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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Here are the 2023 Inspired By KPAC Written Word entries

inspired by KPAC.jpg

Texas Public Radio put out the call for students in our listening area to share how classical music inspires them, and in the Written Word category of "Inspired By KPAC," these five poetic entries demonstrate the power of classical music to inspire creativity.

The winners in the Written Word category will be announced during our live radio program on Saturday, January 21, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. on KPAC 88.3 FM. The public is invited to attend in person, at TPR's Malú and Carlos Alvarez Theater. Details are online here: https://fb.me/e/29CId6U2c

Below are this year’s Finalists:

Ariana Chaudhary, Health Careers High School
Shaumprovo Debnath, Keystone School
Maria Rivera, International School of the Americas
Sunny Vuong, BASIS Shavano
Cameron Weber, Keystone School

*****

"To End A Symphony: A Recap of 2022"
By Ariana Chaudhary
Inspired by the Symphony No. 40 in G minor by Wolfgang A. Mozart

Perhaps this piece commenced in forte—
As invasion and war conflagrate within harmonies,
Relentless and fierce, double-headed eagles of sickled fear
With each bellow of the tuba, blare of the drums
Missiles upon missiles, displacing and depriving,
Burning a bitter pitch seemingly far away.

Yet, once again we are reminded,
Far away harmonies still shape melodies,
As we helplessly watch notes of the score
Soar higher and higher, scale after scale—
Fingers slip and climb the fingerboard,
Eyes widen and blur, failing to believe
The pitches and prices clawing up the page,
Piercing our fingers, plaguing our pockets.

And then, perhaps our tempo drifts anew.
As we question how to interpret notes and music.
What it means, when it means for hearts to beat,
Ears to listen, minds to learn the symphony of life.
Yet have we failed to consider the importance of choice,
The notes of life and freedom strumming within women?

The clash and shatter of copper cymbals,
Of nineteen children’s souls, of thousands of hearts,
Staccato notes ricocheting like blood-bound bullets.
Children, once budding and growing flowers, now in graves
Their throat-clenching death as evidence for a change, for a ban
Yet still dispute flares over constitution-granted rights.

To end this year-long symphony,
As music dissipates like ashes of crackling fire,
Brimmed with the breath and beat of life,
Laced within the strings of violins
And vibrant brushes of the bows
Painting rich, dynamic music
Embroidered with stars of memories,
Intertwined with velvet skies of emotion,
Wrapped in mists of experience, of learning.

This piece we have performed is composed
Of notes that can shift hearts and minds,
And melodies that can sew us together.
So let us play the way we want to be heard,
Not with the pitches that linger in the past,
But the music that will fill our future.

*****

"Water"
By Shaumprovo Debnath
After “Jeux d’eau” by Maurice Ravel

The setting sunlight spots the water
With shiny, shimmering, silvery spots
Like precious sweet sprinkles

Beneath, bubbles are blown as
Fishes meander and burble
And billowing plants wave to the sun

A medley of life and earth,
A system of movement and stillness,
A network of nature

Together, it ebbs and flows,
Waxes and wanes forever
And we watch and listen carefully.

It pours down falls,
Powers life, and plays
In placid ponds.

*****

Dance of the Knights
By Maria Rivera
inspired by Sergei Prokofiev's "Dance of the Knights"

I fled through through a forest of twisted, gnarled trees,
Where the path was forgotten and overgrown.
Air thick with the stench of decay;
Breaking the stillness was the scuttling of insects,
Legs working in concert, seemingly choreographed.

I knew not how I came to this accursed land,
Yet my feet carried me endlessly on,
Until I stumbled into a ring of mushrooms.
A faerie ring, so it is said;
Where those who step within must dance,
or suffer a fate worse than death.

And dance I did,
Entranced in the faerie spell,
As knights appeared,
Encircling me with their might
A symphony of clashing armor and striking feet
Shook the very earth beneath me,
Vibrating through their fierce resolve.

I fought to escape,
But their hold was fierce and unforgiving.
Whirling, they pushed me through the tangled wood
I implored, “Let me go!”

As their music swelled to a crescendo,
the knights fervently enfolded me,
I felt myself relinquishing control
feet moving against my will,
My body no longer my own.

Their music swirled around me,
The sound of a riot of brass and percussion,
A bold and triumphant call to arms.
A rhythmic heartbeat driving the dance.
Their force could not be denied.

Hours, years, centuries may have fled,
We danced through the woods,
Until my feet were sore and worn,
From the ceaseless pounding of the rite.

I fell to the ground,
My life’s blood flowing free,
As the knights danced on,
Unheeding and uncaring.

The Dance of the Knights,
A curse upon the unwary,
A terror come to life.

But even as I lay dying,
I could not help but be moved,
By the beauty and the horror,
Of the Knights, in their fateful dance.

*****

"My Symphony of Solitude: Alone in New York" by Sunny Vuong
Inspired by Ludovico Einaudi’s “Full Moon

Perhaps the moon bites the bullet
train into halves over the dying
horizon. Perhaps I never know

where my ghosts take their tortured
leave. Ribs blanched with waning
light. Waiting for the merciful maw

of the morning. Stray dogs
shivering by the back-exit
of the bodega love me, but

that’s about it. The mercury-vapor
lamp in the “y” flutters tearfully
so the sign reads “grocer” at twilight,

the only way the city remembers
that a human bags their cheap
cigars and plays radio-blues into

the dusk. A recluse sings along to
Sinatra on the subway, the whoosh-clck
of the doors symphonying her solitude.

In a chromium-lined diner
far away, I croon with her,
the waitresses hip-flipping

the jukebox so it crackles out
love’s—schemes—came true—
someday for strangers’ ears.

Perhaps all of the above is true:
the way loneliness is known
by the way it never leaves.

But this evening, the whole diner
choruses together. The night
loosens its fist. I grow moth-eyed

to the chance that light
can be caught in this life.
We all want to wait for dawn

together.

*****

"Cold Gray Skies" by Cameron Weber
Inspired by Ralph Vaughan-Williams' "Sinfonia Antarctica"

There’s a place
Somewhere on Earth
That I see in vision
Of these cold gray skies
A very overcast, melancholy day
Small bits of mist stinging my face
As they quickly fly on the sea‘s wind

I see a beach,
The sand crunching
Between my feet
Packing under my soles
Leaving only shallow footprints
Filling with water
As I walk down the shoreline

I hear the waves
Crashing against the gravel,
The small pea-sized stones
Tumbling through the dark
Night-sky-colored water
How could a thing so violent
Bring the most peace
To my all-too-filled mind?

Be sure to join us for "Inspired By KPAC" on Saturday, January 21, 2022 at 2:00 p.m., either in-person or live on KPAC 88.3 FM!

Nathan has been with TPR since 1995, when he began working on classical music station KPAC 88.3 FM, as host of “Tuesday Night at the Opera.” He soon learned the ropes on KSTX 89.1 FM, and volunteered to work practically any shift that came his way, on either station. He worked in nearly every capacity on the radio before moving into Community Engagement, Marketing, and Digital Media. His reporting and criticism has been honored by the Houston Press Club and Texas Associated Press.