Perfect Chords
Concert Review (3/27/04)
by Deb Mandour


The Pour House, Westminster, MD.

“My teacher is a broken song, weeping at the sight of the moon “

Through story and song a concert by John Terlazzo and Voices in the Hall takes us on a journey inward to the place where the soul breathes. We are opened, beautifully wounded, and shown the way to heal. Mystical chords bring us through to the other side, where we are reminded of our place in the world - but with our normal waking state transcended. With words that bring us glorious images, John invites us to share in his vision. Backed by the support of dedicated, exceptionally talented musicians, we are carried to another place altogether.

John’s sensual,spiritual stories teach on many levels, blending (as in life) the sacred with the mundane, the holy and the profane. His art illuminates the human condition. We recognize that Love, Betrayal, Hope, Death, Desire and the search for meaning in our lives are universal states. No one is immune.

“My teacher is the open dress, my teacher is a sickle of steel“

The many faces of Power are shown to us through the selection of songs performed. Each of us (consciously or not) chooses to learn through lessons of either Love or Fear. Like the Phoenix we are asked to rise from our own ashes and “Burn, Burn, Burn,”.

We see the benevolent use of spiritual power made physical in the epic story of the Mighty Atom in the song “Last of the Great Strongmen”. We are told that there are no inconsequential actions in life. In the chorus we hear that “there’s no such thing as a little man”. How we treat everyone we meet is the measure of our soul’s progress. We are also asked to examine our social consciousness and the price of misused power through politically inspired songs such as “Dancing on the Ashes of Empires” and “Prisoners of War”(the latter placing us all in that category). These songs reveal our tendency to follow, when we should lead. “When the Poets Speak” reminds us of the Power to change our world inherent in each voice.

The Power of Love is explored in its many manifestations. John’s poetry is at its best delving into the sublime experience that transcendent love brings. Sexual passion and the search for the connection to the divine are intimately entwined. Sex becomes the prayer. The ultimate honoring of the spirit in the other. In “Champion the Essence” there is an asking for acceptance, a plea to be seen, and gratitude for the privilege of being received. In “Honor Among Thieves” the inevitability of passion to lead us both to and away from our beloved. In “Seven Stars over Sicily” there is a mood of regret, that we, at times, cannot live up to our ideals. “Your Hands” is a testament to the object of desire and the paradox that we ourselves are the object of desire of the Essence itself.

In “Dream of Santa Rosalia” the direct connection between the inner and outer worlds is made. Through the dream we are led to see the symbols of the spirit within us and all around us. We gather inner meaning from our exterior actions.

“...all is illusion, save that one holy sound... What is the nature of a tightly strung bow, what is the flavor of an arrow let go?"

In “Condensed Heart Instruction” we are urged to ask ourselves the questions; Are we living authentically? Are we awake? Do we dare to become awake? Do we trust ourselves? Others? The divine - or our own nature?

“Live like your hair is on fire. That‘s how my teacher speaks, come feast or fast,
Burn away the seal that obscures what’s real, until all that’s left is ash.”


Commonality and inclusion are the driving forces behind the unbounded Joy felt in the songs that are chosen to open and close each Voices concert. “The Flame In Every Hand”, “On The Banks of This River” and “All That We Know To Be True” are affirmations of our unity and the interconnectedness of all things. Melodious offerings to the Muses. Thankfulness for our life, our ability to feel, and our ability to become more human.

“And all those Voices in the night…”

The poetry by itself would be enough to make our “souls tremble”, but when it is in the hands of master craftsmen our logical minds are bypassed. The musicians enhance the experience, evoking distant times and places. Leading us in, taking us deeper into a state of Grace.

Jeffery Bitzer on bass is the constant heartbeat. Do not overlook him. He provides the necessary foundation to the quality of the meter.

John McHenry on percussion adds vibrant punctuation to the rhythm of the heartbeat.

Fred Ritz plays keyboards and the accordion in a manner so joyful and contagious that it is impossible not to become infected. An indefinable excellence resides in his hands and flows from him spontaneously.

Jacob Thro plays cello, guitar, and mandolin. His youthful expression adds a fresh dimension to the songs. His cello playing is simply heartbreakingly beautiful. His is the expression of the longing of the soul.

Kristina Machusick on flute, recorders and vocals is the complimentary spirit, the feminine aspect. Through her intensely beautiful harmonies we are taken to new levels of awareness.

“And as his banjo chords illuminate these words his body is turning to dust.”

The soft-spoken quality of John Terlazzo the man hides the depths of his passions that once expressed cannot be denied. He is the perfect union of gentleness and conviction. John’s soul shines through his body. His voice is our voice. He conveys the joys and sorrows of being human in ways that resonate with our deepest being. You are invited to be a guest in his realm. Visit often.