What does it mean to be an “essential worker”? Who does “essential work”? Is creative work essential?
This summer, I invite you to join in supporting new musical creation. Over the past several months, I’ve been shepherding the Essential Work(er)s Project, a virtual concert series for an age of pandemic.
For this project, I joined together with diverse musicians around the country to collaborate on a series of new, original pieces. The musicians in this project range from Grammy-winning artists to classical cellists to roots guitarists to free improvisers. Together we created new compositions, adding to each other’s ideas and voices to develop something entirely new.
The resulting pieces of music are exciting and dynamic, reaching across genres to explore the contours of our current lives.
We are so excited to debut this music through our summer series. We will be releasing a new composition on the 1st and 15th of July and August via Patreon (www.patreon.com/ewp). You can subscribe to the entire series for as little as $20 (just $5 per piece), or you can contribute more for additional levels of access and involvement.
Your subscription to this series helps support working musicians during a challenging time. In serving as a patron for new musical work, you also promote and foster the creation of new art, and speak to music’s enduring value. Artists have always helped individuals interrogate their shared humanity. The Essential Work(er)s Project provides a space for musicians to continue this work during a time of pandemic, and provides an important mechanism for mutual aid. Proceeds from this project will help support those musicians — in this project and beyond — who have lost a core source of their livelihood due to the pandemic. While our summer performances schedules have been cancelled, virtual summer series like this one carry on.
Learn more about the project on Patreon (www.patreon.com/ewp). You can also support us by following us on Instagram (@essential_workers_project), and sharing the project with friends and on social media. Thanks for being a supporter of live music, and I hope to see you (virtually) at the series!
While there, I was interviewed by fellow artist Gina Borg, a phenomenal visual artist, who also happens to host a podcast that interviews artists about their practice. Gina interviewed all of us at Willapa, and I am happy to report that my episode is finally available. You can hear my interview on Art Talks Again at iTunes, or over at the podcast website. If you are interested, you can subscribe and learn more about the other fabulous artists who I was in residence with.
I am really happy with the way the interview turned out. After listening to it, I found I could re-enter the creative mindset I was in while at Willapa Bay Air, which is proving to be extremely generative for my work this summer as I revise many of the compositions I composed in Washington.
One really feels they are crossing the boundary between two distinct ways of being, simply by driving through this gate. It is an hour drive between VCCA and Charlottesville, Virginia. I purposefully kept my radio off, driving in silence to be with my thoughts and the lush southern countryside.
My residency was an opportunity to be with myself and my creative work for a time, unfettered by the concerns of the “real world.” After a few days in this creatively generative space, I found myself able to begin allowing new thoughts in. Though my residency was only 9 days, I was able to sketch out the beginnings of 7 new solo piano pieces. These works are far from finished, but I feel they are good beginnings. It was exciting to be in a position of creative generation again, after spending so many years on finishing up my last project.
If nothing else, my time at VCCA reminded me of the contours of a creative life. I don’t believe the sign at the boundary between these two places is meant to instill dread. Rather, I believe its purpose is to remind leaving fellows that it is their duty to keep one foot firmly planted in the practice they developed while in residency. There is no greater gift one can give themselves than to be generous with their work, or with those around them.
As I navigate the year ahead, I am excited to put this theory into practice. My residency has opened me up to allow new creative influences into my life. I will be heading off to Spain soon, collecting inspiration for new creative work. I don’t know the shape of this new work yet, but I feel I am able to receive whatever the universe is willing to share with me.