Her Enviable Braids

28 February 2019 in Writing

K died the summer before sixth grade. She’d been walking on the side of the road when a car clipped her. Months later, during the short dark days of basketball season, a grown-up would remark, “Pedestrians are supposed to walk opposite the direction of traffic. That way, you see ’em coming.” At the funeral, some of them were already reckoning with this, as if it were a true or false question: You are flirting with death if you choose to walk on the right hand side of the road. True or false. A driver is absolved of wrong-doing if all they can see is the back of your giggling shoulder. True or false. In these summers before they could drive,
read more

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
read more

Buddha

21 February 2019 in Writing

“Your emotional reactivity will get the best of you,” he counseled. This became a daily routine, the multi-vitamin of their relationship. On Monday: “Do you want to let your thoughts and emotions control you?” Then Tuesday: “Your suffering is yet another one of your imaginary narratives. If you can accept it as imaginary, then suffering shall cease.” By Friday: “Unless you want to suffer.” He said all these things with the same blank face he used to negotiate fees for his work, or to tell his mother he loved her at the end of a holiday visit. “You could try meditation and send your thoughts down a river.” He lobbied for passivity and corrected himself, “I mean, observe them flowing
read more

Office Christmas Party

4 January 2019 in Writing

I scan the crowded room for a piece of wood or foam noodle, anything to make a life raft and stay afloat amidst the din. I hear the Christmas music and appreciate it as if it is wallpaper, the farthest layer of sound in the small space, collaged over by pieces and fragments of voices and sound effects. Drinks line the bar, gorgeous jewels in glasses, before—clink, clank—they’re whisked away, smashed one to another, their saturated crystal mouths forced to kiss while the humans laugh. The smells of limes and lemons hover, observing everything like dust. Everyone talks at once, two over three, two over five, a trio in the west, the stars in the east. I hear bits of
read more

2019 and Starting Over Again

1 January 2019 in Writing

There seems to be some itch to be writing again, and I’ve decided to post first drafts and rough musings if for no other reason than no writer ever does that. And so, begin.

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
read more