the following statement on their website:

The Sing for Hope Pianos unite our city, first as artists from all walks of life created daily spontaneous concerts and neighborhoods came together around the shared gift of music and art, and then as the pianos live on in their permanent homes. After their public residency, Sing for Hope donates each piano to an under-served local school, healthcare facility, or community organization, where Sing for Hope artists continue to bring the pianos to life year-round through classes, performances, and workshops.

I would love to see something similar emerging in Chicago as a resource for artists to engage and transform the violence that dominates our under-served communities through inclusive and accessible art for all. Any ideas on how to make this happen?

Join the World Naked Bike Ride Chicago Tonight

word naked bike ride

Tonight the World Naked Bike Ride rolls across the globe promoting freedom from oil and the beauty of people in hundreds of cities. This year is the 10th annual Wold Naked Bike Ride in Chicago. Chicago’s ride runs for 14 miles and draws over a thousand participants.  If you want to join them, just jump on a bike, lace up those skates or grab a long board! As long as you travel by the power of your body and conscience you can roll with this group. Bare-as-you-dare outfits range from fanciful costumes, body paint and undies, to nothing at all. Yes, that’s right, you can get naked tonight and tour this great city to be cheered on by thousands like a rock star.

Here  are the organizers’ instructions on how to join this ride:

PARTICIPANTS must show Person-Powered Wheels.

FANS see  ChicagoNakedRide.org  MassUp.us  @ChiNakedRide  #WNBRC

CHECK-IN (Today, Sat Jun 8, 6pm):
900 West Adams – Mary Bartelme park – Participants on people powered wheels will be forwarded to start location. Do NOT show up naked.

LEAVING EARLY (8pm):Ride leaves before sunset for slightly better light and warmth. DON’T BE LATE! Or we will leave you behind. Make sure your bike’s ready and that you’re capable of 14 miles in under three hours (slow to medium pace, stops often).

CROWDING:Weather and publicity and history may bring record turnout. Pro Tip is to come pre-decorated, hang streetside, and disrobe upon launch. However, if you arrive early, we have body painting supplies on hand.

GAWKERS:We invite the public to join us in protesting British Petroleum’s abuse of our planet when we give the station at Fullerton & Ashland a big swirlie. Please keep in mind to not ride too close to bystanders, a lot of people just want to high five you, but some might slap more than your hand, so be careful and stay to the center of the road to avoid being grabbed.

Visit http://MassUp.us/ or http://ChicagoNakedRide.org/or text WHERE to wnbrc@massup.us to follow the action live.

READ THE RULES & BASICS: http://ChicagoNakedRide.org/about

 

Watch me on TV tonight for Perspectivas Latinas on CAN TV

Some of you know that I collaborate with CAN TV on the production and hosting of a bilingual forum called Perspectivas Latinas. The forum focuses on issues and concerns of Chicago nonprofit organizations in areas of health care, economic development, arts, education, immigration, labor, domestic violence, and other community concerns.

Interviewing Africaribe for  CAN TV's Perspectivas Latinas
Interviewing Africaribe for CAN TV’s Perspectivas Latinas

For those of you who live in Chicago and are not familiar with CAN TV, you should fix that ASAP.  CAN TV is an independent, nonprofit community media resource on cable devoted to giving every Chicagoan a voice on cable television. It is an excellent source of information about issues affecting Chicago residents and it gives you the opportunity to connect with local resources, interact with local politicians, and experience a diversity of viewpoints.

Tonight at 7:30pm, cable channel CAN TV 21  will be airing a funny interview I taped for Perspectivas Latinas with the cool guys from Sal Sation’s “Los Improviachis!”, a Latino sketch comedy group that sings improvised mariachi songs based on audience suggestions. We did one for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and  they even created a song for me.  Hope you can tune in and if you have any suggestions or ideas for the show, please feel free to share them with me. CAN TV is available to all Chicago subscribers of Comcast, WOW and RCN.

Happy Saturday!

Tonight: Puerto Rican Bombazo with Africaribe!

Come for some awesome Puerto Rican art, food and music at this fundraiser benefiting Africaribe, a non-for-profit organization that is dedicated to the preservation of , research, promotion and development of the Puerto Rican and Caribbean cultures through, music, dance, theatre and other artisitic mediums. Then stay to enjoy their Monthly Bombazo that will be kicked off by the B-girls of Dirty Sneakers Crew & AfriCaribe.
 
For those of you who follow this blog, Africaribe was the organization who helped us with the Afro-Peruvian dance flash mob initiative from last year. They also participated in our Afro-Latino drum circle last January.  I had the pleasure to interview Africaribe for CAN TV a few months ago. Here is an excerpt of that tv show:
 
 
I hope you can come and support this great organization that supports not only Puerto Rican culture in Chicago, but also cultural initiatives from other countries. Tonight for example, in addition to Bomba, they will have  Hip Hop, R&B, Rumba, Salve, Salsa, and Belly Dance!
Art exhibit, and Performances go from 6pm and on and the AfriCaribe Bombazo at 8pm. Family, Community, Musician and Artist Friendly! Come and enjoy what their beautiful community has to offer!
6pm – Art Exhibit
6:00 to 8pm – Performances
8pm – BombazoArtists & Performers:
Between Rags & Dolls
Maino Art
Pinqy Ring
OLAS Dance
ASPIRA Club
Eduardo Arocho
Primitivo Cruz
Anissa Vega
Laura Magdalena
Laura Dances
Mary Alduen
Robert Carani Photography
Fotos by Koko
Grupo Cedifé
B-girls of Dirty Sneakers Crew and more……$5.00+ suggested donation
Food, Sweets and Drinks for sale
Location:
AfriCaribe Cultural Center – 2547 W. Division – Paseo Boricua
https://www.facebook.com/Africaribe?ref=hl
Africaribe thanks you in advance for your support!

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Discover the Joy of Sean-nós dance

If you live in Chicago, I am sure you have seen Irish Stepdance. You know, the traditional Irish  dance performed at St Patrick Day’s celebrations in which dancers stiffen their upper bodies while performing quick, intricate footwork. But have you ever heard of Sean-nós dancing?  I discovered this Irish dance form while attending a show at Old Town School of Folk music last year and had the pleasure to see sean-nós dancers Brian Cunningham and Irene Cunningham perform:

This dance is considered to be the jazz of traditional Irish dancing. Rescued from near death almost twenty years ago, it is now flourishing and spreading throughout Ireland like a hill fire. It is performed alone in short bursts of exuberance as dancers respond to the music in their own unique way. Dancers start with a few basic steps and improvise and refine them over a lifetime. No two performances are ever the same. There are no set pieces, no costumes, no rules.  Sean-nós dance is characterized by its “low to the ground” footwork, improvised steps, free movement of the arms, and an emphasis upon a “battering step” (which sounds out more loudly the accented beat of the music). By its nature, it follows the music closely. Because sean-nós dancing is improvisational, it is not necessary for a pre-arranged routine or choreography to be decided upon by the dancer. Spontaneous expression is highly valued. Therefore, it is less common to see groups performing synchronized sean-nós dance (which requires choreography in advance). Instead, the dancers may dance in turns, playing off the energy of the other.

If you are interested in seeing this dance form in Chicago, then come to a benefit show organized by Chicago Irish Immigrant Support that will feature this joyful dance and the unbridled enthusiasm of Brian Cunningham and Atlantic Steps. Brian Cunningham has won multiple awards for his dancing at major competitions and has performed at a number of prestigious occasions, including  accompanying the President of Ireland on state visits to Japan and South Korea and going on tour all over Britain, Ireland, Europe, and North America. The show moves audiences to their feet, bringing sean nós dance to its rightful place on the world stage.

Proceeds from the show go to benefit Chicago Irish Immigrant Support’s legal aid to Irish immigrants and social services for senior citizens.

WHEN:  Saturday, November 3, 2012.

Doors open:  6:00PM

Show begins: 7PM

WHERE:  Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave, Chicago, IL 60630

WHO:  Starring Brian Cunningham and the Atlantic Steps dancers. The show is an exciting display of sean nós dance accompanied by live traditional music.

FOR TICKETS: call Chicago Irish Immigrant Support (773) 282-8445 or buy them online  at www.ci-is.org.

Help us get the Music Without Border Series reinstated

The city of Chicago is canceling the international music series “Music Without Borders” that is held every summer in Millennium Park. This great world music series offers a unique cultural experience and a summer highlight for many because it exposes thousands of Chicagoans and visitors to wonderful music and cultures from around the world. Discontinuing the program would represent a huge loss for Chicago and a setback for the goal of being known as a city that has the very best in arts, creativity, and innovation.

Chicagoans need  this kind of programming to foster Chicago’s reputation as a global cultural destination and as a city that promotes inclusion and appreciation for cultural diversity. The “Music Without Borders” series brings people from diverse ethnic populations and ages together to joyfully celebrate and learn about the beauty of cultural diversity.

These concerts also encourage pride in the city,  as well as intercultural integration. In the city of Chicago, which was recently cited as being the most segregated city in the nation , “Music Without Borders” provides a space for interaction between different cultural groups in the public sphere and encourages a positive attitude towards diversity and integration.  Watch the video below to understand the spirit that the Music Without Borders created and the love for Chicago that it infused in people attending these concerts:

It would be great to have some of our tax dollars dedicated to support international music programs that promote inclusion and intercultural integration. Music Without Borders gives Chicago a visibility as a  world-class destination,  bringing visitors to the city, benefiting business, and helping achieve Mayor Emmanuel’s goal of getting 50 million visitors by 2020. We hope the city of Chicago considers reinstating Music Without Borders to strengthen Chicago’s reputation as a global cultural destination.

I started a petition to get Music Without Borders reinstated. If you are interested in supporting this cause,  please click here to sign the petition , share this post, and leave a comment here.

Thanks!