September 27, 2015


Last night's show went very well. Bigger audience + my birthday + tasty treats. The music was a little different last night. Not better or worse, just different. This is the nature of improvisation: What happened the last time won't necessarily happen the next time. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes I miss stuff. Impermanence. So it goes. But what was clear was that the musicians had really found their way into the piece and felt at home in it, which is very gratifying.

Fresh pasteis de nata were provided by Fátima at Luso Food & Wine
Throughout the process of making this piece, I've complained to various people that I wanted it to surprise me, that it felt too familiar. Looking back on it now, there actually were quite a few surprises. As mentioned in an earlier post, I never make things that have a such a strong narrative arc. It's not what I typically think of as being "what I do." Someone else pointed out that my work is usually much more minimal and quiet. That is true — this piece is in no way minimal. It is expansive and boisterous, at times even loud. There is a lot going on, and actually very little empty space. And then there are the live musicians. I've worked with singers in the studio on a couple of installation pieces, but I've never done a soundscape piece with other musicians playing live in a concert setting, and they add a whole other dimension to the work that is very different for me. So it turns out this piece was full of surprises after all.

Composer Steve Scribner has written a nice review on his blog. His one critique is that maybe the last section was unnecessary, and I get his point. The section before has a very natural cadence that sounds like an ending. I almost ended it there, but decided I really had to acknowledge the persistence of the diaspora in the new world, so a final section was added. It might not hurt to shorten that a little, though. I'll see how that feels in the future.

Due to the terms of the grant I received from 4Culture, we'll be presenting this at least once more in 2015. I'm not yet sure where or when that will be exactly, but discussions are in progress. Plus someone just wrote to me about possibly doing it in the Azores next year. I have a fantasy about touring it to Portuguese community halls in California and New England. I'm also working on plans to make a good studio recording with the musicians. So stay tuned!