2013: The "Make it Work" Year

My last meal in Brooklyn: Vegan pizza slices from Vinnie's Pizzeria.

My last meal in Brooklyn: Vegan pizza slices from Vinnie's Pizzeria.

I'm at JFK waiting to get on a flight back home after the 2nd A/B Duo tour of the year. I am pretty exhausted. It's been an eventful year. I'm tired but I can't be happier with how things turned out in 2013. So much has happened that I need to look at my calendar to see what I did January-June of this year. 



Photo by Steve Scap.

Photo by Steve Scap.

I closed my private teaching studio and said goodbye to my fantastic students. (I hope they are all doing well with their new teachers.) I flew to Chicago to rehearse with Chris Jones, my percussionist half of the A/B Duo, and to perform Flight of the Bleeper Bird at the Green Mill in Chicago. Also took A/B Duo promo photos during one of the coldest weeks of the Chicago winter.



Started a day job in IT auditing with some ex-coworkers from KPMG (an old day job) who started their own boutique firm. Performed at Rockage2.0 (a music and video gaming show) in San Jose.  It was the first time I've played a rock show as part of the main act (not in a backing orchestra) in about 10 years and it was beyond exhilarating! A few days later I flew to Jacksonville, FL for the first A/B Duo mini-tour.



My 2nd album. Listen to all of it  here .

My 2nd album. Listen to all of it here.

Spent all my time (the tiny bit of time I had left after the day job and personal time) dealing with the release of my second solo album: designing the album artwork, managing the CD manufacturing and distribution, and dealing with PR. My album was released on April 4th. It was so much hard work but artistically very rewarding. Got some great reviews over the year from: 

Tiny Cartridge

Sequenza 21

The Flute View


It also made the Avant Music News "Pick of the Week" alongside new albums by Pat Metheny and Anthony Braxton!



Much needed vacation sandwiched in between more day job madness. 



Performed "To Committee" in Daniel Felsenfeld's chamber music show at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City. Then a trip to Iowa State University for the Andover Educators conference. 




By July it became clear to me that Lucy my dog no longer saw me as her primary caretaker. She started favoring my husband over me and I barely saw my husband and dog between day job and travel/practice.  A minor but lingering health issue also complicated matters.  Then came the life changing time at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival.



Right after "Banglewood" I flew to Chicago for A/B Duo rehearsals and business. Took a 30 hour trip to New Orleans to premiere (with pianist Erica Sipes) Daniel Felsenfeld's "The Low Chamber" for contrabass flute and piano at the National Flute Association's Annual Convention.  



I quit my day job. I had to prioritize the important things in my life: my family and performing music. Money and IT auditing didn't make my list of important things so I had to quit my day job even though I loved my coworkers and my firm. The new season of A/B Duo activities started with a whirlwind weekend of a concert in San Francisco and recording our first EP. 



A trip to Chicago to play with the Anaphora Ensemble: a concert at UW Oshkosh and live radio broadcast from WFMT. Mixing, artwork, mastering, distribution and general preparation for the A/B Duo EP release.  



Spent some time going to more concerts in San Francisco and started to meet more local musicians in person.  Tried to figure out what to do with my life so that every day can be the way it was at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival: rehearsing, performing or listening to great music every day. 



A/B Duo tour to Chicago, Rochester and Brooklyn. Spent a few extra days in NYC to eat awesome vegan pizza, meet with old friends, and go to the Bang on a Can holiday party.

First thing I'm going to do when I get home: buy a used drum kit. I had to learn some rudimentary drum kit skills to play the 4th movement of Ivan Trevino's "Things We Dream About" and now I'm hooked. I always fantasized about becoming a rock guitarist or even playing bass in a rock band in my next life but I never even imagined that I could play the drums. I may never play drums with a rock band but at least I will have a great time by myself! 

This is the piece that made me want to learn to play the drums for real. (Disclaimer, although I play drums on this movement in live performances, all drums on the recording - and the audio in this video - are performed by Chris Jones.)

Next year, much like this year, is going to be a combination of opportunities I make for myself, luck, and an insane amount of hard work. Can't wait!  

Bang on a Can Summer Festival


I spent 3 weeks this summer as a fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival.  Attending this festival, nicknamed Banglewood, made it the best summer of my adult life.  The festival is in residence at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams - the perfect venue for the fun and intense three weeks of daily music making. I suspected that I would enjoy the experience but I didn't think that it would be life changing.


The best thing about Banglewood: the people.  The faculty, made up of Bang on a Can All Stars as well as other prominent new music figures, treated the fellows as colleagues and true collaborators.  The museum staff made it easy to share our music with the audience. And most importantly, the other fellows were all amazing.  When one goes to a prestigious music festival, one expects that everyone would be really good at their main instrument/skill.  This was, of course, the case at Banglewood. The amazing part is that every fellow there was an expert or at least quite competent on at least one other musical skill whether it's proficiency playing another instrument, composing, improvising, etc.  The most unique thing about this group of fellows was that everyone there was the organizer/visionary and "bandleader" back home. Because of this, everyone had a positive, can-do attitude that led to easy collaboration and communication.

Me, Zach Herchen, Olivia Shortt, Kendra Emery, Ben Willis, and Gabe Taubman.

Me, Zach Herchen, Olivia Shortt, Kendra Emery, Ben Willis, and Gabe Taubman.

We spent every day rehearsing and performing brand new compositions or pieces written in the last few years. Every kind of contemporary music style was performed. Among other things, I performed a piece by Jacob Druckman written in the 1990s, sang some Ozzy Ozbourne with a live karaoke band made up of fellows, and premiered several composition fellows' pieces.

 It seemed as though there was an absolute-highlight-of-the-festival every day.  Every day, I would think to myself, "this is the most incredible musical thing ever - the highlight of the festival for sure!" And then the next day, I would have another mind-blowing experience.

Without fail, there was an unforgettable musical experience EVERY day of the festival.

Just a few of the mind-blowing experiences:

Nighttime visit to the Xu Bing Phoenix exhibit at Mass MoCA, with impromptu vocalization/dancing:

Exquisite Corpse piece written by all ten composition fellows and performed by fellows after one rehearsal - and I got to conduct it!

The Ableton Live presentation by faculty member Todd Reynolds, the Senegalese drumming sessions, performing "Yo Shakespeare" by Michael Gordon, playing the Schoenbeck original instruments...all unforgettable! 

I made life-long friends.  I think it's common to bond with others when you experience the same trials or difficult experience - but in this case, I think the bonds are so strong because we didn't live through a difficult experience. Rather, we experienced together the most delightful and positive experience EVER.

Here's another unforgettable moment from the last days of the festival thanks to some silly composer fellows. Ben Hjertmann and Adam Cuthbert playing the slide whistle contraption and Erik DeLuca enjoying the improvisation: 

Here's a really great montage video from the 3 week festival edited by Zach Herchen using video footage shot by Mass MoCA:

Others have written nice reviews and summaries of this summer's festival:

I miss all of my new friends terribly.  Thanks to the other fellows, faculty, and staff of Bang on a Can Summer Festival and Mass MoCA, I have a renewed sense of purpose and am more focused on making meaningful music and art everyday of my life from now on.  I want to live every day as if I was still at the festival making music with an open mind and child-like curiosity. 

With Australian Lina Andonovska, the other flutist at Banglewood this summer. 

With Australian Lina Andonovska, the other flutist at Banglewood this summer.