"Peace is a Woman in a House" World Premiere this weekend

Filled with gratitude after an astounding performance by the phenomenal musicians of the Lorelei Ensemble and Chinese calligrapher Mike Mei last night of my new composition, "Peace is a Woman in House".

It has been a very intense two weeks of rehearsals, problem-solving, and many extra hours to pull together this extremely ambitious project, which asks all the performers to go way beyond their comfort zones - improvising large sections of the piece, performing with complex movement and staging, memorizing so much music. How lucky I am to have had the trust and collaboration of these amazing artists!

I am especially indebted to Beth Willer, artistic director, for pulling out all the stops to help realize my vision for this composition. The performance was truly collaborative - these musicians co-created the piece with me, from the music to the movement and the timing -  and I am in awe of the experience they created last night.

Excited for tonight's concert at Lowell Lecture Hall, Harvard University!
8pm, Saturday May 23
17 Kirkland St. at Oxford St (behind Sanders Theatre, enter on Oxford St)

This pre-concert write-up in the Globe gives a really nice preview:


Water Graffiti

The last two months were an incredible whirlwind of activity with my first official public art project: Water Graffiti for Peace.

The project was an exciting collaboration around Chinese calligraphy, public engagement, and conversations about peace, with Chinese calligrapher Mike Mei, the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, and five Boston teen artist-researchers.

Over 500 people participated in 7 public sessions between August and September in Boston Chinatown and Downtown Boston.

In May 2015, the Lorelei Ensemble will premiere a new composition of mine based on this public research!



At last!! It took several months to pull together, but I am quite excited to have finished this excerpt video of last year's huge project,  Arise for 18 solo string players. This project was the culmination of over three years of birdsong research and four months of collaboration with A Far Cry and the unique physicality of the Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. (Add the scent of cedar!)

Many thanks to Josh Weinhaus for pulling a fantastic team of videographers together, and to Jesse Lewis for capturing the sound in a difficult to capture, three-dimensional, four-story environment.

Birdsong-based,  site-specific composition for 18 solo string players of A Far Cry 
and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
April 2013



Wow, what an amazing and intense 10-day collaboration at Blue Sky Project with choreographer Rodney Veal and painter Katherine Mann! More to come, including some awesome video. Thanks to photographer Jan Underwood for this incredible photo. More photos here.

"2,3,4" Collaboration with visual artist Katherine Mann, dancer/choreographer Rodney Veal, and violinist/composer Shaw Pong Liu exploring dimensions of space/time and the relationship of humans to contemporary technology. A performance exploring sculptural cut-paper paintings, composed and improvised sound and dance, live painting, and interactions with pre-recorded sound triggered by bodies on stage using Kinect infrared sensors, in collaboration with engineers from the University of Dayton, musicians and singers from the Dayton Philharmonic, and dancers from the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. August 2012.


"Nothing Without Joy"

There is nothing like a 48-hour stretch of inspiration, intellectual provocation, and intense, joyous learning to make the world new again.

"Nothing without joy" said Loris Malaguzzi. This idea was one of the many beautiful touchstones of a truly remarkable gathering of people at "The Arts and Passion-Driven Learning", an institute run by the Silk Road Project and Harvard University School of Education.

I was fortunate to be a part of an incredible community of musicians, teaching artists, and educators in a weekend devoted to talking about and exploring the idea of learning that is driven by deep emotions, and how the artistic process is a powerful learning model through which other disciplines can be explored.

I don't even know where to begin - so many powerful ideas, so many personally revelatory moments.  I just know that my whole world view has taken a re-orientation, and I am startled by the force of this new mental order. One major idea is that the approach to learning that artists can inspire and share (of constantly higher standards and constructive critique) is one that could fuel both a stronger educational model (see Expeditionary Learning - amazing!!) and create a wiser, more sensitive, more empathetic world.

I can't explain succinctly how this has exploded the rather limited (albeit personally important) sidebar in which I previously viewed the role of arts education as distinct from the "essential" subjects, but it is a major mind-shift. Arts-integration no longer sounds to me like a nice idyllic dream for those with the privilege - it sounds like a crucial approach that could both save the kids who can't multiply, and lift humanity into our next higher level of evolution.

As with everything the Silk Road does, a magical space of open-ness, experimentation, and inclusivity permeated the institute. Yo Yo and others talked about how passion inspires generosity - people want to share the things they are excited about - and I felt the passion, generosity, and concern for community intensely all weekend. The over-arching themes: Engagement, Connection, Collaboration and Community, were delved into in deep and diverse ways.

Admittedly, I went into the weekend thinking of it as more of a gig - I would go teach my workshop on music and storytelling, see some friends, and then duck out to get back to the other work I need to squeeze in. However, once I stepped into the faculty meeting on Friday afternoon, a circle of chairs for some 25 people, and heard Steve Seidel speak, I knew this was not just a job or a gig: this was another world - one of passionate, generous, intellectually-provocative sharing - that was a beautiful model for the rest of the real world. I gladly shuffled my weekend so that I could be at the whole institute and drink of this community. What a gift!


99% String Quartet Debut Performance

The 99% String Quartet ("of, by and for the 99%") performed a noontime concert at Occupy Boston today, forming a little musical bridge between the farmers' market and encampment worlds. With my awesome friends Sharon Cohen (violin), Sarah Darling (viola) and Michael Unterman (cello).

It was a blast! We were blessed with sunny weather, great crowds, and a gracious farmers' market organizer who supplied us with a tent for shade.

It felt really amazing to share gorgeous music, our passion and our love to this movement.

Musicians are the 99% (as are each and every one of you who are reading this)!!




If you want to know more...

There are only so many web-updating hours in a day, and these days, my project blog is where I'm spending that time.. Creating, directing and producing Translations with a team of eight musicians, seven dancers, ten crew members, plus guest birders, guest iPhones, and guest singers was an incredible experience!

I invite you to read more at my blog: www.abirdaday.org! Photos to be posted soon, and I'm embarking on the video editing today (a multi-week adventure)!