George Walden (LITE) - Retired FDA & Pfizer Staff Member

Description:
In this LITE episode, host Abigail Wright talks with retired FDA & Pfizer staff member George Walden about the importance of friends, family, and activities, his views on the world today, and appreciating the differences in humanity. For more, visit http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence to hear about his experiences with the FDA & Pfizer, the value in a single life, George's key to happiness and much more.


Bio/Intro:
George Walden was born in Washington DC and was raised in Upper Marlboro, MD. He and his two brothers and two sisters still get together for family gatherings a couple of times during the year.

George completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1972. Following he graduation, he was hired by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Newark, NJ and worked for the FDA for 25 1/2 years as a Consumer Safety Officer. He was fortunate to take an early retirement with the FDA in 1997 and begin a career with Warner Lambert (later known as Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) as a Corporate Quality Auditor.  George worked for Warner Lambert/Pfizer, Inc. for 17 years and traveled to nearly 40 countries around the world. He retired from Pfizer in April 2015.

Now he spends his time practicing Aikido, Yoga, playing golf, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Show summary:
I don't think we've ever talked about this, but I got my master's degree at the University of MD in College Park, so I'm very familiar with DC and Prince George's county. What was it like for you, growing up in that area?
He remembers a fun upbringing with what he needed as the second of five children. Both his parents worked until George was born, when his mother agreed to stay home and take care it and them. Communal family dinners played an important role in keeping his family together. Although the community was quiet, without much to do, the children all found ways to keep themselves busy with sports, sledding, go karts, and other activities with friends.

It seems like growing up, in your jobs, and in the sports that you do, community is very important to you. How has that enhanced your life?
It's helped him see people differently, and as valuable. George tells us about experiences where he'd speak with people on the phone as part of his job helping other companies comply before meeting them in person. He might have a conversation where the person would complain about minorities or women or the government, and then meet the man in person. As the man met him and got to know him, he treated him incredibly kindly. "There's a lot of hatred and fear and animosity in the world, but people are people... Once we learn a little bit about each other and get to know each other, we find out, we're all the same." He believes his community upbringing contributed to his perspective on that.

What's your perspective on what's happening today in our culture? Between the current political climate, the extreme polarization of different viewpoints, and the recent resurgence of overt racism... is any of this new?
We discuss how it's not really new, but that now with the statements made by current leadership, people feel that they can express their extreme viewpoints.

How have you reacted to it, and what do you think we can do better as individuals to help improve society in general?
Let people have their space. George goes back to his story about the people he met in the FDA. If you give people space to get to know each other beyond biases and appearances, there's really no reason for people to hate each other.

What does happiness mean to you, in your life?
Happiness, for George means being able to do the things he wants to do, especially Aikido, golf, and being social and around people. His father's life consisted of work, the family, and the house. On forced vacations, he'd work on the house or visit family, or fish. When he retired, after a year or two, he had to go back to work. George believes you have to have something to keep you going.

Have you always been a pretty content person, or have you had to work at it?
George has been pretty content most of his life because he's always done things that keep him interested.

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, what would it be?
More respect and more acceptance of each other. Everyone doesn't have to be the same, and that makes the world interesting.

Thanks for watching! For more, visit http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence to hear about his experiences with the FDA & Pfizer, the value in a single life, George's key to happiness and much more.

Louis Levitt (LITE) - Artistic Entrepreneur & Chamber Musician

In this LITE episode, host Abigail Wright talks with Artistic Entrepreneur & Chamber Musician Louis Levitt about the value of close-knit ensembles, flexibility in parenting, envisioning things never done before, and more. 

For full, un-cut access, including discussions on what children know that adults sometimes don't, learning about learning, the devaluation of recorded music, and more at http://www.patreon.com/peaceofpersistence.

Intro: Intro
Louis is an artistic entrepreneur and internationally renowned chamber musician with an uncanny talent for performing, creating, implementing and maintaining groundbreaking musical ventures of the highest caliber.

As the double bassist of Sybarite5, Louis Levitt was the first ever double bassist to win the Concert Artist Guild Competition. Since then, he has performed with Sybarite5 in hundreds of concerts nationally and internationally, his debut EP with them cracked the top ten on the Billboard charts, and their follow up LP Everything in its Right Place was released at Carnegie Hall to critical acclaim. Their next album, Outliers, will be released later this season

In addition to performing with Sybarite5, Louis Levitt is currently an Artistic Director of Bright Shiny Things, a music collective for mezzo soprano and double bass. He is also in demand as a soloist and lecturer.  He has given masterclasses around the USA from Penn State to Fairbanks AK, has presented at the International Society of Double Bassists, and has spoken on the art of engagement at the APAP arts conference and the Curtis Institute, New England Conservatory & Mannes School. He's also currently a professor at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Louis lives in NYC with his wife, mezzo-soprano and actress Blythe Gaissert, and their two children.

Show notes:
You can find all Sybarite5 concerts at sybarite5.org and Bright Shiny Things at brightshiny.ninja. You can find their music on iTunes, Google Play, on Bandcamp (their favorite), and at their fan pages on Facebook.

Show summary:
How did you get started with Bright Shiny Things, and what's your vision for it?
A composer and performer Gilda Lyons, hired Louis and his wife, mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert-Levitt, to sing a concert for the Phoenix Concert series in NYC. She wrote music specifically for them and commissioned music by other composers. They're able to add and subtract various instruments with a core of double bass and mezzo, and Louis is excited to be able to add words to the music in order to add a greater level of expression.

Sybarite5 is having their 10th anniversary!
To celebrate, they're releasing Outliers, with 10 new works from 10 new composers.

What has being a part of such a close-knit community added to your life?
You really get a chance to delve deep into the music, with more time spent on the music and discussions about the music.

What do you envision for your musical and professional goals going forward?
For Sybarite5, a lot of new music and collaborations, and a lot of new touring. He's also excited to see what he can do with Bright Shiny Things that he can't do with Sybarite5. Finally, he's thrilled to build the double bass program at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Louis discusses parenthood. No matter what you do to plan for it, you can never know how it's going to be, because everyone's situation is unique and individual. Sometimes, it works out well when one is touring and the other is home. Sometimes, it's difficult when they're both touring. Flexibility is key. Because he really wants to spend time with his kids, it helps him to hone in on what is really important and how he truly wants to spend his time, because it's so much more precious.

Looking back, do you have any advice for other freelance couples considering having kids?
Just have them. Start there. If it's something you want, you'll find a way to make it work. If you live somewhere where your family can help you, that's great. If not, you'll need a lot of help and money, but those things shouldn't stop you from having them.

What's your favorite accomplishment so far?
There was no precedent for Sybarite5. It took him 5 years to decide that it was a good idea to make something so new, despite the lack of historical data for it, without the validation for it. He's proud that they helped to tear down the wall for other ensembles in the classical music world wanting to form a new group. Memorable experiences include winning the Concert Artists Guild, premiering an album at Carnegie Hall. He loves the moments where they break through something and are able to challenge people's perceptions.

Have you always been happy, or was it something you had to learn?
For Louis, being unhappy is what helps you find happiness. He searched for happiness in an orchestra and then he went to a string quintet, and now he has Bright Shiny Things and teaching at a university. He finds happiness to be something not so easily defined, but his kids help him to be content. He talks about how musicians and artists are constantly pushing themselves to do more, because the possibilities with music are endless.

Other advice?
Focus on continued artistic growth. For anyone? Focus on self-growth. We have a lot of choices in our country, so you have to educate yourself on the choices you make.

Mukund Marathe (LITE) - Part 2! - 2x Jeopardy Winner, Tenor, & Teacher

This is part 2 of a two-part episode. If you haven't already, check out last week's for part one.

Lite version - for full, un-cut, ad-free access, visit http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence.

Mukund Marathe discovered Beethoven at age 8 and the Beatles at age 9, and the resulting pleasant confusion has remained with him all of his musical life, as evidenced by the fact that he has performed almost every kind of music imaginable, from early music to modern jazz.  His favorite musical activities include the Evangelist in the Bach Passions, Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess, Lyle Lovett songs in church, and being what he calls a utility infielder (meaning he sings tenor or alto in various groups). Mukund was a member of the New York City Opera company for 27 years, toured with the Gregg Smith Singers, and has sung with jazz legend Dave Brubeck, on The Letterman Show, on South African television, and literally all around the world. He spends his free time reading science fiction, practicing calligraphy, dancing, making his garden grow, recently becoming a two-time Jeopardy! champion, and explaining to his two sons why people say such Awful Things about Tenors.  He says his wife, Mezzo-soprano Mary Marathe, already knows.

Mukund gets a lot of satisfaction out of performing and from helping his students make breakthroughs. One of his favorite breakthroughs is helping them realize how human emotions haven't really changed much in the hundreds or thousands of years that music has been written.
Passing along his expansive view of the universe, he thinks nothing happens in a vacuum and likes to keep in mind a greater understanding of culture and knowledge for his students.

Being a freelance musician has been Mukund's greatest struggle. "The only reason you become a musician is because there is no choice." Despite his love of music, the financial struggle can make things difficult, and he's grateful that his spouse understands because she goes through it too. His family has always been there for him, and he's at peace with the life he's chosen but knows that he'll miss it when he transitions into mostly teaching.

Mukund defines success as being able to do what he loves. His family is a success, especially his two children who are some of the nicest people he knows, and he believes the world is a better place because they're in it. Jeopardy! and Carnegie are things that happened to him; whereas his family and what he does are who he is, and he considers himself incredibly lucky.

Habits or traits that contribute to Mukund's happiness or success?
Stubbornness! It helps him to keep striving in a tough profession. His ability to look at the world with humor, in a "kind of cockeyed fashion" has helped keep him going too.

Although he carries a high-energy performer persona, he has doubts and struggles just like everyone else. He believes it's more important to be kind than to be right, and he wants people to remember him as a kind person above all else.

If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, what would it be?
Mukund wants people to get along and finds humor to be a great peacemaker.

Advice?
Life is too serious to take it so seriously.

Thanks for joining us on The Peace of Persistence Lite! To hear what Alex Trebek said about Mukund's wife, his surrealistic riddles, and how he learns motivation through his students, visit http://www.patreon.com/peaceofpersistence for double the content and zero ads... or just because you love the show and want to support it. See you there!
 

Mukund Marathe (LITE) - Part 1! - 2x Jeopardy! Winner, Tenor, & Teacher

Lite version - for full, un-cut, ad-free access, visit http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence.

Mukund Marathe discovered Beethoven at age 8 and the Beatles at age 9, and the resulting pleasant confusion has remained with him all of his musical life, as evidenced by the fact that he has performed almost every kind of music imaginable, from early music to modern jazz.  His favorite musical activities include the Evangelist in the Bach Passions, Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess, Lyle Lovett songs in church, and being what he calls a utility infielder (meaning he sings tenor or alto in various groups). Mukund was a member of the New York City Opera company for 27 years, toured with the Gregg Smith Singers, and has sung with jazz legend Dave Brubeck, on The Letterman Show, on South African television, and literally all around the world. He spends his free time reading science fiction, practicing calligraphy, dancing, making his garden grow, recently becoming a two-time Jeopardy! champion, and explaining to his two sons why people say such Awful Things about Tenors.  He says his wife, Mezzo-soprano Mary Marathe, already knows.

Show notes!
Upbringing - Mukund grew up with his Indian parents, who had an Indian shop in Rockefeller Center and insisted on him having a more American experience in a very multi-cultural Astoria, Queens. Half-jokingly, they said he'd either grow up to become a singer or a comedian, and he shocked them all when he did.

Mukund discusses how his travels have broadened his outlook. On one trip, a sextet in which he sang toured South Africa for a month, landed in South Africa the day they ended Apartheid. He describes the feeling of hope and trepidation and optimism throughout the country. On another, he went to Japan to sing Bach arias and discovered how much the Japanese loved classical music, and he believes they shared with the culture ways in which Bach can be fun.

Mukund sees himself as very lucky for being able to sing for so long already, compared to dancers and professional athletes, but he knows that eventually he'll have to retire or transition. Thankfully, he really enjoys teaching, and he discusses how he fell into teaching.

Jeopardy! He watched it every day as a child and loved that it was a rare show that rewarded you for being smart, and he's always wanted to be on the show. Mukund tells us about the audition process, from the online exam to the written test, mock game, and recorded interview, to being put into their contestant pool.

Mukund had a really enjoyable time because of the staff and coordinators and the wonderful job they did trying to keep everything fun during a stressful time. It went by fast, but he loved hanging out with his fellow contestants and had an amazing time on the show.

This is a two part episode! Stay tuned next week to hear more from Mukund in a really honest conversation about his struggles, humor as a great peacemaker, his advice to the world, and so much more.

Thanks again for joining us on The Peace of Persistence Lite! To hear more about how Mukund and Mary raised two children as musical freelancers, culture shocks, exercise, and how Mukund learns by teaching, visit http://www.patreon.com/peaceofpersistence for double the content and zero ads.
 

Tommy Wazelle (LITE) - Tenor, Dad, & Voice of "Pig" (Peg + Cat)

Lite version - for full, un-cut, ad-free access, visit http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence.

Host Abigail Wright talks with Tommy Wazelle, tenor, dad, and the voice of Pig on the popular PBS Kids Show Peg+Cat about staying active, gratitude, accepting each other + more.

Tommy is the voice of Pig on the Emmy award-winning PBS Kids show Peg+Cat. He also has performed around the world as a tenor, performed in shows such as The Who's Tommy, Phantom of the Opera, Showboat, the Rothschilds, Ragtime, and more, and he has appeared in television, radio, recordings, and on an Italian cruise ship. Dedicated to the development of new works, he most notably performed as Paul in Paul's Case with American Opera Projects, a role that was specifically designed for his voice. He and his wife and two children live on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Show notes!
Tommy discusses his family's musical background, including his own musical background in shows and also playing trumpet as a kid.

Tommy talks about his experience with Peg+Cat! He was referred to their creators by the director of American Opera Projects. He loves it, and is excited that he never knows what Pig is going to do next. He discusses the process of getting the material, the liveliness of the character, and how Pig and Tommy both like to quietly observe the room.

Tommy's incredibly active, with his wife and children and in his own life. It started as a young age, with his mom as his soccer coach, he and his dad played baseball. He ran track, played basketball. He wishes his kids could just run around the yard, but they scoot with them, fly kites, take them to Super Soccer Stars, and he tries to play tennis in the summer. He works hard to stay active so that he feels good and not low in energy.

Tommy's always been happy and sees the benefit of gratitude for life and all that he has. On the other hand, he attributes a certain amount of discontent to helping him want to achieve more, adding to his overall contentment.

Tommy discusses his childhood, difficulties with being accepted when moving from place to place, and how he wishes the world could accept one another as they are without judgment.

Closing advice: Be kind to one another. Show some love! 

See and hear more about Tommy's wishes for his children, his battles with his ego, the important balance between contentment and discontent and more by visiting http://www.patreon.com/peaceofpersistence.

Find Tommy on Peg + Cat at http://pbskids.org/peg/ and at http://www.wazelle.com.

Samba Schutte (LITE) - Comedian, Writer & Actor

Lite version - for full, un-cut, ad-free access (or to support the show!), visit http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence.

Samba Schutte is an actor, comedian and writer born in Mauritania, raised in Ethiopia, and schooled in Holland at the Utrecht School of the Arts. His comedy shows have spanned the globe, and he's known as the star of Watch Dogs: Amazing Street Hack, The Tiger Hunter, starring Danny Pudi, and Haleema, which premiered at the 2013 Berlinale Film Festival.
 


Show notes:
Samba discusses his birth and his love of Ethiopia, of his birthplace in the Sahara, and the desert. He moved to Holland at age 18 to study theatre, and he learned to speak Dutch when he moved there. As a shy child, he never thought of being a comedian, until his friends pressured him into trying it at an open stage in Holland - he loved it.

Only when moving to Holland did he realize what he had in Africa, and it taught him to always be grateful for who he is and what he has. He sees perspective as a key to having any kind of happiness or success in life.

"Laughter is key to getting through life in a joyful and sane way." He discusses how his sense of humor helps him to connect, cope, and heal in life.

Samba highlights the importance of accepting struggle as a part of life - and chocolate cakes. Clearly, he understands the importance of honoring and connecting to his inner child, and he shares that as a key to connecting with others.

Social media has a good side and bad side. The danger rests in comparing yourself when others post. On the other hand, it helps people connect, and Samba tries to use his social media platforms to post positively and help others laugh.
He follows the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, "To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Any advice for us?
Laugh, every day if you can. Remember your inner child, play, and dare to be who you think you are.

Find Samba at http://www.sambaschutte.com/ and @sambaschutte

Season 2, Episode 1 - Camille Zamora

For the next 2 weeks only, enjoy this free preview of the extended versions our subscribers will enjoy on Patreon.com. More details to follow soon!

In this week's extended YouTube episode, host Abigail Wright sat down with soprano Camille Zamora, co-founder and co-executive director of Sing for Hope. Here's what she had to say:

Show Notes:

Sing for Hope is a group of over 2,000 artists who bring their talent and "a shot of hope" to those who need it most. Abby and Camille sat among some of their annual street pianos, designed by local artists, that went out among the NYC parks this summer and now are being used by local schools. Sing for Hope placed their 400th piano this summer, and they bring the community together, support artists, and allow artists to give their gifts to schools, hospitals, AIDS hospices, veteran hospitals, senior centers and more.

Through Sing for Hope's channel of giving through the medium of art, Camille shared that she has found her most authentic self. Community volunteerism and performing are parts of her balanced diet, as she feels a calling to share creativity in social justice work, perform as a singer, and enjoy parenting her son.

She discussed how Sing for Hope evolved out of a need to respond to tragedies such as 9-11, AIDS, and Hurricane Katrina. Their long-term dream is to own a space - a centralized hub to support all of their activity. 

Her goals? To continue to support her son's dreams (from whom she learns so much), to continue to sustain and support Sing for Hope, and to further her goals as a singer - including classical Spanish repertoire, such as her touring pops show, Tango Caliente, featuring bandoneon and dancers.

After speaking about her mentors and how they've taught her about the power of artistic habits of mind, she discussed her role as a speaker at this changing moment of the arts and culture landscape. Some people question arts volunteerism, and to them she said that art is an enormous currency. "Like any currency, you should earn some of it, and you might enjoy giving it away," Camille suggested - a different kind of stretching one's talent. She believes that arts and culture should be included in the conversation surrounding social change, especially for large scale systemic change and educational revamping.  

As an artist, Camille discussed success as achieving authenticity of communication, whatever the medium, and how she found her artistic authenticity from a young age until now.

What habits and traits lead to her happiness and success?
Exercise, a love of good food and friends, simple pleasures, and mindfulness of the innate joy that can be found in the simple moments.

What would she like the world to see differently?
We all sell ourselves short. Access to creativity and expression is one profound way to allow our potential to bloom, to allow ourselves to be greater, and "to excavate the imagination." "Live bigger," she says.

Any other advice for us?
Nobody gets through life unscathed. Know that the wounds are part of it, but also the beauty and the humor of the everyday can allow you to generate joy.