Interview with Rena Silverman

Interview with Rena Silverman

Sometimes you are lucky and you can find very interesting people on Twitter. Rena Silverman gives us some news directly from NewYork.

Rena Silverman, who are you and how comes that you like to play the lute?
I am a  highly introverted writer, extreme lover of trees, and the daughter of two musicians. My mother is a violinist and my father a composer. So, while some kids wake up to alarm clocks, I used to wake to the sound of my mother playing scales. Music has always been the most important aspect of my life. It is the only thing that affects me, that penetrates the defenses in my brain, beyond mood or circumstance.
I came to play the lute because someone close to me took me to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. to see a Pre-Raphaelite exhibit. The exhibit was lovely, but all I could really focus on at the museum were the Dutch lute paintings in the other room. I started to obsess over them, actually. I decided right then and there that I was going to learn to play the lute. I chose a Renaissance lute. It has 8 courses, or 15 strings. I found a great teacher, Pat O’Brien. He taught me everything from how to play to the history of the instrument. Sadly, he died a few years ago and I haven’t gotten over it since.
How often do you play it and what kind of music do you play?
I play my lute, whom we named Egbert, as often as possible, but I am not a professional. More importantly, I am not a performer. Actually, I have horrible stage fright! The wonderful thing about the lute, though, is that it’s a quiet instrument. It’s not like a violin, which is bold, beautiful, and confident and right in your ear. One can modulate the volume of the lute so it accommodates, well, even an apartment in New York City.
As for what I play: I don’t play the blues or anything, though a teacher once showed me how to do that! I play mostly Galliards, Passamezzi, and other early dances. Nice, calm, pieces that quiet the mind.
How is it to work for the New York Times? 
In the three years that I have been freelancing for the Times, I have learned more than I learned in my entire life beforehand. My editors are both mentors. With each story, I learn something new about the topic, but also about the writing process. I am so blessed to work for them. I am grateful every day.
I am not sure if you want to answer political questions but it would be nice to have a statement from the other side of the atlantic ocean…
Many people around the globe are very concerned about your new president.
As a journalist, I’m not really supposed to comment on politics. However, our president has started to attack aspects of journalism! This concerns me. That’s all I’ll say for now.
You are trained as a first responder, assisting in disasters. The whole political situation in your country is a total disaster. What are you going to do? What was your first response?  Did you go to the demonstrations as well? And do you think you’ll be able to change the situation?
Haha. Yes, I am trained as a first responder. For fires, though, not for presidents! I am concerned about my industry, which is on the line because of the new administration. Reporters are getting bullied, it’s become difficult for them to obtain information. It’s also hard for us if something affects our personal life. For example, I’m a woman, so certain histories involving our president are difficult to stomach. That said, I did not go to the demonstrations. We are supposed to remain neutral, even if it’s tough. That’s all I’m going to say for now.
In many countries they publish videos to become the second country after America. Because America is “first” now… Of course. 
(e.g. Switzerland second : )  
Is this kind of news in your media or not? And what is your opinion about this. 
I did see the Dutch video, but not the Swiss one! I have to say, both countries are looking rather nice right now. I think it’s great. We could all use a bit of humor right now.
To come back to the lute. Do you think music has the power to change this world?
Music most definitely has the power to change the world, starting at the local level. Look at Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. If someone could both communicate pain and penetrate the wall of authoritarian types with intense emotion as he did, things might change, if only for a minute. I would love to see a composer change the world like that. It also goes further back, look at the Gregorian Chant, the idea of connecting to God through music.
Nothing is more Godly than music. Nothing. Well, maybe trees.
Of course the ultimate goal is to achieve world peace. Would you make a world-peace-song and spread the message? 
Sure! why not.

Kind regards from Switzerland and have a treetastic day


Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 / Bernstein · New York Philharmonic Orchestra

Great presentation of american conductor Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic, playing the Symphony No. 5 of Dmitri Shostakovich at a 1979 live perfomance on Bunka Kainan, Tokyo, Japan.

Pat O’Brien Memorial Slide Show

The Willow song (Othello, IV:3)

Tending the Wild #documentary