My magical, musical journey: Part 8 – Nostalgia

By Ande Jacobson

Earlier in this series, I talked about how my parents inspired me and encouraged my love of music. They are both long gone now, Dad for over 50 years and Mom for a decade, but every time I play anything, I think of them. In the last installment discussing whether I was still a musician or not, I came to the conclusion that even without performing for others, I am and always will be a musician. The pandemic has pushed me to enjoy my music more privately, and in doing so, return to my roots and my first instrument, the piano. Playing the piano reminds me of my mother, especially when I play some of the repertoire that she played frequently. One of her favorites was Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude. Mom used to play this one with deep expression and early on told me the story her piano teacher told her about the piece. Her favorite teacher used to tell her stories about every piece she was assigned, and in doing so made the music come alive as much more than mere notes on the page. Continue reading

My magical, musical journey: Part 7 – Am I still a musician?

By Ande Jacobson

Music is an important part of my life even in our pandemic riddled world. I’ve been partaking privately, safely sequestered at home as I listen to music daily or play solo for my own amusement. As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, I’ve embraced a change that I couldn’t have imagined even just two years ago. As my local theater and music community begins to blossom again, I’ve watched from a distance. Over the summer, I reviewed a production remotely, streamed from the comfort of my den. Unlike the majority of my theatrical and musical colleagues who are racing back to rehearsals and performances as fast as they can, I am not yet willing to return to live performances in person on either side of the lights. At this point, I am not sure if I ever will return begging the question, am I still a musician? Continue reading

The arts are alive again in the SF Bay Area

By Ande Jacobson

Since California’s reopening on 15 June 2021, the performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area have come alive. Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, picnics were accented with live community band concerts galore. Most of these bands had very limited outdoor rehearsals to prepare, but many of the musicians have enjoyed meeting in person to play together again, and in addition to the larger concert bands, several smaller ensembles have been cautiously resuming rehearsals in person over the last several months. Continue reading

Confessions of a Trekkie

By Ande Jacobson

I was lucky. I grew up in an era when Star Trek was new. This was the original series where so many of the pressing problems of the time were solved long ago in the storylines. Although I was a little young to catch the first season in its prime time slot because it was after my bedtime, I initially saw the show when the first season summer reruns aired earlier in the evening. I loved space and the idea of space travel to explore new worlds. This was during the era of the Apollo program, and the first moon landing occurred just a little over a month after the final episode of the original Star Trek series first aired. Continue reading

Photo journey: Geometry

By Ande Jacobson

I have always been intrigued by geometry and interesting shapes and perspectives in pictures. In fact, going through school, geometry was my favorite math class and not just because of the beautiful logic proofs, but I digress. In photography, sometimes a rather mundane scene can be fascinating when approached from a unique angle. Other times, the shading can even make common shapes pop. As mentioned in previous essays, I have spent a lot of time wandering through the exhibits packing the various Smithsonian museums over the years. While the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C. is my favorite Smithsonian location by far, I also appreciate several of the others in its vicinity. The Museum of Natural History has much to offer, and although the easiest way to get a good picture there is to buy one of their brochures which are filled with many elegant professional photographs, where is the fun in that? It’s far more satisfying to discover a unique perspective and capture it directly if possible. Continue reading

Photo journey: South Meadow Fence Road

By Ande Jacobson

As mentioned in an earlier installment of this series, I traveled to the Washington, D.C. area frequently at one point in my career. While I was a complete weather wimp being used to a very temperate climate in the San Francisco Bay Area, I found the mid-Atlantic intriguing in a number of ways despite loathing the oppressively humid summer weather. On the other hand, I rather enjoyed the other three seasons, even winter with its bone chilling cold from time to time. The two months of the year I enjoyed most in that region were October and March. October was by far the most comfortable month. The summer humidity was gone, the days were often warm and quite comfortable, and the nights were cool and crisp. Beyond that the leaves always started changing color at that time. My previous essay in this series opened with one of my favorite scenes from the greater Gaithersburg, MD area, Lake Whetstone on a nice October day. In this essay, I return to a Montgomery Village neighborhood adjacent to the lake, but this time in March. Continue reading

Photo journey: Reflection obsession

By Ande Jacobson

I’ve had an obsession with reflections in photography ever since high school when my mother showed me a prized black and white photograph she took of me as an infant. She captured a picture of my grandfather gently holding me in a hooded baby towel after a bath, and she not only captured a very sweet picture of us, she also captured a reflection of the shot in the bathroom mirror. As a result, I have played with reflections from time to time with varying degrees of success. Continue reading

Photo journey: My quest for the perfect capitol shot

By Ande Jacobson

Artistic expression can take many forms, and so far, A Good Reed Review has focused on music, theater, and the written word. This essay expands that focus a bit and opens an ongoing, non-chronological series on my photographic journey.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is very true although the number of words can certainly vary depending on the story behind the picture. I eventually hope to write a book discussing my family’s photography given my parents had a keen interest and significant expertise in that art form and instilled a love of photography in me. While I’ve spent most of my creative energy in music and writing, I have a natural inclination toward photography as well as bit of an obstacle. Continue reading

My magical, musical journey: Part 6 – outside challenges

By Ande Jacobson

My journey through Part 5 of this series hasn’t been all that unusual. Like many others I studied music throughout my childhood and college years, and even though I pursued a lengthy career in the sciences, I never left my music too far behind. I was fortunate to live in an area where musicians of all levels could find opportunities to play and continue to grow musically no matter their primary career paths.

The pit orchestras in which I’ve played or directed have been composed of talented musicians of all ages including advanced young music students and adults from a wide range of professions, some musically related, some not. Beyond straight music endeavors, the San Francisco Bay Area enjoys a vibrant theater community at all levels that draws large, loyal, local support. The community of musicians that supports the musical theaters has thrived for decades … until that fateful year, 2020, which brought unprecedented challenges. Continue reading

The American story continues: Getting ready for the Biden Inauguration

By Ande Jacobson

I watched the 17 January 2021 episode of 60 Minutes the next morning while exercising on my elliptical trainer, a fairly common Monday morning routine. Two of their stories from the previous night were on political events – preparations for Wednesday’s inauguration, and what happened on 6 January 2021. I’ve already written about the coup attempt in my essay entitled “6 January 2021: An American Story,” so that’s not my focus here. Instead, the first 60 Minutes segment, “Against All Enemies,” hit me particularly hard. Continue reading