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Sorrow At The Heart: Three Brothers Theatre’s “Spring Awakening”

Gwen was not a fan of Spring Awakening –– and she readily admitted that it was her fault, not the show. She’d burned out on the musical, ever since its 2006 Broadway production caught fire among the teen theatre set, with endless repetitions of its inanely pop-punk score dredged up at more cabarets than she could count. The lyrics were poetic enough on their surface that no one Gwen knew had needed to dig any deeper into them to find meaning. An angsty screed against uncaring parents, for a generation slowly acclimating to an uncaring world. A string of regional productions after performance rights were released in 2011, while the tide of interest was still high, had afforded her numerous opportunities to see a gaggle of Wendlas and Melchiors partake in enough hayloft intimacy to make the cast of Equus blush.

Gwen was, to put it mildly, over it.

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The Human Sound: Yo-Yo Ma & Silkroad Ensemble’s “Sing Me Home”

Gwen tended not to make New Year’s resolutions. “Why should the start of a calendar year be the one time we make self-improvements?” she always wondered, aloud, towards Dania and Eleanor.

 

Still, self-improvement has to happen sometime, and Gwen typically made her resolutions, if any, around her birthday. This year, along with specific goals for health and wellness, she also resolved to generally diversify the music she listened to while working. Jazz had been a staple since high school, but now –– she declared –– was the time to begin branching out. More classical music! She knew the composers but rarely sampled their work.

 

This was why, when Dania glanced over her shoulder one day, she saw not the typical music library pulled up the “JAZZ FOR STUDYING” playlist, but instead a YouTube video of an older, Chinese man playing the cello.

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Brandi Carlile’s “Give Up The Ghost” with Kaysy Ostrom

“That’s how you know it’s on vinyl,” Kaysy grinned. From the speakers, the crackle of the record could barely be heard –– but in the empty room, it was clear as any other voice.

“What’s the typical phrase…” Gwen mused, tapping her chin. “It sounds ‘warmer?’”

“I’ve never understood that,” said Dania. “It’s music, how is it gonna be warm?”

Seemingly in response, the album began just as Dania finished speaking, with a strum across the guitar and an insistent rhythm on the bass string. Before more than a moment had passed, a voice joined the tune and provided the beginnings of a story.

I went out looking for the answers / and never left my town…

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