Death of a composer 1

By Tom Quiner

His name may not be on the tip of your tongue, but his music is. The great Broadway composer, Jerry Bock died this week at the age of 81.

He wrote the music to what is arguably the most beloved musical in Broadway history, Fiddler on the Roof. And if you don’t agree with that assessment, at least concede that the lead character, the beleaguered father, Tevye, is the most beloved Broadway character ever.

Quiner’s Diner pays tribute to this composer who enriched the world with his beautiful music. I’ve posted two of his greatest songs for your enjoyment.

The Pope of the People Reply

By Tom Quiner

Regular readers of this blog may have detected my affection for the late Pope John Paul II. I have posted seven different commentaries on JPII over the past several months.

What is there about John Paul II that so inspires the young and the old?

For me, his trips to Poland and Iowa in 1979 were profoundly moving, so much so, that I composed a new musical called “The Pope of the People.”  It is based on those two trips.  It will be performed in 2011 as part of the Des Moines Diocesan Centennial Celebration.

Click on the link on the upper right corner of this page to learn more.

I characterize this art form as “evangelization through entertainment.”

Through dramatically presented song and narrative, the late Pope’s beautiful homilies in Warsaw, Jasna Gora, Auschwitz, Krakow, St. Patrick’s, and Living History Farms will evangelize the next generation of Christians.

Critical events, including the emergence of the Solidarity Union in Poland, and later, the assassination attempt, will be woven into this musical drama.  John Paul’s remarkable forgiveness of his would-be assassin, too, is a part of the story.

Ultimately, the central theme of “The Pope of the People” is Christ.  As the Pope proclaimed at Victory Square in Warsaw on June 2nd, 1979, “what is a man without our savior Jesus Christ?  Where is our dignity?  Where is our humanity?”  The tension this message creates with the Communist government is a significant, dramatic twist in “The Pope of the People.”

Why do I write musicals like this? According to Matthew Kelly, author of REDISCOVERING CATHOLICISM,

“There is no medium more powerful than stories to convey a message.  We have the stories, but we are not conveying them.  Our two-thousand year Catholic history is full of extraordinary stories about ordinary people who opened their hearts to God and allowed the life, teachings, and person of Jesus Christ to transform their lives.  These men and women are the heroes and heroines of our faith:  they are a rare gift of inspiration, and we have failed as a Church to tell their stories.  Shame on us. We become the stories we tell.  We become the stories we listen to.”

The Pope of the People tells the story of a modern saint-to-be.  Acting as an agent of the Holy Spirit, Pope John Paul II changed the world.  He was the man of the century.  His is a story we need to tell, and keep telling.

The Pope of the People tells our beloved Pope’s story.  It premiers next April. Please mark your calendar and come. You will be entertained, and hopefully moved, whether you are a Catholic, a Protestant, or an agnostic.


The world will be won by beauty Reply

By Tom Quiner

You’ve probably seen this video by now.  Ten year old Jackie Evancho is taking America by storm with the voice of an angel floating from the mouth of a child. What is refreshing about Ms. Evancho is that she looks like a kid.  She acts like a kid. But she sings with the pure voice of one beyond her years.

As in interesting contrast, watch the video below of Christina Aguilera at the tender age of eight. Ms. Aguilera’s persona isn’t childlike or innocent.

Let us hope Jackie Evancho’s parents can shield her from the pitfalls of American celebrity.

Live this Friday night! Reply

By Tom Quiner

Scott Stilwell plays at Grounds for Celebration this Friday at 6:30 PM

I had the pleasure of working with Scott Stilwell in a musical I produced earlier this year called “A Living Heaven.”  Scott was that perfect blend of being fun, professional, and just plain good!  Check out the music section of this blog for a clip of Scott in action in the role of Jesus.

This Friday, he’s playing at Grounds for Celebration Coffee Shop from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. You’ll enjoy his great keyboard playing and vocal stylings to original music.

Grounds for Celebration is located at 2645 Beaver Avenue, in the heart of the Beaverdale Shopping district.

I plan on being there right at 6:30. I hope some faithful Quiner’s Diner readers can make it, too. There’s no cover charge, so bring the kids.  Grounds for Celebration has a nice selection of appealing desserts, including a wide variety of gelato flavors.