Westben Performer-Composer Residency 2019

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.