For decades, studies have documented that men interrupt women who are speaking, particularly in the workplace, with much higher frequency than they interrupt other men (or than women interrupt anyone).* There are many theories as to why this may be and how to remedy it, but the incidence of interruption does not seem to have changed much over the years. This piece lists some of the tactics “experts” recommend women use to avoid being interrupted. Continue reading
Mt. Carrigain is a 4,683-foot peak in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which I climbed in September 2014. It was my 43rd of New Hampshire’s 48 peaks over 4,000 feet, the last before my worsening health made this kind of hiking no longer possible. This piece will be included in Ill on a Journey, a multilingual opera/oratorio about navigating life with chronic illness.
View a perusal score here.
Listen to soprano Abigail Chapman and SORA string quartet performing September: Mt. Carrigain:
I began climbing these mountains as a child back then I set a goal to one day know them all when I got sick so many goals had to be abandoned and yet I held onto this Signal Ridge Trail is a rocky spine ascending through evergreens soaked in mist, clothed in moss and mushrooms although I’ve never been here, somehow I feel at home today it’s not too difficult to hold my head up straight today my vision is clear today the grip of pain is loose enough to move this is as good as I can feel as good as I’ll ever feel Signal Ridge Trail is laced with slippery tree roots sending me stumbling— ankles twisting— my body knows I want to leave it and bites the rock in despair taking a break, out of breath, we tell each other “The view will be sublime, when the clouds lift!” but the clouds never lift they swirl around the firetower in wind threatening to tear us away refusing to allow even a glimpse of the green beyond heading down knees also refuse to obey blood turned spiky as the trail paper birch, I am a foreigner in your home now will you kindly steady me?
This piece was inspired by a site in Arizona’s Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, where in 2006 a campfire triggered the devastation of 4,000 acres. Continue reading
I wrote Climate Honesty around the time U.S. Senator James Inhofe brought a snowball to work in an attempt to deny the existence of climate change. My song is not addressed to the senator—I have no words for him—but rather to those who want to believe what people like him have to say, not only on this subject but on any where it is comfortable yet irresponsible to be ignorant. Continue reading
This work was composed while living on the large and mostly rural island of Lantau, in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. In recent years the Lantau landscape has undergone dramatic transformations—tourism and transportation developments that can be seen from space, and an exponentially increasing population—with more changes planned for its future. Continue reading
Testing the Second Breath refers to the maxim that half the Earth’s oxygen is generated by marine life. “Take two breaths,” conservationists say. “The second comes from the ocean.” Continue reading
This song cycle is my response to eight surrealist works by René Magritte, whose famous The Treachery of Images highlights the impossibility of art to truly reflect reality. Magritte described his creations as “images which conceal nothing [and] evoke mystery… [they do] not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either; it is unknowable.” I have tried to capture the same spirit of mystery in both the words and the music.
This work’s origins can be traced back to a contemplative neighborhood walk, at a time when I struggled to balance my own needs with those of others who I care about. These words “arrived in mind” as I walked. The music I wrote later was influenced by my thoughts about the relationship between a community and its individual members: the 20-32 sopranos and altos of the choir begin by independently repeating short melodic phrases, each singer making autonomous decisions about tempo and rubato, listening carefully as she negotiates her role within the group.
One summer day, while hiking in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York, I suddenly felt a blast of frigid air, escaping up out of a cave some distance below the trail. I wondered about the depth of the fissure, and what kind of force could propel this air up against gravity. It did not look safe to investigate, but I found my thoughts returning to this place over the next several weeks, envisioning the cold subterranean world just out of sight. My music, consequently, was imbued with those imaginings: this piece features a strong tension between upward-reaching motives and heavy, downward-directed harmonies. The energy and mystery of those mountains are fused in my memory with the composition of this work.