The Academy hosts concerts and gatherings throughout the year. All of our events foster creativity and facilitate conversations centered on reflection, transformation, and “learning ourselves” into a better world.
In 2020, Lifesongs shared Messages from the Heart: Intergenerational Connections, a virtual empathy project inviting all people to co-create, imagine, and learn with elders in their communities during physical distancing and beyond. We premiered music and learning opportunities on Facebook as well as on our website.
Sunday, July 26th: “All I Wanna Do Is Sing” A Lifesong created in collaboration with elder Ruth Tobias and performed by Robin Ward Holloway with support from Nathan Dunton.
“All I Wanna Do Is Sing” is the musical life story of elder, musician, and jazz singer Ruth Tobias. Ruth and artist Robin Ward Holloway co-created the song through conversations and reflections on life and music. Robin shares their intergenerational collaboration story:Ruth was a consummate musician, a jazz singer who started her career in the 1940’s in Chicago and had a long and joyful performing career on the Chicago jazz scene. Meeting Ruth was a huge privilege for me because I also grew up in Chicago, and I also studied and played jazz there. So, as we got to talking, Ruth and I found immediate and extensive overlap in our backgrounds, and in our passion for music. We spoke about clubs we had visited, club owners we knew in common, jam sessions, and who played there. Many of my former teachers were either colleagues or students of Ruth and her husband. Our lives overlapped in seemingly endless ways. So, even though Ruth and I were many decades apart in age, meeting her was like meeting an old friend.Ruth told stories about the city of Chicago in the 40’s and 50’s. She talked about what it was like to start singing and realize that this was her passion in life. She spoke about how music drew her and her husband together – Burt was a great trumpet player – and how it was a through line in their shared lives. She talked about her favorite songs, her favorite lyrics, and what she felt made a truly great lyric. Ruth’s was a life steeped in music, and after some time connecting with her it felt like this song was bursting to be born.I learned about Ruth’s peaceful passing while I was holding pen and paper in my hand, just finishing up the lyrics for this song. The song itself has a simple premise: Ruth and Burt are on a gig together, and they are singing a song about their lives. It’s a love song to each other, a love song to the city of Chicago, and a love song to the spirit of music that bound them to each other and set them soaring through life together."All I Wanna Do Is Sing" is performed by Robin Ward Holloway with support from Nathan Dunton and vocals by Mariah Olesen. This performance is shared in loving memory of Ruth Tobias who passed away on November 20th, 2019.
Posted by Academy for the Love of Learning on Sunday, July 26, 2020
Sunday, May 24th: “We Never Stop Growing” A Lifesong created and performed by the Lifesongs Community Ensemble with Nathan Dunton.
“We Never Stop Growing” is a musical reflection on lifelong learning and growth based on the shared stories of elders. Many elders described aging as a disorienting process that forced them to redefine how they saw themselves and their place in the world. Loss, however, was only part of their experience of growing older. They also shared stories of resiliency, shifting priorities, and continual self-reinvention. We are delighted to be able to share this song by the Lifesongs Community Ensemble with friends and community, near and far. In this time of great uncertainty and disruption, we hope the elders’ messages of resiliency and courage gives everyone who listens a sense of purpose, and the creativity and strength to navigate these challenging times. We look forward to continuing to connect through these times.
Posted by Academy for the Love of Learning on Sunday, May 24, 2020
Sunday, June 7th: “Heart Home” A Lifesong presented by Vanessa McGovern. Heart Home is the Lifesong of Marilyn Casabonne and was created in collaboration with Lifesongs Artist Vanessa Torres McGovern.
“Heart Home” is a love song born in the heart of a little girl who found a sense of home in the rugged countryside of Pecos, New Mexico. This sense of belonging that Marilyn Casabonne described finding as a child, spending summers in Pecos, New Mexico, stretches over the course of her lifetime, eventually calling her back to her “heart home” after decades away. From the moment I met ‘Lyn’, I was struck by the joy and vitality she brought to memories of her time in New Mexico. Growing up in the heat of Kansas City, Missouri, Lyn spoke of the longing she felt all year to return to the Ponderosa Pines, wildflowers, and the Pecos River where she would spend summers in a small cabin with her family. She said that she never felt alone as a child when she was in the woods in New Mexico. I remember Lyn saying she felt loved by the land before she even had the words to describe that feeling. I was lucky enough to spend time with Lyn in the last few months of her life, and when I sang this song to her, she would close her eyes and lean back—sometimes conducting with one hand in the air—breathing deeply as though she was taking a deep breath of the clear mountain air. Lyn spoke with such reverence and gratitude for the chance to know this place, this land, where she felt such a sense of freedom and connection. May we all experience such a sense of love and belonging in our lifetimes—may we all find our ‘heart home.' – Vanessa Torres McGovern, singer and song co-writer of "Heart Home."
Posted by Academy for the Love of Learning on Sunday, June 7, 2020
Saturday, June 27th: Behind the Lifesong with Acushla Bastible and Vanessa Torres McGovern, video how-to experience showing audiences how a Lifesong is made and sharing ideas for anyone interested in creating and sustaining meaningful intergenerational exchange.
Learn how to create an intergenerational songwriting and story sharing experience in Behind the Lifesong with Lifesongs Director and Co-Founder Acushla Bastible and artist Vanessa Torres McGovern.
Posted by Academy for the Love of Learning on Saturday, June 27, 2020
Sunday, July 12th: “You and Me, Forever and Always” A Lifesong created in collaboration with elder Gloria and performed by Martha Reich Braden with support from Vanessa Torres McGovern.
“You and Me, Forever and Always” is the Lifesong of elder and World War II British Army veteran Gloria Dobek and was created in collaboration with artist Martha Reich Braden. Martha and Gloria co-created the song by exploring Gloria’s reflections on travel, family, and love. This song illustrates a story of gratitude and lifelong companionship.
Posted by Academy for the Love of Learning on Sunday, July 12, 2020
Past Live Events
October 31st, 2019
Mind & Life Institute Conversation on Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation featuring the Dalai Lama in conversation with Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
- Description: Aaron Stern moderated a Mind & Life Institute Conversation on Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation featuring the Dalai Lama in conversation with Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a clinical psychologist and social scientist and Research Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa. Conversation explored how contemplative wisdom and science can better inform our knowledge of human nature and what it takes to inspire caring and action for our collective future.
- Speakers and Facilitator:
- Facilitator: Aaron Stern, Academy Founder and President
- Speaker: Dalai Lama
- Speaker: Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a clinical psychologist and social scientist and Research Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa
October 15th, 2019
The Future of Learning Dialogue: Learning in Community
- Description: The Future of Learning Dialogue: Learning in Community featured Academy Founder and President Aaron Stern in conversation with writer, political activist, and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem and conversation moderator Tannia Esparza. The dialogue explored learning as a human experience connecting us with our sense of purpose and personal truth. Through interactive inquiry and conversation, we discussed ways we can teach each other how to live in the world together. Gloria, informed by a long-standing history of clear seeing, wise thought and activism, entered the dialogue with Aaron, a leader who has spent a lifetime exploring and sharing learning as an ever-deepening path for connecting to our selves, each other, and the larger world, asking: How do we deepen our pathways to intimacy and understanding, so that we can learn together in the ways that we have forgotten? Gloria and Aaron’s conversation begins a series of dialogues that will reclaim learning as a practice that connects humans with their sense of self, agency, and sovereignty. We will perhaps learn our way to becoming better at being human beings. Join us in conversation #TheFutureofLearning and #TheLearningSpirit
- Speakers and Facilitator:
- Speaker: Aaron Stern, Academy Founder and President
- Speaker: Gloria Steinem, writer, political activist, and feminist organizer
- Moderator: Tannia Esparza
August 25th, 2019
Bearing Witness: The Academy’s Annual Leonard Bernstein Concert
- Description: Bearing Witness explored the themes of Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony through a communal viewing and facilitated conversation. We experienced live multi-media and opera performances of all three movements of the symphony, 1. Prophecy (warning), 2. Profanation (desecration), and 3. Lamentation. These movements served as inquiry points into Bernstein’s question “Don’t We Never Learn?!” and Stern’s answer – that “As human beings, we have the capacity to transform both individually and collectively.” After experiencing the symphony, Aaron Stern facilitated group conversation and was joined by Hakim Bellamy. We shared reflection and conversation with the hashtags #ReflectintoAction, #ExpressInspiration, #SetonCastleLive, and #LBFellowship.
- Performers, Facilitators, and Creators :
August 25th, 2018
Lenny’s Living Legacy: A Concert Celebration
- Description: Academy President and Founder Aaron Stern celebrates the anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth with an afternoon concert featuring special works from Bernstein’s repertoire (vocal, orchestral, and solo instrumental), along with stories of Aaron’s time spent with Lenny (as he knew him) and stories of his personhood and musicianship. Charlie Harmon, Lenny’s last musical assistant, will also read from his new book on his time as Bernstein’s assistant.
- Kathlene Ritch, Soprano
- Tychiko Cox, Baritone
- Barbara Bogatin, Cello
- Grisha Krivchenia, Piano
- Charlie Harmon, Author
May 20th, 2018
Don’t We Never Learn: Part II: Learning and Transformation
April 29th, 2018
Don’t We Never Learn: Part I: Trouble in Tahiti
- Description: A two-part series of dialogues, Don’t We Never Learn celebrated the Academy’s 20th anniversary while reflecting on our past and exploring our emerging transformation. Dialogues explored the question that most occupied Lenny (as Aaron knew Leonard Bernstein) in the last decade of his life: “Don’t we never learn?”, and Aaron’s deep conviction that indeed we do learn: we transform, and become better at being human. Part 1: Trouble in Tahiti gathered community for a screening of Leonard Bernstein’s one-act opera ‘Trouble in Tahiti’, followed by a conversation focused on how this masterpiece relates directly to today’s times. Central to our inquiry will be the question “Don’t we never learn?” and Aaron’s deep conviction that indeed we do learn: we transform, and become better at being human. Part II: Learning and Transformation was a shared conversation with Academy President and Founder Aaron Stern and Dr. Richie Davidson, Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds focused on what we are learning about the transformative impact of the Academy’s work.
- Academy Founder and President Aaron Stern
- Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds Dr. Richie Davidson