Reflets dans l’eau

6 September 2020 in Music

“Performance is dead,” he said. And I crumple. Performance is something I believe in. To perform music—on the piano, accordion, toy piano, or with voice—is to advocate for being alive. To perform is to take the stance that “liveness” matters, more so than recordings, film, or videos; paintings, sculptures, or edited text. Simply put, performing—or rather, playing piano—is me at my best. I would not consider myself a great pianist, nor can I claim any achievements derived from playing. But, I was my best as a pianist, a performing pianist. Playing piano, as I did for ballet classes or church services or, once, in a chic gallery in New York City, requires complete presence. Admittedly, there are moments in between—when
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Love Stories

10 August 2019 in Heather, Music, Theater

Let me tell you a story. A love story. It’s about sharing. Making room. (Move over.) It’s general admission. You don’t get to claim your seat. There’s never enough room. Yes, it’s a love story. You. Me. Your ego. My id. There was never going to be enough room. (Give a girl a seat!) I told you: This is a love story. It’s about sharing. ~Text for performance; Premiere August 2019 at The MilkBar in Richmond, CA.

The Soul in Winter

23 February 2019 in Music, Writing

People ask when my next concert will be. “I’d love to hear you play.” Or, “I just love the piano.” Always said, it seems, with eyes rolling heavenward or a clasp of hand to the heart. These prostrations unnerve me. I bear up. “I’m hibernating,” I say. “No performances on the horizon.” I hear that hibernating bears emerge bony and skeletal from their dens. Weak and emaciated. I observe my fingers, which now sometimes have problems opening jars. I wriggle them and wonder how long they would last across the tundra. In my hibernation, I listen to music, sometimes, like last night, discovering a pianist from Iceland, Vikingur Olafsson, who recorded Philip Glass in 2017, and then J.S. Bach less
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The Magic of Song: Pamela Z’s SPAN

13 May 2015 in Music

Any classically trained singer worth their salt will have a copy of Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias on their bookshelf. The collection of songs by 17th- and 18th-century composers is a primer of bel canto style, with each song presenting a new technical challenge for the singer to master. The pieces rise above mere vocal technique; they’re also love songs. Each one requires the singer to deliver an emotional punch, and those punches are inevitably about love—first love, lost love, spiritual love, star-crossed love. The songs teach a singer to marry technique and emotion. They teach a singer to perform. Pamela Z’s new work for voice, electronics, and chamber ensemble is similar in that it uses a single topic to
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Ghosts at the Redcat

3 November 2014 in Music

The Redcat stage looked like a jungle: gongs hung from stands, electronic cables snaked between the legs of snare drums, and groups of instruments claimed distinct territories amidst the mess. Eight tablas waited on a makeshift altar at center stage, perhaps soon to be sacrificed. Percussionist William Winant entered the fray fearlessly, while David Rosenboom, composer and electronics virtuoso, presided over the performance from his computer downstage right. Zones of Influence is one of David Rosenboom’s most complex compositions, written for percussion instruments and electronics in 1984 and 1985. He had Winant in mind for the percussion part from the beginning. Rosenboom’s concept for the interactive nature of the electronics was so far ahead of its time that it took
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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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