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Review: Days Is an Unsentimental Meditation on the Need for Reciprocity – slantmagazine

Posted: March 6, 2020 at 3:45 am

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Pixar specializes in tales of people, animals, and artificial intelligence coping with loss: of a spouse (Up), of human contact (the Toy Story films), of love (WALL-E). But like a lot of Hollywood dream-workers, Pixars storytellers also believe in believing. And faith in something, anything, is essential to the studios latest feature, Onward, as the heroes of this comic fantasy are two teenage elves who go searching for the magical gemand the self-assuranceneeded to briefly resurrect their departed and sorely missed father. On the occasion of the films release, join us in revisiting the Pixar canon, ranked from worst to best. Mark Jenkins

Editors Note: This entry was originally published on June 21, 2013.

The effect of the Toy Story films is practically primal. They appeal to anyone whos ever cared about a toyone they outgrew, gave away, or painfully left behind somewhere. These films, with scant manipulation and much visual and comic invention, thrive on giving toys a conscience and imagining what adventures they have when we turn our backs to them. Conversely, the effect of Cars and its infinitely worse sequel, toons about dudes-as-cars not quite coping with their enormous egos and their contentious bromances, is entirely craven in the way it humorlessly, unimaginatively, and uncritically enshrines the sort of capitalist-driven desires Pixars youngest target audience is unable to relate to. Unless, that is, they had a douchebag older brother in the family who spent most of his childhood speaking in funny accents and hoarding his piggy-bank money to buy his first hot rod. Ed Gonzalez

Maybe its my general aversion to Nascar, or anything chiefly targeted at below-the-line states. Maybe its that Larry the Cable Guys Mater is the Jar Jar Binks of animated film. Or maybe its just that a routinely plotted movie about talking cars is miles beneath Pixars proven level of ingenuity, not to mention artistry (okay, well give those handsome heartland vistas a pass). Whatever the coffin nail, Cars, if not its utterly needless sequel, is thus far the tepid, petroleum-burning nadir of the Pixar brand, the first of the studios films to feel like its not just catering, but kowtowing, to a specific demographic. Having undeservedly spawned more merchandising than a movie thats literally about toys, Carss cold commercialism can still be felt today, with a just-launched theme park at Disneyland. And while CG people are hardly needed to give a Pixar film humanity, its perhaps telling that this, one of the animation houses few fully anthropomorphic efforts, is also its least humane. R. Kurt Osenlund

The Good Dinosaur has poignant moments, particularly when a human boy teaches Arlo, the titular protagonist, how to swim in a river, and there are funny allusions to how pitiless animals in the wild can be. But the film abounds in routine, featherweight episodes that allow the hero to predictably prove his salt to his family, resembling a cross between City Slickers and Finding Nemo. Theres barely a villain, little ambiguity, and essentially no stakes. There isnt much of a hero either. Arlo is a collection of insecurities that have been calculatedly assembled so as to teach children the usual lessons about bravery, loyalty, and self-sufficiency. The Good Dinosaur is the sort of bland holiday time-killer that exhausted parents might describe as cute as a way of evading their indifference to it. Children might not settle for it either, and one shouldnt encourage them to. Chuck Bowen

Its perfectly fair to walk into Monsters University with a wince, wondering what Toy Story 3 hath wrought, and lamenting the fact that even Pixar has fallen into Hollywoods post-recession safe zone of sequel mania and brand identification. Whats ostensibly worse, Monsters University jumps on the prequel, origin-story bandwagon, suggesting our sacred CGI dream machine has even been touched bygulpthe superhero phenomenon. But, while admittedly low on the Pixar totem pole, Monsters University proves a vibrant and compassionate precursor to Monsters, Inc., the kid-friendly film that, to boot, helped to quell bedroom fears. Tracing Mike and Sulleys paths from ill-matched peers to super scarers, Monsters University boasts Pixars trademark attention to detail (right down to abstract modern sculptures on the quad), and it manages to bring freshness to the underdog tale, which is next to impossible these days. Osenlund

Cars 3 is content to explore the end of Lightning McQueens (Owen Wilson) career with a series of pre-packaged sports-film clichsan old dog trying to learn new tricks, struggling with a sport that seems to have passed him by, and facing, for the first time in his career, a sense of vulnerability. The template turns out to be a natural fit for the Cars universe, organically integrating racing into the fabric of the film and rendering it with a visceral sense of speed, excitement, and struggle. Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) is a welcome addition, a plucky foil to McQueen whos also a three-dimensional presence in her own right, much more richly developed than one-joke characters like Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and Luigi (Tony Shalhoub). Cruzs presence also allows the filmmakers to bring some social conscience to this sometimes backward-looking franchise, exploring the discouraging pressures placed on young female athletes while also nodding toward the historical exclusion of women and racial minorities from racing. Watson

For those who waited patiently for the first Pixar film to be led by a female protagonist, its understandable that Brave might have been a disappointment, arriving after the studio hit its artistic peak, and suffering from a handful of authorship woes. But the feminist fable remains the most underrated of this revered brands lot, not least because of Princess Meridas eye-popping head full of aptly unruly hair. The movie may enchant with its focus on Scottish lore (an element arguably explored better in How to Train Your Dragon), and it may deserve a hand for its girl-power, who-needs-a-husband trajectory, but the distincitve bit that puts the lump in your throat is the mother-daughter story. From Aladdin to The Little Mermaid, Cinderella to Tangled, princess tales almost always deal with the heroines link to a father or an evil mother surrogate, never an actual mom who imposes relatable, resonant rules. This far more interesting dichotomy gives Brave an especially fresh and expressly female perspective. And while Meridas mothers transformation into a bear may seem gonzo and random, its actually perfectly appropriate: Together, mother and daughter must fight to undo a beast of a burden, one thats historically, symbolically masculine in nature. Osenlund

Onward doesnt have a distinctive visual style, but it does showcase Pixars trademark mastery of depth, light, and shadow. As in Dan Scanlons Monsters University, the fanciful and the everyday are well harmonized. Thats still a neat trick, but its no more novel than Ian (Tom Holland) and Barleys (Chris Pratt) experiences. Animated features often borrow from other films, in part to keep the grown-ups in the crowd interested, but the way Onward recalls at various points The Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Ghostbusters feels perfunctory and uninspired. And it all leads to a moral thats at least as hoary as that of The Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan. While Onward begins as a story of bereavement, it soon turns to celebrating the payoffs of positive thinking. That you can accomplish whatever you believe you can is a routine movie message, but it can feel magical when presented with more imagination than Onward ever musters. Jenkins

The gentle counterpart to Dreamworks Animations Antz, A Bugs Life deals in a wealth of familiar themes and narratives, peddling the importance of community inherent to ant populations, positioning unlikely hero Flik as a fish out of water when he seeks help for the colony, and reinforcing the tyke-targeted notion that being small isnt so bad (a maxim preached to young ant Dot, voiced by a very young Hayden Panettiere). But when Flik, a country bug, goes searching for warriors to combat the ants oppressive grasshopper nemeses, and instead returns with a ragtag troupe of circus insects (think the gang from James and the Giant Peach performing amid the carnival debris of Charlottes Web), a more intriguing theme emerges. As the actors and acrobats help the ants to craft a massive bird (a salvation-bringing idol that will hopefully scare off the enemy), they also introduce art as an alternative to fear and violence, and the film presents entertainment as something not just diverting, but heroic. Osenlund

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Review: Days Is an Unsentimental Meditation on the Need for Reciprocity - slantmagazine

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March 6th, 2020 at 3:45 am

Posted in Meditation

Music, Theatre and Dance News: March 2020 – 2020 – School of Music, Theatre and Dance – News – OU Magazine – News at OU

Posted: March 4, 2020 at 1:01 pm

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Oakland Universitys School of Music, Theatre and Dance presented Facing Our Truth: 10-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race, and Privilege from Dec 5-7 in the Varner Lab Theatre in Varner Hall. The collection of plays included works by Dan OBrien, Winter Miller, Dominique Morisseau, Mona Mansour and Tala Manassah, Marcus Gardley, and A. Rey Pamatmat. I selected Facing Our Truth because I was struck by the raw honesty and complexity of the writing by such a beautifully diverse collection of accomplished playwrights, said Director Kelli Crump, a lecturer at Oakland University. I think our students can relate to a subject matter that was relevant to young people then as it is still relevant to young people today and they have a strong desire to be a part of this national conversation.

On Dec. 15, several of SMTD faculty members, including Alta Dantzler, Amanda Blaikie, and Amanda Sabelhaus joined alum Alexander Walker, director of the Dakota High School Varsity Choir, to perform in Joy To You at Trinity Lutheran Church in Utica.

On Jan. 12, OU College of Arts and Sciences faculty discussed the historical, social, and musical circumstances surrounding Francis Poulencs opera Dialogues of the Carmelites, which was performed from Jan. 16-19 in Varner Recital Hall. Participants included: David Kidger, associate professor of musicology; Victoria Shively, special lecturer in music history and theory; Ashley Voeks, visiting assistant professor of French; Sara Chapman Williams, associate professor of history. The story (of Dialogues of the Carmelites) follows the arc of a fictionalized character, Blanche de la Force, though the other nuns portrayed in the play were real-life individuals, said Dr. Drake Dantzler, director and associate professor of music at OU. It is a meditation on faith, fear, death and redemption.

Music alumna Jacquelyn Wagner (BM 03) has been extremely busy performing in prestigious venues throughout Europe. She played Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus on Dec. 20, 31 and Jan. 2 with Deutsche Oper Berlin; performed as a soloist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on Jan. 11; and played Alcina in Alcina in February/March with Deutsche Oper am Rhein. Next, she will be Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with the Paris Opera in March and April. For her complete schedule, visit

OU alum David Adragna (BM 18) was commissioned in January to write a Gloria for Vestal United Methodist Church's Chancel choir in Vestal, New York and their music director Isaac Garrigues-Cortelyou, another OU alumnus.

William Raveau (BFA '17) performed a concert in December at the Freshwater Art Gallery and Concert Venue in Boyne City. In the new year, he also began recording his debut album: I'm so wildly excited to collaborate with another alum, Stefanie Sambrano, Raveau said. I've asked her to sing a duet maybe two with me on the album and thankfully she said 'yes.

Oakland University students earned a number of awards at Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). This years standouts include: Matt Carlsen, who won the National Award for Design Excellence in Costume Design for his presentation/costume design for Urinetown; and Abigail Elliott, who won the Focal Press/Rafael Jaen Showcase Award for her presentation/sound design for Blue Stockings. Also, out of 350 nominees for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition, four OU nominees moved on to the semi-finals: Dryden Zurawski, Alaina Whidby, Clayton Sallee and Kelsi Fay. Dryden and his partner Reggie Swoverland moved to the final round of 16 nominees. For a complete account of the KCACTF experience, click here.

The Michigan Music Conference, which was held Jan. 17-19 in Grand Rapids, featured a performance of David Maslanka's Concerto for Alto Saxophone by Jeffrey Heisler (saxophone) and I-Chen Yeh (piano) with the Ann Arbor Huron High School Symphony Band; as well as dance alumni/students performing with Eisenhower Dance Detroit during Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring with the Troy High School Symphonic Band (conductor Brian Nutting, an OU music Ph.D. student). The conference also included sessions and panel discussions, presented by music faculty members Lauri Hogle and Mike Mitchell (2020 MMC Session Headliner); performances by Huron High School A Cappella Choir (alumnus Kent Wattleworth, conductor) and the Walled Lake Northern Chamber Singers (alumna Ashley Ward, conductor).

Anthony Guest, associate professor of theatre and chair of the Department of Theatre, performed with Special Lecturer Beth Guest and students Stanley Misevich, Madison Wiley and Sam Sommer at the New Works Festival, held Jan. 17-19 at the Flint Repertory Theatre. They performed a stage reading of the new musical, "Talk To Me," which Anthony Guest directed.

A Chinese version of Teaching for Musical Understanding, a book by Distinguished Professor Emerita of Music Jackie Wiggins, was recently published. The book, which explains current research-based theories of how students learn in order to show prospective and practicing music teachers how to teach effectively, is used by music educators around the world.

SMTD Director Amy Hardison Tully discussed the new renovations to Varner Hall during the first-ever Alumni Town Hall and Reception on Jan. 24. The event was followed by a performance by Tony Award nominated Broadway star Josh Young, an assistant professor in Oakland Universitys School of Music, Theatre and Dance, who performed show tunes from the catalog of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Young will also be performing the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on April 14-15.

The Gryphon Trio, one of the worlds preeminent piano trios, returned to Oakland University with an all-Beethoven program on Jan. 26 in Varner Recital Hall on the OU campus. The program was presented in partnership with the Chamber Music Society of Detroit as part of its Beethoven 250th Anniversary celebration, which will continue on March 15 as the Chamber Music Society of Detroit presents the multi award-winning young Vera Quartet with pianist Meng-Chieh Liu. The program will include one of Beethovens early string quartets, the Quartet in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4; String Quartet No. 4 (Silent Temple) by University of Michigan composer Bright Sheng; and Csar Francks Piano Quintet in F minor.

Carly Uhrig, a music lecturer and marketing manager for Oakland Universitys School of Music, Theatre and Dance, has been selected to serve as a judge for the theme song contest during the I See You Awards, an annual celebration of low-budget independent filmmakers. The program was created by Terri Lee Chandler, film critic for WWJ Newsradio 950. We are looking for a song that will play during our highly-anticipated awards ceremony, Chandler said. But were not just looking for any song. Were looking for one that will help represent and grow our brand; one that is unique and grabs the listeners attention. The contest is open through May 15 and those who would like to submit an entry may do so on FilmFreeway.

The Oakland Area Saxophone Ensemble (OASE) performed on the Grosse Pointe Chamber Music Series at the War Memorial in Grosse Pointe on Feb. 1, while the quartet purple (Alex Sellers, Brant Ford, James Besaw, and Paige Grider) performed there on Feb. 16. Sellers has also been invited to perform at the NASA (North American Saxophone Alliance) National Conference, which will take place March 6-9 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

Lynnae Lehfeldt, an associate professor of theatre at OU, performed in Blithe Spirit, which ran through Feb. 2 at Meadow Brook Theatre. The production received rave reviews, with Encore Michigan noting, Lynnae Lehfeldt is delightful as the over-the-top, down-to-earth medium, Madame Arcati; she is as proud of her craft as any skilled tradesman and twice as loud and Carole Azizian of The Oakland Press wrote that Lehfeldt gives an over-the-top performance as Madame Arcati. She waves her arms and dances around the Codomines perfectly appointed living room to throw herself into a trance, telling everyone that she experienced her first ectoplasmic manifestation when she was 5 years old.

Maggie Hinckley (BFA 17) played the role of Mary Jane in the Michigan premiere of Amy Herzogs Mary Jane, which ran Feb. 1, 2, 6-8 at the Actors Theatre Grand Rapids. Next, shell be in Macbeth with the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company.

The Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of Oakland University was excited to welcome the newly formed Sigma Alpha Iota Colony of OU to share the stage as they presented An American Music Recital on Feb. 2. The student-led performance included individual and duet performances by members of each organization. SAI sang two choral pieces as an ensemble, as did PMA. The program closed with two choral pieces, combining sisters of SAI and brothers of PMA. Kevin Cornwell II, Erin Kurtz, and Blake Rosser conducted and Dr. Lauri Hogle, faculty advisor for the new SAI Colony, served as accompanist. Sigma Alpha Iota, a professional music fraternity for women, was officially accepted as a colony in December, by the National Executive Board of SAI. Angela Bonello serves as the colonys president.

The Department of Theatre presented William Shakespeares Macbeth a cautionary tale about the trappings of power and what happens when vaulting ambition takes priority over the people one is expected to govern in a sold-out run from Feb. 6-9, 13-16 in the Varner Studio Theatre on the OU campus. Blurring the line between the psychological and the supernatural, Macbeth traces the downfall of a respected soldier who, in collusion with his industrious wife, employs extreme measures to fulfill and counter the eerie prophecies of three weird sisters. The story has a fresh relevance amidst todays political and cultural climate, wrote Sarah Hovis, a reviewer with Rochester Media. And its bold proclamation is one wed be wise to listen to. You can read the entire review at

Dr. Joseph Shively was appointed to serve as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Im excited for and honored by the opportunity to continue to serve the students, faculty and staff of the College of Arts and Sciences, he said. Shively, an associate professor of music education, previously served as interim director of the College of Arts and Sciences and was the interim director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Karen Sheridan, professor of theatre, was appointed to the rank of Distinguished Professor following a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees at the formal meeting on Feb. 10. The appointment is effective on Aug. 15, 2020. I think its great to have your work recognized and the amount of time that you spend and how much you care about the university, Sheridan said. I feel its very exciting that the arts are making an impact here at Oakland University. Im the third Distinguished Professor from the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, and I think its exciting when the university sees how much a part of the fabric of the university we are. Im excited to still be working here and to still be challenged by my students. Im delighted and honored. Its a nice group of people to be affiliated with. Sheridan is currently performing in the world premiere of 900 Miles to International Falls, which runs through March 1 at Williamston Theatre in Williamston, Mich., and will be directing George Bernard Shaws Major Barbara, which will run from April 16-18 at Oakland University.

The winners of the 2019-20 Oakland University Concerto Competition Brant Ford (saxophone), Catherine Hectman (piano), Danielle Maurer (mezzo-soprano) and Gillian Tackett (soprano) performed on Feb. 16 during the Oakland Symphony Orchestra 23rd Annual David Daniels Young Artists Concert at Varner Recital Hall. Named after Professor Emeritus David Daniels in recognition of his distinguished career at Oakland University and sustained commitment to teaching Oakland Universitys aspiring student musicians, the concert is always an annual highlight of the OSO season, said Gregory Cunningham, music director of the OSO and professor of orchestral and wind conducting at OU.

Assistant Professor of Music Alta Marie Boover and Applied Instructor Angela Theis were part of a concert series on Feb. 16 called Chamber Music at the Scarab Club: The Romantics from Schubert to Bacri. The concert featured romantic music by Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, Medelssohn, Borodin and Nicolas Bacri.

On Feb. 20, graduating theatre students presented their BFA Musical Theatre and Acting Senior Showcase. Next up, they will take their showcases on the road. The musical theatre seniors will travel to New York City to perform on March 2 for casting directors, agents and managers. They will also participate in masterclasses and seminars with the industrys leading artists. The acting seniors will perform March 2 at Stage 773 in Chicago to local agents and casting directors. They will participate in a number of workshops at The Acting Studio, including classes that focus on improvisation, voice over and on-camera work, auditions, and a concentrated introduction to the theatre, film, and television industry in Chicago.

Brant Ford, a junior saxophone performance major, was recently named a semi-finalist for the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) Collegiate Solo Competition. The finals will be held at the NASA 2020 Biennial Conference at Arizona State University from March 6-9. Ford is one of 20 Collegiate saxophonists from North America (ages 18-26) selected to the live rounds selected by video recording application.

Theatre alumna Lily Talevski (BFA '18) played the role of Yitzhak in Detroit Public Theatres production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which ran through Feb. 29 in Hamtramck. "I've been wanting to work with the Detroit Public Theatre for years, so being able to come back to the mitten for such a special production was amazing, Talevski said. Working in Hamtramck has definitely been a game changer and highlight as well when my family emigrated to America in the late 60's, they owned a bakery in Detroit right by the border of Hamtramck as well as lived above it in the apartment buildings, so there's a lot of nostalgia driving down there everyday for me. Hedwig's story is incredible and playing Yitzhak with our amazing band makes me feel about as close as I can to being a rockstar. The book and the music are absolutely astounding and I will be in awe of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask forever."

Music alumna and mezzo-soprano Krysty Swann is playing Mayme in the new opera, Intimate Apparel, in its Off-Broadway run at Lincoln Center Theaters Mitzi Newhouse Theater. One of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottages best known works, Intimate Apparel tells the story of a single African-American woman named Esther, who sews luxurious ladies undergarments. She begins writing to a suitor on the Panama Canal, but quickly realizes she is the only person she can rely on. Performances began Feb. 27 with an official opening marked for March 23. Distinguished Professor of Music John-Paul White, special lecturer Phyllis White, Distinguished Professor Emerita Jackie Wiggins and Professor Emeritus Robert Wiggins were in attendance. It has also been announced that Swann will be making her Metropolitan Opera debut in the role of Mrs Boucher in the highly anticipated premiere of Jake Heggies Dead Man Walking (premiering April 8, 2021). Distinguished Professor of Music John-Paul White, special lecturer Phyllis White, Distinguished Professor Emerita Jackie Wiggins and Professor Emeritus Robert Wiggins were in attendance.

The School of Music, Theatre and Dance will recognize distinguished students, alumni and community members with MaTilDa Awards on Monday, April 6. The MaTilDas are named to honor Matilda Dodge Wilson who donated the land on which Oakland University is built. This years recipients include alumni achievement awards for Ann Toomey (music), Lance Mier (theatre), Ralaya Rai Goshea (dance) and the Distinguished Community Service Award for Kevin Corcoran, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. For a full list of this years award recipients, visit

Ann Toomey, soprano, (BM '14) who is receiving this year's MaTilDa Award for Alumni Achievement in Music recently made her European debut at Philharmonie Berlin in Puccinis Suor Angelica, under the baton of Kirill Petrenko (Berliner Philharmoniker). The opera is currently streaming for free in their Digital Concert Hall at

Dance Department faculty selected Alexa Donnellys work, Intervolve, which she created for her senior capstone project, was selected to be performed at the East-Central regional ACDA (American College Dance Association, which takes place March 1-4 and is attended by around 20 colleges from the region. It is a wonderful dance that uses intricate partnering that evolves into tangled limbs and spectacular lifts, said Thayer Jonutz, associate professor of dance. It was well received by the audience and audible gasps were heard as Alexas cast out of nowhere lifted each other in surprising ways. Intervolve will be performed in the Senior Concert series on March 12-14, along with the works of other seniors.

Ben Fuhrman, a lecturer of music technology and composition at Oakland University will be performing his piece,Particle Forge, at the MoxSonic festival in Missouri on March 7. Also, Fuhrmans piece, Xenoglossia for solo pipe organ, will premiere on March 28 as part of the Vital Organ Project concert at Ann Arbor's First Congregational Church. Fuhrman has also been busy writing software, including a Scanline Synthesis, which takes a photo and converts it to waveform values on a pixel by pixel basis.

Fuhrman will also be performing and presenting, along with other OU music faculty, during the 38th College Music Society (CMS) Great Lakes Conference, which will take place April 3-4 at Oakland University.

Devin Price (BFA 15) has just been cast as Wailin Joe in the musical Memphis, opening March 24 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in North Carolina. Music faculty John-Paul and Phyllis White recently met up with Devin at Top of the Rock in NYC.

Alyssa Primeau (BM '18) is the 40th Annual James Pappoutsakis Memorial Flute Competition prize winner. Primeau will graduate from Boston University in May 2020 with her masters degree in flute performance. Her teachers at OU included Detroit Symphony Orchestra flutists Sharon Sparrow and Jeffery Zook. For more information, visit

Detroit Symphony Piccoloist and Applied Instructor at OU Jeffery Zook will host a Mile High Piccolo Masterclass from July 10-12 at The Highland Center in Denver, Colo. For more information, visit

Music alumnus Jacob Voight is marching this spring with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps, a member of the DCI (Drum Corps International). Another music alum, Michael Abel, who also marched DCI but as a member of the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, is now working with the Carmel High School Marching Band multiple time finalist and champion of Bands of America in Indiana.

JLBoone Photography, the photography company of OU alum Jessica Stasik, was recently announced as a winner of the 2020 WeddingWire Couples Choice Awards, an accolade representing the top wedding professionals across the board in quality, service, responsiveness, and professionalism reviewed by couples on WeddingWire.

Former OU Community Music student Marina Kondo, who studied voice with Elizabeth Medvinsky, made her debut as Anna in the first Broadway national tour of Disney's FROZEN: The Musical. Never let someones lack of imagination dictate your self-worth, your power, and your dreams, Kondo wrote on her Facebook page. I promise, believing is worth it. Who you already are is enough. And what you identify with is incredibly unique. Claim it. Love it. Use it. Show it loudly! I urge you to learn and dive deeper into your own culture. Youll be amazed at how empowering it is to know where you come from. Thank you to the @frozenbroadway team for seeing me for me. I am incredibly grateful to be here.

Coming Up:

Take Root one of OUs resident professional dance companies, co-founded and co-directed by OU dance faculty Thayer Jonutz and Ali Woerner performs March 6-7 in Varner Recital Hall. The March 7 performance will begin with a special presentation by Take Roots Dance for Parkinsons Disease Program and Arts Education Program.

IGNITE! Productions will present The World Goes Round (the music of Kander and Ebb) featuring work of faculty members Stephanie Michaels, director and Amanda Lehman, choreographer and current musical theatre seniors Annika Andersson, Josh Frink, Mackenzie Grosse, Alaina Whidby, and theatre alumnus Tony Sharpe (BFA 18). OU faculty members Dan Maslanka and Mark Kieme will also be featured in the shows band. The World Goes Round will be presented at The Berman Performing Arts Center at 2 p.m. on March 20 (sponsored by the Ethel Hyman and Rose Kaplan Foundation to bring musical programming to the elderly) and at 3 p.m. on March 22 (open to the public). Tickets are available at

The March 24 Guitar Ensemble Concert will feature the premiere of music faculty member Terry Heralds Jovian Encounter for 5 Electric Guitars and Surround Sound Synthesizer, with projected images of Jupiter animated by Brian Bukantis. The work will be conducted by Victoria Shively.

This years Nightclub Cabarets will be held in downtown Rochester at the Hemmingway Room (139 S. Main Street.) Come laugh, cry and learn through glorious song and story as students share the age old tradition of cabaret, perhaps one of the greatest solo performing art forms. Reserved seating in advance is available at

The new NafME Collegiate chapter of OU will be hosting others in the state for a workshop on April 11 and several of our students plan to attend the national NafME Collegiate music education advocacy day in Washington, D.C. in June.


Music, Theatre and Dance News: March 2020 - 2020 - School of Music, Theatre and Dance - News - OU Magazine - News at OU

Written by admin

March 4th, 2020 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Meditation

Buddhism and meditation guide Eli Brooks through the ups and downs of his Michigan career – York Dispatch

Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:44 am

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ROB ROSE, 717-505-5418/@robrosesports Published 6:08 p.m. ET Feb. 26, 2020 | Updated 10:16 p.m. ET Feb. 26, 2020

Buddhism has helped Spring Grove High grad Eli Brooks deal with the ups and downs of his Michigan basketball career. He wears a tattoo symbolizing his faith on his left shoulder.(Photo: Carlos Osorio, AP)

While walking through the Morningstar Marketplace with his mother during his sophomore year at Spring Grove High, something caught Eli Brooks eye.

It took some convincing because of the high price tag, but Brooks got his mother, Kelly, to purchase a statue of the head of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha and the founderof Buddhism.

Little did she know that the purchase would change her sons life.

Brooks carried the statue in his backpack for every game of his sophomore season and into his junior year, until one night he slipped on some ice and the Buddha head broke.

Now, a junior and a starter for the University of Michigan basketball team, Brooks no longer carriesthe symbol of the faith in his bag. Instead, he carries that faith with him every time he steps on the court. It's a faith that has allowed him to deal with a Michigan career that's been full of ups and downs.

The tattoo on his left shoulder serves as a symbol of thefaith he has and how it has allowed him to thrive, even after finding himself on the bench and working with the scout team before emerging asa team leader this season.

Its a visual reminder of how it got me through dark times, Brooks said of his tattoo of the Buddha in a phone interview.

Michigan guard Eli Brooks (55) grabs the ball from guard Zavier Simpson (3) during the first half against Iowa in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette via AP)(Photo: Rebecca F. Miller, AP)

Test of faith: When Brooks originally purchased the Buddha head, he only knew a little about Buddhism. As he got older, andafterspendingmore time learning and researching the faith, he found hewas interested in it.

The point where he really found himself looking for guidance came during his sophomore year at Michigan. Brooks didnt start a game last season after he started 12 games as a freshman following his dominant career at Spring Grove High.

Brooks was asked to work with the scout team during practices to help the Wolverines prepare to defend opposing star players. During the rare moments when he was on the floor in the real games, he struggled with his shooting and confidence.

After he averaged 1.8 and 2.5 points per game in his first two seasons, respectively, Brooks admitted the idea of transferring to another school crossed his mind, but he decided to stick it out at Michigan.

I think that crosses everybodys mind when youre not getting the playing time, but I just looked at it like, 'its a great opportunity to get a great education,' Brooks said. The ball (will) start bouncing your way some time, so just take advantage of the resources that we have here and keep trying to bring up my game so I can get on the court.

Becoming a leader: Brooks worked to elevate physically on the court, but improving his mentality and focus werejust as important. His time on the court and in the gym, in combination with his faith and daily meditation beforepractice to get into the right frame of mind, helpedBrooks earn a spot in the starting lineup this season under new head coach Juwan Howard, a former member of the legendary Fab Five with the Wolverines.

Its easy to get caught up, so just having something there to believe in and trust and get you through tough times is really good, Brooks said.

After he had earned a starting spot, Brooks learned how important it is to be a leader on the team during a season whenthe Wolverines battled plenty of ups and downs.

Brooks said it was difficult at first to be a vocal leader, evident by one his nicknames, The Silent Assassin, given to him by teammate Isaiah Livers because of Brooks ability to get things done without talking too much.

Before he could lead his team, however, he had to learn how to lead himself.

I feel like you have to be in control of yourself in order to lead someone else, Brooks said. If you dont know whats going on, its hard for you to teach someone else.

Brooks, who also goes by The Professor, a nickname given to him by Howard because of Brooks desire to ask questions and his high basketball IQ, is schooling his doubters now.

Through 27 games, he has more points, minutes, rebounds and steals than during his first two seasons combined. Brooks has been the Wolverines leading scorer on six occasions and has started every game while averaging 11 points per contest.

He's also helped guide his team through achallenging season, that saw the Wolverines (now 18-9) gofrom the No. 4 team in NCAA Division I, to unranked after a four-game skid, and now back into the top 25 at No. 19.

His status for Michigans next game is still unclear after he suffered a nose injury against Purdue. Brooks said he will likely wear a clear facemask, like the one made popular by Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton in the early 2000s, until the black, carbon fiber model being made is ready for him.

Michigan guard Eli Brooks (55) walks off the court ofter being injured during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)(Photo: Michael Conroy, AP)

Ups and downs: As he prepares for the final four games of Michigans regular season, Brooks said the team is peaking at the right time and their challenges during the year have brought them closer together.

Much like his career at Michigan, the struggles have only made the successes mean more for Brooks. As the pressure on winning each game rises with the NCAA Tournament approaching, one glimpse at the tattoo on his shoulder, the symbol of his faith that has helped guide him through all the challenges, reminds Brooks of how far he has come during his college career.

Stay true to who you are, Brooks said. Just continue to do things youve done in the past that make you happy. Theres been ups and downs. A lot of good things happened and then bad things have happened, but thats life. Not everything is going to be glitter, so you just need to be able to get through those hard times.

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Buddhism and meditation guide Eli Brooks through the ups and downs of his Michigan career - York Dispatch

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A Short Meditation Could Help With Pain Management Even if You’ve Never Tried It Before – ScienceAlert

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Mindfulness and meditation have long been associated with positive health benefits. Now, a small new study suggests such benefits can emerge even after just a short period of meditation, - and even if you've never tried it before.

The study involved 17 people, so we can't make any sweeping generalisations from it, but the volunteer participants coped better with both physical pain and negative emotions when they applied techniques given to them in a short 20-minute mindfulness exercise beforehand.

None of the study participants had practiced meditation before, which isn't often the case with experiments like these. Hence, the results suggest that the brain can quickly get to grips with the state of mind brought on by meditation.

"The findings support the idea that momentary mindful-acceptance regulates emotional intensity by changing initial appraisals of the affective significance of stimuli, which has consequences for clinical treatment of pain and emotion," write the researchers in their published paper.

In the study, the volunteers were put through two sets of tests: one where something warm or hot was put on their forearm, and one where they were shown negative or neutral images. A negative image might be something like a mutilated body, for example, while a neutral image could be something like a chair.

During these tests, half the time the participants were told to act naturally, and half the time they were told to try and apply the ideas from the mindfulness crash course they had been given; when applying mindfulness, the participants reported less pain and fewer negative emotions.

While this was happening, the researchers were also using fMRI scans to see how the brains of the people being tested were reacting. This revealed something interesting: a significant drop in brain activity associated with pain and negative emotions when volunteers were trying to be mindful.

In the case of the physical experiment, when the highest temperatures were used, it was "as if the brain was responding to warm temperature, not very high heat",says neuroscientist Hedy Kober from Yale University.

What's more, these neurological shifts weren't happening in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the bit where conscious and rational decision-making is processed that suggests that deploying some mindfulness techniques can alter our brains on a subconscious level, without any deliberate effort in willpower.

Previous studies have demonstrated how lower brain activity and meditation practices can boost our health in numerous ways, but what this study shows limited in scope as it is is that the benefits can be relatively quick.

That in turn could give doctors new ways to try and treat physical and mental issues, though more research is going to be needed to see how these ideas play out in a bigger, more diverse group of people.

"The ability to stay in the moment when experiencing pain or negative emotions suggests there may be clinical benefits to mindfulness practice in chronic conditions as well even without long meditation practice," says Kober.

The research has been published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

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This Video of a Speedy Pig Will Bring You Serenity – The Cut

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Run, javelina, run. Photo: The Damion Alexander Team/Facebook

The benefits of meditation are many and well documented. Taking some time each day to clear your thoughts and focus on your breathing has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve your mood, lower your blood pressure, even improve your skin. But can meditation really compare, I wonder, to the joy and serenity I experience when watching this incredibly fast pig zooming along the streets of Tucson, Arizona?

The video of the pig went viral this week after it was posted to Facebook by real estate agent Damion Alexander. Wee wee wee, all the way home, Alexander wrote.

Technically, the pig in the video isnt a pig; shes a javelina. Also known as collared peccary or musk hogs, according to Arizonas KOLD13, javelinas are neither pigs nor boars. Theyre hoofed herbivores who typically live in herds of eight or nine and have a scent gland on top of their rump that emits a strong, skunklike odor that they use to communicate with the other members of their herd. Speedy, stinky kings!

Watching this javelina speed along the side of the Los Portales apartment complex, I am overwhelmed with a sense of calm. Look at her grace, her determination. Look at the way she launches herself forward off of her powerful haunches and how she is, for a moment in each stride, suspended in the air, flying, free. Imagine what it would feel like to be that powerful, to have the wind rippling through your hair, your skunklike odor trailing behind you. Blissful.

If, for some reason, this doesnt immediately center you, try watching this clip of the javelina set to Kate Bushs Running Up That Hill.

I dont know about you, but my skin feels clearer already.

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Transcendental Meditation Linked to Increase in Functional Connectivity in the Brain – Technology Networks

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A new study has linked the emotional changes felt by people conducting transcendental meditation with measurable changes in the brain, data which adds further evidence for the benefits of the practice to the brain.

The research, which appeared in Brain and Cognition, examined the effects of the technique known as Transcendental Meditation (TM), which consists in the silent repetition of a meaningless sound, a "mantra".

For the study, conducted at the Molecular Mind Laboratory (MoMiLab) of IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, the researchers enrolled 34 healthy young volunteers and divided them in two groups. The first one practiced Transcendental Meditation 40 minutes per day in two sessions of 20 minutes each, one in the morning and the other in the evening; the second group did not change its daily routine.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers also measured through psychometric questionnaires the anxiety and stress level of all the participants, as well as their ability to manage stressful situations. Each individual was also subjected to a functional magnetic resonance imaging test (fMRI), in order to measure brain activity at rest and changes in the functional connectivity among different cerebral areas. After three months, at the end of the study, the same tests were repeated.

The analysis of the data clearly showed that levels of anxiety and stress perceived by the subjects who followed the meditation program were significantly reduced in comparison with those of the volunteers who did not practice TM. "Magnetic resonance imaging also shows that the reduction of anxiety levels is associated with specific changes in the connectivity between different cerebral areas, such as precuneus, left parietal lobe and insula, which all have an important role in the modulation of emotions and inner states", explains Giulia Avvenuti, a PhD fellow at IMT School and first author of the study. "In the control group, instead, none of these changes was observed". "The fact that Transcendental Meditation has measurable effects on the 'dialogue' between brain structures involved in the modulation of affective states opens new perspectives for the understanding of brain-mind relationships" says Pietro Pietrini, IMT School's Director and coordinator of the study. "It also extends the results of recent research suggesting that drugs therapies and psychotherapy leverage on the same biological mechanism".

Transcendental Meditation has recently gained an increasing success worldwide as a relaxation practice also thanks to the David Lynch Foundation, which co-financed the study along with the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca. Founded in 2005 by the movie director David Lynch, who is himself a longtime practitioner and supporter of the social value of Transcendental Meditation, the David Lynch Foundation promotes TM practice as an approach to reduce stress in schools (as for the 'Quiet Time-Meditate Lucca' project at the Pertini High School) and workplaces, and to build resilience in victims of trauma.

"I am very happy of the results of this study that used the latest technology to show the beautiful benefits for the human beings of TM. Now I'm working to form my foundation also in Italy, with teachers who teach transcendental meditation in schools, work places and other groups, reaching as many people as possible" says David Lynch.

This new study, coherently with previous ones, shows that even a few months of practice of Transcendental Meditation have positive effects on psychological well-being and that these effects are correlated with measurable changes in the brain.

Reference: Avvenuti, G., Leo, A., Cecchetti, L., Franco, M. F., Travis, F., Caramella, D., Bernardi, G., Ricciardi, E., & Pietrini, P. (2020). Reductions in perceived stress following Transcendental Meditation practice are associated with increased brain regional connectivity at rest. Brain and Cognition, 139, 105517.

This article has been republished from materials provided by IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

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Meditation may be associated with specific brain connection changes: Study – Deccan Herald

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The subjective feeling of well-being experienced by many people with the practice of meditation is associated with specific changes in the brain, according to a study which may lead to better clinical recommendations of the practice.

The study, published in the journal Brain and Cognition, examined the effects of the technique known as Transcendental Meditation (TM), which consists of the silent repetition of a meaningless sound.

In the study, the researchers from the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca in Italy, enrolled 34 healthy young volunteers and divided them in two groups.

They said the first group practised TM 40 minutes per day in two sessions of 20 minutes each, one in the morning and the other in the evening.

The second group, the scientists said, did not change its daily routine.

Using questionnaires, they also measured the anxiety and stress levels of all the participants at the beginning of the study, as well as the subjects' ability to manage stressful situations.

According to the researchers, the participants were also subjected to a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scan, in order to measure the organ's activity at rest, and changes in the excitation among different cerebral areas.

They repeated the tests after three months, at the end of the study.

According to the study, the levels of anxiety and stress perceived by the subjects who followed the meditation program were significantly reduced in comparison with those of the volunteers who did not practice TM.

"Magnetic resonance imaging also shows that the reduction of anxiety levels is associated with specific changes in the connectivity between different cerebral areas, such as precuneus, left parietal lobe and insula, which all have an important role in the modulation of emotions and inner states," said study co-author Giulia Avvenuti from the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca.

"In the control group, instead, none of these changes was observed. The fact that Transcendental Meditation has measurable effects on the 'dialogue' between brain structures involved in the modulation of affective states opens new perspectives for the understanding of brain-mind relationships," said Pietro Pietrini, IMT School's Director, and co-author of the study.

"It also extends the results of recent research suggesting that drugs therapies and psychotherapy leverage on the same biological mechanism," Pietrini said.

According to the researchers, even a few months of practice of TM can have positive effects which can be correlated with measurable changes in the brain.

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Meditation may be associated with specific brain connection changes: Study - Deccan Herald

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5 Things To Know About The Lost Art Of Listening – Houston Public Media

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Houston writer Kate Murphy discusses her book, Youre Not Listening: What Youre Missing and Why It Matters.

From an early age were conditioned to not listen.

Were told to lead the conversation, not follow it, says Houston-based writer and journalist Kate Murphy. Theres sort of this urgency in our culture to shape the narrative stay on message.

Or, as a kid, if your parent stopped you and said, Listen to me, that was usually bad news.

Its a sure bet you were not going to like what was coming next, she said.

The same goes when a romantic partner says, Listen, we need to talk.

Plus, nowadays, technology is everywhere.

Everything around us is almost conspiring to keep us from listening, Murphy said.

She explores the often-lost art of listening in her book Youre Not Listening: What Youre Missing and Why It Matters. In the audio above, she discusses what she discovered with Houston Matters host Craig Cohen.

Murphy will discuss the book at Brazos Bookstore on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m.


1. Listening Takes Effort. Wanting to listen is the first step, but there are plenty of tangible and psychological hurdles to clear too.

We can think a lot faster than people can talk, Murphy said. And, as a result, our minds start to drift. So it does it takes effort. And with all these other things going on keeping us from listening, it is becoming very much of a lost art.

2. Multitasking Is A Myth

Murphy says theres this persistent myth that we can successfully multitask.

But the research is really clear: each additional input degrades your ability to listen, she said.

3. Listening Is A Skill

To learn how good listeners hone that skill, she interviewed people from professions that demand a higher level of it.

I like to call them the Olympic athletes of listeners, she said. These are people like air traffic controllers, CIA agents, focus group moderators, bartenders, hair dressers. Theyre the people that have put in their 10,000 hours.

And just like any other skill, it gets better with practice.

Like a sport or playing a musical instrument the more you do it the better you get at it, Murphy said.

4. Your Listening Skills Can Atrophy

Murphy says, in a culture where good listening happens less and less, that compounds the problem.

Theres less and less listening going on, and as a result people get worse and worse at it, and when you get worse at something then you resist doing it, she said. Like, if you havent run for a long time, and then you try and run you feel like, OK, this is painful. Its hard for me to go back to doing that.

5. Treat Listening Like Meditation

So, in a world where distractions cant be completely avoided, what can someone do to improve their listening?

Murphy says to think about listening like meditation.

Where you acknowledge distractions but then bring your focus back to the listener, she said. Whereas, in meditation, you bring your focus back to breathing or a mantra. But, with listening, you bring yourself back to the conversation at hand.

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February 27th, 2020 at 12:44 am

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Tech’s favorite meditation app just raised another $93 million. The CEO reveals his unusual strategy for crafting the new funding round. – Business…

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The mega-round isn't going anywhere, as startups wait longer to raise outside capital and investors stockpile funds for backing the most mature companies.

Headspace, a startup that makes an app for guided meditation, is one of the latest beneficiaries of the capital blitz. The company that waited five years to raise its first significant round of financing in 2015 has just closed on $93 million in new funding. The Series C round is only a few million dollars short of being a mega-round, the term du jour for the industry, which describes a financing event where a company pulls in at least $100 million.

The cash injection will allow the Southern California startup to pour gasoline on its newer enterprise business, which sells app subscriptions to corporations as an employee benefit. Headspace for Work has doubled revenue two years in a row, according to a company statement.

The deal's size isn't unusual. Last year, the tech industry recorded 257 mega-rounds, an increase of almost 12% from 2018, according to PitchBook data.

However, the Headspace round is remarkable in the details.

Rich Pierson, cofounder and chief executive officer of Headspace, said the company fielded "lots of term sheets" from investors. The interest meant that the two founders could craft the conditions of the round to their liking.

They structured the deal in a way that it would not dilute shares of the company more than was necessary. And they selected a lead investor that offered terms that put the company's best interests ahead of their own, according to Pierson.

His advice for founders: "I wouldn't be forced to take some of the checks and terms that people are offering in this kind of cycle," Pierson told Business Insider.

The new funding has an almost even mix of equity and debt financing, which the company will have to pay back with interest. It includes $40 million of debt financing from Pacific Western Bank.

The main reason a startup would want to raise debt financing is because it doesn't create new chunks of ownership. That means the value of the equity held by existing shareholders remains the same.

Typically, a startup takes on debt when it expects to make enough money to settle up. Headspace's consumer business, which sells subscriptions to the app, is profitable, according to the company.

That wasn't always the case. Headspace began in 2010 as a meditation events company backed by a family-and-friends round of financing. The business model was "terrible," Pierson said, and two years later, the startup reinvented itself as an app with a business model baked in. The app requires a subscription to access that costs $12.99 a month or $70 for the year.

The latest round also includes $53 million in venture capital, which Headspace can spend to grow the parts of the business that are less predictable, like Headspace for Work. Pierson said hiring a larger staff is among the startup's biggest expenses.

Headspace could also use the capital to provide funding for clinical trials that study the effects of its app on a number of health conditions. If it gets approval from the Federal Drug Administration, the app could be prescribed by a doctor and paid for a health insurer. Healthcare opens a huge market opportunity for Headspace.

But the success of its healthcare business relies on an approval it doesn't have yet.

"We are at the mercy of the research results that come back," Pierson said.

The founders could have their pick of investors if the round was as competitive as Pierson said. They went with a mix of sector-specific funds and lesser-known firms that invest at the growth stage.

The round includes several venture capital firms that were founded by media moguls, including Shari Redstone's Advancit Capital and Peter Chernin's fund.Times Bridge, an investment vehicle affiliated with the largest media conglomerate in India, also participated.

Pierson said he and his cofounder, Andy Puddicombe, got to know their investors before signing term sheets to make sure they shared their values around "selfless drive," personal growth, and courage.

"The thing that sometimes people forget is that when you take an investment, it's harder to get out of than a marriage. You are in that thing," Pierson said.

As part of the process, they learned that Rishi Jaitly, the chief executive of Times Bridge, lost his brother to depression and addiction. He felt compelled to invest because of the benefits of meditation.

For a lead investor, the founders picked Blisce, a venture capital firm that writes checks into late-stage startups. They first got to know Alexandre Mars, one of the firm's partners, in a conversation about his foundation, Epic. It raises donations for a portfolio of organizations fighting social injustices experienced by children.

"They were people we wanted to spend time with," Pierson said of the two Blisce partners. The firm also gives 20% of its returns back to the foundation, according to its website.

The firm also stood out because of an offer it made: Blisce would surrender a board seat so the company could add a director who brings operating experience in the healthcare sector. A board seat is the typical remittance for an investment in a company of this stage, which made the firm's offer even more meaningful.

"That tells you a thing about them," Pierson said.

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Tech's favorite meditation app just raised another $93 million. The CEO reveals his unusual strategy for crafting the new funding round. - Business...

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Mindfulness Meditation Apps market is forecasted to register a CAGR growth of XX% over the forecast period 2019 to 2029 – News Times

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As per a report Market-research, the Mindfulness Meditation Apps economy is likely to see a CAGR increase of XX% within the forecast period (2019-2029) and reach at a value of US$ at the ending of 2029. The macro economic and micro elements which are predicted to influence the trajectory of this market are examined from the market analysis that was presented.

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The report on mindfulness meditation application market is a result of holistic approach and extensive methodology, wherein all the exclusive insights offered reflect the market evolution. The Fact.MR research study on mindfulness meditation application market offers best-in-class analysis of the overall mindfulness meditation application market and its behavior over the assessment period. The report also offers a meticulous breakdown of the market segmentation and sheds light on key elements influencing growth of mindfulness meditation application market.

The research methodology followed for the penetration analysis of mindfulness meditation application market is a two-step approach combining primary and secondary research. While primary research is about interaction with the industry experts of mindfulness meditation application market and garnering compelling insights from them, the secondary research is about scanning through reliable sources and procuring reliable information on mindfulness meditation application market.

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