Maybe this year I will write in this space more than once. I used to use it as a kind of public diary and travelogue, and then…Twitter occurred? I got busier? I remember neither un-busyness nor life before Twitter; tragic, I know.
In a week, I’m flying to San Francisco, where I will play in three quite different things. The first, on January 23, is a show by LA Dance Project; I’ll play Glass’s Mad Rush in a piece choreographed by Benjamin Millepied called Closer. (Is Mad Rush a piece about the gold rush? This struck me only now).
Second, and maybe most excitingly, I’ve been preparing a new solo piano program—my first in awhile—which I’ll play on January 26th. The program is movements from Janáček’s On An Overgrown Path interlaced with works by Caroline Shaw, Eric Shanfield, and Chris Cerrone. Here’s a short note I wrote about the idea behind the program:
There’s a good reason for all the evocative titles, which is that all the works are based on visual images, either real or imagined. What I liked was that all the pieces have to do with different mediums, or chains of mediums, like a game of inspirational telephone. Caroline’s Gustave le Gray is named after a pioneer in photography, and is half an analogue to his images, and half an imagined portrait of the photographer himself. Chris was inspired by an artist friend’s rendering of a beautiful brutalist bridge in southern Italy—the two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional form, translated into a musical form. Eric’s Utopia Parkway is an homage to the sculptor Joseph Cornell—musical “objects” move against each other in shifting positions, like the objects in one of Cornell’s shadow boxes.
And it’s not known exactly what inspired the titles of Janáček’s On An Overgrown Path, though I believe they were given only just before being published—it seems likely they were images or phrases out of his own head. But they are amazingly evocative in a way that is pictorial but nonetheless abstract.
I suppose what I’m trying to “say”, if one can speak through one’s programming, is that the way an artist sees art and the world is not usually confined to a single form or discipline. The qualities that move me in music are the same that move me about a building, a photograph, or a piece of choreography. They’re all related in cryptic ways.
And lastly, on February 2nd, I’ll be joining the legendary Kronos Quartet for a program centered on Glass—some solo piano music, some quartet music, a bit with all five of us, and some conversation between David Harrington and me.
The fact that I’m not playing any of my own music on these programs feels almost like I’m getting away with something. It also makes me wildly anxious (am I an interesting enough pianist to be just a pianist?)