The Great War Project

Look no further than yesterday’s speech by Obama for proof of the long-lasting global impact of “The War to End All Wars,” which started 100 years ago.  Enough that some former colleagues from NPR have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund terrific, important, and ambitious concept for a radio series.    And it needs your help to become reality:

Beginning in June 2014, we will tell the stories of The Great War through radio documentaries and in shorter radio pieces, all of which will air on public radio stations nationwide and will be available in podcasts.

Our goal is not to tell the definitive history of the war and all its battles. Instead, we will present many important and interesting stories from the war: those of soldiers and civilians, the military technology, the tactics, the poetry, the politics, the societal consequences.

We will present the vast tapestry of World War One and thereby help all of us understand what happened during that time and how that now-forgotten war helped create – for better or worse – the world we live in today.

Check out the video below, and consider making a donation todaythe sand is literally running out of the hourglass.


Kenneth Alford’s “Fore” Thought

Marking the birthday of British bandmaster Kenneth Alford (1881-1945) today with an insight into what inspired his most famous piece, the WWI-era classic “Colonel Bogey.”   New England Brass Band leader Stephen Bulla had a fascinating insight into where he got the idea for the two-note theme:

The “Fore” Thought behind “Colonel Bogey” by RoeDeo


So, naturally, a few “links” to share.   First, check out this charming flashmob performance by the British Army Band on the streets of Cardiff, Wales:

And here’s more of Bulla and the New England Brass Band in action, from that Fraser Performance Studio appearance…

Click this link to hear the entire performance:  The New England Brass Band In Concert The New England Brass Band

Violins Amidst the Violence

Fascinating wire story the other day about Army medic Sgt. Geoffrey Allison, perhaps the only US serviceman who’s also a luthier:

As bombs exploded and the ground shook around him, Allison carved and shaped violins. He couldn’t block out the violence or the death around him (his job was tending to the sick and the wounded), but it gave him a newfound focus.

“It became more serious,” says Allison, a talkative man with glasses and a crew cut. “I thought, ‘Hey, I’m in combat. These could be the last fiddles I ever make in my life. I’m going to make them really count this time.’ That was my attitude – take it to a different level of seriousness.”

As Sgt. Allison points out, violin-making is an ideal hobby when you’re in a place with dodgy electricity — he used hand tools exclusively while hunkered down in his bunker in Ramadi. What turned him on to fiddle-making? An old (Emmy-winning) documentary on PBS’ Nova called “The Great Violin Mystery,” which traced the research of University of Wisconsin physicist William Frederick Fry into “the secret” of Antonio Stradavari’s violin-making. How often have you heard THIS pitch as a reason to join up at your local Army recruiting station?

“I said, ‘That’s it. I’m going back into the Army and buy these tools wherever they are in the world and hopefully get back to Europe and become a violin maker.'”

Besides the movie, Sgt. Allison credits his interest in fiddles to the days when his mom played in the Phoenix symphony. I wonder if they’re paying attention? Nothing yet on M.D. Michael Christie’s blog.