It’s hard to believe that July is almost over. This year, spring and summer merged together in a whirlwind of change and uncertainty… as a musician that strives to make change, create, and innovate there isn’t always a predictable layout for my life. This year spring happened to bring forth change that was unexpected and somewhat devastating. Loss in life is for me, one of the hardest things about living… and loosing things close to you can bring everything else to an abrupt halt.
Within these transitions, the music is always there, phasing in from the foreground to the background, guiding the way, leading me forward. Calling me to get back on the path even when it often would often seem unbearable to do so. One cannot separate the artist from the person. What is happening in life will somehow be portrayed in the art and music, no matter if we want it to or not. This is why it was so important for me to step aside for the past few months. In order to yield and let go, one often has to reconnect the heart and mind.
I traveled from New York City to D.C, to Boston, to the deserts of Colorado, through the mountains and back to the place that will always be home, Pittsburgh.
I leaned on friends, caught up with family, practiced a lot of yoga and biked and ran many, many miles.
Through all of this, it became clear again that the only way to overcome anything in life is to first overcome yourself. And by that, I mean forget about yourself completely. So, through all of this I suppose I can say that this summer I was humbled to the point of becoming as close to egoless and selfless as humanly possible.
I was reminded that life is more about the oneness of all things than the way your name looks on a billboard, television screen or the list of accomplishments on your resume. In short, when this life is over, I would rather be known for being a good person, a good friend, someone who gave and shared love with the world more than anything else. The art and music will always be imprinted in my DNA, but for me, it will remain most importantly as a vehicle to connect with the world in a positive, humanistic, altruistic manner.
“Fall seven times, stand up eight” -Japanese Proverb
Reach out. Connect. Unite.
We are all one.
It’s been a busy few months and I wanted to share what’s been happening. Often when deadlines loom and concerts are happening one after the other, it becomes difficult to absorb and reflect on the outcome. For me, it’s important to take the time to document these performances simply for the sheer amount of preparation, practicing and work that goes into them. Knowing that words will never quite convey the experience of live performance, reflection helps me move on to the next concert.
A few weeks ago I was part of the NYC Weekend of Percussion where I was a featured soloist with newly formed all female percussion quartet, Excelsis:
I’ve spent my life performing some of the hardest solo percussion repertoire out there, but nothing brings me greater joy than playing drum set and true in the moment improvisation. I look forward to collaborating with this quartet more in the future.
The program also included two of my original works:
Liquefaction (click title to hear clip)
Harmonic Filter (click title to hear clip)
Literally, the next day I was immersed in curating the solo percussion arsenal for Richard Danielpour’s new work, Celestial Circus for three percussionists and two pianists. The set up was huge and it was premiered in one of the most beautiful halls in New York City: Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. We put a lot of rehearsal time in on this premiere and the end result was extremely rewarding.
Next weekend is the 2014 PAS Weekend of Percussion here in New York City and I’m excited to be performing 3 works on the Showcase Concert Saturday evening. I’ll be performing two of my new original compositions for amplified marimba and vibraphone and will be the featured drum set soloist on Bobby Previte’s: Terminals: Concerto for Drum Set and Percussion Ensemble with the recently formed, all female percussion group, Excelsis. And, guess what? IT’S FREE!!!! Hope to see you there.
Winter Solstice: The Return of Light
Winter is always a difficult time of year for me. It’s dark, cold, and everything seems just a little bit harder.
We have our gloves, an extra coat, and and extra layer of clothes to lug around. But, when we reach the winter solstice, I always feel a glimmer of hope. Despite the cold, the return of small increments of light makes it possible to weather the cold until spring arrives.
This year it seems like my life was right in line with the flow of the universe. No matter how much you practice, no matter how far you think you’ve gotten, there is always another step to go, and sometimes, that step isn’t the one you see coming. More often than not, it can seem like there is always another obstacle blocking your path. In the end, I am reminded the hard way of one of my favorite buddhist quotes “You already are what you want to become”.
In truth, everything else is just an illusion. People sometimes ask what the hardest part about the music business is. For me, it’s not learning the music, carrying and setting up hundreds of instruments, playing them all, traveling, practicing long hours, finding a place to practice, deadlines, projects, etc…
The single most difficult thing is Perseverance. Believing in yourself when nobody else seems to…
Rising every time you fall… Standing up again when you think you have nothing left to give.
So, as the light returns in the new year, this is my mantra, as it always has been: Die Trying.
And that’s exactly what I plan on doing. Although it might seem like an outward agenda, it’s actually an inward dilemma.
Perhaps things won’t turn out exactly the way we thought they would, but none of that matters if you keep believing in yourself.
My wish for all of you at the turn of the new year is the same.
Do not take no for an answer.
Find an alternate route.
Because the only thing stronger than fear, is hope.