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The woman leading this world-renowned orchestra is one of a kind. She's so fun to watch.

I'm not used to seeing a woman in this job, and it's so fun to see.

Maestra.

It's not a word that's used very often. Less than a dozen women lead major U.S. orchestras. Which is why I'm stoked to introduce you to Alondra de la Parra!


Image via Steven Pisano/Wikimedia Commons.

Maestra de la Parra first caught my attention in a video of her conducting.

GIFs via Orchestre de Paris.

It was spellbinding! I could just feel her zippy joy for life and love for her job.

So, of course, I had to find out more!

Turns out she was just appointed, at 34, as the music director of Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Australia.

Sophie Galaise, CEO of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, said, "The appointment of Alondra de la Parra is a turning point for the Queensland Symphony."

And de la Parra? She's pretty happy about it, too: "It's something very exciting because I have been preparing and working all my life, to be director of a fine institution. ... It's definitely a dream come true."

Maestra de la Parra was born in New York City and raised in Mexico City. She's been trained in conducting, piano performance, and cello.

With moves like this, you better believe she was up to some truly awesome things well before she got the Queensland gig.

De la Parrastarted her own orchestra in NYC at age 23 — the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas — to showcase young performers across the Americas.

Zing!

Classical music has always been a little Euro-centric, so forming an orchestra that highlights non-European talent? That's a really cool way to change perception in the classical music world.

What else was she up to?

De la Parra's own classical album made it to the top 10! NBD.

The first album she conducted, "Mi Alma Mexicana" ("My Mexican Soul"), was in the top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart in 2010. It was also the first classical recording in a decade to go platinum in Mexico, just two months after its release.

She's also collaborated with cool celeb artists like Geoffrey Rush, Robert Redford, Michel Gondry, and Gloria Estefan!

Thinkin' about cellos.

And she frequently works with Plácido Domingo, who's a big fan of hers.

She's got an amazing passion for music, and she's kiiiinda not here for your labels.

When asked about being a female conductor, here's what she said:

"Music doesn't have a gender, and isn't gender-oriented. Every time I'm on the podium, I'm thinking of music — how I'm going to make this work better, how I'm going to make this sound cohesive, and how I'm going to communicate with the musicians — but I'm never thinking about how people will perceive me as a woman."

No, but seriously. Not here for those simplistic labels:

"I am a woman, I am a Mexican but that is just part of the many ingredients that make me who I am. It's more three dimensional than the particular labels."

Her reasons for loving conducting? You know, just the stuff that could lead to world peace.

"There's probably nowhere else in the world where you can share with 100 people something so precious and harmless and noble at the same time, with everyone. I don't think there's another activity where there are so many people engaged in something so pure and good. Simply good."


And she's spreading those good conducting vibes around the world. In 2003, she started a music program in schools in Harlem and Washington Heights, NYC.

Through this program, she's taking music down to the level where kids — even those with no music background — can participate.

"It ends where the kids actually compose a whole piece for orchestra, even kids who don't know how to read and write music. They do it by instinct, by singing and drawing and clapping."


Where are all the people who want to be involved in music? I must find them!

Based on de la Parra's thoughts about the skills orchestral music brings out in humans, the world definitely needs more of it:

"Anyone who knows how to play in an orchestra, and has been part of one, gets tools for life. Teamwork. Giving part of yourself for the other. Listening. Opening your ear and soul to take in everybody else's sound and ideas. Creating one unified idea. "

Um, can we get our politicians to play in an orchestra?

De la Parra knows that being yourself is the best thing you can do when it comes to conducting....

"We bring to the podium everything that one is. ... One can only be who one is and nothing else, it's the experiences of your life that you share with others."

...but let's be honest, also in life:

"I don't think there's any way that anyone can do wrong with good music. It's the concept of let's all get together and do something beautiful together. It's already a human statement that I think is unparalleled."



This move can only be described as "catch a bug and smile about it" — and it's great.

She's so cool!

And if you wanna listen to her orchestra while she conducts, here's your chance!

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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