This past week, I had the fortunate opportunity to spend a week at the Westben Centre for Connection and Creativity as part of the 2019 Performer-Composer Residency. Each resident was asked to compose a piece for the group to rehearse and perform as well as present a workshop on something that is currently inspiring them. Everyone’s individual energy and character created such a beautiful group dynamic, and the final concert last evening was an unforgettable evening full of new musical journeys.
I presented a workshop about horizontal and vertical interpretations of music that involved group performances of Pauline Oliveros’ “Sound Fishes” and a graphic/language score of mine which is part of a new set of pieces I am calling the “Tapestry Series.” My contributing piece for the concert, titled “Warp and Weft,” is a text-based score that further pursued this musical exploration of horizontal and vertical motion and how they interact with each other.
Here are a few initial takeaways for me from the residency (this is not an exhaustive list, but the thoughts need time for them to be fully appreciated and put into practice):
Motions can be explored in an unlimited set of ways, even if the arrival is only a limited set of options
Traditionally-notated, through-composed western music (read: most music taught in academia) can be a sort of “secure container” or “safety zone” for performers because there is not usually need for any creative input except performance interpretation. Although interpretation is extremely valuable to the quality and energy of a performance, we should also encourage each other to explore outside of these comfort zones and use every opportunity to learn from our performances of different genres so they may inform other performance interpretations moving forward.
Improvisation is all about observation, breathing life into your creations, and accepting vulnerability.
Thank you so much to Ben Finley, Davy Sumner, Brian Finley, Donna Bennett, Clarke Sumner, and Logan Bennett for helping bring this residency to life. And thank you to all the residents who helped me feel supported in a way that allowed me to accept vulnerability.
“Ondulação by Alexis C. Lamb has a sparkling optimism throughout. Of the pieces included, this one dances the best, reflecting the undulation of its Portuguese title, though not the most intensely. After the purposeful pulses of Roda, Ondulação is calmer, quieter, and more intimate–a pleasure in its own right.” – Kathleen McGowan, I Care If You Listen
“It can feel at times when listening to Spinning in the Wheel that the music is quite literally spinning and dancing around one’s head, but it is never spinning in place for long, and the members of the ensemble manage to keep listeners on their toes while simultaneously presenting a calmingly cyclical and trance-like listening experience.” – Peter Tracy, Second Inversion
Heartfelt thanks to both Kathleen McGowan and Peter Tracy for their reviews of Projeto Arcomusical’s second album, Spinning in the Wheel. I am especially tickled by McGowan’s quote about “Ondulação” and sincerely appreciate the time and energy that it took for both people to listen to and review the album. Also thank you to I Care If You Listen and Second Inversion for publishing the reviews and helping us build a community through music!
This Friday, the Ballet Bloom Project of Portland, Maine, will present “The Shape of Relativity.” Choreographed by Rose Hutchins, “The Shape of Relativity” features two of my berimbau compositions from Meia: A Song Cycle for Berimbau, including “um só” and “Apenas seja.” The performance will also include a Q&A/mingle with the artists following the performance.
Kevin Keith recently led a consortium to commission “Familiar,” a solo piece I wrote for multiple percussion with speaking text. Today, Keith will be premiering this piece on his recital, “Home,” at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver. Looking forward to seeing Keith and all the consortium members welcome this new piece into their own performance homes!
CALLING ALL PERCUSSIONISTS!!!!! My friend and colleague, Kevin Keith, is leading a consortium for a new work that I am composing for solo multiple and speaking percussion. The work, “Familiar,” is an intimate storytelling experience about how the idea of “home” changes over time. If you know any percussionist who is looking for a new addition to their solo repertoire, please share this announcement with them. The consortium closes on May 1, so we have just about two weeks to get the word out. Thank you so much!
In two weeks, I will be presenting a clinic at the 2019 Connecticut Day of Percussion! The clinic will include an introduction to the berimbau, its context in capoeira and the music of Naná Vasconcelos, the berimbau in Projeto Arcomusical, and hands-on activities that focus on building chamber music skills. Hope to see you then!
I was super excited to receive this video from William Newton in my email inbox! He did an excellent job learning “Post-Lightened” and performed it well on his junior recital at University of South Carolina. Enjoy his performance!