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arts

One cello, four cellists and an amazing musical feat.

Some compositions are so ubiquitous they are recognizable in their first few bars, even by people who are not music aficionados. French composer Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" is one of those pieces, known for its relentless snare drum beat throughout, as it gradually builds tension from a sweet, simple tune to a grand, flourishing climax.

Ravel wrote the piece for a friend, a Russian ballet dancer, while on holiday shortly before touring North America in 1928. According to Classic FM, the composer was about to go for a swim when he called a friend over to the piano and played a simple theme with one finger, saying, "Don’t you think that has an insistent quality? I’m going to try to repeat it a number of times without any development, gradually increasing the orchestra as best I can.”

That he did, with tremendous success—and with the sacrifice of the poor percussionist charged with repeating the same 24-beat note pattern throughout the piece, for a whopping total of 5,144 drum strokes on the snare drum. While different instruments are introduced as the piece progresses, creating a buildup of sound that eventually incorporates the full symphony orchestra, the lone snare drummer never gets a break. They play the same rhythm over and over and over, just gradually increasing in volume.

But what would "Bolero" be without the signature snare drum? Or the orchestral buildup? What if someone were to play "Bolero" on just one instrument? What if several someones played it on the same instrument? Would that even work?

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Sometimes a video comes along that yanks us right us out of the frustrating fray or mundane monotony of the moment and reminds us of the miraculous gift that life truly is. This is one of those.

Marta Cinta González Saldaña was an accomplished ballerina when she was young. Now, in her waning years, she suffers from Alzheimer's. A viral video of González Saldaña shows how she reacts to hearing the music from Swan Lake—a ballet she had performed decades ago. Alternating scenes show her dancing from her wheelchair and a ballerina performing the dance on stage. (Some versions of the video have stated or implied that the young ballerina is González Saldaña herself. It's not.)

The contrast of the stage performance and her memories clearly bursting forth in her face and body movements is incredibly moving. It's amazing how music, dance, art—the universal language of humanity—can remain, even when other memories fade or get locked away.

Just watch, sound up:

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Courtesy of Kristofer Madu

Madu (left) and Banerjee (right) with First Fridays Group participant, Amaru (middle)

While many college students spend their campus years attending parties, drinking, and sleeping in, the group of young adults who competed in a recent tech for good competition are setting the bar high.

Nearly 50 students representing 22 countries around the world recently participated in Red Bull Basement University, a four-day workshop in Toronto, Canada, comprised of lectures, keynote speakers, panels, and individual mentorship sessions with global tech leaders and inspirational entrepreneurs.

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As a member of the Bloods, Trinidad Ramkissoon never expected to make it to Broadway.

Ramkissoon was the youngest of seven children, and while his immigrant parents worked hard to provide for them, the family still struggled, even enduring a bout of homelessness after their Cambridge, Massachusetts, apartment burned down.

With his father working 16-hour days and his only brother in prison for a violent crime, Ramkissoon was on the lookout for role models — and on the streets of Cambridge, gang life was the best option he could see.

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