creative artist

Artist

The “Artist” is timeless and would like to move about freely — but for the effects of modern world, which is always changing, all intent on crushing what is creative —

Yet there is so much in me that suppresses and belittles, it is world turned inside and that is the horror —

This is what we struggle against every day in our practice to be free — and yet, the strength, the fortitude and vision is already in us, in the form of a single soul — and what beauty it can bear —

From the emptying there comes a better way, which need not demean, compare, or count the value in numbers or time —

Amen —

Upheaval

We are living now the upheaval — the turning outside what was in, what has long been buried — and must live now to extricate ourselves from what would obliterate good, what is bright and free.

Underbelly, the black water out my dream now burst upon the land, no sorcerer could have done without people. We are in the confines of a trained evil.

Courtesy Alan George 2Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization. All donations are tax deductible.

Women in Music

Screenshot 2016-05-27 at 4.13.34 PM

Many thanks to Eve Meyer, Editor in chief, Journal of the IAWM, for encouraging me to write an article for the journal about my work and career, all the way up through my latest endeavor, Aberfan.

See “Turn Us into Ashes”, page 25.  IAWM Journal Spring 2016 Final (1)

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts.  Please make a donation towards its recording here.

 

Lifeline

babyinFrameTo be a creative artist was born in me — a most slender thread connected to the core of the earth, through my very being and up beyond into the skies — a seriousness of such resiliency it could never be broken and take all of life to realize.

Whether music, paint or word, whatever the form, if it takes you by surprise, propels itself through you — it is your art, a conscious spiritual calling, and your task to bring into the world.

In the arc of my own creative life, my earliest poems and lyrics came from this unconscious place, without thought — vaguely familial, words hacked out of walls or erupting through an external image — phrases which I instinctively pieced together.  I had grown up surrounded by music, yet my first experience of the truly deep, creative source within myself arrived in dreams and the silence of words and images.

So it was, through prose poems and lyrics of my first three recordings:  “when I left loss“, a singular phrase that arose as I lay still, became the title of my first album (1999); the dream of a two-story house, pressing unnaturally down upon me, its cover photo.  Another dream, a man kneeling at my feet says “love flows like the blood of a river” — words of such import,  I knew they would  be the title for a song one day.  So, too, the title of my second album (2003).

Free-writing upon a randomly chosen word or image, without editing, provided more material.  Full stories articulated on the plumb line of an external image — a woman wearing a turban on a bus became “Eileen”, another leaning forward, clutching at her purse, the central character in “There is a Silence / Rolling of Time”.

During this period I also began to study voice for the first time — what had been, over years, petrified and buried.

“Talon of the Blackwater and Graces”, title track to my third album (2009), was presaged in a dream I had of black water gushing from a neighboring backyard (a woman’s shelter for those transitioning out of abusive situations) into ours — dark, lyrical material surging out over just a few days.  The title itself came from a prose poem I had written years before.  Was this the image of a disaster erupting from my own unconscious recollections as a child?

It was only during the process of recording Talon of the Blackwater that my poetry, subsumed in lyric, and my voice, fully became part of my music.  I was, in fact, a songwriter and arranger, yet when I first heard the songs on the working demo, I believed someone else must have written them.

Starting in 2008, to my surprise, I began writing pieces for solo piano.  One of these was the development of “Aberfan”,  a song that my mother had written and I had arranged for my second recording.  Over the years it has become a full length composition.

Let me tell you that story, which takes me to today.

“Aberfan” One woman’s elegy for a Welsh village’s young disaster victims

p00ksv3k640360 ICR sent, but not hisOver one year ago, Richie Davis wrote this powerful story for the Greenfield Recorder, our local paper.  Our interview together was the first I had spoken publicly about the composition that had been underway for years.

 

Aberfan – One Woman’s elegy for a Welsh village’s young disaster victims

Aberfan – One Woman’s elegy for a Welsh village’s young disaster victims (page 2)

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts.  Make a tax deductible donation  here to support the recording of this full length composition.

Photo from Getty Images by Jim Gray

Wider view of Aberfan / Rain – Rubble

South Wales Police Museum7 overview collapsed rooves and throng of people behind school

Aberfan is an elegy not only for the people of Aberfan who suffered the loss of a generation and the “wounded soul of the Welsh” who saw “their beautiful country being destroyed when the coal mines came to the valleys”, but for our world, besieged by unbridled industry pillaging the land and exploiting its riches for the few.  The tragedy of Aberfan and the music it informed manifest the abject sorrow and rage resulting from the devastating human and environmental impacts of the fossil fuel industry, more recently embodied by mountaintop-removal coal mining and fracking to extract natural gas.  This project confronts our blindness and aims to disrupt our complacency.

Aberfan will be participatory.  In choosing the entrances of pianos #2-7, individuals will be deciding the composition and experiencing their own involvement in its unfolding.  Merging the music of Aberfan and photos of this particular disaster’s psychic aftermath lays bare the great cost of ignoring the habituated, presumptive violence in our human systems.

The penetrating quality of musical vibrations in synergy with photographic art, resonating where words cannot, evokes a greater world where all are connected as living beings on a living earth.  In bearing witness to the single atrocity of Aberfan, one can begin to question the arrogance of “progress” built on destruction, absent the soul.

For the performance or installation of Aberfan, money is needed to create a studio recording and develop a design for the visual element.  My hope is for presentation across the United States within the next several years.  Donations can be made online.

Here is an example, in musical language, of the consequence of our offensive display of superiority over nature.  Rain and Rubble Sequences have been spliced and put back together in alternating measures.  Excerpt: Aberfan, “Rain – Rubble”

Thank your for considering the enduring social and artistic significance of Aberfan and its challenge to halt our drive towards extinction.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible.

Photo upper right courtesy Alan George.  Overview of collapsed rooves and throng of people behind school.  Aberfan, 1966.

Photo Youtube IC Rapoport, Aberfan, 1966

 

Freedom in Art

That I drop down into this formless, dull space, that I actually stand on my own two feet — for here, in composition, I have absolutely no qualms, no questions, about what occurs in the end.  There is no thought to please, no external pressure of any kind.  Here is the only place I can go where I am free from the anxieties and weaknesses of relying, or expecting anything; the fullness of my own greater Self is all.  To stay within this realm of creative work and thought is the only necessity and any irritations arise from not doing so.

“Aberfan” (Rain Sequence, excerpt)

“This area of South Wales has a wet climate and the hillsides are marked by lines of springs.” (AGU Blogosphere)

Therefore, Aberfan begins with the Rain Sequence.  My workspace is in the attic and the idea to layer pianos originated as I listened to the rain on our metal roof so close above me.

Here is a short demo sample of 7 pianos, all playing the same part, entering moments slightly apart from one another, each with its own tempo.

To make sure that Aberfan can be recorded, please donate at www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan.