spiralflames: (question)

coeur de lis77, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

The other day I was thinking about photography, and what makes someone a "good" or "talented" photographer. I was thinking that in many ways, you just have to SHOW UP..beauty and interest are already all over. Point. Shoot. Enhance with the computer, since darkrooms are no longer necessary. Pinch. Tweak. Get a good camera, if you can afford one. World changing events have been captured on cell phones.

The flower's already there. I just record it at a certain moment in time. There's no "me" included. I'm just the historian.


So now why not the same simplicity in music. Beethoven's there, perfect, already. I just have to observe, and bring my skill as an observer into my mind's "dark room" to make the silent notes speak.

My "issues" shouldn't make a damn bit of difference, any more than my "issues" influence your enjoying the lily pictures I've been posting.

Lily is perfect. Beethoven too. I don't take a lily photo, copy it, color it, cut and paste it by hand and glue it to a board so it can be really, REALLY strong.

Watch. Be there. Don't screw w things. It's already perfect.

spiralflames: (Default)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] brahmsop117 at 6/26/11 recital: andre' watts


andre' watts gave a sold-out recital on sunday in winona, minnesota, as part of their summer beethoven festival.

(what? winona? beethoven fest? mmhmm. also appearing in solo recital- thomas hampson and the 83-year old LEON FLEISHER. why the twin cities cannot attract these artists, but they come to a small town in minnesota which calls itself "the stained-glass capitol of the world"? goddess only knows.

here's what he played:

scarlatti- 2 sonatas
beethoven- rondo in C, op 51
mozart- rondo in a minor, k.511
beethoven- sonata op 10.3 in D
liszt: etude "un sospiro"
bagatelle without tonality
nuages gris
lugubre gondola
etudes after paganini #5 and $6

this was a beautifully-wrought, thoughtfully programmed, respectfully prepared concert. watts is somewhat of an "elder statesman" now, honed and burnished, sound mature and multi-faceted.

what struck me as different from many of the newer pianists? he was WORKING. the beethoven presto sounded HARD. he missed a few minor notes. the liszt-pag etudes were physically strenuous. he took a few well-placed risks. the late liszt was downright spooky- one really got into the mind of the late 18th-century pianist/composer who was hinting at scriabin and even early shoenberg.

newer pianists can play perfectly, razor sharp, effortless presto, and toss it off like a child's game. unfortunately, intellectually, that's what it is, when speed and cleanliness are virtues unto themselves and, ultimately, the highest aspiration.

it was wonderful hearing (just mis-typed the word as "healing" and maybe it was.) this master pianist at the height of his musical power.


spiralflames: (Default)
Once upon a time, on the jagged North Shore of Lake Superior,
one family made a summer home. They built one large
house with two bedrooms, a picnic house jutting out over
the cliff, a guest house, and a caretaker's house. These houses
were made from wood and stone, but their souls were made of magic.

The four buildings stand on a promontory between two pebble
beaches. When a storm comes, the force of the waves scours them
down to bedrock, drags them out to sea, and then hurls the rocks back into the cliffs.
this has happened for thousands of years before houses were ever dreamt of, and
each nor'easter has sculpted the cliffs anew like the hand of God creating Eden.
Even in the house, the floor vibrates slightly with each wave.

Turning off the main highway, an uninitiated traveler might think the path
could plunge directly into the Lake. Only trees are visible- the houses
nestle at discrete distances behind the protecting pines. Lake House, the
largest of the homes, is a comfortable frame structure. Thirty feet of
windows overlook the Lake. An immense stone fireplace made from round stones
as large as loaves of bread guards the great room. The ceilings are
beamed and low. Windows are everywhere, and every wall not supporting a
window has large, circular mirrors built into it. Every angled view
shows Lake or Tree.

Now, generations after the original owners' vision, it is named "Halcyon Harbor."
anyone with courage and a credit card can stay for as long as want.

The magic of Halcyon lies in its talent for distilling the truest
personality of every resident. Over the years, I brought almost
everyone important to me to my Lake House, and knew that each person
who entered would be a slightly different one by the time he left.
Some of these visits were warm, nurturing, dear. Sometime they terrified-
a few were profoundly sad. Always, even in the most casual of moments,
they were honest.

five of us first came there as a "piano family:" our college teacher and four
ex-students. nervous about traveling together and giggling about
morning hair, pajamas, (or lacks thereof), it was the first time any of us
would spend extended social time with PF. we whispered about calling
him by his given name rather than academic title; we wondered if we'd be
uncomfortable in the absence of a scheduled, more formal event.
we joked about him showing up, taking one look around, getting twitchy,
saying "Too quiet!" and speeding back to civilization in his aging Peugeot.
over the next years, we five visited Halcyon many times.

Once, on the last morning we were there, all of us gathered at the breakfast
table. The sunlight danced on the Lake, the air blew cleanly through the
pines and we were all reluctant to leave. We could feel the city
drawing us back to itself. Someone put an old Maggie Teyte recording on-
beautiful, melancholosexual Duparc songs. We all fell silent. The
sharing of the House and the beauty of the music suddenly gathered
all of our disparate Lives and created a single, glistening moment
poised forever like a tear at the corner of a lover's eye. After
an eternity, the singing ended.

We sat motionless as the water calmed itself. After a few minutes,
PF abruptly stood up, retreating to his room, his eyes red. He'd
been moved to tears- we weren't to acknowledge it. He returned
with his suitcase in hand, ready to leave, practical. We avoided
eye contact by watching the Lake. Nobody spoke. Standing quietly behind
me for a few second, he bent down and kissed the top of my head.
"All right now, see you back in town." he said. He
hesitated a bit more. Silence. None of us had spoken.
The door closed quietly, and we heard the Peugot starting, outside.
our time together had ended with the song.

once, when winter was at its most unforgiving, in the slow ice-time of january, we all went to Halcyon. we would plan elaborate dinners, work at crossword puzzles, drink enough to be sentimental (for that was still hard for some), listen to schubert, and be silent. When we wanted companionship, we would sit by the fire- when we wanted to be alone with our thoughts, we watched the Lake. some years, even in winter, the Lake would refuse to freeze over- its surface would lie still and adamant as my mother's expression on a crisp morning, set and grim and holding icy depths never known and, thankfully, never spoken. some nights, the fire would burn low and we'd watch the Lake in darkness, the only thing visible the occasional light from a passing sea-going vessel. frozen or not, Superior always held our secrets without comment.

yet there would be warmth with us, the five, brought together through music, the teacher and his no-longer students who were now close friends. there would be silence filled with schubert; there would be scrabble games rife with conquest and defeat that somehow gathered more significance than double-word-score, Q and Z. there would be meals carefully prepared, discrete turnings away, microscopic leanings-toward, companionable smiles, thoughts unvoiced but tacitly understood.

we were five and we were one, bound together with silken cords of schubert and faure'. there were songs of strauss, sonatas of beethoven, nocturnes of chopin, all accompanied by shots of good vodka or akvavit. we would stay up late to make the days last longer and then retire securely to separate sleeps.

one night, two were drowsing by the fire, two were staring into the dark (the Lake was out there, listening for our words.) one sat at the table, alone, a reading lamp describing a small circle on the table where an unread book had rested for hours. there might have been brahms.

"you". he said, breaking the silence. he indicated us four, together, separate, quiet, full. "you are the people i want with me when i am dying."

the Lake heard, considered, hissed, nodded. two looked away, fearful. i drew strength and word from Lake and answered for us all: "we will be there. i promise."

a million waves later, a thousand sleeps later, a handful of winters later, promise became event.

of the four of us, one left- his refusal to care was his mind's refuge.

another stayed, but her own complexities demanded most of her time, and he understood.

i stayed, but was wary- i had promised, but i was afraid it would be too sad to bear.

the last one stayed to fight his own demons, and took on his shoulders the demons of the one who was leaving.

that long-ago night, the Lake lie in wait, listening for our decision. somewhere in the background, music still played, but the sudden chill made it feel more distant.

in the Great Room, the fire, once so cheerful, once so inviting, once so easily tended, had gone out. it was time to go Home.

postscript: 6 years later, summer: one, watching the Lake alone...

and the warm breeze hummed shyly, with ever so subtle a motion, against the lake's clean surface, like the first note of a nocturne, like the first exploratory touch of an experienced lover's hand. the water's surface slowly became attuned to the motion- nothing so monumental as a tide nor so final as a wave, but a gentle, singing, undulating, sighing voicelet, moving with the wind as a field of wheat moves when touched by the breath of god. and these minute vibrations sang the the lake alive, and the lake sang the girl alive, and the wind and the water and the girl were one; and they spoke and listened to one another, and knew one another, and comforted each other, and as the lake's voice thrummed in the waning light, she remembered her friends with love, and she was no longer afraid.
spiralflames: (heart)

lakewood after snow8 mpls mn, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

since i did a real update..don't really know if this will be one or not. today a strange thing happened..a yellow ball of light..in the sky..and the sky itself..a strange color...blue...seriously tho. it seems like it's been weeks since we had an honestly blue sky. it was lovely- i could feel my shoulders and my anxiety level dropping. photos of fresh snow were taken. life is good.
i'm head over heels in love with the beethoven _waldstein_ sonata. i'm proceeding with caution, and going at it from the end forward.
i'm participating in my very first semi-public (invited guests) reading a on the 20th- this is huge for me. i'm used to performing music- and there's always beethoven first and foremost- we're always together in being in awe of the music. in my own writing? ouch- this is My Life, my words, my..insides. it'll be interesting. chances are nobody else will make a huge deal out of it, being concerned about their OWN heart/minds being exposed. all righty then.
did i tell you i saw jeremy denk perform the schumann _davidsbundler_ and the bach GOLDBERG variations? i've never SEEN anyone perform the goldbergs-- repeats included-- from memory, in public. awe-inspiring pianism, absolute conviction and *rightness* of playing. wonderful.
and my sweet dad gets more dear by the week. sometimes i just think of his gentle smile and i get totally verklempt. he's the only man who's ever been there for me unconditionally.
and, with perfect timing, the heater in my CAR went out on sunday night, mid-blizzard. the COLD i could've lived with a bit..but not being able to SEE was a trial. i drove it back to my folks' and borrowed dad's car for 2 days. sun, mon, tues each seemed like their own WEEKS. i've HAD it w/winter. i want out!!
so. tell me about you :-D

spiralflames: (twisted)

think it's about time to start planning.

right now, i'm thinking, in no particular order:

wagner: _wesendonck_ lieder (soprano & piano)
faure: 8th nocturne (i am in love like a little girl)
beethoven: WALDSTEIN sonata (it's time)
poulenc: (for there must always be poulenc) trio for oboe, bassoon, piano

probably need one more thing..hmmmmm OHHHHH i know...a few faure' and schubert songs..with the oboe playing the voice part............

yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmeh. this will be next fall, my BIG-ass bash when i am 5 yrs cancer-free!

la musique

Mar. 14th, 2009 09:51 pm
spiralflames: (heart)
two of my favorite section of the 'great pianists' PBS series..the first, showing gilels performing for russian fighter pilots during WW2 and richter powering his way through the "revolutionary" etude (where's the revolutionary SPIRIT gone to? fascinating how they choose kissin and kocsis, both of whom seem (literally) lispy and (spiritually) anemic, to comment....

then, the truly scary vid of an ancient Cortot speaking and playing schumann- he looks like the phantom of the opera in the original silent movie, but he's almost moved to tears playing something he's probably played literally thousands of times before.

stop. now.

Feb. 9th, 2009 10:50 am
spiralflames: (Default)
and go here to [livejournal.com profile] leylagencer's LJ to listen to this 2 minute you-tube video of bach. it will change your mind about how you're going to live this day.

spiralflames: (freedom)
when winter was its most unforgiving, in the slow ice-time of january, the five of us would go to Halcyon. there we would cook, work at crossword puzzles, drink enough to be sentimental (for that was hard for some), listen to schubert, and be quiet. at times we watched the fire- at times we watched the Lake.

some years, even in winter, Lake Superior would refuse to ice over- its surface would lie as flat and still and adamant as my mother's expression on a crisp morning, set and grim and holding icy depths never known and, thankfully, usually unspoken.

yet there would be warmth with us, the five, brought together through music, the teacher and four students, now no longer students but still caught somewhere between familyfriendcolleagues. there would be silence filled with schubert. there would be scrabble games filled with conquest and defeat that somehow became more profound than double-word-score, Q and Z. there would be meals carefully prepared, discrete turnings away, small movings-toward, companionable smiles, unspoken things finally understood.

we were five and we were one: there was schubert. there was faure'. there was elisabeth schwarzkopf and strauss, there were rachmaninoff concerti heard late at night and accompanied by shots of good vodka or akvavit. we would stay up late to make the days last longer and then retire securely to separate sleeps.

one night, two were drowsing by the fire, two were staring into the dark (we knew the Lake was out there, listening for our words.) one sat at the table, alone, a reading lamp describing a small circle on the table where a book had rested. there might have been brahms.

"you". he said. he indicated us four, together, separate, quiet, full.

"you are the people i want with me when i am dying."

the Lake considered, nodded, hissed. two looked away, acknowledging. i drew strength and word from Lake and said "we will be there. i promise."

and a million waves later, a thousand sleeps later, a handful of winters later, promise became event.

one left- he had never really listened.
one stayed, but her own life was busy, and he understood.
one stayed but was wary, knowing how it drained her when she could contribute little and it was too sad to bear.
the last one stayed to fight his own demons, and took on his shoulders the demons of the Fifth.

somewhere, the Lake waited, quiet for a moment only.

still there was brahms, but the cold made it feel more distant.

and the fire, despite all attempts to tend it, went out.

lake nokomis sunset3, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (Default)

winter late afternoon12, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

posted by [livejournal.com profile] _appassionata_ this morning:

The act of performing almost forces us to become our best selves: performers must be realists, rise to the occasion, and shed limitations such as self-delusions, narcissism, and unproductive thoughts. Our minds must unite intuition and rationality in a purposeful, high-level way. We must make sense of the abstract. We must become fluid, open-system thinkers, always receptive to new connections. If learning to play a particular piece of music is a journey, then that journey of knowledge isn't quite complete without the culminating stage of public performance--even if it's for an audience of one.

from _The Perfect Wrong Note_ by William Westney

spiralflames: (random_3)
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first, i'm a little astounded that a hannah montana concert will "go down in musical history"..but consider the sources, i guess.

for me?
the very first time i saw the minnesota orchestra (then, minneapolis symphony) live- and appearing with them in concert, pianist emil gilels, who performed the beethoven emperor concerto. i was a kid, i sat 5th row center, probably 20 feet from him, and during the slow, single-note passages, the 4500 people in the cavernous northrop auditorium were not only silenced, but breathing in tandem.

msje18, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.


Nov. 29th, 2008 10:35 am
spiralflames: (random_1)

sandhill cranes hanging out, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

this is a photo of 5-foot-tall sandhill cranes who are standing on one leg and sleeping. gotta love it. it comes from creamer's field wildlife refuge in fairbanks, alaska. these guys fly down (down!) to fairbanks before going to COSTA RICA to spend their winters. some peoples'kids.

today: a mini-rant. i spent half the afternoon a few days ago trying to find a recital venue for Shiny Young Soprano and myself. minneapolis/st paul is supposed to be a great arts town. "more theatre seats per capita than new york city!" (always stunned by the stupidity of that statement, but don't get me started) years ago, i gave over 100 concerts at the minneapolis institute of arts. i performed at the american swedish institute (gigantic historic house/castle now museum), the Bakken Museum of Electricity and Light (yes!) and even the twin city federal (bank) atrium, where people would bring bag lunches and listen to tunes.

the point? yes, virginia, there is a point. THERE ARE NO LONGER ANY NON-UNION CONCERT VENUES IN THIS CITY. the art institute was confused- after transferring me around to 6 different employees, did i want to play for corporate dinners or events? no, not really. well, that was about all. the swedish institute, the same deal. did i care to do background at dinners? no, a RECITAL. "we don't DO that any more." called the Bakken. "we found that concerts took valuable staff time." oh, *I* understand. sure. not.

there is no longer a place in this city that offers *free* concerts- free admission, UNPAID PERFORMERS. sometimes, it is true, you can't even GIVE it away. there are church concert series, and college/university concerts, but those would pretty much be, invite your own friends and relatives. i finally called st.paul's schubert club, who DOES offer noontime concerts in the Landmark Center, downtown st.paul. there WAS a possibility there. would i please send in a resume' and a CD? (for a FREE concert!) i said sure, and shiny new soprano will get something together. yes, please, we will consider allowing you lot to perform without pay, IF we deem you sufficiently talented. argh!

i used to be a veritable impresaria of unpaid gigs- always conning friends to learn music i loved for some concert or other. i'd had NO clue that this type of concert had totally dried up in this city of arts awareness.

oh, i forgot..the James J Hill house (historical mansion, concert series, available for weddings and such) would be glad to have us. oh? and they charge US $400 to rent the place- AND, oh, if it matters, we have to MOVE IN our OWN PIANO, since they don't HAVE one. budget, yanno.

never thought i'd find the singer of my fantasies- and not have anywhere to SING with her.
spiralflames: (Default)

enjoy, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

can't help posting a disgustingly optimistic photo this eve. deal with it :-D

first, i met Shiny New Soprano tonight. *!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!* she's FANTASTIC! *!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!*!* she's young- just finished grad school at northwestern, newly moved here. she's the one who commented on my musical-motive dress, which inspired us to get to chatting. she came over to my house tonight and we sang through some things. THIS IS A GUTSY SOPRANO WHO CAN DO _COME SCOGLIO_ BUT HAS THE BOTTOM NOTES TO DO MAHLER AND COPLAND! hello, where have YOU been all my life? i sent her home with mahler ruckert lieder, wagner wesendonck lieder, and copland emily dickinson. i'm going to get on the phone next week and see if i can scare up a concert venue for us for this year.

now for the TRULY spooky coincidence/serendipity/synchronicity? her dad's a doctor. an oncologist. WHO IS NEWLY APPOINTED TO THE ONCOLOGISTS' PRACTICE who saved my venerable bacon, AND he already KNEW about my May 1 concert because he'd already gotten the notice.

amazing. every damn day, amazing.

AND i went SWIMMING tonight, first time in EIGHT WEEKS since my minor surgery in mid-Sept is finally healed. OMH how i have missed that! there's no time when i feel as truly slicksleeksealgraceful as when i'm in the water.

thank you, THANK you for my life.
spiralflames: (goddess)

glacier6, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

third and final post today. so shoot me. wait, don't. :-D have an alaskan photo.

when i was in the recovery room at the hospital last thursday, drinking apple juice and waiting to go home, a volunteer came up to me. "nancy?" i put my glasses on to look- she was vaguely familiar, but i couldn't place a name. 'it's marcia from choir, how are you?"

i ditched choir in october last year- it seemed that the music was lame/easy, and they were doing a requiem i'd already sung with them for their november all-saints/all soul's day service. to me, it seemed maybe the director was losing his heart for the job- know the feeling, been there. ANYway, she told me that the choir was doing THE BRAHMS GERMAN REQUIEM this year.

i told her i'd be back on wednesday.

i emailed the director and asked him if he'd have an errant alto back. he replied quickly and said he'd be glad to, and since he 'already had a seating order in place' he'd put me at the end of the alto section.

a not-so-subtle way of telling me he wasn't going to put me back as an alto section leader until i could prove that i'd be around for awhile.

i can deal with this- it's deserved- and i'm hoping i DO have more endurance this year. last year at this time, i was still going through chemo, and although the side-effects were not horrible for me, i was exhausted much more easily, and didn't have much stamina. i'm hoping this year will be better.

i have ALWAYS wanted to sing the B r a h m s.

just coindidence that she was there at that time and place? there wouldn't have been any other way i would have found out what they- we- were singing.

it's time to go back.
spiralflames: (music)

rainbow at rainbow mts2, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

every time i hear the ravel concerto in G major, i feel that some extraordinary gift has been given to me. as i was leaving a restaurant this evening, i turned on the car radio- and realized a recording of the ravel was being played. i decided to drive somewhere so i could listen to the magical 2nd movement.

i drove to lake harriet. it was that time of almost-dark, where the only colors present were black- outlines of trees overhead and across the lake- and the navy blue left by the very last light of the day. the dark blue sky blended with the the still water so there shone no sky, no sea, just black and slightly-less-than-black shadow. little lights became evident across the water, some twinkling, some still- each one representing a house, the end of a street, maybe a boat. i opened the car window. the air was crisped with a definite tang of the coming fall season.

and there was ravel.

words can't touch this music- the symmetry, the balance, the longing, the reaching, the revelation, the loving, the kindness, the parting, the searching, the passing, the agelessness, the spring, the silence. this music has punctuated every major event in my sentient life and every time i hear it, i learn how to walk, how to love, how to listen, how to create, how to wait.

i can't hold it.
spiralflames: (music)
some thoughts while practicing this week.

i was brought up with "Big Sound" as a priority. the music school had an old, humungous auditorium with miserable acoustics. it was originally built for the theater department and had had gigantic velvet curtains on the sides! we were always constantly told to try to "fill the hall" and, to be honest, it was a ridiculous endeavor. not only would most of us not ever PERFORM in gigantic, cold, cavernous spaces like that, but it also brought about tension, pounding, frustration and attitude.

the concert piano was a steinway.

\when the new music building was built, they put in, as a last-minute afterthought, a 'recital hall'-- tiny, severely banked, more like a dissecting chamber than a concert hall. if you so much as MOVED in that hall, someone sitting in the last row (about 50 feet from you) would hear it. brass players had to rent space elsewhere on campus because the sound of a trumpet was excruciatingly loud to the point of physical pain.
the concert piano was a brassy yamaha.

suddenly, everything was about making LESS sound- getting things soft ENOUGH, pulling back. ouch! more tension, a different kind of mental and physical orientation. so when i was a grad student, my sound was suddenly too big, too overwhelming, too over-blown. "quit that!" was the message of the day. paleness reigned.

so now what.

now, on my own steinway, i find myself physically and emotionally 'over-playing'. it's like norma desmong getting ready for her close-up-- it's over-done because at one time, it was the only way to make an emotional connection. when i find myself doing it, i can literally say to myself "not so MUCH!" and things become immediately easier and less effortful.

i'll never play in a hall that seats 1000 again. i don't need to shriek to the rafters. ever. actually, i didn't back then, either- your Sound should be your Sound, no matter where you put it and what you put it upon. one needn't bray, but there's also no reason to be ashamed of a healthy sound. just say it.

in the last few weeks, i've been proceeding from the standpoint of "what if this were EASY?"

amazing what happens when you're not shrieking.

today at lunch, i showed betsy my photos. she liked the macro-lilies a lot. "you've taken the attention to detail you use at the piano and have put it into photography!"

it's true. i'm finding i want to get closer, deeper, more INSIDE, the Heart of the Lily.

piano parts13, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (music)
after a marathon of teaching- 12:45 until 8:45 without a break, mostly half-hour lessons- my last student, a 15-yr old named david, came in. he's starting the prelude from debussy's _pour le piano_. he's just starting to crack the notes, and doesn't know what it actually sounds like. i illustrated a few things, talked about him being eligible to win a scholarship next year if he plays as well as i think he could play. by the end of the lesson he was saying "YES! that is SO COOL!! i'm REALLY EXCITED!"

you know something? i can put up with A LOT as a piano teacher for one "YESSSS!" with the fist in the air. about debussy. in july.


msje20, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (spiral)

fireworks2, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

for some reason, this july 4th turned out to be an appreciation day for me- thankful for family, friends, simplicity and, as a friend says, "grillin and chillin." i was excited to try photographing fireworks, and while i know i should have had a tripod to do it "right", i was happy with some of the light effects i got just balancing my camera carefully and shooting blindly.

i have realized in the last few weeks that I AM BACK IN THE CENTER OF MY LIFE.

ever since high school, photography has always been HUGE for me. i was always the chronicler- every party, dinner, vacation, event..i was shooting pictures and capturing souls and moments. the height of the photo deal was the famous 4,682 mile trip- where PF and ivan and i drove 4,682 miles in 11 days through the colorado rockies, yellowstone, the tetons, all the way up to banff and jasper in alberta. we really prepared for it- new lenses, filters, tripods, experiments. everything between here and there was photographed in triplicate- on automatic, manually, with and without filters. i shot 45 rolls of 36 and it took me a year to afford to get them printed.

that was the end of it for me. photography was no longer fun- it was WORK. i had to get it *right*. there was going to be analysis. i had to decide to either take pictures or enjoy myself, and they were 2 different things. i gave it up altogether.(am i seeing a parallel here? i'm thinking perhaps.)

that was in '88. i didn't take a picture again until 2 months ago. hello? twenty years.


there's nothing WRONG with education- with analysis, information, getting the Right Equipment for the Right Situation. but when the equipment takes precedence over the human experience, it's time to stop.

now i'm back- my camera is small and it's pastel pink. in no way can it be mistaken for a Serious Piece of Equipment. but you know what? i'm having FUN. and if people enjoy the output? fine, but not required for my continuing enthusiasm.

there are three things that make up a happy Nan. these three things are music, journalling and photography. when i am whole and functioning, these three things are "programs engaged at start-up" and always "running in the background." they're a part of me. people put up with them as their tolerance dictates, but again, not required.

a few nights ago i found my photo books and organized them. i haven't looked at them since the 4,682 mile trip.

can i approach a beethoven sonata the way i approach a peony? i don't know. i'm going to try. all i know is, i am happy and grateful for my health, my friends, my family, my love life, my LIFE. the challenge is going to be to keep taking pictures of my Peony when/if some of these things change.

"the Light was within you all along." a friend said so long ago. in the times i believe this, my life is as it should be.

fireworks4, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.


Jul. 2nd, 2008 10:24 pm
spiralflames: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] cayennefool was kind enough to say:
I am really loving your photos. As I've said before, I think your photos are like what your music sounds like.

my response was:
well possibly..the photography is me spontaneous, since i have no formal training..the music is me w/a lot of baggage, good or evil...but with luck, i can live up to both! :-D

then my A.NonnyMoose weighed in:
(Anonymous) wrote:
So what would happen if you played the piano spontaneously, as you do your photography? Can you explore the music the way you do a peony?

-no formal training
-always just loved organizing images
-remembrance of happy times
-doesn't matter if i'm not profound, just erase (in earlier times, tear up) the ones that are lame
-no expectations
-no needing to impress anyone in any way
-no grades, no not being "good enough"

-20 yrs in and out of college
-always loved organizing sounds
-very few purely happy times
-ALWAYS matters if it's not profound..weight of the world on my shoulders
-HUGE expectations
-lived for those 20 yrs to gain PF's approval, sometimes even more than purely loving the music
-deadlines, grades, rush rush hurry hurry


now every human has a past- in jobs, relationships- we're always the sum total of our experiences. i'm not saying i wouldn't WANT to study music to the extent and depth that i did study it-- but somewhere along the way, there was a juncture where the joy was gone, and all i saw myself as was a huge, miserable failure- in every way. it was always grinding my way back out of the negative numbers, rather than always existing in the positive and growing with that. i gave up for awhile. i did come back on my own and gave a successful recital. then "life" got in the way-- relationship w/bill, mourning that relationship, and then a handful of years where i lived in total stress and fear because i knew something terrifying was happening with my body and i was scared to admit it for fear that i'd bankrupt, lose my business and my piano, much LESS my life.

well, i didn't. i'm back- writing, taking photos, playing music, making love. (and they're all one and the same..THEY ALWAYS WERE.)

i can, i CAN--



in love

again..over and over...

for the very first time.

and look at a beethoven sonata through a new macro lens, and discover joy in its shapes.

thank you.


the photo below was taken on a recent 90 degree, 90% humidity day..i could just see the heat rising off that lake in the late afternoon.

buffalo lake, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (the_soul)
the photo below was taken yesterday at a coffeeshop..the woman just seemed to be contemplating all important things..i thought she was lovely.
just talked on the phone to a non-classical-musician who's a friend of mine. we were talking about the misconception that classical musicians are snobs. that comment always amazes me. then i decided, like most things, that it was worth some thought and a few paragraphs on LJ.

1) we ALL have our areas of expertise. brain surgeons- mothers- tiger woods- plumbers- taxidermists, ad infinitum. everyone has a field of expertise that he or she has devoted major life energy toward.

2) some of the knowledge is 'book' knowledge, some is 'life' knowledge. i hope that the doc who removes my loved one's cerebral aneurism (if she has one) has both, as sincerity is sweet, but does not enable knowledge of a scalpel. for a mother? experience is all- don't be telling me how to raise my kid via a manual or self-help book.

3) so we're all PhD's in something.

4) for some reason, people seem to think that musicians or others in the arts, because they use a craft-specific vocabulary, are pompous or arrogant. why? i want the surgeon to say "cerebral hematoma" not "gross big puffy scary thing in your head." it's MY responsibility to google up the terminology, especially if it's MY head.

5) for me, music- of any era- classical to popular to jazz to wherever- is about communication. i choose the type of music i play. what makes it succeed? whether i, by my work, insight and concept, can communicate an emotion to you. when i played the copland variations? my dad had tears in his eyes. someone else saw skyscrapers. someone else thought i was capable of murder. communication? oh hell yes.

6) so. classical music. do you need a PhD to listen to it? nope. do you need a college degree to understand it? depends on how broad you want your understanding to be. someone can listen to copland and think "skyscrapers!" someone else can listen to it and give you an analysis of the tone row and discuss copland's early shoenbergian influences, and whether the early style is more or less as audience-accessible as _appalachian spring._ are both opinions legitimate? you bet.

7) am i arrogant about my musical knowledge? sure. i spent a lifetime in college, i spent more hours in a week than most people spend at their full-time job, locked in a practice room. but do i think you're a moron if you don't know classical music? i do not. i respect the mother, the golfer, the taxidermist, the plumber. and the world would be smaller- (or leakier) without them.

8) i refuse to not be enthusiastic about my field. i DO try to choose my audience, and try not to bore you with specifics, any more than i really want to hear about the latest in your specific field. but tell me you're happy or sad- frustrated or jubilant- broke or wealthy- i can relate. as i hope you can relate to me.

9) and i refuse to feign ignorance. i'm NOT like you. i know a lot about common practice era european music. YOU might know about gardening, brain surgery, football, carpentry.

all we have to know is whom to call when we need work on the hedge, the hematoma, my grandmother's clock, because the brain surgeon would sure make one hell of a mess mowing my lawn.

//off soapbox

P6170872, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.


Jun. 6th, 2008 09:59 pm
spiralflames: (goddess)
it's true..

as i've been reminded by a few people already...

it's not called "working" the piano, it's called PLAYING the piano.

d'oh! i coulda had a V8---

or a beethoven sonata.

i'm glad i'm not too old to learn..it'd be a sin to die THIS dense.


spiralflames: (Default)

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