On my way to a conference in Washington, DC last week, I made a pit stop in Miami for the weekend.
If I’m flying to the East Coast, I’m going to try to work Miami into the equation.
That’s where our Musical Millennial (my son, Thomas Wenglinski) is studying at the University of Miami, working on a doctorate in Jazz Composition and serving as a Fellow in the Henry Mancini Institute. All this fancy talk means that he gets to write and arrange jazz and other genres for world-class players in a learning environment where innovation and experimentation are valued. Check out the pop up band that was just hanging out and jamming at the campus in the late afternoon (the flute player is behind the plant).
I arrived in time for a lovely and very late lunch with Thomas and then we made our way to the the campus (where we strode past the pop up band above) on the way to the sound check / rehearsal for the concert that would take place that night, a celebration of Disney’s 100th anniversary. The writers in the U Miami Frost School of Music Jazz Studio program, all getting post-graduate degrees, were asked to select any Disney tune from the 100-year history of the studio and create their own arrangement, which would be played by the Henry Mancini Institute (HMI) Orchestra.
I Love Rehearsals and Sound Checks
I love love love (did I say LOVE) going to rehearsals. The opportunity to be in the moment and see the musicians in their ‘native habitat’ while tweaking their material with the conductor and band is so interesting. I gain so many insights into how this mysterious world of music works when I get to peer behind the curtain, so to speak. As a music lover and the parent of a musician, this is extremely rewarding R&R time.
Remember Me from Coco Made Me Weep
Thomas’ arrangement was the song Remember Me from the movie Coco.
Coco is a GREAT movie, about enduring familial love even after death, connecting people through music, and being who you are rather than who you are expected to be. Thomas took me to see it the year it came out, 2017, just a few months after my father died. Dad / Thomas’ grandfather was a music lover, which made the movie even more special and meaningful as Thomas and I watched the movie.
The movie played every chord of sadness and loss I had hidden in my internal grieving soundtrack, and yet the joy of remembrance and unbreakable connections were the lasting, reverberating notes.
Remember Me (the song in Coco) had Thomas and I both weeping when we saw the movie back in 2017. I didn’t even care that I had raccoon eyes from mascara smears as we left the theater, knowing that the next audience waiting in line to enter would understand as they experienced the movie for themselves.
Back to the present day – the HMI Orchestra played the whole song during the sound check.
Of course I wept.
But it’s ok, I was seated far up in the concert hall, and wept in the darkness, my heart vibrating with a mixture of pride and joy and grief and appreciation for the moment.
The Concert Recording – Jazz for Your Listening Pleasure
Just a bit later, it was time for the concert. It’s on YouTube and the whole recording is available below. It is definitely worth a listen! Put it on while you’re making dinner and the time will fly by. Or, just sit and watch. It’s over an hour, and every tune, every arrangement and performance of an iconic Disney song, is delightful. If you only have time for a little bit of music and want to hear Thomas’ arrangement of Remember Me, fast-forward to 1:05, where he introduces the tune before the singer and orchestra nail it.
In his introduction, Thomas shared about the loss of his remaining (paternal) grandfather during the time he was writing the arrangement, making the topic of the song even more personal and meaningful.
At the concert, during Remember Me, I wept again. It is a truly evocative song that rummages around in your soul and dredges up feelings you need to feel, while also reconnecting you with joy.
Here’s what Thomas had to say afterward on Instagram (including short clips from Remember Me).
And here’s Thomas celebrating with Maria, the amazing singer who delivered the rousing and beautiful version of Remember me. Maria and her husband are both also in the U Miami Jazz program, and friends of Thomas’. And both incredibly talented, too. (And they gave us a great restaurant recommendation for the next day – stay tuned!)
I hope you enjoy the music. I think you can tell that I did. 😊
And – if you haven’t seen Coco, watch it! But be ready to weep (in a good way).
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