Thursday, May 31, 2012


Caregivers gathered in San Antonio today to tackle issues faced nationwide by those caring for our nation’s wounded, ill or injured. The 3rd annual USO Caregivers Conference, brought together spouses, moms, dads, brothers, sisters and loved ones caring for wounded, ill and injured troops from the San Antonio area as well as national experts to address topics such as communicating with your loved one after injury, helping children cope with reintegration and rehabilitation, making marriage work after the battlefield and accessing military caregiver benefits.
Attendees were asked to share the joys and the challenges associated with being a caregiver. They also participated in various exercises like communicating with only numbers, and stress-busting breathing techniques. “You as a caregiver are an integral part of our soldier’s success. They can’t succeed if you can’t take care of yourself,” said LTC Brian Almquist, Commander, Warrior Transition Battalion, Brooke Army Medical Center. Ed and Karen Matayaka knew first-hand what everyone in the room was going through. They were both deployed to Afghanistan last summer where Ed was severely wounded after being struck by an IED. “I had to go from being a soldier to caregiver as well as a spouse. That’s a really hard transition and it’s also very hard for the warrior to allow that to happen,” said Karen. “I’m not back to a normal life yet. It never goes back to being normal,” said Ed. “That line in the sand is gone. Now, the struggle for us is finding out what the new normal is.” “We interject laughter into every situation in life,” said Karen. “There is nothing you can’t laugh at,” continued Ed.
Mike Martinez traveled from El Paso to participate in today’s conference. As a spokesperson for soldiers living with PTS, Martinez was featured in the USO’s Spanish PSA “Portraits” educating Americans about the invisible wounds of war. Speaking to CNN in March Martinez said: “I tell my brothers that are still serving, don’t let pride get in the way. Pride’s going to kill you. Take that warrior mask off and if you need to, get help. Get it in the beginning stages, and not later.” Award winning children’s author and entertainer Trevor Romain worked with local caregiver couple Shilo and Kathreyn Harris to answer the participant’s questions about raising children when one parent suffers from invisible or visible wounds. “I didn’t have answers for her (daughter Elizabeth),” said Kathreyn. There are some days we still don’t have the answers. We listen to her. We validate her. It’s OK to have these feelings. It is OK to be mad, scared, frustrated.”
The conference was free and open to caregivers, wounded service men and women and military medical personnel from the local San Antonio area. Five scholarships were also provided to those living outside San Antonio. A resounding theme throughout the day was said best by Gabriele Dias, Ft. Sam Houston Soldier Family Assistance Center (SFAC) Director: “Learn something about yourself…because if you can’t take care of yourself then you don’t have anything left for anybody else.”
-from a press release

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

War Requiem

I fell in love with Britten's powerful War Requiem while in college. I remember listening to an lp with the score - and not long after, watching a laserdisc of a filmed version:

Now, you can browse Britten's notebook on the work:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Great reason to walk!

The Audie L. Murphy Division of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System is hosting a 2K walk and roll May 16 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in support of employee wellness month. The event also encourages employee and local community support of homeless Veterans and will take place at the University of Texas Health Science Center of San Antonio track, located in front of the Spectrum Athletic Center at the corner of Babcock and Merton Minter.
VA's employee wellness program, known as WIN (Wellness Is Now), empowers employees with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to create a culture of health and wellness. Further, the group encourages employees to use their appreciation of wellness to inspire Veterans to live healthier lifestyles.
While there is no registration fee for the VA2K, employees and volunteers participating in the event are asked to donate to support homeless Veterans. Participation is open to the community, donations are optional and participants who wish to donate are asked to provide gift cards, phone cards, and cash to help support the homeless Veteran community.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Help the SA Symphony

It is a great challenge given to the San Antonio Symphony, to levy $25,000 by the Symphony League when an additional $25,000 is raised. You can make a secure donation by going here: or by calling Emily Brandesky in the Symphony office at (210) 554-1052.
The deadline for the symphony to raise $25,000 is May 31st! Make your contribution now, and let's meet and EXCEED this goal!

In the Fall of 1950, a group of symphony supporters organized The Women’s Committee of the San Antonio Symphony with Mrs. Henry Catto as founding president. In the Spring of 1979, the Women’s Committee of the San Antonio Symphony changed its name to The San Antonio Symphony League. In 1966, The Junior Committee of the San Antonio Symphony was organized for women under the age of 40. After 25 years, in the Spring of 1991, the Junior Committee merged with the San Antonio Symphony League to create a stronger circle of support for the Orchestra. In 2004, the San Antonio Symphony League became a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, non-profit organization, incorporated, allowing fundraising to have a greater financial impact for the Symphony. Since its inception, this organization has directed its energies toward service, educational efforts and financial support of the San Antonio Symphony. Today the San Antonio Symphony League proudly continues in the dedication and traditions set forth by its founders. The San Antonio Symphony League encourages a diverse membership which reflects and appreciates the rich multi-cultural heritage of San Antonio. For more information, please contact the Vice President for Membership Agnes Lowe at (210) 216-0729. There is more information about the group here:

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Mozart from the keyboard

This weekend the SA Symphony has a conductor who is a pianist - and will play Mozart's powerful and dark d minor concerto. Here is one of my favorite versions with Philippe Entremont leading the Vienna Chamber Orchestra at a rehearsal: