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A Distant Shore Performance May 19th

April 26th, 2018 at 4:05 pm

On May 19th I will perform the first three episodes of A Distant Shore:  A Narrative for Piano in Five Episodes at a concert of the Back Cove Contermporary Music Festival in Portland, Maine.  Here's the story behind it....

2018 is my third appearance at the Back Cove Festival.  The last one was in 2010 because from 2010 to 2016 I lived for 72 months in Silicon Valley.  I lived, taught piano and composed in Menlo Park, the home of Facebook.  I taught in Palo Alto across the street from the Stanford campus.  I taught in Cupertino across the street from Apple's corporate headquarters surrounded on all sides by the Apple campus buildings.  I taught composition to a Google engineer from Sweden and played Gershwin at a lunchtime concert on the Google campus.

I played my compositions at school recitals in Mountain View and Santa Clara, and played jazz in San Francisco and San Jose.  There were 300 days of sunshine a year but somehow it felt like sugar coating on a bitter pill.

A Distant Shore is best understood as the story of a journey home.  It starts with being stuck in a technological world and moves relentlessly towards a world informed by the human heart.  

A Distant Shore made it to the semi finals of the American Prize Composition Competition in the Chamber Music category.  Not a prize winner, but as author Norman Mailer once observed, part of a writer's lot is to paper the walls with rejection slips.

Tags: musicandartreflection

 

So what's new?

April 7th, 2018 at 4:04 pm

I just completed the final rewrite of my second musical Hail Mary about Mary, Queen of Scots which was originally written in 2004-5.  I cut the number of songs down to the 16 strongest numbers, and streamlined the script with two goals in mind.  The first was to be able to feel the drama in every line.  The second was for every line of dialogue to flow and crackle with energy.  Following these two criteria resulted in a much tighter production.   

The lesson?  Sometimes it takes a distance of 10+ years after the creation of a new work to objectively see what needs to be done to improve it.  My next step is to submit Hail Mary for consideration by the American Academy of Arts and Letters: Richard Rodgers Awards.  The music from Hail Mary is now available on the Products page of this website.

On the piano side of things I recently added Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G Minor to the mix of pieces I am working on.  It's a great piece and fun to play.

Tags: musicandartnews

 

Shifting Gears and Thinking Small

March 30th, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Okay.  So if you've read any recent entries in this blog you know some of my views on this topsy turvy world and it looks like nothing is going to improve any time soon.  Since the Parkland student shootings, donations to the NRA have tripled, a subsquent school shooting in Maryland was largely ignored, and a young man was shot to death by police in his backyard for threatening them with a cell phone.  It all makes great sense, right? 

So now it's time to bring it on home.  My boat is leaving the dock of a world that seems to thrive on confusion and turmoil.  I have watched these same issues crop up for decades and it seems that humankind is determined not to learn anything from the past.  Social media has taken the place of social engagement and it seems that Huxley's Brave New World is upon us without our even realizing it. 

So, in the words of the Crosby, Stills and Nash song Wooden Ships:

 

"Silver people on the shoreline, let us be.

We are leaving.  You don't need us....

....And its a fair wind blowin' warm out of the south over my shoulder.

Guess I'll set a course and go."

 

It turns out that some of the least important things in the world's view are the most important to me.

Tags: personalreflection

 

And the great disconnect continues....

February 16th, 2018 at 6:37 pm

And now, tragically, 17 more people were killed in the latest school shooting in Florida on Feb. 14th, 2018.  Americans are killing americans, doing our enemy's work for them.  And how did the stock market react to this event?  It rose by 306 points! 

I am not saying there is necessarily a correlation here, but the circumstantial evidence seems to say that our collective conscience ends at our collective wallet.  I would further venture to say that until our financial markets feel the pain the rest of us feel from events like this, the carnage will continue.

As of this moment, all we're getting is lip service.

Tags: worldreflection

 

Two for the record books

February 9th, 2018 at 5:16 pm

Has America lost its mind and its soul?  How is it that on October 2nd, 2017 the day after the Las Vegas massacre, the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, the stock market hit a new record high?  Talk about a disconnect! 

Tags: worldreflection

 

A tale told by an idiot...

February 9th, 2018 at 4:47 pm

American government now rests on the four pillars of blame, insults, threats and lies.  In the immortal words of Shakespeare, "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Tags: worldreflection

 

.....As good as his word

January 29th, 2018 at 3:52 pm

If it's true that a man is only as good as his word, what does that say about our current president?

Tags: worldreflection

 

The Fruit of Our Expectations

January 19th, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Much unnecessary unhappiness comes from the mistaken belief that the world owes us something.  This is especially true at the holidays.  Although rituals are an important part of human life, it is much better to let our experiences unfold without expectations and allow them to be what they are in the unique circumstances of the present, rather than what they were in the past.

Tags: personalreflection

 

Time to get your man pants on!

January 4th, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Okay.  So it's been a year since my last entry. Time to move on and augment my stoic resistance with an effort to breathe life back into the areas where I have the ability to do that.  I can fully and humbly accept that what I do, feel and think are almost totally irrelevant to the world at large, but the people getting the lion's share of the world's attention are sucking all the air out of the room.

And oh yeah....  Happy New Year!

Tags: personalreflection

 

Capitalism trumps Democracy

December 28th, 2016 at 10:38 pm

Forget Love trumps Hate because capitalism has trumped democracy.  That's the real issue.   And how can anyone ever believe it when someone tells them that every vote counts when in 2016 there were 3,000,000 people whose votes didn't count.... 

Go figure.

Tags: #everyvotecounts

 

Up in the Air

May 22nd, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I am closing a chapter in my life in order to make room for the next one.  This chapter has run its' course and we're planning to leave Silicon Valley after 72 challenging months here.  Looking over the horizon to see if we can find that distant shore to call Home.  I've less than two weeks of teaching left and then free to explore the options. 

I'm having some very touching parting moments with my students which make me realize how much the time we have spent together was meaningful and is appreciated by them and me.  I am limiting my committments as much as possible in order to let the new life emerge slowly, gently, and naturally.  Many things are up in the air but the air is fresh.  Let's see where it goes...

Tags: none

 

The Last Word

June 4th, 2014 at 4:35 am

....The endless cycle of idea and action,

Endless invention, endless experiment,

Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;

Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;

Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.

 

.....Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

                                                                                             - T.S. Eliot, Excerpts from Choruses from 'The Rock'

 

"The presence of that absence is everywhere."

                                               - Edna St. Vincent Millay

Tags: none

 

Time and Tide: A Road Trip

May 16th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

After arriving in California four years ago, last month we were finally able to take our first, long overdue, whirlwind 10 day road trip back east to reconnect with family and friends, and it was great. 

We flew into Newark airport on Sunday around noon, rented a car and spent an overnight visiting my dad and step-mom at their new place in New Jersey. 

On Monday we drove from there to Portland, Maine where we stayed with a close friend, arriving just in time to go out for dinner with her and another friend at an old favorite haunt.

On Tuesday we went out to breakfast, took care of some business and I caught up with my daughter over some pizza as Betsy was treated to dinner with a couple of friends. 

On Wednesday after waking up to a light snow, we roamed the Old Port before going to see a designer's preview of a live stage production opening the following week.  What a treat to see so many old theater friends!  That night I had an outstanding time with my 2 sons at dinner together. 

On Thursday we went to lunch on the ocean at the Lobster Shack, drove back into town, had some steamers on the waterfront at J's as we reconnected with more friends, and then finished the day by going to Katahdin (another restaurant) to meet with theater friends again after their rehearsal ended.  (By now you must have noticed that eating out at good restaurants was a recurring theme.) 

After breakfast on Friday we bid a fond farewell to Portland friends, drove to my mother's in the Catskills and went out to dinner with her shortly after arriving there. 

We tried to make the most of Saturday in a country setting as our first and only real day of down time. 

Sunday was Easter which we celebrated with my mom, sister, niece and a close friend. 

On Monday we bid farewell to the Catskills and went to Manhattan where we visited with 2 nieces, a nephew and his wife, and my other sister before getting back to our hotel after midnight. 

Tuesday we took the train back to Newark Airport, returned our rental car and flew home. 

What a wealth of relationships we experienced, leaving me feeling enriched, strengthened, and humbled by the experience of seeing so many dear family and friends.

 

Tags: none

 

Music In the Castle of Heaven

March 9th, 2014 at 12:28 am

When Bach improvised for a half hour for the composer Reincken on a theme of Reincken's, the older master responded by saying, "I thought that this art was dead, but I see that in you it still lives."  What a moving tribute to the young Bach who was not interested in merely replacing the older composer's ideas with newer ones of his own, but instead was invested in keeping something of value alive.

Anecdote from Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner

Tags: none

 

What really matters in 2014....

January 31st, 2014 at 8:05 pm

...is to choose, and focus on the things that really matter, which are.....

Tags: none

 

What are The Hidden Places?

December 17th, 2013 at 8:16 pm

The title and theme of my new CD for 2013 is The Hidden Places.  I have been engaged in a life long fascination with, and search for what I call the Hidden Places.  In general, they are those deeply personal, meaningful, and wondrous discoveries which we sometimes find only after great effort, and other times are fortunate enough to stumble upon.  The more of these you have discovered, the harder new ones are to find, which is why they seem to be more difficult to discover, the older you get. 

On my CD, the first hidden place represented through music is Chopin's expression of profound exasperation over the accelerating deterioration of his health during an intended holiday beset with continuous cold and rainy weather.  The second hidden place is Liszt's expression of self consolation following his friend Chopin's death.  The hidden places of the title cut are the tones themselves, arrived at through a searching and circuitous process.  The Hidden Places in the Easter Suite are embodied in Christ's parting, suffering, and sacrifice, but most of all in the Miracle of His Resurrection and Ascension.  In Paradise Lost, the Hidden Places are the Abyss, Paradise itself forever hidden from mortal sight, and the unknown challenges and opportunities which lay ahead of Adam and Eve after their Fall from grace.

Good luck in your search, and Merry Christmas!

Tags: none

 

That's Entertainment

November 3rd, 2013 at 5:41 pm

As I flip through the hundreds of TV channels and internet outlets that are now available to us, it quickly becomes apparent that the world's disfunction has become our chief form of entertainment.  From sectarian violence to climate change, to public and private sector surveillance, to politicians, journalists, and reality TV celebrities constantly competing and haranguing each other over every imaginable topic it is clear that disfunction has now attained a real commercial value which perpeteuates more disfunction.  After all, if viewers will watch, and advertisers will pay for disfunction, let's give them more.  But take a moment and try to imagine where it all leads to.  If there is more financial reward in presenting disfunctional behavior, where is the incentive to make things better? 

Tags: none

 

The Website as Art

October 8th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

My original and continuing intent is to shape this website into a multi media form of artistic expression through the inclusion of a broad array of creative forms.  If you take the time to explore this site you will find it rich in content including music, poetry, lyrics, photography, drawing, painting, video, and dramatic material.  These days there is so much information being generated on the web that the quantity of so called metadata has become the big sensation of digital media.  I have made it my goal to emphasize quality over quantity in order to make this website one that is worth your time to explore. 

When talking about the ancient library of Alexandria, Carl Sagan once said on the program Cosmos which aired before the advent of big data, that through the ages an enormous quantity of information, more than we could ever hope to read in one lifetime, has been generated and put into books.  The important thing is to find the right books to read.  True then, and true now more than ever.  As the haystack of trivial, inaccurate, and often negative content grows ever larger, the proverbial needle in it becomes harder and harder to find. 

Tags: none

 

Website update in progress

September 11th, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Now that summer is almost over, I am working on the next generation of this website which will include major changes and/or additions to the composition spotlight, musical drama, gallery, and poetry and lyrics pages with lesser revisions to the home page and the customary updates of the news page.  There will be a new CD out by the end of the year, and I would like to draw your attention to SoundCloud.com as another online venue where you can listen to recordings of my work. 

I'd love to hear from you.  Thanks for being there!

Tags: none

 

For George Duke

August 6th, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I was saddened today to learn of the death of George Duke, one of my favorite jazz, fusion, and funk keyboardists, composers, arrangers, and producers.  He was immensely gifted and leaves behind a great legacy of music.  Farewell George.  And thanks for the fun, feeling, and inspiration your music will continue to provide.   You will be missed.  Gone, but not forgotten.

Tags: none

 

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