Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Five For Fighting Orchestrating a New Sound

Kristi Kates - July 14th, 2014  

Resting on one’s laurels after breaking the Top 40 wasn’t an option for pianist John Ondrasik, who hit the big time with the Grammy-nominated “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” in 2000.

Known professionally as Five for Fighting, the California native returned to the charts twice more with “100 Years” and “The Riddle.”

Now, with a new album called “Bookmarks” under his belt, he’ll not only be performing new material, but also fan favorites at his upcoming Interlochen concert.

In a bit of a twist, Ondrasik will be accompanied by an orchestra, which includes several Interlochen musicians.

EXPRESS: John, is there a specific theme to the new album? I understand that, as part of your recording process this time around, you deliberately pursued songs and sounds that you felt would be truly relevant to the music scene today.

ONDRASIK: As much as I’ve thought about writing a concept record, usually it’s ‘survival of the fittest’ songs. So ‘Bookmarks’ was no different. I do believe my albums represent certain life time periods that can be obvious, but certainly this record has a more modern tone and production than my previous records.

ONDRASIK: Certainly there is a larger dynamic and emotion that the symphony brings. I get chills at times sitting at the piano hearing them behind me. Even on the hit songs it adds a new dimension that makes a song I’ve played 5,000 times sound new again.

EXPRESS: Are there any particular songs that you think translate best to the ‘added orchestra’ format?

ONDRASIK: Well, typically the songs that have a certain arrangement already in place are obvious songs, but we also will rearrange songs to experiment. For example, the song ‘Hope’ is a orchestral/vocal presentation, which is quite different than the album version. I also have a song on ‘Bookmarks’ written specifically for symphony called ‘Symphony Lane.’

EXPRESS: I noticed you’re including some Interlochen musicians in this upcoming performance, too. Are you traveling in part with your own musicians, or are you tapping orchestras in each city?

ONDRASIK: Yeah, we’re playing with local orchestras across the country as it’s a bit too expensive to move everyone around. I do bring my own conductor to make sure we are on the same page, and of course my band members.

EXPRESS: How did the idea to match up your songs with orchestras come about?

ONDRASIK: I’ve always had a significant orchestral component to my records but rarely could present the songs live with symphony. At this point in my career, I’ve scaled back the long bus tours and looked to gigs that are a bit more fulfilling and musically ambitious. There is nothing better than playing with an orchestra, and I believe the fans also enjoy the experience.

EXPRESS: The symphony instruments add so many complex sounds to your already very melodic works – what do you like best about this?

EXPRESS: I’m sure the Interlochen audience is really looking forward to this blend of your great pop music and our local orchestra sounds. What are you personally looking forward to the most about your Interlochen show?

ONDRASIK: With a 13-year-old who’s an aspiring actress/musician, I’ve heard great things about Interlochen. I’m looking forward to seeing it firsthand, and excited to hear the Interlochen singer-songwriters who will be performing before me.

Five for Fighting (aka John Ondrasik) will be in concert on July 19 at 8pm at Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Kresge Auditorium. For more, visit tickets.interlochen.org, or visit fiveforfighting.com.

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