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Thursday, April 24, 2008

yoga with the masters

it's late at night, and i've just returned home from the walt disney concert hall, where i spent two blissful hours with esa-pekka salonen, the LA philharmonic, mozart, and bruckner. classical music has a way of soothing the soul and calming the mind; it's like yoga for the ears...

to make sure i get my classical fix on a regular basis, i have a series subscription to the LA phil. just this past season alone, i've listened to concertos and symphonies by bartok, beethoven, britten, debussy, mozart, rachmaninoff, ravel, schubert, and more. while each experience gives me a chance to clear out my brain and familiarize myself with the music of the masters, it unfortunately takes away the precious time i need for my daily yoga practice.

ahhh... if only there were a way to do both at the same time...

and wouldn't you know it -- there is!

the first time i took brad keimach's symphonic yoga class at sacred movement (aka exhale venice), i found myself practically floating out the door when our class was over. the only word that described what i felt at the time was -- dare i say it? -- orgasmic! it was sensual. it was satisfying. and yes, i definitely wanted more :)

i admit, there's nothing new about doing a strong vinyasa flow class to classical music. most of the time, though, it's classical music woven into other styles of music -- contemporary, world, sacred, and so on. but in brad's case, it was purely classical. and what made it even more unique was that brad personally conducted every piece that was played in class!

you see, brad keimach is a yoga instructor who moonlights as a conductor (or is he a conductor who moonlights as a yoga instructor?). either way, under the baton of juilliard-trained keimach, the music was performed by, as he put it, "a pick-up group of freelancers in NYC, sometime between 1983 and 1996."

in brad's class, we were treated to excerpts from copland (appalachian spring), stravinsky (pulcinella suite), debussy (prelude to the afternoon of a faun), rodrigo (concierto de aranjuez), mascagni (cavalleria rusticana), and tchaikovsky (the nutcracker suite), as well as symphonies by dvorak, mahler, beethoven, brahms, and schubert. while i listened to brad masterfully guide our class from pose to pose, i imagined him doing the same as he guided the orchestra from note to note.

in fact, i was so astounded by the caliber of the performances on his playlist that i was determined to attend one of his live performances. luckily, not only did he have one scheduled soon after that class, but i was able to make it, too. this, of course, meant that i'd have to miss another yoga class... but it was worth it!

this time, he led the glendale youth orchestra, a group of talented middle-school through college kids from the LA area. these young musicians treated us to mozart's symphony no.35 as well as a selection of choruses from handel's messiah, featuring the voices of the southern california mormon choir. not only was i impressed with their interpretation of the music, but i was particularly amused by the fact that, this time, brad was dressed in a tie and tails, a far cry from his usual yoga tank and shorts :)

anyway, brad will be leading another class, symphonic yoga III, this saturday, april 26th, from 1:30 to 3:30pm at exhale venice. pre-registration is highly recommended.

according to his latest email update:

This event has all new music, all different from the music that was used for previous Symphonic Yoga events. The composers who will be heard this time include: Maher, Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn. Dvorak, Beethoven, Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Puccini, Bruch, Mozart, Bernstein, and Bach.

... and the next installment, symphonic yoga IV, is already scheduled for this coming june...

if i they had subscriptions to brad's series of symphonic yoga classes, just like they do to LA phil performances, i'd sign up just to make sure i can attend all of them!