So much of our musical life takes place inside concert halls that it feels appropriate to end with the most rewarding music I heard outside of one: John Luther Adams’s percussion work “Inuksuit,”organized by percussionist Maria Finkelmeier’s Kadence Arts organization and played by some 92 performers in the expansive environs of the Arnold Arboretum. Mahler famously said that a symphony must be like the world by embracing everything. Here was a musical experience that did just that, a reminder of how far and how deep this art form can reach.
Over the past few months, Samo, Ryan, and I (Masary Studios) have been working on an exciting commission by the Boston Center for the Art's Cyclorama. In May (just two weeks before my wedding!), the staff at the BCA approached us with an opportunity: they hoped to apply for a grant from the Barr Foundation that would support an artist and an organization in a risk-taking endeavor. I loved that we were called for such an opportunity.
As this was to be a site-specific work (our speciality), we dove deep into the history of the Cyclorama - originally built to display murals of the Gettysburg war in the round - as well as into the grid that hangs in the space by Buckminster Fuller. The vivid imagery of the murals, and the formulas of Bucky's work swirled in my head.
We submitted a proposal that revolved around combing these pieces of inspiration, landing on the word NO. These two letters mean so many things: an abbreviation for "number", a scolding term, one of the first words a child learns (and misuses), an abstraction of justice, a tool to empower, or the spelling of "know."
At the end of the summer, we found out that the grant was awarded, and have been working ever since to create a bold, immersive work for this special space!
For the production, I'm composing new music for 8 percussionists, and 4 vocalists, whom will be dispersed through the cathedral like space (the acoustics are CRAZY!) We are using the words of Boston-based poets, in reaction to the narrative of "no", in the piece. There will be structures, gorgeous lighting, and projected imagery, in sync with our playing. We are so excited to bring this work to life, and thankful to the staff and supporters at the BCA for allowing us the opportunity to experiment and create something brand new!
Here's a few behind the scenes photos! The Cyclo is massive, and such a beautiful canvas...
This semester I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Joshua Hertz and the first year engineers at Northeastern University (NEU). As their design client, the students (aka "Noisy Engineers Union") were tasked to create new electronic percussion instruments to meet my musical needs. The instruments used a variety of sensors including force, proximity, light, and capacity. I enjoyed working with these creative folks, and appreciated their enthusiasm as we dove into the world of experimental percussion!
I'll be posting my top 5 instrument picks on the Improvaday instagram account this week! Please check them out and support these great students!
Last week, Masary Studios attended and presented at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. PASIC is a wonderful place to share ideas, connect with old friends, and make new memories, and it's been a pleasure to grow and learn with this community!
In our session, entitled "Beyond the Concert Hall, Igniting the Collaborative Spirit", we premiered two new pieces featuring our instrument to visuals trigger system. Samo mapped and projected onto the wall of the Sagamore Ballroom, while Ryan and I jammed on marimba, electronics, and drums. I was proud to be able to share a taste of our aesthetic, while also opening up about our process. We spoke about Waking the Monster, and how we've established our process as collaborators.
Unfortunately, I took a total of two photos!! These do not even scratch the surface of the experience...not to mention the great conversations with friends and mentors! Luckily, there will be more PASICs to document in the future! :)
Thanks to our wonderful sponsors that made the PASIC experience possible! I am THRILLED to share I have joined the Yamaha family as a performing artist. Yamaha instruments allow me to express my voice and push my creativity to the next level, and I am so happy to be on the team! Thank you, Yamaha!
Inner Eye is inspired by a statue of Shiva at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The "third eye" or "inner eye" of the statue is believed to see beyond sight, and is the portal into the central energy point of a being. This idea of inward reflection, and dizziness felt when observing the multiple faces of the statue, led the the circular motifs and chaotic moments of this piece.
Scott Quade, videography
Last week was a good week: three shows at pretty hip venues. Monday brought a solo opening for the HUBWeek "Faneuil Forum" featuring for political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University, Michael Sandel. Playing at such an historical venue was an honor!
Thursday brought Masary Studios' closing performance of TEDx Cambridge at the Boston Opera House. Solo marimba + jamming drum quartet + 50 member audience ensemble + Samo visuals = a good night in my book.
Finally, Greg, Ryan and I played for the Brew the Charles HUBWeek event at the SoWa power station. A little beer and contemporary classical percussion is good for the soul.
More weeks like this, please!
Writing from a cozy apartment in Oslo, I barely feel like I'm back in Nordic country! I'm visiting longtime friends and collaborators Charles Martin and Christina Hopgood, with a visit by Anna Larson (from Gothenburg). Charles, Anna and I live in Piteå together, and performed, cooked, laughed, and spent many hours together as Ensemble Evolution. When we all moved to opposite sides of the world, we knew it wouldn't be the end of making music together! Charles and Christina got married back in Australia, and after Charles earned his PhD he got a job at the University of Oslo. They just moved here 6 weeks ago!
So, when I received an invitation to give a keynote and a few presentations at the Association of European Conservatories' International Coordinator's meeting in Krakow, Poland, I figured it was close enough to Norway to make a special stop :)
My time in Krakow was energizing, and laid a great foundation for productivity with the crew! Charles booked a studio and we spent two days just playing - no pressure or really specific goals - we just picked up mallets and started to play! Sometimes we would make up a story, or just give Anna a few words to sing, but other than that, everything was created on the fly.
Looking forward to creating some projects with these special folks in the near future!
Last year, I bought a loop pedal. Then, I wrote a piece experimenting with how to use the single pedal in solo playing! I've performed the piece at the MFA, on the Times Two series, and the Boston Conservatory Contemporary Music Series with Hub New Music. I finally decided to make a video of the piece, and thanks to the talents of videographer Scott Quade, and some electronic spice by David Ibbet, I'm pretty happy with the outcome! Enjoy Alabaster!