Journey of 100

Chaconne #37 – August 2, Art New England program

A live performance for a session at Art New England, “The Mark and Beyond…” taught by ANE faculty Timothy Hawkesworth and Lala Zeitlyn.

This performance for their painting students, is one in which we explore how the live performance of the Chaconne will facilitate the artists’ access to individual creative places in their own bodies.  (Teaching this access is part of the expertise that Tim and Lala bring to their students).  Performed in their teaching studio at Bennington College, VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) center.

We anticipate that the results of the artists’ work (photos) will be posted here in the blog at the end of this week.  Please check back with us on Sunday August 7th!

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This was a breathtaking experience for me.  The sound of the two studio rooms was something close to perfection, and had a profound influence on my pace of playing the music  – more freedom in time, more freedom in inflecting the music with intensity, with “emptiness”, and colors of sound.  We collected many shots of the artists’ work, and once we get a chance to process them I will share some here.

2 Comments

  1. Pearl Rosenberg
    Posted August 3, 2017 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Dear Shem,

    It has taken the rest of the day to put verbal language to the experience of drawing with you playing the Chaconne in Lala & Tim’s workshop this morning. The first thrilling moments of the piece seemed to accompany me in my drawing of our very much alive and generous model who was dancing in response to the music—the music of Bach! Inspired by the good fortune to be present for such communion, I pour some drops of water onto my drawing paper and the rich, dark tones of your violin seem to take root within my drawing, making the marks of my sepia crayon move gracefully across the page. But this seemingly easy and blessed beginning was not to be sustained. Although I continue to make numerous quick drawings on multiple pages of my drawing tablet, I am at the same time aware that I am feeling more robot-like in my efforts. I soon become aware that my attention is being pulled between wanting to focus on your performance and needing to focus on my drawing. I proceed to move in closer to the drawing, but almost immediately feel pulled to attend to the music. The push-pull of listening and looking is making it impossible to keep eye, mind, hand, heart, soul and ears in balance. I then see an image in my mind of the un-centered clay beginning to fly off the potter’s wheel. My mind wanders to how the model is doing this, how you, Shem, are doing this, how my studio mates are doing this. At the moment I think I might not want to do this anymore, you move slowly away from where I am drawing in one studio into the connecting studio space, continuing to play your violin as you walk. You and your violin have now “turned the corner”—the music is now in the background and I immediately regret wishing it gone. Shortly after this loss, I realize that the music becomes difficult to “hear” (figuratively now as well as literally), for I am hearing strains of sadness and anxiety in some of the bars. I write in the corner of one small drawing “NO CLOSURE.” The music seems to be on a speeding train making no stops.
    Toward the end of the piece, as if by magic, I become aware that 3 drawings seem to have appeared in my pile. Without even realizing it, I had changed from water crayon to water pencil and now see images that look as if I had merely breathed them into being. Surprisingly, I don’t even remember making them. By focusing on the music once and for all, the drawings just showed up. Tim speaks often of getting out of your own way as an artist in order to “allow for the visitation,” where drawings show up unexpectedly. So thank you for this opportunity to be reminded of this art-affirming practice, as well as the opportunity to co-create with you—a life-affirming practice. Pearl

  2. sgwp_a1
    Posted August 3, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Pearl thank you for your generous words. The process you describe, of getting out of your own way, sometimes by “passing through” difficult and conflicting thoughts and feelings, is indeed the sort of experience that takes us the the place of empty mind, through which Source can more easily flow.

    I encounter that sort of conflict frequently, as do many musicians, when there is too much mental effort, or too many distracting thoughts as we play. In this performance I felt something like that in the 4th section of music, the Gigue, when I was in the other studio – my mind wanting to control and direct the fingers to make sure I “did it right”. Once I got into the last segment, the Chaconne itself, that disappeared.


Chaconne #36 – July 30, 11:30a Art New England Faculty

A live “test” performance for ANE faculty Timothy Hawkesworth and Lala Zeitlin and a few friends. We are considering a performance for their painting students this week, one in which we explore if the live performance of the Chaconne will facilitate the artists’ access to individual creative places in their own bodies.  (Teaching this access is part of the expertise that Tim and Lala bring to their students).  Tim and Lala want to experience the creative possibilities directly, for themselves, before bringing the opportunity to this week’s class.  Performed in their teaching studio at Bennington College, VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) center.

My post-performance comments: Well, I am really glad we did this test run today –  playing in the studio along with the sounds of the artists working requires another level of concentration for me.   When the students are there later in the week, as well as the live models,  it will certainly require me  – and inspire me –  to take the music to another level.

We were joined by Larry and Eli, two of Lala’s cousins, artists all.  Images of the work they created during the performance are here, below.

Preparing the music last week, getting ready for this week’s performance, has been difficult.  A large part of me did not want to get emotionally involved with the mood of the music, incredible and inspiring as it is. However, I was able to craft a working method that focussed mostly on my body and the relationship to the violin and bow rather than the emotion of the music.  Seems to have paid off; I will know more about this after the next performance.

Chaconne performance #36 Eli

Chaconne performance #36 Lala Zeitlin

Chaconne performance #36 Larry

Chaconne performance #36 T. Hawkesworth


Chaconne #35 – 7:00pm 2/24/17 Opus Cafe

The third and final Journey of 100 performance sponsored by Hamilton College

3 Comments

  1. Emily
    Posted February 26, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The quite, intimate setting of the cafe at night as well as the small group of people closely gathered made for a somewhat solemn and emotional experience. People were mostly lost in their own minds and feelings but the experience overall was incredible. I’d never heard a solo violin played in such a small and comfortable setting before and the experience is not one I’d forget.

  2. nesecan balkan
    Posted February 26, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Dear Shem,

    I attended Journey of 100 performance # 33 and enjoyed it very much. Thank you!! I preferred to close my eyes as I listened to your gorgeous playing so nothing could come between the sound and my mind. It is such an exquisite experience to be so close by to live playing in that relatively small space. However, I did not want to be distracted by the presence of people and things. I imagined that you were playing on a high cliff looking over the sea and that you just had the blue sky and the sea behind you. The music of Bach carried me over the waves.

    I also attended your evening concert with Sar-Shalom and the beautiful images in the background. That was also a most fantastic experience… I found that during first part of the concert where there were no images, my mind felt as if it was broadening, enlarging as I listened to you my eyes closed. I could only concentrate on the way notes flowed. However, in the second part, when I looked at the images, it seemed as though the music was describing the shapes in these photos. I could not concentrate solely on music but used music to think about what I was seeing.

    Many thanks for coming to Hamilton and giving yourself thoroughly to us to present your incredible sounds. Thanks to Sar-Shalom and Peter as well…

  3. Israel Guibbory
    Posted April 2, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Shem, I saw your performance of Chaconne at the Explorers’ Club recently in Manhattan. Here are my thoughts: Although every piece has a beginning and end I got lost in the performance and felt as though I was suspended in time. I especially liked the softer passages, they were sensitive and beautiful. It was like you were having a conversation with the music, and the music was responding to your input. Well done, brother.


Chaconne #34 – 3:30pm 2/24/17 Kirkland Public Library

55 1/2 College St, Clinton, NY 13323    (315) 853-2038
The second of three Journey of 100 performances sponsored by Hamilton College

One Comment

  1. library patron
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your talent! Adding this beautiful piece to the air in a space usually filled with children’s voices was a gift. I liked to close my eyes and imagine the notes floating around the room and touching everyone there. Thank you!


Chaconne #33 – 12 Noon 2/24/17 Science Center Atrium

The first of three Journey of 100 events at Hamilton College, Clinton NY 13323

 

One Comment

  1. Robin Kinnel
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    What a terrific experience. The first bars of the Chaconne brought a tear or two of emotion, then I settled into the delight of the moment. It felt like being at a German outdoor cafe for lunch–the only thing missing was the beer. But the juxtaposition of beautiful music and the more usual social traffic of lunch made such a connection for me. I wish that we had opportunities to experience such occasions more here.

    I had not heard solo violin played in such an intimate setting before and was delighted to experience the range of sonority, of the forte and piano, and of the bowing–things one doesn’t hear in the orchestra. Thanks for the occasion and the lesson, and good luck with the project.