'The great east-west event of this year's [Edinburgh] festival'. The Times, London Reaching a painful crossroads as a classically-trained composer, I moved to Japan 22 years ago, wondering if I would ever compose music again. The area I chose for my home was a center for ceramic artisans. Soon, studies with a master craftsman pulled me back into ceramics, a medium that I had loved since childhood. It seemed though, that whenever I thought that my time with music was over, fate or my curiosity drew me back in. At first, I couldn't turn down the chance of learning how to play traditional Japanese instruments. And, once I worked with them, I was inspired to write my own music, collaborating with a playwright to create music theater works that were performed all over Japan and the U.S. The hectic theater performance schedule made me long for open-ended travels around the world and years followed when I woke in the night wondering if I was in Damascus or the back country in China or an airport in Bangladesh. Back at our studio in Japan, we continued our work on ceramics, gradually building a customer base. The basic difference between my work with music and my work with clay was that I 'enjoyed' working with clay and music had always been associated with some kind of pain. A year in Paris studying with Nadia Boulanger had left me with chronic shoulder pain that finally disappeared as my world revolved more and more around clay. Yet, music was still with me and was a magnet on my travels. After an evening in Kumkapi in Istanbul listening to musicians who loved what they were doing, I promised myself that I would not write music if it caused me pain. I was willing to give it up if it couldn't create joy in my life. Later that year, I sat at the piano, my mind full of the melodies that are now recorded in Armchair Magician. These songs were my expression of those months on the road. The blue of the sea near Izmir. The night sky over the Sinai desert. The angel hovering over our boat as we crossed the Red Sea. As much as I wanted to write these notes down, I kept my promise to myself and whenever my shoulder began to tense up, I stopped. After a year, I had an hour of music and knew that I needed to record it. For me, that music is the record of the journey time of my life. At first, even though I loved this music, I was shy to share it for it was so different from what I had been trained to write. In my mind's eye, I could see my teachers dismissing it with a raise of the eyebrow. But once the music was recorded, an opportunity opened in Japan to perform it in a theater setting with words that acted as an entrance into the world invoked by the music. Sales of the CD in Japan and the US have given me great satisfaction. This CD was my path back to music without pain and I have often heard from those who listen to my music that it calms them and reaches out to their hearts, healing the wounds that we all share as human beings. A woman, recently widowed, wrote to me that she could finally go to sleep after she listened to Armchair Magician. Another woman wrote that she listened to the CD over and over again during her month-long stay in the hospital recovering from being sexually abused and battered. One friend wrote, 'The music nurtures my sense of peace.' And that is what these travels and this journey to music did for me.
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