Category Archives: Music

The music of our unmarred wholeness

I finally got to see Love and Mercy about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. It really illuminates how his genius was intertwined with a high level of sensitivity; an enlightened perception that became madness when the delicate balance needed to maintain his musical vision was upset by various external factors. What stuck me was how much one person in our lives bringing love and mercy can overcome the bludgeoning effects of cruelty and the ego’s need to dominate joy.

Brian can hear music in his head and is able to translate what he hears to other musicians. This is his way of connecting to his source.

Whatever we call our source, from love to the stream, by opening up our hearts and aligning our being with the music of our unmarred wholeness and sending it out in waves, we can alleviate suffering in the world.

“We think we are separate individuals and so all of our actions are involved in maintaining this separateness. Protecting it, feeding it, clothing it, moving it around and everything we do actually keeps that illusion of separateness going. That’s who I am, I’m me and your you; it’s obvious isn’t it? Yea, they say. On one level it’s obvious but people who know say there’s only one of us. And so if we are not planting seeds that are going to reveal that oneness to us, we are simply perpetuating our own pain because all of suffering comes from being lost in separateness.”- Krishna Das

Krishna Das: Sewing Seeds of Oneness:

May your music, whatever that is for you, not only be heard but plant the seeds that grow into a tree whose roots break up the concrete of separateness.

SNL and the joy of movement

Last night, the household made it through 3 and a half hours of SNL’s 40th Anniversary.  It was like the Lord of the Rings marathon.

Comedy, like music, becomes the soundtrack or the laugh track of our lives. Music and comedy are two of my favorite conduits in which the truth can be touched on and experienced purely.

Perhaps it is because of Lorne Michaels’ genius in keeping the flow of change steady within the format that SNL has remained a fixture in the American consciousness.  New comics, new skits new ideas flowing, failing, hitting, soaring, making way for something else.  The show has been praised and panned continuously but perhaps it has been providing a balance that has kept the nation and the world from tipping into complete madness.

This weekend, Julia and I discussed the beauty of being able to move about with our music, going in and out of various communities. Without getting bogged down by the political nature of various groups or the subtle pressure that comes in organizations after a time to act and think alike, we are able to offer our music and take up the various jewels and insights each group has to offer.  Two things I gleaned and remember from this weekend included someone referencing Dan Savage, who writes about relationships in a rather colorful way.  I don’t have a quote but Mr. Savage suggested for stoking romance with your partner, go out.  Doing an activity, like bowling, allows you to see your partner in motion.  This invites you to see why you fell for them in the first place. My guess is to have that work, you have to be genuinely having fun.  The other thing was a woman who was offering a ‘play-shop’.  “I don’t like to work,” she said, “and I don’t like the way we come to these workshops feeling like we need to be fixed.”  When I talked to her she added, “We are not broken, we are just trying to remove what has been placed on us that we have come to accept is a part of us.”

It always amazes me that with 12 notes in Western music, that we are still writing songs that can connect us to our most authentic selves. Despite the corporate manipulation of everything, music, comedy and the arts still manage to make a few esthetic arrests. 

The key is in the motion, the ability to hold what is essential while celebrating change.  

I am grateful for the live component of life and the courage of someone like Lorne Michaels to take continuous chances on behalf of the imagination.

Love you, Ira

Digital Short: That’s When You Break – SNL 40th Anniversary Special

Stream of Light 9-23-14 / Sweet Can Productions & The Levins World Folk Ensemble present: My Friend Hafiz

There are moments and days in our lives that we recognize as almost perfect.  Beautiful heavenly days.  While you can not hold onto them, you can draw from them and recall the serenity they provide to bring this moment into sharper focus.  Being grateful and recognizing what is sublime in our lives opens the door to more of the same.  There are always things within us that we can be grateful for.  By being in the state of conscious gratitude, not only do we recognize what is around us but we generate things to be grateful for and illuminate them for those around us.
“In the artistic community, we always talk about the transformative power of theater, music, and art, but I got to witness it first hand on the deepest level this weekend. Last night, a woman rushed down to Kerri Kresinski and me, and said, “That’s it. You did it. I’m going to quit my job. Life is too short to be miserable.” Ira Scott Levin said this show was the most important thing he’d ever done in his life. 
It seems like every show I’m in, becomes a part of the fabric of my being. What a marvelous piece to weave into my soul.” –
Natasha Kaluza
We were on the move again yesterday and today I can finally sit and reflect on what occurred this weekend.  We had a full week of rehearsals and only got everyone all in the same room to fully run our production of My Friend Hafiz by Sweet Can Productions with The Levins World Folk Ensemble on Thursday night. On Friday night as we opened, I stood there playing the songs and cried.
Somethings embrace synergy to such a high level that what emerges has always existed and always will.   I talk about time being spherical a lot, but it occurred to me that the reason the songs had come through and that we had recorded the album was for this very performance.  As the weekend progressed, we honed the show and the circle of musicians and the circle of circus performers  overlapped and spiraled up.  The thrust of the standing ovations was not just because the performers were so incredibly talented and that the clowns were so funny and that dances were so perfectly matched to bring the music and poetry forward but I believe the essence of what Hafiz achieved in his being somehow spilled over in a lighthearted pageantry of beauty and “benevolent thought, benevolent sound, benevolent movement around and around!”
Tomorrow is the Jewish New Year -may the circular nature of everything within you and around you be Sweet so that you know you Can shine out in the way you hope to.


Stream of Light 9-17-14 and the 3 chief delights of living.

In the midst of preparation remember who we are preparing for.  Each guest is our best self. In clearing a space, we are clearing it for what we hope to come into our lives.  The time we seem to sacrifice in this preparation and the stress we subject ourselves to can create imagined projections that lure us into webs of unhappiness.  Clear your center and be grateful for what you consciously invite into your world.  Training and grounding, years of study, centuries of wisdom always come down to this moment and the choice we make right now.  Each action can be our craft and a chance to perfect the clearing . 
We flew into to CA on Monday and watched the movie Chef on the plane.  Even though the trailer, tells you the story, it woke us up again to three of the chief delights of living: Loving what you do, Music and great food!  (You know when a vegetarian wants a cuban sandwich, the film was powerful.)  Driving into SF yesterday with the new bridge and palm trees standing against the canvas blue sky, cranking the Chef soundtrackwe were filled with new hope.  Certainly the resurgence of the Tech bubble in the area, has livened the city up but it was getting to rehearse at the Dance Mission Theater with dancers, acrobats and clowns dedicated to their art that solidified our good feeling.  There were even babies crawling around laughing, crying, being taken care of by various members of the troupe amidst spontaneous choreography being set and coffee from Cafe La Boheme next door being spilled as we marveled and appreciated the talents we each uphold and the miracle of  moving the production forward towards something we all believe in: a transcendent happiness that you can partake in and bestow.
Afterwards, we walked five blocks to 19th and Mission to Taqueria Cancun where they grill their tortillas and make one of our very favorite burritos in the city, (Well, there is Little Chihuahua with its plantain  burritos- oh! SF is a burrito mecca!)  I always think of that episode of MASH where they airlift Adam’s Ribs in all the way from Chicago because it is the places that cook authentic outrageously great food that fortify us in mythical ways.
Whatever you are preparing for this week,  may you be fortified and be able to bestow a natural joy that will stick to your ribs and your mind’s eye for many years to come!