One mother shows what it means to commemorate Memorial Day
S1: The first Memorial Day for the mother of a marine killed in Kabul.
S2: My whole life is completely different. And I'll never be the same person I was.
S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. Jade Hyneman is off today. This is KPBS Midday Edition. The World Economic Forum takes a second look at the goal of globalization.
S3: The Russians being voted off the island was not surprising , but the lack of a Chinese presence is , I think , actually portends a bigger troubles for the global economy.
S1: The problems with ICE's new surveillance based technologies. And Professor Steven Schick says goodbye to the La Hoya Symphony and Chorus. That's ahead on Midday Edition. It's been less than a year since 13 American service members were killed in Kabul during the final days of the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan. As the country observes Memorial Day , KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh talks to the mother of one of the Marines who died that day.
S2: Next week , I'll change the flowers out to the red , white and blue. They just didn't have blue right now.
S3: I met Cheryl Rex at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Orange County a week before Memorial Day. We met at the grave of her son , 20 year old Lance Corporal Dylan Morello.
S2: Memorial Day is usually my birthday weekend , so it's going to be even harder every year , not only for what we represent for Memorial Day , but you can't really celebrate after something like this.
S3: She comes here five or six times a week. She decorates the grave to fit the holiday. This marker is covered with angels , marine flags and red , white and blue streamers to fit Memorial Day.
S2: Sometimes I can sit here for 6 hours. 8 hours ? It just depends. That's all I have left. I sit with him and talk with him.
S3: Dylan wanted to be a marine nearly all of his young life. He joined right out of high school. He was killed August 26 , 2021 , along with 12 other U.S. troops. Most of the Marines from the second Battalion , first Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton. The unit arrived 11 days earlier from Jordan. One of several units rushed to Kabul in the last days of the American presence in Afghanistan.
S2: The things that they saw out there the kids , the babies , the women , um , even grown men coming running to them , asking for their help and to save them. And I.
S3: Don't know. They were guarding the entrance to the airport as thousands of Afghans pressed their way into the AB gate entrance , hoping to get on the last American flights out of Kabul. An ISIS cave bomb exploded , killing the service members and at least 170 Afghans.
S2: I pretty much knew that morning I woke up to the alert on my phone that there had been an explosion in Afghanistan and that whole day was just horrible , waiting , not knowing.
S3: Three of the Marines were from Southern California. People lined the streets as their caskets arrived for funerals in September.
S2: Losing a child is something that nobody could ever. It's something that I can't even explain. My whole life is completely different and I'll never be the same person I was.
S3: Her mother , Dylan's grandmother Clarinda Matsuoka , says they've become even closer over the last year.
S2: It's hard to say because she's always been a very strong mom.
S4: Our whole family is pretty strong.
S3: Marines from her son's unit visit regularly from Pendleton. The ones who don't come to the house leave coins at the gravesite. Dimes mean they served together. Quarters mean they were with Dylan in Kabul. She has a jar filled with coins that she keeps in her room.
S2: The Marines come up. They've been a big support to myself , my other children and my family. That's basically it. I don't really go out in public much right now. Family. Family is everything to us.
S3: Rex's oldest son , Brandon , told her in January that at 24 , he was joining the Marines. He's scheduled to graduate boot camp in San Diego roughly one year after his brother died in Kabul.
S1: Joining me is KPBS military and veterans reporter Steve Walsh. And Steve , welcome.
S3: Hi , Maureen.
S1: That report tells the story of the impact of the loss of one Marine in Afghanistan.
S3: This is 20 years of war. I'm thinking about the Darkhorse Battalion , which had more casualties than any other Marine battalion of the entire war in Afghanistan. So Camp Pendleton's involvement has been lengthy and it has been incredibly significant even before this this last engagement of the war at the fall of Kabul.
S3: They'll go to visit people. They'll they'll come up to people during memorial services to to chat with them. In many ways , it's actually the most comforting thing that these parents have. They're better than than the actual casualty officers that are assigned to them or any sort of official that comes to explain a report to them. So , yeah , they often stay in touch and they become almost surrogate members of the family. In fact , Cheryl Rex in this story had to keep correcting herself. She kept calling them her boys instead. And then it had to stop and say , the Marines.
S1: Your report took us , of course , really deeply into the personal grief of Cheryl Rex. And you mentioned this just slightly a little while ago.
S3: They do assign a casualty officer. I think the most famous example of that is when a service member is killed before they release their name to the public. Somebody physically goes to the door and talks to the to the family members. In fact , Cheryl Rex , she was not at home. She was at work at the time. The casualty officer ended up going to her parents home. And then she found out that way.
S1: The way the war in Afghanistan ended with the chaos at the airport and the deaths of U.S. Marines. It became a political lightning rod for criticism of the Biden administration.
S3: Both her and her mother were somewhat guarded on the topic. They wanted to stick to their story rather than become what they said was political. But they definitely had a lot of frustration. You've seen other parents out there being quite vocal about the lack of planning that was happening in the weeks leading up to the fall of Kabul. They blame the president for the death of their service member. Rex was upset by how she was treated when she went to Dover Air Force Base , which is where the bodies of the service members come in from overseas. She said the families were kept waiting for two and a half hours by the Biden administration before the president was available. She still has questions about exactly what happened that day , even though there's been a Pentagon report released back in February that outlined what they said happened. But she's still not satisfied.
S1: In listening to this report.
S3: She's convinced. Well , actually , she was able to convince Brandon to go to college first. He always had wanted to be a marine. So he did go to college , but he always wanted to go back into the Corps. She made it clear that he wasn't doing it because of his brother's death , but that his brother's death didn't dissuade him either. And , you know , on the one hand , Rex feels bad that she dissuaded her one son from joining when he wanted to join right out of high school. On the other hand , she's quite worried about having another son in the Marines. She says as a parent , though , she has to support her children. And and that's what she's doing.
S1: There will be many , many more private and public tributes to lost service members on this Memorial Day.
S3: I mean , that's certainly part of it. In fact , Cheryl is quite upfront that the year before she wasn't really commemorating Memorial Day. You know , it's often about mattress sales. I'm from Indiana. Memorial Day is often about the Indianapolis 500. You know , you know , the idea for this story was to find someone who was going through their first Memorial Day after losing a service member. The piece really became a look at how grief takes hold and how someone like this mother has started to process what happened. You feel she still has a very long way to go. For her , Memorial Day won't be much different than any other day because her life is really centered around her loss right now. I you know , there is a hope she'll slowly be able to work more of her life back into her daily routine. She has two other children , but for now , it's every day is Memorial Day. She did have some advice for the rest of us. You know , take a few minutes to sit in silence and remember those in your own extended family who died while they served. You know , and don't be afraid to feel that loss. It's it's important.
S1: I've been speaking with KPBS military and veterans reporter Steve Walsh. Steve , thank you very much.
S3: Thanks , Maureen.
S1: For the first time in two years , hundreds of the world's top economic , business and political leaders met in person in Davos , Switzerland , last week. Attendees say this World Economic Forum had many of the glitzy events of the Davos of old. But this time was different. Russia was disinvited because of the Ukraine invasion. China's presence was largely missing because of COVID lockdowns , and the Davos forum's usual emphasis on the glories of the global economy was muted this year , with many leaders reassessing just how much they can rely on their global partners. Joining me is David Victor , professor of innovation and public policy at UC San Diego , who attended last week's World Economic Forum in Davos. And David , welcome to the program.
S3: It's great to be back , Maureen.
S1: You know , we hear about the elites of the world meeting in Davos. And I don't think many people really understand why or what this meeting is all about.
S3: For example , the auto industry getting together with the information technology industry because the whole business of auto mobility is in the process of changing. So that's the main reason that people go , is that everyone else is there and it's an opportunity to meet in private. And then in addition , there are these public events. Speech by the Ukrainian President Zelensky , all kinds of other things like that that led you to kind of take the pulse of what's going on in in the world.
S3: These kinds of difficult conversations really have to happen in person. Everyone's been on Zoom , you know , two inches high for the last two and a half years. And so they were thrilled for the most part to be back in person. As you said , in the lead , it was a more subdued event. It was smaller. Still a lot of people nervous. The Russians and the Chinese were not there in big presence. Quite often the Chinese have been there in a pretty major way. And this is that's in some sense , one of the most striking things. The Russians being voted off the island was not surprising. But the lack of a Chinese presence is , I think , actually portends a bigger troubles for the global economy.
S1: Now , apparently , many economic leaders have begun questioning the wisdom of widespread globalized trade.
S3: But what we've seen happening for actually many years , possibly decades , is more nationalism , less trust in global institutions , certainly less trust in global elites. This kind of event is almost become a symbol of what's wrong with with an unfettered global economy. And what I heard in lots of the outside meetings was a concern that the rules that create the global order , rules about trade rules , about investment , around cooperation , on climate change , other kinds of subjects. I heard a lot of concern that those rules are starting to fray and not just because marginal economies , but because the United States and China can't get along , because we have a war going on in Ukraine and all those things put a lot of pressure on an economy that's already , frankly , pretty fragile.
S3: What we see emerging right now is lots of blocks. We see something centered around the Chinese economy or the more inward focus of the Chinese economy. Same is true , frankly , for the United States. Europe is is doing reasonably well at cooperating. I think , frankly , the crisis in Ukraine has brought Europe together to a greater degree. What you see is all these different blocs , and this is then reflected in supply chains among many other places , where there's growing pressure and indeed policy support to take long , fragile supply chains and turn them inward , make more national based supply chains. I happen to think that that's actually going to make the supply chain problem worse because it's going to create lots of little balkanized , fragile supply chains. But those kinds of ideas are what are floating around. But they're a coherent alternative. Vision has not yet emerged.
S3: And frankly , the most impressive thing at Davos this year was the Ukrainian delegation. Zelensky gave the opening speech on Monday morning via video. He wore a green t shirt as if he had just come off the battlefield. And he had this room full of 1500 mostly businesspeople who were wearing suits. And he gave a tough speech. But then in addition to that , the Ukrainian diplomatic community was there , including the diplomats who work on human rights abuses. Normally in Davos , Russia takes over one of the shopfronts in the main street and they turn into Russia house and they say all kinds of great things about Russia this year. The Ukrainians took the same house and turn it into Russia war crimes house and they had a whole house devoted to pictures and maps and data about what's been going on in Ukraine. Documenting the human rights abuses. Everywhere you turned , there are practically Ukrainian diplomats getting things done. It was really very impressive.
S1: The war in Ukraine is also threatened European energy supplies and pushed the price of gas up internationally.
S3: This is the area where I do most of my research. And a few weeks ago in The New York Times , Philip Verleger and I had a piece making exactly this argument that this time is going to be different. And the reason it's going to be different is because of the way the Europeans have responded to their dependence on Russian oil and especially Russian natural gas. And so they've doubled down on strategies to reduce dependence on oil and gas , and that means also doubling down on their climate change policies. It's going to be a tough winter coming up. It's going to take a while for them to eliminate their dependence on Russian natural gas. But my guess is that over the next year or two , they're going to make a big dent in that. For the long term , this is just catastrophic for the Russian economy. It's a major , major strategic mistake by Russia and by Putin because it , in effect , puts them on a track to being isolated from the global economy. And the Europeans are in the lead on that track. And President Zelensky urged them to do even more.
S3: And in many countries it has , including , frankly , in much of the United States. This year was was different. The climate change sessions were numerous. There were serious discussions. Most corporate leaders that I saw there are completely convinced that they have to change the way they do business in fundamental fashion so that they can radically reduce their emissions. Nobody really knows how to do it. And so there's all this efforts right now to kind of figure out what works , what doesn't work , what's the role of carbon markets , what's the role of industrial policy , all those kinds of things. But those are the conversations , frustrating as they are , that are the real conversations of profound change. And they continued almost without interruption.
S3: I mean , there's concerns that if global economy rebounded very quickly , produced the supply chain crisis that we're in right now , in some senses overheated. You see this in the inflation data and that the central bankers are not going to be capable of responding adequately to avoid a recession. And those kinds of concerns loom very large. And and I think they're going to be around around for a while.
S3: And , you know , much as events like this kind of create conspiracy theories , that there are a bunch of people , mainly middle aged white guys in dark suits pulling the levers of the global economy. What these meetings are really about is about how do you create confidence that borders are going to be open enough , that investment is going to be able to flow across borders ? Take a topic like climate change. The benefit to us from an open global economy has been enormous solar power , which is now one of the cheapest ways to generate electricity. Solar power is cheap because the technology is global and we've been able to gain from policies that happened in Germany for manufacturing. That happens in China from global supply chains. And those are the kinds of practical benefits that ultimately flow down to the individual household.
S1: I've been speaking with David Victor. He's professor of innovation and public policy at UC San Diego. Welcome back home and thank you so much.
S3: Always a pleasure to talk with you , Murray.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. Jade Heineman is away today. A little known smartphone technology used to track personal data is raising alarm bells over its use by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Authorities have touted the use of Smart Link as a more humane alternative to detention. While privacy experts say that the program has the potential to misuse the personal data of its users. The app is part of a growing trend of surveillance based technology that critics say is being used by border authorities to expand their reach on the lives of immigrants. A new source border and immigration reporter Sofia Mejias Pasko spoke to Midday Edition co-host Jade Heineman about her report on Smart Link. And here's that interview.
S2: First of all , can you explain how this smart link technology works ? Right.
S4: So Smart Link is a smartphone app. Anybody can download it from the App Store , but if you're someone who's leaving ICE custody , you download this app as you're , you know , leaving custody , you're given information to log in. And this is how you're going to be checking in with your agent , with your case manager while you're waiting your immigration case in court. So you check in by sending a picture of your face , basically a selfie at scheduled check ins normally once a week. And this selfie , you know , verifies that it's you. It verifies your GPS location as well. You know , there's also a messaging function with the app. You can message your case manager. You can see your scheduled appointments and court dates. There's also supposed to be resources and community services for the immigrants there. So it's you know , this is a way for folks to check in with their agent , but it's also supposed to have some resources for the person as well.
S4: And it's good to keep in mind that between those two counties there's about 13,000 immigration cases pending. So that's about 40% of everyone with an immigration case in San Diego and Imperial Counties are currently being tracked through this Smart Link program from ICE.
S2: Now , federal officials.
S1: Have claimed Smart Link offers a humane alternative to traditional detention.
S4: So proponents of Smart Link point to the fact that people on Smart Link are allowed to wait for their day in immigration court , in their homes , in their communities , as opposed to being locked in a detention center like the Otay Mesa detention center that we have here in San Diego County , and where we've also seen COVID tear through the population there. Lowering the population in immigration detention centers is part of President Biden's goal to lower the country's dependence on for profit prisons. But in reality , the people that are on Smart Link are still subject to intensive monitoring that can be quite invasive and limiting. And one of the reasons is because we're not exactly sure what information this app is collecting quite yet.
S2: And critics of Smart Link say that the continued use of this program has really increased the extent ICE can.
S1: Impact the lives of immigrants. How so ? Right.
S4: So critics have said that ICE is putting people on this program who would not normally be subject to any kind of supervision after being released from custody. So , you know , this this program is billed for some as an alternative to people who would be detained in a detention center like the Otay Mesa detention center. But critics have said that it's been expanded to a much larger group of people , not just people who would otherwise be detained.
S2: Smartly , ends up collecting a lot of personal data on its users.
S4: And it's one that we don't have a lot of answers to right now. And that question is actually the subject of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by several migrant rights groups. So that lawsuit is now asking a judge to compel ICE to release information on what exactly Smart Link collects from the user , who the data is being shared with , and the extent of the monitoring conducted through the app. Right now , ICE hasn't really given clear answers to those questions , nor has the company who created Smart Link , which is called Buy Inc. are.
S2: You write that technologies such as this are expanding what experts see as the ECAA surveillance system. What kind of threat does that pose to individual privacy ? Right.
S4: So one privacy expert I spoke to said that this poses a big threat not only to individual privacy , but also the privacy of entire communities. We know in the past that ICE has used information collected through ankle bracelets which track GPS location to conduct workplace raids where hundreds of people were arrested. There's also concerns that the data collected through the app could be monetized , could be shared with private companies , as well as shared with other law enforcement agencies.
S2: And you spoke with someone currently enrolled in this program under the condition of anonymity. What did he think of Smart Link ? Yeah.
S4: So the person I spoke to who wanted to remain anonymous told me so far that it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing using the program. He's had some trouble opening the app , logging in. He accidentally disabled the phone right before he had to check in with ice , which was pretty stressful for him. He's also not allowed to go outside of a less than hundred mile radius , which for him he works in construction. So that means he's had to turn down some jobs. And now that he's fighting a deportation. In case , and he's had to hire a lawyer that's been putting extra pressure on him. He also told me that he's constantly afraid of ice , just showing up wherever he is and detaining or deporting him.
S2: How long has this.
S1: System been in use and how effective has it been in the Biden administration.
S4: We saw some changes over the course of the pandemic , but now we're pretty close to where levels were pre-pandemic. So if the goal was reducing populations in detention centers here in San Diego County , we're not quite sure that that has happened.
S2: You're also right that the budget for these kinds of surveillance based alternatives to detention has dramatically increased in recent years. What can you tell us about this ? Right.
S4: So we know over the past decade , ICE's budget for Smart Link and other alternatives to detention like ankle bracelets has ballooned from 6.5 million in 2012 to 440 million this year. The stated reason for that is to increase the capacity of the program to expand it. It certainly seems like they've done that in just one year. Starting last April , the number of people tracked through Smart Link has quadrupled. In 2019 , just three years ago , only 12 people between San Diego and Imperial Counties were on the program.
S2: I've been speaking with AI news source , border and immigration reporter Sofia MEJIAS Pasco. Sofia , thanks again for joining us today.
S4: Thanks for having me.
S1: Taking family trips is becoming a big thing for San Diegans eager to get out and see the world again. In fact , just a quick hop up to Julian can give families an out of this world experience. The town of Julian was officially named last May as a dark sky community , just the second one in California after Borrego Springs. After a lengthy preparation , including enacting new outdoor lighting ordinances. Julian received the designation from the International Dark-sky Association because of that , in addition to Julian's traditional rustic charm. Visitors can gaze at a clearer vision of stars , planets and the universe. Last spring , I spoke to Lisa Will , physics and astronomy professor at San Diego City College and resident astronomer at the Fleet Science Center. Now , can you try to describe the difference between looking up at the night sky in San Diego with what it looks like and Julian , now that it's a dark sky community.
S2: When you go outside at night in a large metropolitan area like San Diego , the light pollution washes out the faintest stars in the sky. So if you and I were to go outside tonight , weather cooperating and look up at the sky , we would see a couple of dozen , several dozen of the brightest stars of the sky. But we'd be losing out on the fainter details. The Milky Way going across the sky. The fainter stars that build up the constellations. And it's just it's a very different experience. You're almost overwhelmed by the number of stars there are , because we're just not used to seeing that many from a city.
S1: Now , getting that dark sky designation is quite a process.
S2: And they saw what Borrego Springs did , but they had to go even further because it turns out that San Diego County has been kind of lagging behind the times in terms of lighting ordinances. So they had to work with the county to get lighting ordinances approved , but also that sometimes fixing light pollution can be kind of simple , like making sure the light is directed where you want it to. Changing the color of the lights from the sort of bright blue LED lights that we're all getting used to , to the warmer colors that don't scatter as much in the nighttime sky and cause airglow. So that's how they worked to try to make the sky darker.
S1: I'm going to ask you just a little bit more about what light pollution , how it affects our ability to see the stars , because going out in this city at night , looking up , the sky's beautiful. I mean , it's it's pretty you see some stars.
S2: And I think it's a statement about how few people actually get that experience anymore. If you remember , there were several years ago there was that large power outage over all of Southern California. And I had students , you know , contact me saying I had never seen the sky like that. We should schedule a power outage like this once a month. When you go outside at night , light pollution affects your ability to see the sky in a couple of different ways. First of all , there's the glare , bright lights. Don't ever let your eyes get dark adapted. And what I mean by that is that your eyes can see better the longer you're outside in the dark. It takes about 15 minutes for your eyes to get truly dark adapted. So if you're in a place with a lot of clutter of lights , your eyes never get truly dark adapted so that you can see the fainter stars in the sky. But the bigger problem in large metropolitan areas like San Diego is a sky glow where the lights of the city , the light gets scattered in the air above the city , and it causes what we see as light domes in the distance. And so , you know how if you're coming into a large city , you can see the sky get brighter in the direction of the city before you ever see any of the buildings in the city that's over us all the time in a large metropolitan area. And it just makes the fainter stars invisible to us. So we really only see about the brightest stars in the sky if you're really , truly surrounded by light pollution.
S2: And so any city that makes an effort to decrease the light pollution will be a help to the professional observatories of the area. So in San Diego County , we have a Palomar , we have a mount Laguna Observatory , and any efforts will help that the astronomers at those facilities see the night sky better.
S2: Most people who live in a city have never seen the Milky Way itself. Studies have shown that up to 99% of people living in the United States don't actually see a truly natural nighttime sky because we all live in cities are close enough to cities that the light pollution is changing the sky that we see.
S2: As we're heading into summer , that's when the Milky Way is its brightest. That band of stars that shows the plane of the galaxy and our sky. You can actually pick up some star clusters faintly with the naked eye. That you can't see in the city. And so it is completely different. Starlight can be bright enough for you to see by , you know , and that's just not something we ever experience in a city.
S1: Now that both Julian and Borrego Springs are official Dark Sky Communities and Anza-borrego Park is a Dark Sky Park.
S2: And there's not just because of preserving the night sky for all of us to experience. But light pollution is incredibly impactful. It wastes energy because a lot of that light is not necessary. It's not being directed into the places where the light is wanted. It impacts wildlife and health. And so I would love to see a greater movement towards understanding light pollution as the problem that it is.
S1: I have been speaking with Lisa Will. She's physics and astronomy professor at San Diego City College and resident astronomer at the Fleet Science Center. Lisa , thank you very much.
S2: Thank you.
S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. Jade Heineman is away. UC San Diego professor of music Stephen Schick is having a momentous few weeks. He's just kicked off an ambitious multi album recording project with the release of A Hard Rain , an album of experimental percussion music. Here's a clip from the album. Charles Warren in Janissary Music. Boca Chica is also saying goodbye to his role as music director and conductor of the La Hoya Symphony and Chorus , a position he held for the past 15 years. He spoke with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans about the symphony and his career.
S4: So since 1991 , you have been a professor of music at UC San Diego , where the Loire Symphony is affiliated. And at any given time , there is a cohort of UC San Diego students in the orchestra. And I was one of those student musicians right around the end of Tom Niese era as conductor.
S3: Oh , wonderful. That is fantastic. I'm so happy to know that. Yeah.
S3: And , you know , I'm sometimes asked , what are our comparable institutions ? I mean , who else looks like us from the country ? And the honest answer is that no one does. No other community orchestra dedicated to community and progressive music making , aligned with a major research university of the World. No such orchestra really exists where we are unique and we adopt from UCSD its forward looking mentality towards towards everything and including music. And we root ourselves in in the community beyond the university. So we really try to do both a bridging mechanism between the university and the community.
S4: And when you began conducting for the Loya Symphony about 15 years ago , it was only supposed to be temporary , just a concert or two.
S3: You're right. I thought I was going to conduct a single concert as a guest conductor to help out a situation where the orchestra needed a guest. And I had such an amazing time with the musicians , with the dedication of the community musicians , and with the optimism and the sense of adventure of the student musicians that I then put my hat in the ring for the position of music director and won the position. So it was really because of that experience , that particular experience with the La Hoya Symphony and course that that I actually began to conduct more seriously.
S3: I hadn't really I , I conducted a little bit in the way everybody does in rehearsal here. There may be a very occasionally a a small piece. I knew that one went down. I mean , that's that's really the extent of my my knowledge. But , of course , I think one of the main requirements for being a good conductor is being a good musician. And I had been working on that part for quite a long for quite a long time. So it was a learning process , there's no doubt about it. But it was a quick learning process. You know , that's miraculous what a concert will do to how fast you learn. And and I was very soon feeling very comfortable with the orchestra and with our projects.
S4: And now when you step down from the Lawyer Symphony , you'll still be involved as music director emeritus and you'll continue teaching at UC San Diego. And they're also announcing the Steven Schick Prize for acts of musical imagination and excellence.
S3: In other words , someone needs to have done something remarkable in the community , ideally around the issues of social equality and and community rootedness and compatibility with the natural world. Not necessarily , but those are values that we hold dear. And so we would welcome people to do more of that. And then someone would be awarded or rewarded for those concerts or acts or whatever might form that might take by this prize. And what we hope to do is in fact encourage musical and artistic imagination in the area and and also with the monetary aspect of the award , allow those dreams , which might have been slightly out of reach for financial reasons to be realized in the future. So it is really very much tied to active living musicians making a difference in the by national reach and we live in.
S3: And in a way , every act of music is simultaneously an act of imagination. So what that might actually mean in practice is what are those acts of a high degree of imagination that have also a high degree of impact on our area ? What good can be done from from art ? How can it bring people together ? How can it foster the values that we at the symphony and chorus and at the university care about ? And that is the creation of forward looking , community rooted activities that that that push forward a progressive agenda , frankly , in art making. And and so those are the kinds of things that I could that I could imagine.
S4: You're also an accomplished percussionist.
S3: And many people would think perhaps that percussion and conducting a symphony orchestra don't have very much to do with one another. But I found them really mutually informative that they both require a keen sense of time , of musical color , of shape , of gesture. They both deploy in instrumental sounds and space is a percussionist. I'm surrounded by gongs and drums , and as an orchestral conductor , I'm surrounded by other , other musicians. And so there was a great affinity. And beyond that , the percussion repertory is so new , at least the kind of little. Niche that I that I inhabit , that I was playing the same pieces over and over again. And so coming to the orchestral repertory with its , you know , its great repertoire of hundreds , if not thousands of pieces , was a way to make the ecology of opportunity so much richer than I'd ever imagined it to be able to conduct all nine Beethoven symphonies , all four Brahms symphonies is a kind of sort of richness that I really couldn't have imagined having as a percussionist.
S4: I love that. And that dimension of time brings us to your final concerts with the La Hoya Symphony. For this program , you have picked Brahms Symphony number two , Bela Bartok Violin Concerto , and Anthony Vines NI Commission for a guitar.
S3: I think that this is a sort of paradigm performance for the La Hoya Symphony and chorus. In other words , there is a first performance , a piece by a young emerging composer. And this is a concerto for electric guitar and bass , clarinet and orchestra. And it's very beautiful , very serene. There is a piece of classical music which may be relatively unknown , and that's the Bartok First Violin Concerto. You hear the first concerto , but more often than not , if you're hearing a Bartok violin concerto , it's probably the second and and then a piece that everyone everyone knows and loves. This has been a kind of programming paradigm for a long time , and the goal behind that is to show that the new piece is rooted in a history that people understand. It's not a crazy departure. It is simply a continuation. And then when we look at the historically important piece , we are also asked to remember that this too had a first performance. It was once new music. And so what I'm hoping is the conversation , the kind of virtual conversation between Anthony Payne , Béla Bartok and Yohannes Brahms will be about what it means to be new , what it means to look forward , and what it means to , to , to grow roots. And so that's the goal behind the programming.
S4: Stephen , thank you so much and congratulations.
S3: Thank you , Julia. It's just been such a pleasure to talk to you and thanks for playing in the orchestra when you did. So. It's been it's been a real pleasure.
S1: That's Steven Schick speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dickson Evans. She will perform his final two concerts as music director and conductor of the La Hoya Symphony and Chorus this Friday and Saturday at 730 at Good Samaritan Church near UC San Diego.