New videos

I had such a wonderful time playing Bach with and beside McKinley James and Benjamin Fryxell this past April. We've finally got some videos up.

Created by McKinley James, the Bach Project is a group of cellists bringing together the old traditions of music into new venues for classical music. Performing three of the Bach Suites, the cellists divide up the movements of each suite to show different approaches to how one can play Bach.

A year of music by women

I'm delighted to be a member of Cardamom Quartet especially right now as we embark on a very exciting long-term project. Check out our official announcement below!

------

In 2017, why is it that women composers are still underrepresented by every major classical music ensemble around the world? Cardamom Quartet does not think the answer to this question is because there is a lack of brilliant, moving repertoire written by women. The norm of concert programs dominated by white male composers persists, and we want to challenge our ourselves, our audiences, and our music community to imagine alternative realities.

Cardamom Quartet has committed to programming a year of music exclusively by women and female-identified composers, and in particular women of color. This will be a time of learning, conversations, and celebrations, and it is our hope that our work will contribute in part to a shift in the canon as well as an amplification of underrepresented voices.

Our concert season will kick off on Friday, June 16th with an afternoon performance at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University and an evening performance at the Taylor House in Jamaica Plain.

Message from the past

I used to have a blog, back in the early 2010s. This morning I revisited it for the first time in over three years and discovered a post from October 2012 that feels terribly relevant. I write that "we are on the brink of a terrifying election," and that "Romney could win" which, if I'd known then what I know now, would be a perfectly acceptable outcome. Here it is. (For the original posting and the rest of my ancient blog, click here):

Despair's Antidote (originally published October 17, 2012)

Recently I watched Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris for the second time. One scene that stuck in my mind is the part when, after reading Gil’s manuscript, Gertrude Stein returns it to him and tells him not to write such depressing things. “The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence,” she says.

I’ve been thinking about this for weeks now. Lately, there is much to despair about.  We are at the brink of a terrifying election. We are entering a new (warmer) climate in Earth’s history, one that we as a race have instigatedIt’s almost December 2012, (but don’t worry, I don’t believe in the Mayan Calendar prophecy). The list continues.

When I look at the facts, I don’t feel hopeful, but I do think fictional Gertrude Stein has a point.  As Bread & Puppet’s Cheap Art Manifesto so aptly puts it: “Art is food. You can’t eat it, but it feeds you.” The question is, how do we as artists acknowledge the despair, write about it, sing about it and make images about it without succumbing to it, and better yet, how do we find the antidote? Mary Oliver offers these words:

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

It is as simple and as complicated as that.  Isn’t creating art, by its very nature, an act of speaking up? Getting out of bed every morning, sitting down at your desk or your piano with your manuscript paper is an act of defiance. Today, you say, I will write just one new measure. I will not give up. Most likely that tiny new measure has been informed by the astonishing things you have seen and heard somewhere in your life. Even though you may be alone in your room, you are now telling about those things. Even though you are racked by self-defeating thoughts, somewhere in your deepest insides, you know that some day, someone else will hear your completed piece and feel as though they have been fed.

And this is why I think Gertrude is right. Even though Romney could win the election, even though my future children may never build a snow fort, I still plan on writing at least one measure a day, wild and defiant, because the mere act of creating, in whatever form, is what keeps us standing, what propels us forward and forces us to have a voice. Despair is real, but so is beauty. We can be present to the emptiness of existence while simultaneously finding its balm.