A dream program / a dreary week
Three days ago, I collaborated with oboist Alaina Chester to record the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's haunting “Pastorale," as part of the Iris Music Project.
Given how exposed the flute part is, I'm mostly happy with how I sound (except my sound is a little unfocused at the start of the first two phrases, and the second phrase is a little note-y).
"Pastorale" captures my mood these days — pensive, heavy with uncertainty, and inflected with sadness. Partly because of the way political tension spills into everyday life. But also, the swifter nightfall, biting wind, and sudden cold (yesterday, I woke up to snow).
Even after this project, I've returned to practicing "Pastorale." In the middle of technical work, that second phrase helps to reestablish flexibility & ease in the sound.
As my housemates could tell you, I've been filling my evenings with practicing. I have a performance this weekend! It's a dream collaboration with a dear friend of mine, Leah Stevens.
As part of violinist Monique Mead's porch concert series, we'll present a short program of flute, alto flute, & electronics, interspersed with poetry & literature that inspired and/or complements the music.
As thrilling as this project is, I hesitate to promote it. Of all weeks, it's the first week of November in 2020. To many, this election is a tipping point, potentially disastrous.
Last week, I drove downtown and handed in my mail-in ballot at the county office.
When it comes to politics, I struggle with how petty my creative work becomes amidst the larger choreography of sociopolitical movements. One source of assurance has been these words from Elizabeth Foss:
"We might not know who won the day after the election, but I do think it's a safe bet there will be a day after. Previous elections tell me that I will want to focus on the anchors of daily, ordinary life, to zero in on what is most local of all."
As I write this, it's the night of Election Day and I'm choosing to avoid the news (at least, until I publish this post). I hope to avoid speculation until anything is final.
It caught my eye in the news that on Sunday, Super Typhoon Goni devastated many cities & towns in the Philippines.
"The world's most powerful storm in four years," one article says. "The 10 deaths include a child who was swept away by floodwaters."
Much like the girl I was in high school, I am drawn to contemplating the enormity of tragedies across the world. News like this has a powerful gravitational force.
Beyond the display of mortality, learning of these events reminds me of how sheltered I am. How lightly my concerns rest within this world.
(A year ago, I performed an original spoken word poem with imagery of typhoons in the Philippines. I made it about my cultural identity. Whatever the merit of the poem, this now reeks of privilege to me.)
Not long ago, the levity of my first autumn out of school sent me whirling into an abundance of headspace, in which living Life was enough, and Death was the inevitable reality I no longer felt compelled to ignore. Rather, it was something to embrace and anticipate. Not in a depressing, brooding way, but in a way of hope and acceptance.
Since then, that scintillating sense of precarity — the deeply-rooted joy of simply being alive, one day at a time — has faded, obscured by the grind of juggling part-time work and creative projects.
As November sweeps us into whatever lies in store, I'm embracing the chance to remember...
No matter how politics unfold over the next week — month — year, we are all humans, all mortal. In the bluntest way possible, we all have this one life, and will die someday. The most bitter political discourse cannot justify losing sight of what we share, which is all we have.
At times, I am juggling almost more work than I can manage. While it may feel as if I am straining to be "successful," I do this because my creative work is a source of beauty & meaning for me.
But at my core — even if the privilege of creating were taken away from me — I am grateful to have a roof, food, water. I am grateful that my family is well. And I am grateful to be alive.