Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Friday we completed our spring fundraiser at WITF, here are some pictures from answering phones and signs put up outside Radio Master Control:
Saturday night I played with Paul Zavinsky in Columbia for a really fun crowd.
Now, for the real reason, behind the blog title...last January I got an email about Composing Thoughts from a mother who listens with her son:
Good morning,
My son and I often listen to your program Composing Thoughts while eating dinner on Sunday nights. I learn a lot from what the composers say and from the items you play. I even tracked down the CD from one of them afterwards.
Your program also gave me an idea. First a little background. My son Matthew is multiply handicapped. He has attended a special ed class at the Camp Hill Middle School/High School for the last 6 years. He will graduate in June. During his time at Camp Hill Matthew has regularly attended band (Middle School) and Chorus (High School) rehearsals with his one-on-one aide. The music teachers and the students have welcomed him and responded well to his presence. Matthew always seems to enjoy music, so this is a good way to have him share experience with the regular students.
I wanted to do something to thank the music department at Camp Hill and also to celebrate Matthew's graduation. At first I thought about funding a scholarship to study music. But then I heard you talk about commissioning music on Composing Thoughts one night. I am going to commission a piece of music for the band and chorus to perform this spring. I have 2 young men who are recent graduates of composing programs who are interested. I've told them what my budget is and they are OK with that. I'm going to get with the Camp Hill music teachers and try to make a choice between the two next week. Then we will plan to have the piece ready for rehearsals for the regular May concert date. Usually around Mother's Day. Thank you for giving me this idea. Everyone I talk to thinks it is a great idea.
Would WITF have any interest in recording the world premiere performance of the new composition at the high school? Or possibly interviewing the young composer for Composing Thoughts while they are in town for the event? I'll keep you posted on the progress of this project. Please let me know if WITF is interested in being involved as noted above, or in any other way.
Thanks for a great program and for giving me this idea.
Susan Bianchi
Hershey, PA
Sunday was the concert, and Linda Do, Pete Aufiero, Andrew Gena and myself went and recorded the new piece, and interviewed Susan, Matthew’s teacher, the composer, and two of Matthew’s classmates. It will appear on the Composing Thoughts site soon, and will no doubt be used later by TV. We’ll also have the piece of music, Dreams by David Shover for chorus and two oboes on the site to see and hear.
It was simply stunning, touching and delightful. And it was on Mother’s Day.

Here’s the Patroit article:

Chorus sings 'Dreams' for a friend
Monday, May 14, 2007
Of The Patriot-News
Matthew Bianchi doesn't speak, but his movements said volumes yesterday.
The Derry Twp. man stood up, hummed and waved his arms as he heard "Dreams," which was composed for him by a faculty member at his school and sung to him by the Camp Hill Senior High School chorus.
He relaxed for the rest of the Camp Hill Middle School High School's Spring Choral Concert & Art Exhibit.
"Matthew likes music, everything from German hip-hop to reggae," said Susan Bianchi of Derry Twp., Matthew's mother. She said she commissioned the score to honor her son and thank the school for helping him.
Matthew Bianchi, 21, will graduate from the Capital Area Intermediate Unit Multi-Disabilities Support Class on June 6.
A rare congenital birth defect called agenesis of the corpus callosum has left his brain missing the part that connects the two cerebral hemispheres. That condition, and another neurological disorder called hypoplasia cerebellar vermis, has left him unable to speak or walk steadily.
Yet he's a strong force in the school's musical programs, said David Shover, the school's vocal music director.
"CAIU classes are in our building," Shover said. "Matthew loves music and comes to our rehearsals. When we sing, he is the audience, sometimes humming along, other times concentrating on the music. Music is Matthew's love, so it seems natural to share his love for music with others."
His mother said music has allowed her son to participate in some of the school's mainstream activities.
"Some people look at someone like Matt and ask 'what good is that person?'" she said. "Matthew teaches people about joy and acceptance. I'm proud of him. Since this is Matthew's last year at Camp Hill, I wanted to do something to thank the music department for accepting Matthew over the years."
She and Shover unsuccessfully sought the right composer outside the district. When they "couldn't find the right fit with the right music," Shover offered to compose the piece himself. When Susan Bianchi said she wanted music to accompany the poem "Dreams" by Langston Hughes, Shover wrote a serious piece to be accompanied by two oboes.
Junior Carrie Seefeldt and Molly Silverman, an eighth-grader, played the oboes yesterday as students sang the short but powerful song to Matthew Bianchi.
They looked at the man who taught them about gentleness as they sang "Hold fast to dreams. For if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly."
Casey Brooks, a junior and CAIU volunteer, smiled.
"Matt is very lovable," she said. "Even though he can't talk, he understands everything you say to him. He's cute and has gorgeous brown eyes. He likes to flirt and smile a lot. He also loves music. Sometimes when I sing to him, he hums along and taps his feet to the music. I'll miss him when he graduates."
Matthew Dodd, Matthew Bianchi's CAIU teacher, hugged Matthew, saying that he and his five other students with multiple disabilities seem to love music.
"I don't know how much Matthew knew the song was for him," Dodd said. "But he sat for the whole performance, only standing up and moving during that song. That may have been his way of saying 'this is my song.' He knew his friends were singing to him."
Susan Bianchi said that after graduation, her son will go to Hope Springs Farm in East Hanover Twp. several days a week. At the 17-acre farm for people with disabilities, she said her son will help care for animals and plants and participate in indoor activities.
MARY KLAUS: 255-8113

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