An ode to life

first_imgComposer and musician Fred Ho is comfortable in his own skin, and sometimes not much else. In photographs, the self-described nudist is often seen covered up only by his regular companion, a strategically placed baritone saxophone.There is a sense of peaceful strength and comfort with life that surrounds Ho, the result, in part, of his recent battle with an often-lethal enemy.In August 2006, Ho, who is also a political activist, author, and playwright, was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and given almost impossible odds of survival. But after three years, seven surgeries, and chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Ho was declared free of the disease.“I feel much better,” said the 1979 Harvard graduate in the lobby of Harvard’s New College Theatre on Holyoke Street, “considering I was supposed to be dead last year.”On Nov. 13, the outspoken Ho will receive this year’s Harvard Arts Medal, an honor given to a Harvard or Radcliffe graduate or faculty member in recognition of contributing to the arts, and in particular contributing to education or the public good. Past winners include cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76, film director Mira Nair ’79, author John Updike ’54, and actor Jack Lemmon ’47.Ho has been on campus for several weeks, participating in a residency sponsored by the Office for the Arts’ Learning From Performers program. He has worked closely with student performers on his new piece “Take the Zen Train.” The work, commissioned by the Harvard Jazz Bands and the Office for the Arts, will premiere at Lowell Lecture Hall on Nov. 14.The 20-minute composition in six movements incorporates music for the Jazz Bands with choreography for three student dancers who have backgrounds in hip-hop, ballet, and the Chinese martial art of Wushu. Ho enlisted the help of New York stage director Daniel Jáquez, a product of the American Repertory Theater /Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, to stage the dance element of the piece, which chronicles Ho’s battle with cancer.“It’s my philosophical journey,” Ho said, “a series of epiphanies, what the war against cancer taught me.”Jáquez, who has made frequent visits to Harvard to work with students on the production, said he tried to find dancers during auditions who “had the passion and the understanding of what this struggle was for Fred.”For Ho, battling the disease deepened his understanding of the importance of health, wisdom, and love, and gave him a profound understanding of “how creativity can really make us better.”“We are not the sum of our blood vessels, our DNA, our tissue, and our bones,” said Ho. “What makes the human species and each of us individually unique is our consciousness, our ability to create.”Conformity was never part of Ho’s larger picture. At Harvard in the 1970s, the sociology concentrator challenged what he deemed the “hard core [Max] Weberians” with his thoughts on communism and Karl Marx. He also delved into political and social activism, and founded the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association.The trend extended to his socially charged music, which refused to fit a particular genre. Though often labeled jazz, Ho’s work frequently incorporates elements of traditional African and Asian music, resulting in a complex and multilayered product.Ho’s pieces have been called “fiercely imaginative” and include interactive video opera, as well as musical theater. The composer said he was thrilled to create a work for Harvard using his “revolutionary earth music,” a style that “challenges conventional harmony.”My chords “don’t follow any of the formulas or tropes [of jazz]. For a student group to take on that challenge is remarkable,” he said, adding that the Harvard students share his willingness to “try new things.”Thomas G. Everett, director of the Harvard University Bands, was a bit concerned when he first saw the music created by Ho, who as an undergraduate was a member of the Harvard Jazz Band and wrote compositions for the ensemble. Everett wondered if “Take the Zen Train’s” rapid changes of style, key, tempo, and dynamics, which are “crucial to the success of the piece,” might overwhelm the group.“The students on first playing were a little baffled,’’ Everett said. But at subsequent rehearsals — with Ho in attendance, playing along, and helping guide the students through the work — the players began to blend into the piece.“That is when the magic happened,” said Everett.In the end, Ho hopes he can inspire students and listeners alike with the music and the message in “Take the Zen Train.”“I hope,” he said, “that people come away with a spirit of elation about the impossible.”the world of fred hoFred Ho will receive the Harvard Arts Medal Friday (Nov. 13) at 5 p.m. in the New College Theatre, 12 Holyoke St. Free and open to the public but tickets required; available through the Harvard Box Office (617.496.2222,, limit two per person.“The World of Fred Ho” is a tribute concert with Ho and the Harvard Jazz Bands Saturday (Nov. 14) at 8 p.m. in Lowell Lecture Hall, 17 Kirkland St. Tickets are $10 general admission; $8 students and senior citizens and are available through the Harvard Box Office.The world of Fred HoFred Ho will receive the Harvard Arts Medal Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. in the New College Theatre, 12 Holyoke St. Free and open to the public but tickets required; available through the Harvard Box Office (617.496.2222) limit two per person.“The World of Fred Ho” is a tribute concert with Ho and the Harvard Jazz Bands Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. in Lowell Lecture Hall, 17 Kirkland St. Tickets are $10 general admission; $8 students and senior citizens and are available through the Harvard Box Office.last_img read more

Gallardo, Brewers blank Braves in Atlanta

first_imgYovani Gallardo allowed just two hits in eight scoreless innings Friday to lead the Brewers past the Braves in Atlanta.[/media-credit]ATLANTA (AP) — Yovani Gallardo doesn’t mind waiting a bit longer for his first career shutout.Sharing a combined shutout with Carlos Villanueva was fine with him, as long as it meant another win for first-place Milwaukee.Gallardo gave up only two hits in eight scoreless innings, rookie Mat Gamel drove in three runs and the NL Central-leading Brewers shut out the Atlanta Braves 4-0 on Friday night.Gallardo (6-2) walked four with six strikeouts and gave up no singles in eight innings. He allowed no baserunner past second base and threw 110 pitches. The pitch count was too high to start the ninth.“I have no problem with it,” Gallardo said of Milwaukee manager Ken Macha’s decision to bring in Villanueva for the ninth. “I’m just happy we got the win. … I keep going until they tell me not to.”Macha said he resisted the thought of leaving the 23-year-old Gallardo in the game.“We’ve been trying to watch his pitch count,” Macha said.“I’m sure he would have liked to have gotten the complete-game shutout.”The Braves’ only hits off Gallardo were doubles — in the third inning by Martin Prado and in the seventh by Brian McCann.“He’s got unbelievable breaking stuff, knows where the fastball is going,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He really is a dominant-type pitcher. I can’t complain.”Villanueva completed the shutout with a perfect ninth inning.Gamel hit a two-run double in the fourth to drive in Prince Fielder and Mike Cameron. Gamel added a run-scoring single in the Brewers’ two-run fifth, raising his batting average from .229 to .256 in his seventh start at third base.“I’m finally getting comfortable with my stats,” Gamel said.“I’m ready for whatever they want me to do — spot start, pinch-hit or whatever.”Gamel started ahead of Bill Hall, who’s hitting only .211 and entered as a defensive replacement.Gallardo, who pitched eight scoreless innings but received no decision in the Brewers’ 1-0 win over St. Louis in 10 innings on May 25, has allowed one earned run in his last three starts.“I felt good,” he said. “The first three innings, my command was a little bit off. As the game went on, I was able to get that under control.”The Brewers began the night tied with St. Louis for first place in the NL Central.Jair Jurrjens (5-3) suffered in first loss in seven starts, giving up nine hits and four runs in seven innings.“We saw two of the best young pitchers in the game today,” McCann said.Cox called Jurrjens’ effort “one of the best nine-hitters I’ve ever seen in my life.”Each starter finished with a 2.84 ERA.Gallardo said he was motivated by the matchup.“He is a good pitcher,” Gallardo said of Jurrjens. “He has good stuff. Everybody knew it would be a pretty good matchup.”Center fielder Nate McLouth was 0-for-4 in his debut with Atlanta. The Braves acquired McLouth from Pittsburgh for three minor leaguers on Wednesday.“It was a little weird,” said McLouth, who was drafted by the Pirates. “I kept feeling like I was the visiting team. But that will pass as time goes on.”The Braves hope the addition of McLouth, who hit third, will spark their offense. Instead, they suffered their sixth shutout loss and set a season low with only two hits.“I know we didn’t look good swinging the bats,” Cox said, adding credit went to Gallardo.Pinch-hitter Greg Norton threatened to end Gallardo’s shutout bid in the eighth when his long drive into the right-field seats was foul by only a few feet. read more