Drawing in reaction to Fauré’s Requiem

I recently saw Mozart and Fauré’s Requiem at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland, Vermont. Both pieces were excellently performed by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.

Mozart’s Requiem was, needless to say, very emotional. I found the Fauré piece to be much lighter, celebratory and of course gorgeous. I made this drawing on a small notepad while listening to it. There is a certain openness to this image, with the interlocking parts constantly being reborn and branching out. Encouraging imagery for some tumultuous times.

For those who like classical music, I highly recommend getting a copy of Fauré’s Requiem.

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Pictures of pictures / Family

As some may have noticed on this blog, I often photograph photographs or other types of two dimensional imagery. I find that this coincides with my memory of the subject’s recontexualised existence, and moreover the stories and associations that the initial image is trying to sustain. I see this as another layer of interpretation, albeit influenced and possibly distorted. These were taken with my cell phone, as it was the only method of image-capturing I had at the time.

The above three photographs were taken in my grandparents’ house in Connecticut. Over the past 5 years or so I have seen their lives drastically change due to health issues, and with that change comes new ways of perceiving their self-contained world and how various relics of another time recede into physical and metaphorical shadows, rearranged and lost on shelves, staggered amongst related ephemera, partially boxed away and occasionally emerging with a proper rustling.

The first image is believed to be of a small structure which was being built next to the pond behind the house in which my father was raised, now called “The Separatist House”, as it was on Separatist Road, in Storrs, Connecticut. There are some issues identifying this photograph …

The second one is of a quail named Robert. He is pictured here walking through a crèche. The photograph is from the mid-’60s, most likely. The story of Robert is an interesting one. This quail was found by a friend of Margaret Stanger, a lady who played scrabble with my father’s grandmother, “Nanny”. Margaret’s friend found the quail egg seemingly abandoned and in dire need of care, and brought it back to her house. She placed it under a heat lamp, and it eventually hatched. Robert was born, and lived for many years. His life apparently inspired Margaret, as she went on to write a children’s book about him. It’s called That Quail, Robert, and has gone through a number of editions over the years.

The third one is a painting my grandfather did of a house located on Cape Cod, in which Nanny lived. This was before she moved into a house with her sister Margery, across from Lake Farm, on Monument Road, also on the Cape. Lake Farm was a children’s camp which Margery ran. It was a fantastic camp, with Nubian goats, multiple buildings for various activities and a sandy path trailing through a forest which led to Crystal Lake. The camp continued for quite a while even as Margery got older.

This picture was found online, from a site called Bird Watcher’s General Store.
An image of one of the book’s primary editions can be seen here.

Tour Photographs, Gallery 3 : Connecticut, New York City (Visit #2), Pennsylvania (Part 1)

I still have many photographs from the Jaap Pieters / Evan Lindorff-Ellery / Travis Bird tour, aka The Eye of Amsterdam Super 8 U.S. Tour.

These are from our very brief 2-hour visit back to NYC after our show in Boston, and a short respite in Connecticut at my aunt and uncle’s, and then another stop at my other aunt and uncle’s (go figure) in Pennsylvania. Each stop was very nice and brings back good memories—both being there and getting there. This was in October of 2011.

Haven’t posted any photos in a while, but I’ll start up again. Why the hell not, right ? Enjoy …

“A Brief New Year’s Observation” / John Cage – The Number Pieces 6, etc

I received this statement in the Mode Records email bulletin, and I think it’s worth distributing further.

Written by Brian Brandt :

“A BRIEF NEW YEAR’S OBSERVATION: The arts and the music business continue to be battered economically, and internationally, with governments cutbacks of funding along with depressed sales of music both physically and digitally. Though Billboard’s wrap up of 2011 U.S. music sales shows that total sales were up 6.9% for the year, this is not necessarily experienced by the independent and niche labels.

At the risk of being accused a “dinosaur” or “irrelevant”,  I feel it is important to note that there a ramifications to the democracy of the web, in particular the circulation of illegal free downloads (whose effect is obvious) as well the the “legal” use of streaming services like Spotify, Rhapsody, etc. Music listeners should note that these streaming services pay very little per stream – $0.0045 on the average. As an example, Mode had 28,060 streams via one of these services in January and we were paid a total of $6.2034! (you are not misreading, that is SIX dollars – the decimal places are indeed correct). Yes, these services may be convenient and liberating but listeners should be aware that such income is not adequate to sustain labels or artists.

When writing and talking about this subject, I have been accused of needing to evolve and this is how the world is going to be. Maybe so. But the costs to make a quality recording, whether issued physically or into the ether digitally does not change. Such recordings cannot continue to be made if income is severely diminished. And unlike major labels, the independents cannot easily make up the difference by promoting concert tours, selling T-shirts, posters and other merchandising.

So yes, those who can make their music at home or in their garage may (or may not) benefit from this “democratic” level playing field. But quality niche recordings cannot continue indefinitely in such an economic environment. And so in time less and less quality adventurous recordings will be made and the digital democracy’s effect can actually starve out and diminish the amount of new music you will hear – the exact opposite of the digital utopia predicted by so many pundits.

In closing, please consider your approach to music and how you obtain it. Purchase it, whether physically or digitally, and consider the impact of the music you obtain by streaming. Every person can make a difference.”

On another note, the email bulletin also mentioned a new John Cage “Number Pieces” volume, part of Mode Records’ extremely valued and thorough series documenting much of Cage’s work. The series is listed here. The new volume, #44, is called “The Number Pieces 6”. This volume will contain :

Five (1988) 
for any five voices or instruments

Seven (1988)
for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano & percussion

Thirteen (1992)
for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, tuba, 2 violins, viola, cello & 2 xylophones

Thirteen is a rarely recorded piece. These were performed by the ensemble Essential Music. Forthcoming on Mode as well, apparently, is a collection of percussion pieces by Third Coast Percussion.

There are a number of John Cage recordings forthcoming this year, as well as festivals focusing on his music. Last year we didn’t see many new recordings, so perhaps this one will make up for that. Some of those festivals and events can be read about here.

John Cage’s music, philosophies, artwork and (especially ?) his personality have been extremely important to me over the past couple years. His work is as unending as the cosmos and as grounded as the roots below us. I’m very excited to see what 2012, his centennial, will bring us.