It started yesterday, some kind of sadness has begun to snick in. The idea of a departure is always hard on me. My house-mate, Meryl and I met this morning for another breakfast on the porch, conversing about last night's tapas dinner. It was an enjoyable gathering over delicious food and wine and an opportunity to have relaxed longer chats. What made that evening magical for me was the rain storm that was going on right above our heads as we were seated on the back porch of the house. This was a real blessing for Nebraska, who had a dry summer. Large Kendal's were lite by Grant, our host and in that dim light Grant told us stories about his travels around the world. P.J (another resident artist, who I talked about his exhibition in earlier posts) shared adventures he had in his bike ride across California and I talked about my first experiences here in the States. Meryl expressed how meaningful this stay is to her and I think we all feel the same. What a beautiful evening it was!
I got a lot of composing done while in this residency. I started a new piece for a reed quintet ensemble and I have now a complete draft of the first movement and all the musical materials for the second and third movements. A visit of the arts camp to my studio had sparked some ideas for a piece for children while I was sitting at the piano. I frantically started sketching until I had a draft of three movements. I really surprised myself, as I usually can't, or thought I couldn't, work on two pieces simultaneously. This was a lot of fun to write! I might call this piece "the arts camp" ;)
Today is my last day at the center. I spent 2 1/2 lovely weeks here. Three other artists arrived on the same day with me and three of us, out of four, will be leaving tomorrow, each continues with their lives, richer. Thank you Kimmel, Harding, Nelson Center for the Arts!
Here are some random pictures taken here :)
*MUSIC INSPIRATION OF THE DAY : Over The Rainbow, music: Harold Arlen, lyrics: E.Y. Harburg. Just makes me happy.
Just 3 more days left for this residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. I am craving for some activities other than working on my music. This was one reason for my visit at the Nelson House Museum, last Saturday. I literally crossed the street to the museum, together with my house-mate, Meryl. It was a nice change of scene for both of us.
Nelson house was built in 1853. The floral and strips wallpaper patterns and the furniture and decor in the living room threw me off to the Victorian time period. I am always fascinated to meet live history and this house was definitely that; it allowed me to have a snick pick into history. The people of that time had their little tricks to make their lives a bit more comfortable and enjoyable, as it shows from their chair design- the ladies chairs were designed without arms to make the ladies more comfortable to sit in their long skirts. Men had, what it's called, a mustache-mag, a mag designed to help gentleman to keep their mustaches dry while zipping their tea/coffee... For entertainment, people had their own version of "3D" pictures, which they would look at through a special device. A book laying on the far away table catches Meryl's eye. It is a bible for home usage. Meryl got permission to take a closer look. As book-arts-ardent, Meryl was ecstatic from this finding! I was interested and approached. The old book was fragile and charming with beautiful illustrations and fonts. Even I started to become excited about this finding.
Downstairs, was a kitchen, where it was cooler in the summers and warmer in the winters than the upper level of the house. So, this room used to serve as the main room where the family would gather. One of its walls showed all three layers from different additions of the house, including the original lime stone the house was built from. It must not have been easy to warm the house up back in those times with that little wood/coal oven. Another interesting accessory was the whole clothes-washing set of instruments, made of wood and iron. Our lady guid explains to us the process: water had to be draw from the whale, then boiled (for that you had to operate the heating oven). With the boiled water they would grade the cloths on a wash board. Then, they would iron the cloths with a super heavy iron (I held it). Here are some links where you can read more about it: http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/files/Laundry_19th_Century_06-01-09.pdf
It seems such a draining job! I will defiantly remember this next time I complain that I have to go down to the basement to wash my garderobe in the washing machine ;)
The lady guide was impressively knowledgeable with the history of Nebraska City, remembering so many details. Not only did she tell us many anecdotes of the city from it's early establishment but she also knew additional facts to the information that was hanged up on wall about the cornet band and the Opera house. Apperantly they were blooming in the 19th century in Nebraska City. Opera house in Nebraska City! Well, this discovery was clearly the highlight of my visit! :)
It is when your loved ones celebrate their birthday without you, year after year, living so far away from home converts to a gordian experience. The clock shows me it is 6PM over here = 1AM over there, in Israel... my middle sister is now officialy one year older! congratulations! :)
It is a custom in my family to stay awake until the clock hits midnight, the night before the actual "big day", to say "Mazal tov", make bless the "owner of the celebration" (ba'al hasimcha, in Hebrew) with many wishes for the coming year and in general, and hand she/he kisses. My sister will celebrate her birthday with our nuclear family in a restaurant gathering, as every year. They will enjoy a good meal and stories while sournding the table and will mention me. I will also think about them at some point during my daily activities. Living abroad is a sacrifice and I know it. I don't regret about the life I chose but rather so grateful to be able to follow my dream. However, birthdays are always hard! And mine is coming up soon..., again, far away from home, far away from my family.
This week has been eventful around the world, and not in a good way. In my working studio, I sit in a vacuum for most hours of the day. I have to admit, I do check my Facebook once in a while, can not get fully disconnected from the outside world. This makes it impossible to miss the latest disasters that hit the news. I had to read more about them. A suicide bomber exploded himself on an Israeli tourist bus near Burgas airport in Bulgaria, 7 were killed, 38 injured- Thursday. A medical school student shot people at a premier screening of the movie Batman near Denver Colorado, 12 were killed, 52 injured- Friday morning.
As I was again updating my Facebook status about the second event, I thought to myself: there must be many other victims around the world that I don't get to hear about. But they are there, mostly in third world countries, and their story never makes it to be the talk of the day. For example: (CNN) -- "Rescuers were scheduled to resume their search Friday morning for survivors of a ferry that sank off the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, killing 60 people and leaving more than 80 people unaccounted for, the Red Cross said." 60 people! It seems that certain countries get more exposure in the media than others and I wonder, why is that?
Let me share one optimistic story, though, from Somalia. In February 2012, the famine in Somalia was declared over after the assistance they received from around the world. A sign of hope, I am happy about that. BBC News' video clip compares pictures from a year ago with more recent pictures. People seem to be in a better shape. However, the risk of the famine returning is high, they still depend on streaming of food and first aid from outside. At least not as many are dieing from famine there. What can I do to help? A point to think about.
Yesterday I had a "good composing day". The act of composing means organizing different elements in a certain order. So, a "good composing day" is a day when making organizational choices comes easily; you feel you have found the "right" sequence to follow what you have already written, or when you have the full picture of what you are trying to achieve and are able to convey it. No, that doesn't necessarily mean that tomorrow you will still think you have made the right choices. I can definitely revisit a piece of music I wrote the day before and realize that what I wrote is "all wrong" ;)
I put the words "right" and "wrong" in parenthesis because in arts, I am always told, there IS NO right and wrong! There are more predictable/surprising/acceptable/silly solutions than others and everyone will have their own take on it. Bedside, solutions are relative and can change in the eyes of the same observer in different moments, the same way as people experience mood or circumstance change. Different people have different sense of these things.
So now you are asking, what guides you, than, if you have no clear parameters of judgement? Well, the boundaries are not all that loose. What guides me are, on one side, aesthetics; music has syntax (which developed because of aesthetics) the same as language has syntax and grammar, as some linguistics and neuroscientists claim. On the other side, I have my own common sense and intuition to follow. With this part my creativity blooms.
I want to tell you about a very cool exhibition that was happening here, at the Kimmel, Harding, Nelson Center for the Arts by one of the artist in residence Paul John. Pual had set up a triple live streaming from us, in Nebraska to a gallery in NYC and back here to us. A live video streaming of traffic of people at Paul's studio was projected on glass facade and thought that onto a drawing paper to a gallery in the garment district of Manhattan. A collaborator artist was drawing everything that was projected on that paper. This was live streamed back to us and we could see what she is drawing. It felt like being in two places at the same time, what a fun experience! The exhibition was a great success! Congratulations to Paul John!
To learn more about the exhibition, visit: endlessendlessendlessendless.blogspot.com
To learn more about Paul, visit: paulsplayce.tumblr.com
"MUSIC INSPIRATION OF THE DAY": German-British Baroque Composer, George Frideric Handel (known as simply Handel), Piece title: Suite No. 7, Passacaglia movement.
It's all about harmonic variations.
It's a hot day here in Nebraska city 97°C / 36°C! and it will only get hotter as the week progresses. Sitting on the patio was impossible, even with occasional visiting winds.
Today, so far has been a frustrating composing day. Do you know that feeling of standing in one place when you need to be running? The amount of time and effort one puts into their work does not corresponds with the results. At the end of a full day of composing I might end up having 5 new measures (3-6 seconds of music), after erasing everything I have done the day before. This is what I call "a frustrating composing day". The best solution for this kind of situation is taking a break and coming back to work refreshed.
On my break I went to the post office, which was actually a very nice experience. People in this town do not stop to amaze me with their kindness and patience. Usually, going to the post office is not one of my favorite things to do; there is always a long line and the workers seem quite unhappy. I can't really blame them, it must be no fun having to do the same action for hundreds of times a day and recite: "do you have anything liquid or perishable?" over and over. For the costumer it is no fun, either. When standing in queue I calculate every word I am about to say because when it is my turn no mistakes can be made. Well, I faced a nice surprise at Nebraska City's post office. I got the much needed assistance and great care there. Finally! a pleasant experience using the postal service :) Boy, I am going to miss this place!
THE MUSIC INSPIRATION OF THE DAY: a little "blast from the past"
The English band Tears for Fears, song title: "Sowing the Seeds of Love" (1989).
Empowering and feels like I want to hug the whole world.
it's bigger in Nebraska!
I have lived 2 years in Houston, TX but let me tell ya'll, Nebraska tops it! I have never seen such big portions of food (no complains, I actually enjoy take away boxes). I have already explored one coffee shop here, in Nebraska City, which I visit often, they have great cappuccino! The owner now knows me and knows that I would like a special "Florie" size cappuccino in a 12oz cap. Yes, 12oz is a special size here, the regulars are 16 oz or 20 oz. Just to describe how big it is: a Tall size cup of coffee at Starbucks is 12oz!
This morning I felt like having an American breakfast, I went to Johnny's. It was just what I needed- a pancake and a hot chocolate. The pancake was ENORMOUS and pretty good, too. My face filled with a smile! I think I got my yearly craving fix of pancakes ;) I love Nebraska! I was also impressed by the clock collection they have on the wall! (pictures to come).
As for composing- it was a very productive day with 16 measures written and a full plan for the first movement (I am aiming for 3 movements in total for this piece). I used sketches I have been writing in the past couple of days. I hope my loop playing on the piano didn't annoy my next door neighbors...
I have decided to name on piece of music- classical or a song, that I recommend for you guys. I'll try to make it on a daily basis. So, here is the first one:
THE MUSIC INSPIRATION OF THE DAY: French composer- Erik Satie, piece title: Gymnopédie No.1 (/3), written in 1888. Calm and relaxing. Enjoy!
In my cyber journey to find good music for reed quintet I found a piece I liked a lot which is titled "Motet" by Ron Ford. It sounds to me like a modern transcription of an earlier music... Hope to find more about it.
After a while, I got a bit tired listening to the same ensemble and needed a change to refresh my ear. So, I started juggling between genres on YouTube, starting with my all time favorites Ella Fitzgerald and Edith Piaf. YouTube, as various websites, gives you suggestions of other music you might like. That's how I came across with Birdy, a 15 years old (!) British singer, pianist and songwriter like myself, only younger and located on the other side of the world. "I'll never forget you" is my favorite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta4BizhGx8g&feature=related.
Then, just for fun I started typing my own name in the search bar and found out this beautiful looking musician that carries a similar name: Florrie. Another British artist, a bit older- 24 years of age (so many young talents), singer-songwriter, drummer and guitarist who is signing these days at a major record company. This one, I think, is one of my favorites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z_lxO14xcs&feature=relmfu ."Call of the Wild" reminds me a bit of Tricky's track "Black Steel" :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so8Rcm9BcII&list=PL09E5DB8B582A0E82&feature=plpp.
I salute these girls for having the courage to follow their dream and for doing it big time!
It is so peaceful here, at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. I am enjoying every minute of my three-week residency! I am working on a new piece for Akropolis Reed Quintet, which I hope to finish before going back to everyday life routine madness.
In this seclusion that is called "Residency" I am making observations and finding out some interesting things. Because I am sitting in a designated artist space, one that is dedicated for a very specific purpose- me as an artist, I must wear a different mind set. Do "me" and the "artist" personas overlap or do I have to clear some or the whole way for the "artist"?
I have been unconsciously nurturing the "aritst". I have been feeding her with what she likes- good nutrition and coffee twice a day, taking a walk to the river and nourishing her curiosity while observing the local community in the coffee shop. The results are satisfying so far- first 15 measures of music were written today as an exposition for a new piece. Not only that, but suddenly I have a craving to practice slowly and carefully, something I was always reluctant to do. At the same time- me, the "person" is being kind of push aside. Is it by chance, because my suitcase has not arrived with me and I do not have most of my personal things, that I don't "take care" as usual? In any case, I find it completely emancipating not to have to think about clothes or make up.
My time is ready to be filled with content and although it seems like a lot of time to fill, it absolutely flies! The initial preparation for a new piece requires research. This process has become my standard way of working: researching on the ensemble I am writing a piece for. In this case, finding out particular playing techniques of reed instruments, since I do not play any of them myeself. Particularly, I have to learn more about the saxophone, an instrument which I have never yet written for. There is information available online including demontrating sound clips, which is very usefl. In parallel, I am trying to get a hold on existing pieces for this ensemble to show me what is possible and carachteristc of the reeds to play (not nessicerly for me to follow), what has already been written and to just get familiar with the sound world of this ensemble. There is not a whole lot of music I find for it as this ensemble is yet a "work in progress", a kind of newly formed group comparing to a string quartet or a symphony orchestra. The idea of extending the relatively small exisiting repertoire makes me very excited! I hope to do a good job with my work.
While sitting in my studio in a vacuum of sound, I have more control over how I feel up my thoughts and my time. (this came out rhyming.. haha)
*** Here is what we eat here: on Thursdays there is a farmer's market next door to the center (Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts). I got a strange looking yellow summer squash which apparently is great to marinade and funny looking little carrots, both Certified Naturally Grown from a local farmer. On the same day we also received our order from the Nebraska-Food Cooperative. Meryl, my apartment-mate, made a delicious pasta. In the next days my creativity will be put into test with these vegtables, as well ;) ***
In this time of crisis, when the future for the arts is unknown, what makes one continue with his/her childish/impractical dream of being an artist? I keep getting my answer in the same way over and over and this time it had happend at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Trying out the piano in my given studio for the first time was a magical moment. Even after a while of staying away from the piano, from songs, from singing, music comes out effortlessly and so naturally. This "coming out naturally" feeling... how can I explain it? It is as if you returned to visit an old friend; time had passed by and you both already collected some gray hair but between you two, time comfortably stood still. Coming back to visit feels as comfortable as ever, it's like coming back home! Near the piano I get my answers.
This blog is about new music, composing, living, experiencing. Thank you for visiting, feel free to leave a comment!