Joe Jencks Tour News, Recording, & Essay: Sibelius & Hope
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Watch Joe's ~ NPR Tiny Desk Concerts Entry here: https://youtu.be/3VR7IuTYbMY
Dear Friends in Music,
I am back out on the road this week with concerts in Schenectady, NY (The 8th Step 3-11-22), White Plaines, NY (Walkabout Clearwater Coffee House 3-12-22), and Amherst, MA (Halcyon Arts 3-13-22). I am honored and excited to be working with three extraordinary presenters in the same weekend. I have a long history with each, and the reunion of dear friends that happens at concerts will bring some needed joy and comfort. I hope to see many of you there.
Please also note some thoughts for this moment in time in the essay below: Sibelius and Hope
3-11-22 Live & Live Streamed from The 8th Step at Proctors Theater in Schenectady, NY. Tickets for the live show and the LiveStream via the Mandolin platform are available through The 8th Step Website: https://www.8thstep.org/events/2020/12/12/joe-jencks-roots-amp-wings. This show will specifically focus on Roots and Wings, Irish and Celtic Heritage and stories of immigration and immigrants. Timely. Do join us online, if you can’t be there in person!
3-12-22 ***POSTPONED to Nov. 12th 2022***
Live and in-person only for the Clearwater Walkabout Coffee House in White Plaines, NY. This coffee house and the Walkabout Clearwater Chorus have an amazing and lengthy history in the Hudson valley. Always a pleasure. For more info visit: https://walkaboutchorus.org/coffeehouse/ and also: https://artswestchester.org/events/walkabout-clearwater-coffeehouse-present-joe-jencks/
3-13-22 Live at Halcyon Arts in Amherst, MA. I have a long history with the producer, but the organization is fairly new, and amazing. Check it out: https://www.hartsne.org/
My radio show, My Highway Home - Episode 4.3: Songs From The Emerald Isle and Beyond, will broadcast on Sunday March 13th at 6:00 PM ET and again at 11:00 PM ET (Adjust appropriately for your time zone.) The show will rebroadcast on Wednesday March 16th at 12 Noon ET. www.folkmusicnotebook.com
Additional concert and summer festival dates for 2022 and beyond can be found at: www.joejencks.com.
Last but not least, I am finally working on a new album. The tentative release date is July 1st. This project will focus on some of my Irish roots, songs I have written while on tour in Ireland, and songs from some friends and colleagues that I have been singing live for years, and finally decided to record. An IndiGoGo page will go up later this month. I’ll keep you posted, and thank you in advance for your unwavering support.
Wherever you are, I hope you are keeping well and remembering that through it all, we have each other and we have the music.
In Gratitude & Song,
~ Joe Jencks
Sibelius and Hope
Copyright, Joe Jencks, 2022 Turtle Bear Music
There are no adequate words to express the anxiety that we are all experiencing on some level, at this moment in time. We’re still in a Pandemic, but no one has to wear a mask anymore. We’re not at war per se, but we’re not at peace either. We’re not past winter, but we’re definitely ready for spring. Interpret that on as many levels as you like.
As many of you do, I have friends who are Ukrainian and Ukrainian American. I have friends who have traveled extensively or lived in Ukraine and Russia. I have colleagues in Europe for whom the impact of present-time global geo-politics and refugee crisis are very real. And I have friends who are doing all they can to provide for human needs with swiftness and compassion.
And we are aware of the humanitarian crisis in Europe, because it gets all the news. It is everywhere. And it should be in our minds and consciousness. We should be as attentive and informed as we are able. That said, there are still humanitarian crisis closer to home. There are still people without adequate shelter in our own towns and cities. Victims of ongoing racial injustice, domestic violence, refugees of political, economic, and public health concerns that still need to be solved, are with us here and now.
I had a bit of a meltdown on Sunday and again on Monday. I think I had consumed too much information about the world for me to process adequately. It came out as tears and despair. I would give a lot to know how to be most useful at this moment in history. And I keep coming back to music as what I have to give. That and a good meal if you are near enough for me to cook for you. I do that pretty well too. But how can I be of service to people so far away, for whom life is now irrevocably changed? How do I serve those nearest who are also struggling?
This Is My Song, is one of my favorite hymns. I have been singing it in my head and out loud for days. The music is the melody of Finlandia, written by the extraordinary Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Wikipedia says Finlandia was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire. In order to avoid Russian censorship, Finlandia had to be performed under alternative names at various musical concerts.
Most of the piece is taken up with rousing and at times turbulent music, depicting the national struggle of the Finnish people at that time. Towards the end however, a calm comes over the symphony and one of the most astonishing melodies I have ever heard emerges and brings us into a place of hopeful serenity. Often incorrectly attributed as a Folk melody, the hymn Finlandia is all Sibelius. And it is amazing. You have no doubt heard it before, perhaps without even realizing what it was.
In 1933, Lloyd Stone, a US public-school teacher was living and working in Hawaii. He wrote among other things, poetry for children and he wrote the words to This Is My Song. Set to the melody Sibelius had penned a nearly two generations earlier, it is an entreatment for world peace, and a plea for all of us to see in each other our shared humanity, value, and inherent worth and dignity. During the Great Depression and without knowing it, on the very leading edge of a world war, Lloyd Stone wrote an anthem for the ages.
Around 1937-1938 theologian and poet Georgia Harkness was teaching at Mount Holyoke, and penned the third verse in direct response to the many people and nations globally who were falling under the weight of advancing fascism. She wrote a third stanza to Stone’s poetry inspired by the many young women and men devoting themselves to finding ways to be helpful through the Wesleyan Service Guild, the American Friends Service Committee, and other organizations that were working hard to provide humanitarian relief to the innocent caught in the cross-fire, literally and figuratively.
These words, set to the stunning melody written by Jean Sibelius have a long history and herstory of pride, resistance, fortitude, humanity, and hope.
This is my song, Oh God of all the nations
A song of peace for lands afar and mine
This is my home, the country where my heart is
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations
A song of peace for their land and for mine
May truth and freedom come to every nation
may peace abound where strife has raged so long
that each may seek to love and build together
a world united, righting every wrong
a world united in its love for freedom
proclaiming peace together in one song
May it be so. May we be a part of building a world where peace is a reality. May we also not get so lost in the global concerns that we forget that there are those in need, among us every day. There are injustices here and now where you and I reside, that require our focus, attention, and compassion. Holding great need, near and far feels like a careful balancing act. But I know we are up for it. And with beautiful songs in our hearts, and on our lips, and in our ears, we will rise to the occasion whatever it may be. How can we keep from singing?
~ Joe Jencks (3-9-22)
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