23. A Turning Point

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

The poet Rilke said that "Heartbreak is the handmaiden of art." This was born out in my life for the next several months while I lived in a rented room with my digital piano to keep me company. I won't say that the experience was without its perks, the main one being a decidedly simple Bohemian lifestyle. During this time I composed the first two movements of my Blue Ballet Suite which had the universality of the blues as its main theme. The piece accomplished this by combining blues and jazz with modern/neo romantic classical musical vernaculars. I remembered hearing Rachmaninoff back in my college days and thinking how what he was expressing was the blues through the lens of a Russian and European perspective. Gershwin understood this instinctively as an American musician coming from a Russian-Jewish cultural background. So I composed these two movements while I was in transition and they are still in my repertoire today.

After several months I moved into an apartment and composed the final two movements of Blue Ballet while I was figuring out what to do next. It was a critical juncture and I wanted to focus on music again 100% of the time. After about a year my finances provided me with sufficient resources and time to reposition myself.

When I finished Blue Ballet, I started work on my second musical, Hail Mary about Mary, Queen of Scots and applied for a job at the Portland Conservatory of Music. After an interview, audition and with the help of some good references, I was hired and began an interesting new phase on the academic side of my musical journey. Besides teaching piano and theory, my new job provided new performance opportunities and enabled me to meet a whole new pool of musicians who enriched my life, and some of whom were willing to collaborate on new works.

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