“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” ~Arundhati Roy 
Welcome to my Blog about my travels throughout Europe between Aug-Nov 2016.
Boundless gratitude to: Pauline Oliveros, the Deep Listening community, Civitella Ranieri, Composers Now, Carol Parkinson, UCCS, and my colleagues, friends & family all over the world who continue to support me with love, hugs, encouragement and their confidence in me.
Madrid & Barcelona, Spain (Nov. 3-Nov 14)
The final two events of my tour were, for me, the most profound. First, I was able to spend a whole day with the Master students of Sonic Arts at the University of Barcelona.
On Nov 10th, I offered a private all-day Deep Listening workshop for the Master students of Sonic Arts at the University of Barcelona.
On Nov. 12th, at 20hrs, my final performance of this 3-month tour ended at The Blue Project Foundation in Barcelona [en] http://phonos.upf.edu/node/1085
At this performance I presented Convexed Origins for moving flutist + fixed electronic media and the second part of the show will be a presentation of Deep Listening with an invitation for audience participation.
On Nov. 4th, in the art gallery Cruce: arte y pensamiento, I performed the 2nd night of the ¡Escucha! (Listen!) festival with the formidable and extraordinary flutist Wilfrid Terrazas.
After his revolutionary first solo set, I performed Convexed Origins a piece (still in its evolution) for moving flutist and fixed electronic media.
On Nov. 8th, I will offer a private “Deep Listening meet John Cage’s Ryoanji” workshop with the chamber music students of flutist Alessandra Rombolá. Click here for more info: Centro Superior Katarina Gurska
Lapua/Seinäjoki & Helsinki, Finland (Oct 17-Nov.2)
Here’s a video clip from my performance on Oct. 29 (in a bomb shelter) in Helsinki, as part of the Tulkinnanvaraista series organized by Juho Laitinen
Mukta/Red (for solo piccolo):
Here is a short video of the Tuning Meditation by Pauline Oliveros with participants at the Sibelius Musikinstitute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9zGAlUQrLM
I was super lucky to meet new friends in Lapua, Finland. The audience attending my solo concert was so attentive and respectful. Thank you Susanna Shearman from the Vanha Paukku Cultural Center for organizing it!
Thanks to Amy M. Anderson and Egon for showing me around!
And thank you to Katja Tuulari (all the way to the left) for arranging several meetings with the students and teachers at the Musikinstitute to introduce them all to Deep Listening. I was especially impressed with their youth orchestra. The students played Pauline Oliveros’ Tuning Meditation with such sincerity — their curiosity created a sweetness of sounds they had never heard before. I was smitten, to say the least.
Berlin & Kassel, Germany (Oct 3-Oct. 16)
In a small town, Calden- Fürstenwald (outside of Kassel), I performed a lovely duo concert with the wonderfully creative pianist Ursel Schlicht. Together we invited the audience on a silent sound walk. It was just as the sun set and right before the super moon rose: a liminal time of night, full of anticipation and resonance.
We reached the top of a small hill to a “stone”, a protruding rock that was teeming with life: millions of ladybugs! There, I spoke, inviting everyone to Pauline Oliveros’ “Imaginary Meditation”. We walked back to the charming venue, in silence where we performed using the audience’s written comments about their walk as inspirations, incorporating their words and imagery into our improvisatory pieces.
“Dada Africa”: A wonderful show that connects DADA works with other cultural artforms and philosophies. When I show DADA to my students, I show them a photo of this work, so I was excited to see this up close. This is a replica of the “Prussian Archangel” which greeted visitors to the First International Dada Fair. With the script: “from Heaven above” and suspended from the ceiling, this pig face represents man’s bestiality (which seems to be rearing its ugly head quite loudly at this time of human history).
What a treat to visit with my dear friend from Spain José Manual Berenguer, the first time I’ll be seeing him on this trip…next time will be in Barcelona!
He showed us his interactive ambisonic work-in-progress sound installation which was incredibly exciting. It will be premiered in 2017 at the The Studio for Electroacoustic Music at the Akademie der Künste. Gregorio García Karman (background) is the Director.
I really loved this Joseph Beuys “Capital” exhibit at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin.
I really enjoyed performing at Ausland!
here is a short excerpt from that performance at Ausland:
Creuse, France (Sept 30-Oct.2)
Special thanks to Lê Quan Ninh and Martine Altenberger for organizing my stay in the magical region of Creuse, France, where I was fortunate to meet beautiful people, eat homemade croissants, learn the difference between entendre and écouter, look into donkey’s fluffy ear, and play the first new music concert in the town, ever. Thanks to Nelly Mousset who’s joyful presence was like the “cherry on top”!
Oct. 1st, DL workshop: the difference between entendre and écouter
Pauline Oliveros asks us to be aware of the difference between hearing and listening. She speaks of hearing as a physical act and listening as a conscious effort. “Scientists can measure what happens in the ear [when hearing, whereas], measuring listening is another matter as it involves subjectivity.”
During the Q/A after the Deep Listening workshop in a small town Gentioux-Pigerolles of the Creuse region in France, this question between listening and hearing brought forth a wonderful query when it comes to cultural understanding between the two terms.
In French, “entendre” means to hear, and to listen is “écouter.”
Besides “to hear” entendre also means: to understand, to sound. In some instances it means to hear in such a way that you comprehend what it is you are listening to.
In English, a “double entendre” refers to a phrase or a literary device that has multiple meanings or interpretations. In this way, when a person uses the verb entendre it could very well have dual intentions depending on the context.
For example “je l’entends parfaitement” = I hear it/her/him perfectly, or I understand it/her/him perfectly. (one could also say je le comprends parfaitement, which also means to understand or comprehend)
écouter, has three meanings, depending on the context: to listen to (something/someone), to pay attention to (someone/something), or to obey (someone/something).
In the context of Deep Listening, Pauline Oliveros is referring to écouter, the act of paying attention and developing our awareness skills of listening, which is what my intention is when offering workshops that are focused in this way.
So when I asked people about the difference between hearing and listening, we had a deep discussion about the concept of paying attention to listening so closely as to be able to understand the object of our listening. Which verb do they use? Some were more inclined to say “entendre” than “écouter” which I could completely comprends!
Another way to look at it: how can we deepen our listening so that we develop a heightened understanding of what (or who) it is we are listening to? This is the new question I will be taking on the rest of my tour…
Sept 26-Sept 29, Drôme, France with Michel Doneda and others
I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time visiting the incredible soprano saxophonist (and post-card-artist!) Michel Doneda in his small town Pont-de-Barret not far from the charming city of Crest.
When musicians are fully present, clearly listening and responding in a way that is beneficial for all, then the music (sounds and silence) is fully present.
Presence of a sound. Nothing more. Do not develop. Just be fully present in it.
On Sept. 28, in the home of vocalist Sophie Delizeé and her husband bass clarinetist Gérard Fabbiani,(who I had met in the Madrid “Relay” in 2001) a concert with local improvisers was arranged. What a very special night!
Then, on Sept. 29, I performed in the self-governed town, Saillans, a very appropriate place to perform free improvisation with Xavier Charles (clarinet), Mathias Forge (trombone) and Michel Doneda.
In our performance, the synergy was so united, we were so respectful of the sound and the resultant music that that silence was the fifth partner. How did we know when to stop?
This is Presence. It is like developing another sense. Or perhaps all senses are so refined that you feel it beyond listening. There is you and then, there is you+all.
All=the other players, the room/space, the air, the stage, the audience, the building, the world outside the building, the memory of your day, the memory of your conversations, your body, your ancestors, the bodies and ancestors of the other players, the food you consume, your dreams, etc.
You play with all to the point where this “all” becomes the point – the singular intent of now.
There is only moving forward within a static – non-linear – presence, contributing to a whole sound by sometimes being like what you hear (contributing to the sound as complimentary to it), something contrasting to the present sound, or contributing with your absence of sound. That was my experience of that concert with those three stellar musicians. The organizers of the concert were equally impressed. They recently informed me that they want to use that concert as the launching CD for their new label… so more about that soon!
Var, France (Sept. 24-25) Carnoules and beyond: Barre Philips and CEPI
Barre Philips, the incredible free improvising contrabassist and his lovely wife Mary welcomed me into their spectacular home, in the heart of the Var, which is located in the Provençe-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France, just between the tiny towns of Rocbaron and Puget-ville. Back in the 70s, he moved with his wife to the abandoned chapel of St. Philomena high in the hills of this forest area, away from the main towns, squares and hustle-bustle of city life. Their off-the-grid lifestyle didn’t mean he was remote and not carrying about music or the people who make it. Rather, Barre is known for traveling and playing all over the world, relentlessly searching for new musical experiences.
His home is also the headquarters of CEPI, the European Improvisation Center, a refuge for improvisers to perform, dialogue, explore, listen and play. While rummaging through a flea market and farmer’s market where we found a display of cars with his same birthday, we discussed the act of playing free improvisation.
Barre and I discussed the layers of human consciousness and the wisdom that resides in our subconscious self. How can free improvisation, the collaborative act of playing freely and without leaders or regulations, raise our consciousness to a higher level? We couldn’t necessarily answer this question on the spot, but we did agree that is exactly what free improvisation does: elevates human sensitivities, deepens our listening skills, cultivates the wisdom of wonder, makes audible the unutterable and refines imagination and curiosity.
The clarity of Barre, the transparence of his intentions of improvisation allowed me to understand more easily how it’s possible to play with so many different people, from so many different cultures, with various backgrounds and expectations. Pay attention to what is before you…without words, without judging, without discriminating or expectations. This is why it is a life-long practice…
In the beginning….
The beginning of this adventure started in Umbria, Italy where I was living in a castle for 5 weeks. Then I explored Florence and then Bogliasco, a small, gorgeous coastal town in Italy, just below Genoa. I then went on to Nice, France to continue my site-seeing. After that, I visited the legendary bassist Barre Philips in the Var region of southern France, before moving on to the Creuse region to perform and give workshops.
Currently, I am in Berlin and next week will be in Kassel. Below I will be offering insights from my travels, little tidbits of information about the music, people, places and impressions as I move as far and wide internally as I am externally. The earthquake that occurred during my first days in Umbria was both a physical and metaphysical experience for me. The violence of it pushed me to a contradictory state of being: here I am, only 150 kilometers from a total disaster and yet I am comfortable in a castle. The middle of the night disorienting shock, woke me out of a slumber, and it seems that from that point on, I’ve been in a constant internal rumble.
Although the photos in this blog primarily show joy, which constantly flows throughout my experiences, there is an undercurrent of musical, social and aesthetic exhilarating disruptions…with the beauty there is a sense of responsibility of where my music, art, life, voice, place in the world is evolving. And mostly, my relationship with sound…through the flute…something is stirring…
I find myself in luxury, living in the old “granary” on the castle grounds of Civitella Ranieri, among some of the most prestigious and talented artists of our time. Just check out their bios and you shall see what I’m talking about. Meanwhile I have tasted fresh truffles on pizza, licorice gelato and some of the most exquisite local Sangiovese wine ever. I am deeply grateful to Composers Now for bringing me here. I am honored to be the first artist of their Creative Residencies collaborative initiative. Stay tuned here as I post photos, audio “post cards” and other delights about this residency as well as the rest of my travels between now and Nov. 13th. I’ll be collaborating and performing, as well as giving workshops and composing in other parts of Italy, southern France, Berlin, Kassel, Helsinki and other parts of Finland as well as Madrid and Barcelona. Super grateful and excited as I embark on new adventures.
Thank you for checking in! Baci e abbracci!
Please click on the photos above in order to get a clearer image of them (the internet connection isn’t very good here, so it may take a few days for the photos to show up!).
And here is my first “sonic post card”, made in the castle chapel…the description of the work is in the link. This short piece, titled St. Christopher’s Shoulders is for piccoloist playing the pedal organ at Civitella Ranieri. There are two sticky keys on this old, very charming instrument, which allowed me to play the organ simultaneously while I played the piccolo. Please take a little listen (just click on the title)!
On Sept. 22nd I will be performing with the improvisation ensemble “Disaster Area” in Bogliasco (Genova, Italy) Sala Piero Bozzo, Largo Aleksandr Skrjabin 1, Free entry. With Jane Rigler (flutes); Bruno Gussoni (flutes), Iao Aea (electric bass), and Claudio Ferrari (electronics).
Following that, I will be in the Creuse region of France:
Flux Riflo series: Sept. 29th, 21:45 hrs, with Michel Doneda, soprano sax, Xavier Charles, clarinet, and Mathias Forge, trombone
as part of the Bruit Secret series: Oct. 1, 19:30hrs. a solo concert featuring my own works, acoustic flute/piccolo and with electronics.
Before this concert I will be offering a Deep Listening workshop.
here is a link with the information: http://ryoanji.free.fr/?v=agenda&a=2016&event_id=212&lang=fr
Oct 7th, I will be performing at Ausland, in Berlin at 20:30hrs, along side other wonderful performers: Audrey Chen, Michael Vorfeld, and Silvia Tarozzi.
Oct. 14-16 Workshop/Concert in Kassel, Germany: info coming soon!
Oct. 28th: A Deep Listening Workshop 12-3:15pm. Music Centre, Helsinki (address: Mannerheimintie 13a)
Oct. 28th, Tulkinnanvaraista New and Experimental Music series, Helsinki Finland: solo set and in combination with Juho Laitinen (cello) and Thomas Buckner (voice). Here is the website for more information: http://www.tulkinnanvaraista.fi/upcoming-concerts/
November 1st, Helsinki, Finland: Here is the link to my concert with Jone Takamaki (saxes, flutes), Natalia Castrillón (Lever Harp) and Sergio Castrillón (Cello).
more information about concerts/workshop in Spain coming soon!
My new piece for flute and percussion is evolving nicely as I have the time and space to explore sounds and creativity… On Monday, Sept. 5th, I will offer a presentation at Civitella with fellow musicians, Matthew Goodheart (pianist/composer) and Benedicte Maurseth (Hardanger fiddle). Really looking forward to that!
While at Civitella Ranieri, I’ve been reading The Music of John Cage by James Pritchett. This book discusses in great detail his approach to composition, citing very specifically the differences between chance and indeterminancy in his works. I will comment on how Cage’s approach has affected the way I think about sound, space and time in my music very soon (once I finish the book and assess). Meanwhile, I’ve started Jennie Gottschalk’s new book Experimental Music since 1970, which as she states herself, is a kind of “follow up” to Michael Nyman’s Experimental Music: John Cage and Beyond. I can’t wait to finish both of these books. It’s completely heartening to me, as a composer and improviser who has been exploring the edges of sound through the flute for many years now to read about the refreshing directions so many musicians around the world are taking.
Today we explored the work of the Renassiance painter Piero della Francesca, who lived (and died) in a small town nearby, on the boarder of Toscany and Umbria. I learned so much (what a fascinating man) and need to still let the work sit in my body before I share here. Meanwhile, I ponder two works that moved me: ‘The Resurrection’ (1467–68) and the vision of the “Madonna del Parto” (around 1455) which we saw and reflected upon today. Contemplate her face and the profound sadness he managed to encapsulate in her aura…The work was luminous.
Apparently it took him only 7 days to paint it. What sounds surrounded him while he worked?
Time manifested itself to the end of my Civitella Ranieri universe, which for the past 5 weeks has consisted of refreshing morning walks amongst olive trees, birds and glorious Umbrian hilly landscape views, gorgeous fresh food from recently harvested vegetables, figs from the tree just outside my door, time to practice, read, meditate and listen to my fellow Civitellan artists describe their passions and worldviews. This time of re-energizing the spirit and researching unfolded in an unexpected way for me. I composed a new flute quartet, one I had been trying to compose for over a year, with unsatisfactory results, up until now. Although my plans for composing were to be focused on a flute & percussion duo, the muse will not be pressured; she will always steer you toward what she wants, not what you want. Soon my new work for four flutes, within the fata morgana, will be unveiled. Dedicated to two of my mentors, John Fonville and Pauline Oliveros, here are some of the program notes for this piece:
A fata morgana is the technical term for a mirage that results from a combination of warm and cold atmospheric temperatures that bend light rays, giving objects seen in the horizon an unstable, ever-changing, distorted and layered quality. This kind of mirage can trick observers at sea, in the desert or even at high altitudes. The term comes from an Italian name of a sorceress “Morgan le Fey” who was believed to tempt or lure sailors to their deaths. But there are other ancient stories of her being a shape-shifting healer, one with power enough to threaten those with authority.
The delicate nature of this piece realigns the expectations of power. The soft subtleties of wavering, unstable tones create mesmerizing textures, hopefully enticing the listener to get lost in timbral worlds of air. Resist the temptation of needing to go anywhere.
What was it that finally brought me this piece? One with whistling flutists who vocal fry into the instrument, causing raspy, transparent and unpredictable air clouds to form? Was it the many hours of listening to the old voices of Calabrese liturgy recordings? Was it peering into the eyes of the Piero della Francesca’s Madonna? Was it the scrumptious olive oil gelato? Or perhaps the resonances of the spontaneous ancient song the Fellows sang in the dark of night in the St. Christopher’s chapel one night? Whatever stirred the muse, one cannot be certain. But dreams and life intermix here, and I relented.
As the first Composers Now resident artist at Civitella Ranieri, I am honored and humbled to have been in the presence of such grace and beauty. Everything and everyone around me embraced this grace: from the chefs and the way they proudly offered their gorgeous meals, to the other staff and the way they treated all the fellows with respect and ease. The landscapes unfolding itself in the light and fresh air everyday projected such peace that the muse to generate a new work arrive generously and with ease. The gratitude for this opportunity to be here, to share meals with such deeply intelligent and sensitive artists from all over the world is immense. There are no words to express how deeply appreciative I am for this time, this magic place, this gift of integrity. The sounds, the textures, the light, the flavors, the camaraderie filled my days with a new sense of hope that we can all support each other’s artistic vision to create a more harmonious world for all.
Many deep thanks to Composers Now and to Civitella Ranieri, the staff, the director and the Civitella Ranieri ancestors.
Now, I pack lightly and will tread gently into the next phase of my travels. Absorbing the rain, the air, the wind and whatever songs I can hear…