Thursday, May 23, 2013

Welcome Back to "Notes on Music"

Welcome to my blog's new location – – a big breath of fresh air in the blogosphere. I'm getting all my Google ducks in a row, and the migration is a good step.

Dr. Ray, 11,053 feet above sea level, atop the
eastern Sierra's Mammoth Mountain in California

My readership is growing significantly around the world. If you keep reading, I'll keep writing! Why not bookmark the new location now? And you can easily follow my blog by entering your email address in the column to the right.

Dr. Ray

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Remembering Mary Hsia

On Easter morning this year, my good friend, Mary Hsia, passed on. I write this in loving memory.

Mary Hsia with her beloved tuba!

Mary was a dear friend and neighbor. "Hsia" was a married name, pronounced "Shaw." Mary was kind, fun, and generous, and she brightend my life, as she surely brightened the lives of many others. I believe her journey continues, and she still blesses others with her good and gentle nature.

Mary was an English professor at Los Angeles City College and a devoted amateur tubist. I first met her when I taught the Brass Chamber Ensembles at Pasadena City College. After awhile, there would always be a package of cookies or some other tasty treat on my music stand when I arrived for class. I never asked, and no one ever owned up to it, but I was always pretty sure Mary was the benefactor.

Some years later, she became a neighbor of mine. I recall driving home one day and hearing the Sesame Street song, "Rubber Duckie," from my driveway. I first thought someone was playing a radio, but then I realized it was Mary's tuba quartet playing in her garage with the door open. It was great fun, and the whole neighborhood got to hear it!

We also had fun up at the Humboldt State University Brass Chamber Music Workshop, where she played in lots of groups, including tuba quartets and tuba ensembles. She told me many times of her youthful interest in playing tuba and how later in life she finally came to embrace it for real. I once wrote her a tuba etude, and I dedicated both that etude and another piece of mine to her: "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day." She and my mom are the only two people to whom I've dedicated more than one piece of music.

We talked often over the years. She was fun company. She loved teaching and her students, and it seemed clear that her students loved her, too. She loved plants, and her home and yard were always adorned with wonderful flowers, shrubs, and trees. Mary loved her pets, too, both dogs and cats. Many times she selflessly and lovingly took in my dog, Sophie, when I had to be out of town. Mary was a very loving person.

There is a web page in her memory with stories and photos HERE.

Several years ago, feeling much gratitude to Mary for many reasons, I wrote her a poem and pinned it to a poinsettia plant as a gift. It now takes on new significance for me. I share it here in honor and remembrance of my good friend.

A Poinsettia Poem
by Raymond David Burkhart
[copyright 2007]

Christmas: a time for giving to friends and
Family and strangers our love, which sends forth in
Cards, gifts and smiles, – even poinsettia plants –
Blessed wishes for good, which tend to enhance
True meanings of Christmas throughout the long year,
That selfless compassion and unbridled cheer
Might buoy us and others and strengthen our prayers
For peace in the bustle of daily affairs.

Places and persons we loved on a day,
And traditions once honored, might all pass away,
But loving and giving, they never wax old,
And our meaning and joy can hardly be told
By the things we possess, unless they incline
To represent that which outlasts even time.
And so now I give this poinsettia to you,
Remembering all of the good that you do.