Drowning in Princeton

Later today I will be performing a revised version of my invented folksong Drown in the depth, which was commissioned by the 21C Festival in Toronto and premiered there last May.This time I will be joined by composers Matt McBane on violin and Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade on cello, and Mark Eichenberger on percussion. Drawing on and subverting Ukrainian folk imagery, this work explores female erotic fantasy. In this performance, I’m continuing to experiment with theatrical lighting design as well as some interesting props. The concert also features new music by Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Noah Kaplan, Matt McBane, Juri Seo and Kendall Williams. You can hear the show live at Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall (Princeton University) or through this live stream link at 8 pm EST.

Connection through performance

Last Friday, the super talented Rachel Mercer performed The Child, Bringer of Light at the Betty Oliphant Theatre as part of Toronto’s New Music Concerts. This concert has yet again made me feel how fantastically lucky I have been over the course of my young career to work with such amazing and dedicated performers.

Rachel played with gusto and extreme sensitivity. She dug into all the raw, scratchy sounds without hesitation and her sense of timing was superb. I felt like she really connected with my music. Hearing her reminded me yet again that one of the main reasons I compose is to form those connections with people; to feel something I created, a piece of my soul, pass through another human being absorbing their essence in the process and becoming something new. For this reason, working with soloists can be an especially intense and intimate experience.

Such intimate connections with performers in turn allow me to connect to listeners. At Friday’s concert Rachel helped me make a truly fascinating connection. This cello piece is my exploration of Carl Jung’s archetype of the Child. It is about a child’s innocently joyful arrival in the world being broken by the discovery of pain and loneliness, and his eventual rediscovery of light. For me, writing this piece was a deeply immersive and emotional experience.

To my great delight, one of the audience members at last Friday’s concert turned out to be a Jungian psychologist with a particular fascination with the Child archetype. What are the odds??? She has been studying and living with this image for decades and here she was unexpectedly confronted with it in musical form. It was extremely rewarding to hear about her experience with my musical interpretation of an idea that was so dear to her. To have someone thank you for the music you created is truly the greatest honour.