Here, for the first time in public, some highlights of our first Newton Family Singers concert from 2010. The venue was Mason Rice Elementary School in Newton Center. Our choral director was Joel Sindelar who now leads a similar group in Jamaica Plain called Sing Positive.
Some things to think about as you watch:
How many people can you name?
How the heck did the kids get so big since then?
Why do the women look the same while the men have aged?
How thankful are you that we now have consumer grade HD digital videography?
We've had a lot of fun together over the years, haven't we?
A post from Lauren Paul:
For those who don’t know Kahlil Gibran’s iconic 1923 poem “On Children,” hearing the words put to music might seem an attack on today’s helicopter-parent culture, albeit with catchy tune by Ysaye M. Barnwell in four-part a cappella harmony. “On Children” is the Newton Family Singers’ women’s selection for our fall concert this year. It is super-fun to sing.
The words, though, are a bit of a slap in the face to today’s parents, full of reminders – no, that’s too weak, more like harsh declarations -- of the essential separateness between parents and their offspring. “They come through you but they are not from you and though they are with you, they belong not to you.”
For anyone whose children are still in the full bloom of baby/toddlerhood, this is anathema. Who, then, do these lovable, lovely dependent creatures belong to, if not their parents and families? Can’t they belong to us? For just for a little while? For just a little more? Please??
Even more galling to the uninitiated: “You can give them your love but not your thoughts. They have their own thoughts.” Well, sure, parents should not “give” kids their thoughts by brainwashing them or being intolerant to differing opinions. But what about “giving” in the sense of “sharing” thoughts? How barren the experiences of both raising a child and being a child would be if no one ever talked about anything.
As young children begin to grow up, it becomes increasingly obvious Gibran (who himself never had children) was right. “You can house their bodies but not their souls.” By the time the child is a teenager, it is all too clear how desperate to be liberated that soul really is, even while parental maintenance of that body is still a necessity.
“You can strive to be like them, but you cannot make them just like you. Strive to be like them but you cannot make them just like you.” There it is again – that jarring admonition that parents’ best role is to watch and adopt, rather than mold and shape. None of this is very 21st-century parenting.
To me, the message of “On Children” is that children are autonomous, self-actualized beings, and childhood is fleeting. Also, parents don’t mean as much as we think we do. That is a hard message to swallow, but also comforting in its way. We do not need to be perfect parents in order to turn out full-blown humans. For the most part, these “sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself” create themselves. Getting out of their way, watching and admiring as they flourish – that is our task.
Our concert on November 16, 2014 is a celebration for the Newton Family Singers. The performance will be our 10th and mark our fifth year together as a musical group.
To celebrate, we're revisiting some of our (and, we hope, your) favorite songs from past concerts. Here's a partial list:
"Old Time Religion" was sung at our very first concert. There are serious versions if this song and ... not so serious versions. A genre of parody called "Filk" songs has its origins in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fan community and writes new lyrics to songs. Old Time Religion has many, MANY alternate lyrics, most of which can be found here.
Our first three concerts all featured songs by Cat Stevens: "Morning Has Broken," "Peace Train" and "Moonshadow."
Our performance of "Seven Bridges Road" in the spring of 2011 was a highlight for many of our singers. I think we love the power of creating the a capella chords that begin and end the song. In one of the first blog posts I wrote for Newton Family Singers, I traced the evolution of "Seven Bridges Road" from Steve Young's solo singer-songwriter version to the popular version by the Eagles. And of course, when tracing evolution, we often find a Monkee involved.
Somehow "Dead Skunk" was included in our 2011 Sun Moon Stars program ('cause it stinks to "high heaven"?). It's a fun song and Chris has written a new arrangement that shows off how our children have learned to sing in harmony.
In 2012, we did a concert of Pete Seeger songs. Seeger's influence is so broad that it really was a sing-a-long and we included lyrics in the program. I had made an alternate program for Seeger, though, using quotes I thought were relevant about particular songs. This page has quotes from Pete Seeger about the songs he wrote or popularized like "If I Had a Hammer," "Old Time Religion" and "Wimoweh." Here's a page about the Seeger Family Tree -- the range and influence is quite broad.
In the fall of 2012, we did a concert of Carole King and Joni Mitchell songs. One highlight was the Carole King song "Beautiful." A Broadway show based on the life and music of Carole King was staged in 2014; the producers used this song as the title, Beautiful.
One of the joys of every concert this when Andy Rogovin writes an original composition for us to sing. Pete and Woody, a tribute to Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, is one of his best. The lyrics really capture what many less love about folk music: the timeless themes and the emotional power of the songs. The arrangement by Chris Eastburn includes allusions to a few songs Seeger wrote or popularized, how many can you name?