[IMAGE] Bella. Photo by Paul Chepikian

…click to listen:

…about the music


So many fun fun fun things have happened in the past few weeks, that I haven’t been in one place (or at least one place without a deadline cuddled up right next to me) long enough to post about them. Truly, the dilemma of living a published life (and most of us do, via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, etc.), is the difficulty of reporting one’s compelling moments while simultaneously experiencing them.

So, I find myself alternating between the living of, and the posting of that which has been lived. I think if I were able to do both at once on any regular basis, it would mean my life was dull and without nearly as interesting material to offer up to others. I’m anti-spew; I can’t post little ditties just for the sake of posting. Enough people waste precious pixels on your retinas, and I don’t want to be one of them!

No, I post inanities about which I’m damned proud! Executive, high-level inanities. Inanities guaranteed to enrich a few valuable moments of your busy lives. Like gulls attempting to swallow flounders, and the heartbreakingly hollow promises of deluxe hotel shower caps, as seen in very recent and oh-so-pithy posts, below. If you keep scrolling backward through the annals of my past seven enpixelated years, you’ll be amazed by the high quality of utter inanity I serve up. Nothing but the finest, here in Kelpville.

[IMAGE] Pacific tree frog.
Yada, yada, yada… ribbit.

2013 got off to a very ribbiting… uh, I mean, riveting start. Lots of music, and lots of professional events, but kicked off by a couple of glorious, stolen weeks in January (after an insane December working in NYC and Chicago), in which I welcomed in another completed solar rotation by strapping on some tight snorkel gear and becoming one with the fishes. No, not in the nippy Hudson River or Lake Michigan, but in the warm Hawaiian Pacific. Ahhhh….

I had a few days back on San Juan Island after the Big Island to shake the lava-sand from between my toes, and by the end of January all the fun-but-slightly nutty music stuff started up again. After three nearly-solid months of travel, I’m looking forward to this weekend, because as of March 2 I’ll be home for the entire month and then some, well into April. This quite possibly means more blog posts, since I will be more stationary and thus looking for more ways to procrastinate as I busily align more notes. Looking at my business trip calendar just these past 5 weeks, I will have physically been to Seattle twice; Bellingham, WA; Pullman WA; New York City twice, and, Los Angeles, (for one action-packed day you’re soon to read about).

In the same time frame, I’ve been to even more places virtually, thanks to the magic of Skype, Google Hangouts and Twitter, all of which have connected me to bands around the U.S. in order to coach rehearsals (via a process which I have coined Skypehearsals), and to talk to live audiences at recent premieres and performances of my music.

I DO love the physical trips because [despite my hermetic composerly nature on San Juan Island] I really DO love people. At least, in short, controllable doses. And I live a very lucky life that is filled with exceptionally wonderful people.

But there is a glee in the virtual life: I can be anywhere, at any time, and I don’t even need to wear pants.

[IMAGE] OSU Skypehearsal
Virtual music-making: Jerry Luckhardt guest conducting the symphonic band at Oregon State University, as I coach the rehearsal on San Juan Island (I think I was, indeed, wearing pants. I think.).

As a composer, I get to do Really Enjoyable Things, like be a guest lecturer at Western Washington University last month, and, a week later, be the belle of the ball at Washington State University’s marvelous Festival of Contemporary Art Music, where Dave Jarvis premiered (and, video’ed and recorded– wait ’til you see this!) the new electroacoustic piece we co-wrote, KETTLE BREW, and where an entire all-Shapiro note-fest extravagonzo occurred the following night, featuring four of my chamber works as well as my electroacoustic symphony for winds and percussion, IMMERSION.

Hearing one’s own music in the context of… one’s own music… is very, very cool. And if it’s a composer like me who writes in quite a number of different styles (no, I’m not schizophrenic… yes, you are… no, she’s not!), well then, I can take heart that the hapless audience members, sonically flogged by my many offerings, are likely to enjoy at least one of the pieces on the program. Really: it’s just like Pacific Northwest weather: if you don’t like it, just wait ten minutes and it’ll change.

[IMAGE] After a storm.
Change, captured in my lens: the moon and drama from my desk after a storm one afternoon.

As thrilling as the physical world can be, there are also some tricky hidden challenges to online life: the dark underbelly of e-topia. I was reminded of this the day I arrived at WSU in Pullman, to coach a Skypehearsal with conductor Miller Asbill and the wind band of Brevard College, all of whom were brave enough to be preparing the premiere of my newest electroacoustic band piece, TIGHT SQUEEZE.

This fine use of modern technology was made oh-so-much more exciting by the fact that despite being at a major university, for some reason I was suddenly unable to connect to the internet. As a few music grad students observed over my shoulder, I frantically tried everything I could, to no avail. With just one minute before the downbeat three time zones over in North Carolina, I forewent the beautiful large screen and speakers I had planned to use, and instead, quickly logged into Skype on my iPhone and held the damn thing at the appropriate angle for the entire 50 minute session. Once I logged off, I turned to the students and told them they had just seen real-life composing in action: the ability to punt.

This small blip wasn’t nearly as nail-biting as the time a few months ago when I was slated to speak live from my home to an audience in Maine to introduce a piece of mine. Just eighteen minutes before my possibly pants-less self was to appear like The Great Oz on the big screen, the electricity went out.
I called a pal who lives about 14 minutes away in a different part of the island, to see if he had power. Yup, he did. I have never been more thankful for the paucity of police cars on little San Juan Island as when my laptop, webcam and I arrived rather breathless at his house in a record 11 and a half minutes. With just three minutes to set up, plug in, log on, and run a comb through my nerve-frazzled hair, no one in Maine was the wiser.

My headshot and my actual head, surrounded with the very friendly composition and percussion faculty of WSU: Ryan Hare, Scott Blasco, and David Jarvis.

So, after the festival, my corporeal self and I went straight from Pullman, WA to New York City (well, via Seattle, which is straight, but in the opposite direction of where I needed to go, thus being an example of, “one step backward, two steps fuggedabouttit.” About 53 hours in NY were filled with Other Enjoyable Things Composers Do, including three meetings for ASCAP and New Music USA. Somewhere in there, seated at a small desk in my even smaller Upper West Side hotel room, I got through the velvet ropes and the bouncer and found myself in a Google Hangout for the TIGHT SQUEEZE premiere, describing something to the audience about electroacoustic twelve-tone techno Latin bebop.

12, count ’em, 12 tones.

The next morning I flew back to San Juan Island, resumed a normal home life with my fabulous/amazing/incredible/awesome beau Dan, and nine days and a bunch of delivered music later got back in a car and onto a ferry to return to NYC for more meetings. But not before seeing Tower of Power funkify Jazz Alley at their last set of the run on Sunday night, and having a scenically spectacular dinner atop the pointy Space Needle on Monday’s super-clear, super-full moon night, and in between, visiting some longtime pals. Lemme tell ya, I know how to make a boomerang trip worthwhile!

[IMAGE] Seattle.
The restaurant makes a full rotation every 48 minutes. I usually make one every 36 minutes, thus creating a psychedelic phase-shifting effect. Wheee!

Hours later at a bleary-but-happy 7 am, Dan drove/ferried back to the island as my 737 launched into the clouds headed east.

[IMAGE] Mt. Rainier.
No matter how many times I fly by Mt. Rainier, I’m always ribbeted… um, riveted.

You’d think that tomorrow, as I pour myself into a cab at 5:30 a.m. to catch the early flight back to Seattle, I’d be done with the travel mischegas. But instead of doing the sensible thing and puddle-jumping my way back home, I’m turning on my heels and hopping on a flight an hour later to Los Angeles. For just one night.
And not for anything music-related.
Unless we count this as a “muse acquisition” business trip (I hope my CPA and the IRS are paying attention to my request, on behalf of United States artists, for this long-overlooked and important deduction category. In this case, it’s truly a CATegory).

Yup, here comes that “action-packed day” I promised at the start of this rambling post:

I’m adopting a gorgeous Maine Coon kitty named Bella, that my dear friend Paul’s elderly mother can no longer keep because she’s going into an assisted living building that, regrettably, does not allow pets. Dan and I are very excited to become parents in a manner that does not include saving for a college education (unless Bella is a real stand out in her class, in which case, we’ll spring for it).

My cat-chaperoning return on Saturday will take a whopping 13 hours, because the flight gets in to Seattle after the last puddle jumper has left for the island, thus necessitating an additional fun-filled 6 hours of two-buses-and-a-long-ferry travel with a cat who will be wondering what the hell is going on and why was her staff not consulted. Bella and I make landfall on the island after 11pm that night, having left L.A. around 10am. Happily, I have kitty prozac with me. And if she’s nice, I won’t consume all of it.

This little extra jaunt (heck, I was already at SeaTac, what’s one extra flight?) definitely qualifies me to become an official member of The Crazy Cat Lady Club.

So indeed: as advertised in this post’s title, the fur will be flying.
And after this weekend, I won’t be. At least, for a little while.

[IMAGE] Bella. Photo by Paul Chepikian
13 hours on the road? Seriously??

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