Unification News for March 2000

Art in Service of the Dispensation

David EatonNYC

Four productions in three cities in two hemispheres in the span of three months---whew! Time to catch a breath in the aftermath of a very hectic providential time period. With the conclusion of the World Culture and Sports Festival and True Parents Birthday celebration in Seoul last month we witnessed a number of dispensational events that make life as a Unificationist artist/producer extremely fulfilling as well as head-spinning and jet-lagged.

United Nations Program

On November 22, 1999 the Woman's Federation for World Peace, the International Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace and the New York City Symphony co-sponsored a conference and "Bridge of Peace" Ceremony at the United Nations. U.N. delegates gathered to discuss the issue of building a "Culture of Peace."

At the closing banquet members of the New York City Symphony were joined by vocalists Jamie Baer-Peterson, Kusanari Kubo and Raoul Joseph in a program featuring classical, seasonal, pop and Broadway favorites including Mozart's Divertimento in F, the Italian art song "Cor N'grato," Broadway classics "Climb Every Mountain" and "The Impossible Dream" and the very moving pop

anthem "From a Distance." The program concluded with the audience joining the soloists and orchestra in singing "Let There Be Peace On Earth."

Producing an event at the United Nations is rife with logistical complications due to diplomatic protocol and extremely strict security measures there. Still, the effort was greatly appreciated by many of the delegates as several key U.N. officials encouraged the sponsoring organizations to continue the work of breaking down barriers between racial, ethnic, religious and ideological concerns.

True God's Day 2000

Many of us were stunned that True Parents had decided to celebrate the beginning of the new millennium on True God's Day 2000 in New York. Obviously producing an event worthy of the occasion proved to be a challenge for all concerned. Fortunately, Rev. Chang Shik Yang and Dr. Tyler Hendricks made the appropriate financial support available and having three months to prepare was a luxury considering that on many past occasions there has been but a week or two to produce Holy Day entertainment programs.

With Simon Kinney and Peter Van Geldern of Synergy Group providing dramatic visuals (including a 40 x 50 foot image magnification screen with high-definition cameras and stunning graphics) each performance was enhanced by inclusion of a well designed video presentation.

The New York City Symphony opened the program with a fanfare based on the Holy Song, "O, The Lord Has Come" composed by Kevin Pickard for 1992 Blessing in Seoul. The 40 piece ensemble then presented the finale of Mozart's Symphony No. 34 in C Major and proceeded to accompany several of the evening other performers including soprano Yoshimi Kadota singing "Ga Go Pa," and Miyuki Harley's new song, "Heaven's Romance."

Kenny Mohammed, "The Human Orchestra," made his third Holy Day appearance in "Kenny's Joy," the piece I wrote for him in 1998 (and revised last year) where he does his vocal percussion technique with orchestra. MZuri then sang here moving ballad "Listen to the Message" and was joined by CBS Television star, Philip Michael Thomas in a duet, composed by Mr. Thomas, entitled "Significant Other." Love songs can have profound influences and this one was especially powerful since MZuri and Mr. Thomas were Blessed on February 14 in Seoul.

Second Generation pianist Jena Eisenberg then presented two works including her original composition, "Storm of Sorrow" which I arranged in the manner of a classical concerto. Jena composed this music in order to support the hurricane victims of Honduras and sales from her CD are donated to the International Red Cross for hurricane relief in Central America. Jena certainly seems to be using her musical gift "for the sake of others" and she is a shining example of this God-centered ethic.

It was significant to have contributions from Korea and Japan on the True God's Day program. The Japanese traditional dance troupe "Man Yo" was very enchanting as were the talented Korean sisters Mi Ran and Jung Hwa Kim. It is my hope to be able to invite them back to perform for us again.

Kevin Pickard's finale song, "New Time For Love," featured the combined choirs from Washington, DC, New Jersey and New York (under Susan Osmond's capable direction) as well as the UTS and New Jersey Children's Choirs (directed by Hiroshi Suzuki and Ken Hendricks respectively). Miyuki Harley, Raoul Joseph and other cast members led the spirited performance in a song well-suited for the occasion under Kevin's supervision.

True Parents were then treated to surprise performances at the piano by their astonishingly gifted grand children, Shin Kwon and Shin Sun, children of In Jim Nim and Jin Sun Nim. As if that wasn't enough, Hyun Jin Nim and Hyung Jin Nim blew the roof off the Hammerstein Ballroom with a Rock 'n Roll set accompanied by the J-CARP band Axe6. Hyo Jin Nim presented two heart-felt songs which led to True Parents taking the stage to lead everyone in song. Rarely have our High Holy Days been capped-off with such an incredible display of talent and heart by the True Family.

Washington, D.C.

The dust had barely settled after the True God's Day show before we were off to Washington, D.C. to prepare for the production of America's salute to True Parents at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Actually, pre-production meetings for the birthday celebration were taking place at the Hilton in early December as Michael Leone, Tomiko Duggan and I were pulling the various components of the production together under the executive directorship of Dr. Yang, Dr. Hendricks and Rev. Philip Schanker.

The logistics of our set up at the Hilton were nightmarish being that we had to set-up lights, sound, staging, dance floor installation, decorations and video in just eight hours from midnight (the night of the event) to 8 AM because the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton was booked by another client on both the day prior to our event and until 2 PM on the day of our event. Coordinating the set-up efforts of Synergy Group, Atlantic Video, Kashmere Productions and Hardgrove Staging, with the rehearsal requirements of the New York City Symphony, the Kirov Academy and the Universal Ballet proved to be a daunting challenge.

Apart from a few minor technical glitches the banquet program went off as planned with several poignant videos of True Parents' life accomplishments as well as several moving testimonies by important ministers and political leaders highlighting the evening.

The 25 piece ensemble from the New York City Symphony provided underscoring for the "Early Years" video in my arrangement of our church Holy Song "Pledge." ___, in a moving tribute to True Mother, sang one of Mother's favorite Korean songs, "Sa Wol E No Re" (Song of April). MZuri then offered a classic arrangement of "Amazing Grace" recognizing True Parents' efforts in building the foundation for unification among Christian denominations.

Kevin Pickard, Miyuki Harley, Raoul Joseph, June Maxim, Patsy Casino, Jeff Benson and ___ teamed-up once again with Susan Osmond and the Washington Family Church Choir and Second Generation Children in a encore presentation of the God's Day finale song, "New Time For Love."

The evening entertainment was capped off by an impressive performance by Hoon Sook Nim with soloists of the Universal Ballet Company, who had traveled from Seoul just for the event, and students of the Kirov Academy of Ballet. Dr. Bo Hi Pak then presented the prestigious Rudolf Nureyev Award to Father and Mother in honor of their continued support for the Kirov Academy and Universal Ballet.

WCSF in Seoul

The convocation of the World Culture and Sports Festival in Seoul from February 10-14 provided me the rare opportunity to attend a major church event as a participant as opposed to having to act in role of producer and/or performer. I had been invited by Greg Breeland of the International Conference of the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) to write a paper and make a presentation on the topic of "Values in Music in Eastern and Western Cultures."

I had thought that having to write a 15-30 page paper in about a week might be a challenge, but inspiration prevailed and I wrote over forty pages. The experience I had in meeting the very perceptive (if somewhat esoteric) members of the ICUS committee on Music and Science was deeply rewarding. The opportunity to discuss values as they pertain to music (and the arts) as well as the role of a "responsible artist" is one that I always relish. Father has often spoken about "creating a moral revolution in the arts" and though that may seem to be a somewhat dicey proposition in our post-modern, quasi-nihilistic and amoral artistic environment, it nonetheless is a topic that needs addressing.

(If you wish to have a copy of my paper you can reach me at NYCSYM@aol.com).

One of the highlights of the WCSF Convocation was the closing banquet and the performance of the Little Angels. Throughout the ICUS conference there was obviously a great deal of intellectualizing on any number very deep and profound topics. (Did you know that there are mathematical properties within proteins and chromosomes that may have very specific pitch and rhythmic, i.e. musical correlates? I do now.)

Intellect alone cannot bring one to the whole truth, therefore intellectual speculation may in fact contribute to a myopia of sorts, especially in matters of a more metaphysical nature. Great art contains truth, but packaged in the realm of beauty and as such can be transcendent is such a way as to allow for a greater understand of truth. For me and many others, the Little Angel's performance had this transcendent power. Their beauty and innocence transformed the participants in ways that pure science or intellect or theory could not. The change in the attitudes of many of the participants was palpable as a warmer more congenial spirit was is evidence. As one scientist said to me following the Little Angel's performance, "You know, we need more culture in the World Cultural and Sports Festival." Amen!

"Is There a Producer in the House?!"

As it turned out, I was not completely relieved of responsibility in Korea.

An immensely talented second generation composer/arranger, Sun Jeong Kim, had set poetry of Kwon Jin Nim to music that would serve as the congratulatory song at the Olympic Stadium for the Blessing. Director Byun Seog Kim, head of the culture department of our church in Korea, had requested that the three providential countries of Korea, Japan and the United States, be represented in the presentation of the song, "New Day of Glory." He wanted different parts of the song to be sung alternately in Korean, Japanese and English to emphasize the international scope of the Blessing event.

___ and Reggie Wollridge arrived in Seoul several days prior to the Blessing to rehearse and record the song with the gifted second generation soprano, Mi Ran Kim (who sang in New York on True God's Day). However, the prerecorded audio tracks were not in the best key for the singers, the English translation was in need of some serious "word-smithing," there was no Japanese translation and no vocal arrangement per se. Finding a way to blend Mi Ran's and ___'s wonderful classical style with Reggie's pop style caused a certain degree of consternation and there was a real fear that the song could not be produced in a manner satisfying to all concerned.

I wasn't off the plane for an hour before I was called by Mi Ran and ___ to small rehearsal studio that is operated by the Second Generation to participate an vocal arrangement session that was being supervised by Sun Jeong Kim. After ingesting a large amount of coffee the three singers, Sun Jeong (who was eight months pregnant at the time) and I set about the task of working out the vocal arrangement and hammering out a grammatically correct English lyric. Listening to the recorded tracks and working at the piano the five of us went at it for about four hours and managed to get a fairly decent grip on the task at hand. The next day the singers rehearsed intensively with Sun Jeong in preparation for the recording session that was scheduled for the following day. ___, who is a terrific musician, worked out the Japanese translation with help from Takeshi Yonemura in Japan. They were ready to go.

In another small recording studio operated by the Second Generation, we spent six hours laying the vocal tracks. We decided that rather than change anyone's particular vocal style it would be most effective to let the singers "be themselves." Reggie's expressive pop style, Mi Ran's lovely classical tone and ___, who is very versatile and highly adept at crossing over from pop to classical styles, were harmonized in a way that we couldn't have imagined just three days earlier. The harrowing experience of the pre-production difficulties had been ameliorated, seemingly to everyone's satisfaction.

The Second Generation

While attending the birthday proceedings in Seoul I had the opportunity to meet and witness the performances of some very gifted Second Generation members who live and work in Korea.

At the King Sejong Performing Arts Center, the WCSF attendees were treated to a performance of a wide variety of entertainment which included an excerpt from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" as performed by Hoon Sook Nim with the Universal Ballet Company, a 256 member choir (comprised mostly of Second Generation members) and a melodrama based on Father's early course from Father's vision of Jesus in 1936 to His Blessing to True Mother in 1960.

The hour-long production had a cast of well over one hundred and featured a dozen original songs composed and recorded by Sun Jeong Kim. There was original choreography and the entire production---sets, lighting, costuming, staging---was done by the Second Generation. It was a remarkable production in many ways.

In conversations with several of the very talented musicians among our Second Generation in Seoul, it became apparent that their efforts to develop their careers as artists in Korea was problematic. There exists a rather unreceptive attitude towards our members within Korea's classical music scene due to the fact that 95% of the singers and instrumentalists that comprise Korea's opera companies, professional choruses and symphony orchestras are Christian and as such discriminate against Unificationists. It's an unfortunate reality and one that has led to despair and to a certain extent, recalcitrance among the younger artists in our church there.

It was somewhat revelatory for some of the Second Generation members to see Christian ministers from America come to Korea in support of True Parents and their efforts. I gained a completely new perspective about the work that we've done in witnessing to the Christian Churches here. The impact, the hope, the inspiration that the ministers providence can give our young members should not be underestimated.

It is always a bit sorrowful to leave Korea and on this occasion I particularly saddened to leave after having worked with and shared so many wonderful experiences with some of our Second Generation there. I returned with a renewed sense of responsibility towards the gifted children of our elder Korea's who sacrificed so much for so long in their attendance of our True Parents. As my experience suggests it is not always obvious how our dispensational efforts in America impact the world-level providence.

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