Threes

What’s the phrase – is it, all good things come in threes? Or twos? Fives? I’m not really sure, but what I do know is that the past week I’ve experienced three musically inspiring, uplifting, and exciting events that will be burned in my memory for years to come. Each has propelled me forward in a different way, and I can only hope that the people I shared these moments with feel the same way!

|| Good thing Number 1 ||
I spent the past two weekends in New York preparing for a gig with Contemporaneous (see post below, I was obviously pretty pumped!) Blizzard Nemo was to grace our presence, but I was lucky enough to get out of Boston before the major snow hit (thanks to a rental car and drive to the Hudson Valley overnight!) Outside of rehearsals, we had some cozy moments venturing into woods and frolicking (yes, frolicking) in the fresh blanket of snow, sharing stories over beers, enjoying a wood burning fire, and indulging in gooey chocolate chip cookies. Needless to say, we faced the adverse weather with a smile. 

And then – we performed our butts off! I have the utmost respect for the ensemble, plus they programmed great music by Sean Friar, Jeremy Podgursky, Andrew Norman, and David Lang. It was incredible to not only connect with Amy, Matt, and Nathaniel again, but also create connections with people that are paving the way for our generation in classical music. We performed at Bard College, and at PS142 in NYC. Check out this great review on icareifyoulisten, and enjoy a few photos from the weekend! 

|| Good thing Number 2 ||

Before we parting ways in Sweden, we recorded an album of our works from the Treehotel and Nattmusic tour (click here to refresh your memory!) Charles, Jake and I have all been getting our feet wet in new places with embracing new lives, and the editing took some time. Good friend Sebatian Lönberg (literally the first person I met in Piteå) mastered the album, and it was delivered last week! I couldn’t wait to hear it, and it was valuable to be away from the music for a few months to listen with fresh ears. I am so incredibly proud of the final product, and so thankful I was able to create art with such fantastic musicians!

I was just as excited to release our tour video, as I was to release the album for digital download. Every time I watch the amazing video that August Sandström created, I may shed a small tear or two thinking about the amazing friendship I had with the group, and timeless experience that was granted upon us. Check out the music on the web here and stay tuned – the CD will be available to order soon! Oh, and don’t forget to watch the tour video, I’m sure you’ve always wondered what it’s like to tour with an Australian techie, Texan dude, Midwestern gal, New Yorker turned Parisian, Swedish dive, Eager intern, and Awesome videographer…it will be 13 minutes well spent…and you may even hear me speak Swedish!

Download the album here: ensembleevolution.bandcamp.com

|| Good thing Number 3 ||

The last experience that has made this an unforgettable week is possibly the most important. Before reading on, check out this article in the Boston Globe about ANIM. 

Friend and inspirational colleague Tanya Kalmanovitch helped create a fantastic experience for the students of the Afghanistan Institute of Music students while they were in Boston. When she asked Peter, Jeremy and me to present a workshop for the percussionists from the group, I did not hesitate to take the chance. What do you introduce to students that live in such an imaginable environment and who don’t speak fluent English? The three of us came up with a plan to create an engaging and hands-on 2 hour session – we listened to Scheherazade, played the excerpts and talked about the traditional orchestra section; we talked about bass drum and cymbal playing (and even played along with a Sousa march!); and finished the session with some mallet playing and created a little tune. 

At the end of the 2 hours, I was in love. I haven’t had the chance to teach much in the past year, and I’ve forgotten how much positive energy transferring knowledge gives me. Not to mention, the opportunity to work with such a special group of kids was something I’ll always be thankful for. Music heals, it overcomes barriers, and it gives people strength, and I’ve never been as confident in these statements as I am right now. 

The most challenging moment of the experience was after the students had left. The institute’s camera crew filmed the end of our session, and proceeded to interview Jeremy and me. The questions they asked me circulated around the presence of females in music. More specifically, they asked me to send a message to older women who have been oppressed in Afghanistan that were newly driven to learn music (specifically percussion) and become empowered. I had to take a moment to compose myself. What can I say, little old me, someone who been so fortunate in life in so many ways, to women who lived in an environment I couldn’t even fathom…

I spoke of the confidence and spiritual connection to music one gains when producing art and music. I spoke of the unity that comes with sharing these experiences. I also admitted that in every country, women are making strides in equality and by studying and playing percussion. Compassion is without boundaries, and the biggest point I wanted to share is that, I’m with them.