Friday, March 31, 2006

City of Brotherly Love

Greetings from lovely Philadelphia, PA! It's a beautiful day and I have a little time before rehearsal this afternoon... so I can catch up on some news:

Since my last post about the bad day in rehearsal with Ben, I've been playing quite a bit, and things are going very nicely thank you very much. I think the allergy medicine really does make my brain foggy - so I've been trying to take as little as possible.

A few weeks ago, I performed with Jane Franklin Dance in a short performance that was part of their gala evening, held at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA. The school is really something... it's a high-end boarding school with a large and gorgeous campus. The arts center was very nicely outfitted, including some big name artwork on the wall, such as two Picasso limited edition prints, a Renoir lithograph, and a signed and numbered Miro. Quite a far cry from a public high school! Anyway, the show went well. They've added a new section to this suite of pieces including poetry that we've been working on for a few months. We had very little rehearsal time, so I had to make something up on the spot and there was little room for making revisions. I think that actually helped - I had the freedom to do whatever I thought worked best and didn't have to answer to anyone ;-)

I've also been hard at work rehearsing with Daniel Burkholder. Our new duo piece, "unmapped," will be performed in April (see upcoming events sidebar for details). Then we're gearing up for the full version in July during Fringe. This piece attempts to blur the line between the musician and dancer on stage. My guitar is hooked up to a wireless gizmo so I have to be out on stage moving with Daniel, and we can pass the guitar back and forth and toss it around, etc. (all while actually playing the music for the piece live). The two of us are also developing a new piece for Cross Currents - we've been commissioned as part of their 10th anniversary season. The plan was to use this commission as an opportunity to develop material for our own duo piece, but it doesn't seem to be working out that way.

Today (and through the rest of this weekend) I'm in Philadelphia for "Sound Exchange." Tonight is the first concert of the project - a concert by Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Band. The second half of the concert features the Deep Listening Band along with the full group of Sound Exchange participants (a large group of improvising musicians, mostly from Philly). We had one rehearsal yesterday, and another one later this afternoon. It's been quite remarkable: there were a few rehearsals without Pauline and company, and the results were much different that what we played yesterday. Pauline, David Gamper, and Stuart Dempster really lead by example. We're all quite free to improvise - there has been very little structure imposed so far, but their playing (and mindful listening) really sets the tone. Yesterday's rehearsal sounded quite nice - with all members of the group showing quite a bit of restraint.

Coming up on Sunday, there is another concert - featuring new works by the four "composer participants." I'm one of them. My piece is built around excerpts from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That came about in a serendipitous manner... our first meeting for "orientation" was on Martin Luther King Day in February. While I was driving up to Philly, I heard a fascinating radio program (on WPFW) exploring Dr. King's decision to speak out against the war in Vietnam, and examining how his remarks were received in the media. That night, after playing with the group most of the day, I was thinking of what to write and it seemed to make sense to include this material. The end result is an arrangement of King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech with instrumental accompaniment. Cameron is coming up to Philly to perform with us - she'll be reading the text. If you're curious, you can have a look at the score here (pdf).

The DC Improvisers Collective is also hard at work - we're preparing for a recording session in the beginning of June. We'll also be performing on May 15th in DC... details coming soon.

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