August wore me out with her pushy back-to-school demands.  September instead is my gentleman caller, inviting me out for some lovely and inspiring fall evenings.  Why yes, September, I’m available!  I’d be so delighted to join you for one of these TOP FIVE SPECTACULAR SEPTEMBER events (in chronological order)…

1 – Nashville Symphony:  Beethoven’s Ninth, Featuring “Ode to Joy,” and John Adams’ “On the Transmigration of Souls” (Weekend of September 10th)

Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony_photo by Bill Steber

Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero conducting the Nashville Symphony

Thurs. Sept. 10, at 7 pm
Fri. Sept. 11, at 8 pm
Sat. Sept. 12, at 8 pm
Sun. Sept. 13, at 3 pm

Beethoven’s getting all the press, but I’m more excited to hear “On the Transmigration of Souls,” commissioned in response to 9/11 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2003.

From an interview with composer John Adams:

How would you characterize the musical style of On the Transmigration Of Souls?  Are there specific techniques you employ?

My desire in writing this piece is to achieve in musical terms the same sort of feeling one gets upon entering one of those old, majestic cathedrals in France or Italy.  When you walk into the Chartres Cathedral, for example, you experience an immediate sense of something otherworldly.  You feel you are in the presence of many souls, generations upon generations of them, and you sense their collected energy as if they were all congregated or clustered in that one spot.  And even though you might be with a group of people, or the cathedral itself filled with other churchgoers or tourists, you feel very much alone with your thoughts and you find them focussed in a most extraordinary and spiritual way.

I want to avoid words like ‘requiem’ or ‘memorial’ when describing this piece because they too easily suggest conventions that this piece doesn’t share.  If pressed, I’d probably call the piece a ‘memory space.’  It’s a place where you can go and be alone with your thoughts and emotions.  The link to a particular historical event – in this case to 9/11 – is there if you want to contemplate it.  But I hope that the piece will summon human experience that goes beyond this particular event.  ‘Transmigration’ means ‘the movement from one place to another’ or ‘the transition from one state of being to another.’  It could apply to populations of people, to migrations of species, to changes of chemical composition, or to the passage of cells through a membrane.  But in this case I mean it to imply the movement of the soul from one state to another.  And I don’t just mean the transition from living to dead, but also the change that takes place within the souls of those that stay behind, of those who suffer pain and loss and then themselves come away from that experience transformed.”

For more information and tickets, click here.

*     *     *

2 – Nashville Ballet:  Peter Pan (Weekend of September 18th)


Fri. Sept. 18, at 7:30 pm
Sat. Sept. 19, at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Sun. Sept. 20, at 2:00 pm
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
with the Nashville Symphony

Adaptation, Choreography and Flight Choreography by Paul Vasterling
Composed by Claude Debussy
Music Arranged by Paul Vasterling

“After a wildly successful premiere in 2013, Nashville Ballet’s original Peter Pan returns to the magical world of Neverland.”

51L01uvneULAround the time of the premiere in 2013, I purchased a beautiful 100th anniversary edition of Peter Pan (illustrated by Michael Hague) and reread the 155-page work.  The story had a richness, subtlety and detail I had never before encountered, having only read a Disney version, and the illustrations in this edition strikingly convey the story’s emotion and whimsy.  The ending (Chapter 17:  When Wendy Grew Up) made me weep.  I couldn’t make it to the Ballet in 2013 and can’t wait to see it this time around.  I’m not actually taking any children with me.  Like all the best children’s stories, Peter Pan is a tale for grownups too.

If you read the book, you’ll be surprised by what a strange love story it is.  “It is a very strange story at its essence, especially when you learn more about J.M. Barrie,” says CEO and Artistic Director of Nashville Ballet Paul Vasterling.  “Have you seen Finding Neverland?  You must.  It really opens the story up in the most nostalgic and romantic way, and really helped me understand where to go with the staging and choreography.”

For more information and tickets, click here.

*     *     * 

3 – Don Winston at the Mad Platter (September 22nd)


I’ve interviewed Don Winston at Bacon – see posts on The Union Club: A Subversive Thriller and The Gristmill Playhouse: A Nightmare in Three Acts (“cotton candy dripping with blood”).  He’s a talented guy who could be awfully smug about his accomplishments and simply is not.  Though his books can be delightfully dark, he himself is nothing of the sort.  An evening with friends at the Mad Platter will be perfectly convivial, and we doubt that any murder or mayhem will occur.

*     *     *

salon_franzen4 – Jonathan Franzen, Guest Author and Speaker with the terrific Salon @ 615 series (September 23rd)

Salon @615 is one of the coolest things going in Nashville – an ongoing partnership between Nashville Public Library, Nashville Public Library Foundation, Parnassus Books and Humanities Tennessee “designed to nurture and celebrate the literary life of Nashville….  Since its inception in early 2011, Salon@615 has become a regular and vital author series on Nashville’s cultural calendar.”  Agreed!

On September 23rd, Jonathan Franzen will discuss his new book, Purity.

 Location: Ingram Hall, Blair School of Music, 2400 Blakemore Avenue, Nashville.

 “This salon is a paid, ticketed event.  Each ticket package includes a copy of the author’s latest book and entry to the event.  Seating is limited so we recommend purchasing advance tickets, as on-site tickets may not be available.”   For more information and tickets, click here.

81i0A3u6H0LI’ll just go ahead and admit it:  I haven’t read Jonathan Franzen’s big works, The Corrections and Freedom.  I’ve already bought tickets to this event – and had planned to read Purity – until I read Sam Sacks’ review in the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition a few days ago.  Sam Sacks is my most trusted critic.  His take:  

“Readers will either find this kind of fluent, magazine think-piece writing (and there is a lot of it in the novel) interesting or not.  But they won’t find it emotionally persuasive, because there is simply too little humanness in Purity to make you feel the tragedy of its loss.  The characters are superficial, too matter-of-factly diagnosable and trapped in the roles and themes and ironic lessons that the author has staged for them.”   

“The models for Purity speak to the company Mr. Franzen wants it to join:  Great Expectations, Crime and Punishment, The Adventures of Augie March….  But the main thing that separates these books from his own is the animating presence of some deeper set of beliefs.  Dickens had social justice. Dostoevsky had theology.  Bellow had a concept of the vitality of the human spirit.  Jonathan Franzen doesn’t seem to have anything at all.”

Ouch!  But this does make me even more interested to hear Franzen speak.

*     *     *

5 – Harvest Moon, Blood Moon, and Lunar Eclipse the night of September 27th (into the early morning of September 28th) 

Photo by Daniel McVey,

Photo by Daniel McVey,

Cancel all plans for the night of September 27th and stay home, eyes on the sky.  It’s a lunar extravaganza.

 “Because the moon has an elliptical orbit, instead of revolving around the Earth in a perfect circle, there is a time when it is farthest from us – the apogee – and a time when it is closest – the perigee.  What skywatchers are most interested in is perigee, the date and time when the moon is closest to Earth.”  (From Atlanta Journal Constitution.)  The “Blood Moon” is when the moon is at its perigee.

On September 27th, the perigee (Blood Moon) coincides with a full moon (this confluence is known as a “Harvest Moon”).  There’s also a lunar eclipse that night!  Wow.  See for much more.  

*     *     *

Thank you September for these glorious invitations, terrestrial and beyond.  You invite “the movement of the soul from one state to another.”



Categorized in: