I thought it would be fun to share this Dec. 2009 performance with you -- it is performance of Piazzolla's Le Grand Tango with my dear friend, pianist Oomi Banchinda Laothai. Banchinda is now at the University of Minnesota, working toward her doctorate in piano. I'm hopeful we can get a chance to work together again, and soon! (Who knows, maybe it will be sooner than we think? wink wink)
Banchinda also arranged a beautiful Thai song, "Home," which you can hear on the media page. Thanks so much for listening!
This photo is from our November 22 concert, which went splendidly!
Banchinda and I continue our very enjoyable collaboration with another concert on December 10... if you're in the area and have a hankering for great music, stop on by! (For more info, visit the Calendar)
There's something about the creative process that I find truly irresistible. The opportunity to paint, play, write, sculpt, or set into motion those thoughts and inspirations that cannot be expressed in the normal context of the day-to-day is, each and every time, a once in a lifetime thing. And watching others in the process is just as fun for me as to do it myself ... I get to stand on the outside and look in on the process from beginning to end. I can learn what the artist learns, perhaps even observe something about the artist that few already know. The artist may even make a decision to go in a certain direction based on something I say.
This kind of discovery (in observation of the artist) is also once in a lifetime. What would it have been like to be with Beethoven as he wrote and performed the Kreutzer Sonata for the first time? What kind of experience would it have been to see Picasso develop his cubist style? Someone was there to watch, encourage and support those greats. The names of all but the most famous supporters may be lost over history, but the care and influence of all remain in the works and trends left behind by the artists.
This is why I asked composer Jeremy Allen to write a piece for me. Not only am I supporting what he does and giving you an opportunity to get to know him and his work, but I am supporting who he is and who he is going to become. And, on a practical note, I'm helping him put food on the table for his one year-old son and lovely wife Jenna-Claire. Not a bad thing. Artists of all kinds do need food in order to do what they do. We should feed them, right?
Naturally, speaking as an artist, I wholeheartedly agree with myself. I have been so blessed to have had many support me in word or deed over the past (*ahem*) years and while I cannot ever thank those people enough, I know that my duty is to press on to greater things, to honor those who have helped and to honor my gifts and especially to honor the One who gave them to me.
I digress. This article is not about me, rather, it's about Jeremy Allen, the guy whom you really want to get to know. If you aren't already aware, I'm premiering his piece Mercury Retrograde on November 22 with the other members of the Mauthe String Quartet. You should come. And give a donation if you can. That will support Jeremy, myself, Banchinda, and the rest of the Mauthe Quartet.
At any rate, I promised you the conclusion to our interview, and here it is. Even though some of the questions are very specific toward composing or music, I feel that what Jeremy says can be applied to anyone in any field (we call these people normal in our line of work...). Enjoy!
Jeremy, what are you most looking forward to on this project?
Working with an awesome group of players who let me try anything I want!
Anything (musically or otherwise) you're encountering for the first time?
Yes. Being free from graduate school and becoming a freelance composer. The opportunities are more numerous than I expected, but it is indeed a different world and takes time to build on those opportunities.
If you could do anything with your gifts, what would it be (either long or short-term)?
I truly feel like I can do anything with my gifts. I guess the only answer I have for you is, “wait and see.”
Any advice you can give to fellow musicians out there?
There are no limits, and no one is born with anything “extra.” Work for what you want to do, and you will get there. And play new music!!!
Advice to young budding composers about to take the plunge?
There is something to learn from every piece of music you will ever hear (sometimes especially if you don’t like the music). If you are always listening, you will always be learning how to be a better composer.
You live here in Cleveland with your wife and son, right? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Hanging out with my family at Edgewater Park, walking through Little Italy, or relaxing at home with homemade pizza, ice cream and friends (part of our family, too). There’s nothing like family.
What's in your i-pod lineup/ cd player right now?
I think there is an Arvo Part CD stuck in my nonfunctional CD player in my gloriously dirty minivan right now.
Check out the Calendar for more information about the premiere performance of Jeremy Allen's work for string quartet, Mercury Retrograde.
Thanks for reading!
I'm Erica Ward, formerly