Literary Audio

29 December 2014 in Heather, Writing

In 2014, I tried my hand at audio journalism, editing several pieces on music and new media. Highlights included one-on-one interviews with impresarios, composers, and music directors: — A profile with Chris Rountree, artistic director of wildUp — Behind the scenes at REDCAT, including a post-performance interview with David Rosenboom — Looking back on Invisible Cities with Yuval Sharon, artistic director of The Industry — Contemplating astronomy, data visualization, and music composition at Pasadena’s AxS Festival These pieces reflect my passion for investigating the praxes of media arts on the West Coast.

On Xenakis

20 October 2014 in Heather, Music

I remember how I held my breath as my dad pounded each nail halfway into the square piece of wood we’d covered in black felt. I watched as two nails became three, then five, then eight, until the last completed a perfect circle. Dad handed me the board and I returned to my desk to consult my math book, which described how to wind string from nail to nail at measured intervals around the circle. The lines of string began to create a web around the perimeter of an inchoate circle, this one hovering magically in the center of the board over the black felt. I repeated the process twice more, using different colors of string to mark intervals of
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Art Is

2 October 2014 in Heather, Theater, Writing

You could park a big ol’ Cadillac inside Grandma’s walk-in pantry. To a child, the great windowless room stocked with jams and sauces and pickles and puddings was nothing less than a theater. The rows of metal shelving parsed the space into my very own backstage, wings, proscenium, and house. And on a shelf at the back, below the neatly indexed cake mixes, rested a simple cardboard box— the costume box. The pantry became an escape from chores—from pulling weeds, picking green beans, and hanging laundry on the line. Grandma, perhaps knowing the futility of wringing work out of a girl on Christmas or spring break, would allow me to spend hours playing dress-up. I made tiaras out of tinfoil
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Aesthetic Inclinations

19 February 2014 in Heather

In the spirit of Wallace Stevens, I have thirteen ways of looking at beautiful. 1. Complexity is most intriguing when it juxtaposes the simple. 2. I prefer solving mysteries to being lectured by the head detective. 3. I prefer a child’s intuitive wisdom to the academic’s schooled analysis. 4. I prefer the kaleidoscope to the periscope. 5. I prefer abstraction (in art, music, dance, or theatre) that jests and riddles and plays. 6. I leave emotion at the door: form, color, texture, and dynamic are each enough. 7. I often prefer the Components to the composite Greater Meaning. 8. I prefer a cross-pollination of genres to absolutes. 9. I prefer prose that is poetic. 10. I prefer a suggestion of
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Brahms Ballade, Op. 10 No. 4

8 June 2013 in Heather, Music

The middle section of this piano piece conjures a moment from one of my past lives. An early morning. Mist thick as cobwebs. I’ve wandered from the small stone house to the water’s edge, and in spite of the blindfold of vapor, I see it. A lake monster, moving as an alto voice in a murk of harmonies. It swims and sings against the current, toward me. The A section returns, resting an invitation on my shoulder, and I go back to it, leaving an outline of myself at the water’s edge, watched and watching. A long time ago.

The Great Taffy Pull

24 March 2013 in Heather, Music

Chopin’s 4th Ballade was my big piece the first year I lived in San Francisco (attending the Conservatory). My teacher and I had long discussions about how to make 6/8 time sound like elegant infinite 6/8 and not like plodding 3/4. It’s somehow too easy—with the lovely main theme—to succumb to a fake 3/4, accenting every third eighth note like a downbeat, as if playing a waltz poorly. But even in 6/8, there’s another hidden danger, that of turning the serpentine tune into a lilting Venetian boating song. Nineteen years have passed, yet I remain intrigued by the work and careful thought it takes to give the 4th Ballade a smooth rhythmic line, one that surpasses the banality of its
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