And the Calendar Takes Another Turn

I admit, I’ve been neglecting my blog.  It’s been an incredibly busy year, and I haven’t had a lot of time to reflect.  But it’s New Year’s Day, and I’m fighting the start of a cold, so it seems the perfect opportunity to take it easy and catch up on a few things.  Including the blog.

There has been a lot of music this year.  I’ve (finally) turned over the trombone concerto to Haim and Ovidiu.  It’s called “Dreamcatcher,” and although it is technically a single movement, it has three very distinct and different sections.  They’ll be travelling to Moscow in a couple of weeks to record most of the works for the upcoming CD, and I can’t wait to hear it.  I won’t be travelling with them, but I will be at the recording session via Skype, so it’ll definitely be a new experience for me!

Now that the score and parts are completed and handed over, I can admit that it was a daunting project for me!  This was my first foray into orchestral composition, and it was a little overwhelming at times.  But I did work my way through it, and I am very proud of the result.  I’m ready and eager to take on more large-scale works, so bring ’em on!

As for other works from this year, I already talked about “Elemental Suite” and “Woman A/Part” in a previous post.  I’m hoping to revisit “Woman A/Part” again this year, in order to expand it into something much more substantial.  I’m also in the midst of transcribing a work for Contrabass Flute with Flute Choir called “J.C. Dist” by Jelle Hogenhuis, who made my contrabass flute, as well as working on another flute choir work with a contrabass solo.  If all goes well, we’ll work on those for the spring concerts with the Central New York Flute Choir.

I’m also very excited that Trio Casals has included “Three Songs” into some of their programming, and have plans to include it on at least 2 more concerts.  You can hear it in Lewes, DE in March, and in Cazenovia, NY in July.  (Details on dates, times, and venues are all available at my website.)

I’m also in the early planning stages of a collaborative project that I’m very excited about.  We’re not ready to present any details about it yet, but I will absolutely keep you up to date as things progress.  

And what else has kept me so busy?  Well, working a 40 hour week at the radio station, of course.  After so many years of absolute freedom in dictating my own schedule, it’s been an adjustment.  But I love going to work every day, getting my hands deep into so much classical music, hearing new releases of new and old works.  I’ve also discovered that I really love doing interviews!  I’m bringing in folks almost every single week to talk about their work in the arts, and sometimes give us a short performance.  It is an absolute blast getting to chat with so many artists, both local and national!  And working on my weekly show, Feminine Fusion, has been absolutely incredible!  It’s going well, and getting very good responses from listeners.  And I’m learning so much about other women in the classical music world, and their achievements and struggles.  It’s giving me a whole new level of respect for those who have led the way in the arts community.

Let’s not forget performing, either.  I’m still a regular member of Samba Laranja, and the Central New York Flute Choir.  And, at the moment, I’m also filling in as second flute with the Onondaga Civic Symphony Orchestra, for their February concerts.  And I still translate and run the supertitle slides for the Syracuse Opera Company.  Add in the non-musical activities that I hope to do this year (dog agility, regular rides on my trike, cheering/heckling my husband during his cyclecross races, just to name a few) and it’s definitely going to be a busy 2017!

So, before I wrap up this entry, let me give you my sincere hope that your 2017 is filled with music and joy!  


Damaging More Than Instruments

Another story cropped up on my Facebook feed today about yet another manhandled instrument.  It’s gotten bad enough that WQXR published a “Top Five Flying Disasters for Musicians” list.  The fact that a) I’ve already read about all 5 of these, and b) there are at least half a dozen more I could add to the list without thinking, is getting me worried.

Part of the worry is, of course, the frustration that the mechanisms of musician’s livelihoods are being carelessly tossed around – and too often, destroyed – by individuals who have no understanding of what they are handling.  Sure, not everyone can recognize the difference between an inexpensive student bow and a $20,000 ‘cello bow(So why not treat them all like $20,000 bows?)  But causing this kind of property damage is more than just frustrating and expensive.  It is hindering these musicians’ ability to make a living.  And it’s more than just TSA agents at fault.  Airline baggage handlers are not noted for their gentle ways.  They have limited time to load and unload the cargo hold, so everything gets tossed and tumbled.

I have a bigger fear, however.  Of those 5 incidents mentioned by WQXR, two have culminated in cessation of traveling for performances.  (Those decisions have surely included more reasons than just instrument damage, but that was clearly a significant factor.)   How many more musicians have to curtail their travel before this becomes a significant problem?  Do orchestras have to add extra days to their tours just to navigate through the random seizures and fines?

I know it’s cliché to talk about music as the “universal language,” but sometimes a cliché is accurate.  Music transcends language, moves without borders, and unites individuals in unexpected ways.  Music can become the ultimate melting pot, bringing together voices and instruments from a wide variety of cultures and perspectives, opening listeners to new experiences.

Part of the melting pot comes from the internet.  Services like YouTube and Vimeo bring performances to individuals who might not get a chance to see them otherwise.  But nothing compares to a live performance – the energy, the charisma of the performer, interacting with the audience in unpredictable ways.

But what if the performer never leaves home?

Imagine what it would be like if Yo-Yo Ma limited his performances to a 3-hour driving radius from his home in Cambridge, MA.  Or if James Galway never left Meggen, Switzerland.  Want to hear the Preservation Hall Jazz Band?  Get yourself down to New Orleans, because they’ll never leave the hall.  And orchestras will surely never tour again.

I’m an idealist.  I hope to eventually live in a truly global community.  But these kind of antics are forcing us to hunker down, afraid to venture away from home.  We are isolating ourselves and worse, our art – the aspect of ourselves that is best able to reach across boundaries of geography and culture, and speak directly to the human heart.