Archive for October, 2008


Friday, October 31st, 2008

…about the music

Hunting for change.

…If you are a salmon.

And, scary if you are a Southern Resident killer whale looking for a salmon these days, because there aren’t enough in our waters right now to feed the pod populations. I am hopeful that, as with the possibility of desperately needed change offered by next week’s U.S. Presidential election, a terrible situation can right itself over time if we each become keenly aware of our ability to impact everyone’s lives.

Happy Hallowe’en! And if someone comes to your door in an Orca costume, give them a fish.

Direction and delineation

Monday, October 27th, 2008

…about the music

Delineated, in all directions.

Ten days is a long time to be away from my desk. Largely because I really enjoy sitting here. My studio could be titled, “Mission: Control Freak.” Absolute Nirvana for a creative, geeky gal like me for whom simultaneous multitasking engaging all corners of the brain is an Olympic event. The space in which I spend the bulk of my hours is a personal tidepool filled with artifacts that will define my little existence long after I no longer exist, if only for the short period of time before none of the stuff in this room exists, either.

Against the wall on the left, a fine upright piano laden with too many score pads, mechanical pencils and, most importantly, erasers. The place of bad starts to many pieces and initial sketches of a few decent ones. To the right of that, facing the center wall, is the belly of the beast: my digital workstation, replete with three large LCD monitors offering 57 glorious inches of visual real estate, fully consumed with arrays of slick-looking software windows vying for my attention, all hovering over an 88-note keyboard controller, which hovers over the Big Powerful Computer and some outboard rack gear. The place of utter sonic manipulation, when the humans and cats in my life refuse to allow me to manipulate them. And to the right of all that lies my sizable desk, snugly tucked under a picture window and by a glass door overlooking the woods and the deer and the birds and the water that glistens through the trees as the sun sparkles. This is the place where I sit as I type these blogellas to you and where I sit as I size and upload the photos I want to share here and where I sit when I scratch my head and wonder just which snippet of my music might accompany my thoughts and images. It’s the place where the bulk of my administrative, left-brain tasks are fulfilled: email correspondence, score copying and printing, order fulfillment, web presence updating, internet shopping and as much idle web surfing and time wasting as possible. In fact, the tighter the deadline, the more finely honed my expert procrastination techniques become. Brilliant.

The fourth wall, to the right of all the aforementioned, simply backs my various guitars and hand drums, which in turn are backed by a large and magnificent oil painting that spans the length of the room, a gift to me from a very close family member who is the talented and deeply loved artist. Its intense, jeweled blues, teals and greens abstractly depict a natural world not unlike the one a few inches away on the other side of the glass door. I am surrounded by visual peace.

Were I living on the island from which I just returned, I would decline to describe the general contents of my studio for fear that I might be rapidly relieved of them by a less than devoted but remarkably attentive blog reader. Not that anything I’ve mentioned is worth terribly much nor would be particularly useful to normal, non-music scribbling humans. But here on this bridgeless island, the prospect of such unplanned charity is somewhat laughable since you really can’t fit much on a 6-seat airplane, and the long wait in the ferry line usually leads to an embarrassingly deflating moment when the sheriff calmly walks up to the suspect’s car, knocks on the window, and invites them to, uh, step outside the vehicle. It’s happened here. And it’s hilarious. Some folks really earn their Darwin Award.

Direction and delineation. Facing north, I begin new pieces. Facing east, I bring them to life via technology. Facing south, I get them out into the world. And facing west, I breathe and meditate for a moment as I take in the stunning colors and shapes of the painting, and by doing so, allow my spirit to turn once again to the right and begin my own creative process all over again. I’m in my swivel chair. Swiveling. And I’m happy to be home.

Fall has befallen us

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

…about the music

Falling in you.

It’s Fall here. Leaves are Fall-ing: the process of being in their annual autumnal tumble. While my house and neighborhood are blanketed by spindly-leaved evergreens that belie the season, the middle of Friday Harbor boasts lots of great deciduous trees that decidedly boast lots of great colors. Even the pumpkins look like they could have Fall-en off a tree.

I am heading off this morning to two other places resting on similar latitudes that also enjoy the fall colors: Minneapolis, and New York City. If you happen to be in the Mini Apple, come over to the University of Minnesota’s Ted Mann Concert Hall on Wednesday the 15th at 7:30pm, and you can hear lots of beautiful shiny instruments played no doubt by beautiful shiny musicians, as the U of M Symphonic Wind Band makes sense out of my piece, Homecoming. There’s a fun story behind this commission, and if you click the link you’ll find a recent article about it, among other things.

And if you happen to be in the Big Apple, well, probably my best performance there will be that of dodging cab drivers, crosstown buses and Jersey drivers, and living to tell the tale. I’m going to make like an evergreen and not Fall, and with luck, not be felled, either.

I’ll be back late next week with more photos that will probably not be orange, more music that will probably sound very different from this accompanying clip, and more commentary that will probably include words not contained in this post nor possibly, any of my others. Stay tuned!
And stay upright and on top of things.

More Orcas-stration

Monday, October 6th, 2008

…about the music

A cormorant guards the ferry.

Nope, not whales this time. Chamber music. Imagine that! Above is one of the many views from the ferry landing on Orcas Island, to the northeast of San Juan Island by about 35 peaceful minutes over the water. I had ventured over to moderate a pre-concert conversation with the delightful Seattle Chamber Players on Sunday. You can get the gist of what we talked about from a little article I wrote in the local paper last week. The audience was great, and wonderfully open to having lots of notes flung at them that were composed by composers in possession of a pulse. We smell better than the dead ones, at least, and return emails a lot more promptly. I’m hopeful that more contemporary music will find its way to these islands over time. Art is about the living, not just about the history that preceded us!

It’s also about sanity, and maintaining it. As I glided effortlessly across the archipelago I was reminded once again of the stark contrast between my former concert commutes and my current one, as I described earlier this summer in this blog post. The sentiment does not change, and I don’t think I’ll ever take the beauty of this life for granted, any more than I could possibly ignore the beauty of a chamber quartet in the throes of musical passion. Whether a watery passage on the ferry, or a lyrical passage in a piece of music, it’s wonderful to have one’s senses awash with the flow of joy.