Hillocrian Store Launches With Inaugural Line of Products Promoting Fair Housing

Hillocrian Store Launches With Inaugural Line of Products Promoting Fair Housing

Book and music publisher Hillocrian Creative LLC is pleased to announce the launch of the Hillocrian Store, which will feature apparel, accessories, housewares, office gifts and other unique products mainly inspired by the company’s books and music.

The inaugural product line, “Fair Housing Matters,” draws inspiration from Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals by Ron Leshnower. Featuring a colorful logo designed by the author and available on products ranging from T-shirts and iPhone cases to golf balls and baby bibs, Fair Housing Matters is a way to show support for housing equality.

fhproducts
Show your support for housing equality with a Fair Housing Matters spiral notebook or mug.

“The abolishment of slavery following the Civil War opened the door to civil rights legislation aimed at protecting people against housing discrimination. These efforts culminated in the passage of the Fair Housing Act in April 1968,” explains Leshnower. “Today, this law protects people based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status, while several state and local governments expand coverage with additional protected classes such as source of income and sexual orientation. April has since become known as Fair Housing Month, a time to appreciate the right to equal treatment under law when looking for and living in a home. Launched in April to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the landmark law, the Fair Housing Matters line of products offers a meaningful way to display pride in this hard-fought American civil right.”

Visit the Hillocrian Store today and check this blog for updates on new product lines.

The ‘1812 Overture’ and American Patriotism

The ‘1812 Overture’ and American Patriotism

There’s an old joke among American children about whether there’s a Fourth of July in England. The answer is yes! It’s the fourth day of the seventh month. Of course, it’s just not a day that England celebrates as Independence Day.

The “1812 Overture,” a Tchaikovsky piece that I greatly admire (much more than the composer himself apparently did), reminds me of this joke. It’s not that the piece is poorly written or comical in any way. On the contrary, its carefully constructed harmonies, rich orchestration, and intricate weaving of motifs has arguably made it rank among the most recognizable and stirring pieces of Western music ever written.

The oddity is the work’s close association with Independence Day and, by extension, American patriotism. The piece, which has become famous for its inclusion of loud cannons, has quietly become a part of the canon of American patriotic music. But, as sure as the Fourth of July arrives each year in England, the status of the “1812 Overture” as an Independence Day favorite requires some explanation. After all, the piece is about Russia versus France.

The War of 1812

If I were to hear a piece entitled “1776 Overture” at a Fourth of July concert, I would probably assume it had something to do with the Revolutionary War. In this manner, many people have assumed that the “1812 Overture” is about the War of 1812, the military conflict that pitted a young America against the United Kingdom. In fact, I’ve so often heard the piece referred to as the “War of 1812 Overture.” While this is understandable, it’s highly inaccurate.

Tchaikovsky composed the “1812 Overture” to commemorate his country’s strong defense against Napoleon’s forces at the Battle of Borodino. The fact that this Russian victory happened to occur in the same year as a key date in American history, and that Tchaikovsky used the year in his title (“The Year 1812” was the original name) has added to the confusion.

It’s worth noting here that the War of 1812 did play an important role in American patriotic music. The sight of the American flag following a victory at Fort McHenry in Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem that would serve as the lyrics of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

1812 Meets 1974

There’s no doubt that the “1812 Overture” has the hallmarks of a patriotic piece, with its rousing melodies, militaristic percussion, and impassioned brass fanfares. A product of the late Romantic era, it’s a musical cousin of John Phillip Sousa’s many popular marches, especially his classic “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (which, don’t worry, is certainly American—so much so that Congress made it the official march of the United States in 1987 (36 U.S.C. § 304).

But while the “1812 Overture” is patriotic, both in its sound and its meaning, the patriotism is Russian. In fact, if you’ve ever left a performance of the “1812 Overture” whistling, chances are you were parroting French and Russian motifs, which Tchaikovsky intertwined with great mastery.

Tchaikovsky personally introduced the “1812 Overture” to American ears in 1891 when he conducted his work at the dedication of New York’s Music Hall (now known as Carnegie Hall). But the pivotal year for the “1812 Overture” in the United States came in 1974. Hoping that the attraction of the piece would boost attendance at the Boston Pops’ Fourth of July concert, conductor Arthur Fiedler added the “1812 Overture” to the program. It proved to be a hit, and so the “1812 Overture” became a staple at this annual patriotic event. Over the years, as millions of people have enjoyed the Boston Pops’ televised performance, whether on the lawn of the Esplanade or the sofa of their living room, the “1812 Overture” has taken hold as an annual Fourth of July tradition—and, thus, an American tradition.

The assimilation of the “1812 Overture” into our Independence Day repertoire reminds us that although patriotism is often viewed through the prism of one’s own country, national pride is a common feeling shared by people across the world. For years, this sentiment has provided the creative fuel for eloquent and passionate works of timeless music and beautiful art, reflecting a diverse set of cultures, history, struggles, and achievements.

The “1812 Overture” itself isn’t American (like it or not), but that doesn’t mean that listening to it on the Fourth of July isn’t. Indeed, the fact that we perform, embrace and enjoy this musical import on the day we celebrate our own nation’s independence is part of what makes America great.
______________
Ron Leshnower is the author of books and articles exploring a range of topics. He is also a composer.
Follow him on Twitter (@hillocrian) and visit hillocriancreative.com.

 

Remembering My Brother-in-Law Through Music

Remembering My Brother-in-Law Through Music

I first met Adam in 2002 in the lobby of The Mirage in Las Vegas. His sister, who was my fiancée at the time, and I were starting a vacation as Adam was heading home to Houston after a friend’s bachelor party at the nearby Hard Rock Hotel, and so it was a perfect opportunity for us to meet.

The more I got to know Adam, the more I liked him. He was bright without a trace of arrogance. As a pediatrician, he was passionate about his work and compassionate with his patients. He was sincere and always fun to be with.

At the time, I had every reason to believe that Adam was someone I would be getting to know well over many years, and I looked forward to it. It turns out I was wrong, for reasons I could not have imagined.

Although I wish Adam were still here, I consider myself lucky that our paths were meant to cross and that my children are his nephew and niece. Since Adam passed away in 2009, I have wanted to organize my feelings into music and compose an orchestral work that honors my late brother-in-law and the beauty of his life.

Today, on the occasion of what would have been Adam’s 42nd birthday (the reverse of 24, his lucky number), I am proud to present “Adam.”

Here are a few samples of the piece:

Please visit www.musicforadam.com to hear and learn more.

Also, if you knew Adam, feel free to share a thought on how he touched your life or a memory of him that made him so special by leaving a comment below.