This weekend I came close to finishing a book about Rudhyar's music and work, and last night I completed my reading of it. I had started reading this book during my sabbatical in 2009 and, for various reasons, had not finished it. I think that one of those reasons is a fluctuating faith in my attraction toward focusing professional attention on the music of this composer. The response to my work on his music so far has been ambivalent. I must have been hoping for more support or enthusiasm from my environment. Through the work I did in the astrology class this spring, it became clearer to me that the kind of support for which I've been looking in my environment is not forthcoming. Therefore, if I am to feel better nourished in what I do, I will have to find other ways to accomplish that. Reflecting on Rudhyar's struggles as a European musician working in America has helped me to contextualize my struggles with being an American musician and with trying to coordinate that with the opportunities and obstacles that are characteristic of American "higher" "education."
While reading the latter part of the book, I was reminded of the work of American composer Peter Garland. Garland, who was born in 1952 (10 years older than I am), is often described as "reclusive" and lives in Maine. As well as being a composer, he is also a rather prolific writer. Among the topics that have interested him have been the qualities of various American landscapes (from both North and South America), the traditions of the remaining tribal peoples in those regions, and the legacy of the American composers in the "experimental traditon." A college classmate of his, John Luther Adams, has become well known within the past few years. He is based in Alaska and has similar interests to Garland's in ways that are specific to that region. I have been to several performances of Adams's work and have friended him on FB. This weekend I decided to see if either of them had any new recordings or scores available. I found a recording and score by Garland and ordered both, and found a new score by Adams, but it wasn't yet available through the online retailer that distributes his work. The alternative is to contact the composer's own publishing company, which I did. In reply, Adams sent me a complimentary copy of the score and asked if I had plans to perform the work. I described the projects that I have on the immediate horizon (including the release of a recording of Rudhyar's work) and floated my idea of perfoming his works along with Garland's recent piano work within the next year or so. He was very pleased with that idea (without yet having heard so much as play a note on the piano) and asked me to keep him updated.
Clearly, there are people who "get it" and people who don't. It is important for me to connect with some of the people who get it often enough for me to find the energy to keep moving forward with pursuits that are meaningful to me.
I also contacted the high school music teacher (and former student) I had enjoyed talking to at the cello recital back in May. He and his BF would like to get together for dinner some time. Maybe that will work out and be fun.
I also finally overcame my resistance to going to a yoga class. The Rosen worker had recommended some time ago that I do that, but I was feeling stressed about having enough time for my work, so I didn't follow up on that. This weekend I found a studio that is only about 10 minutes away. I went to a class yesterday. Of course, it's a ladies' club, except for me, but that's probably how it's going to be at most places around here. The instructor was Indian and everybody else was white. I didn't understand all of the poses, but most of them were familiar to me. Now I'm slightly sore in unfamiliar places, which might be a good thing. One of the music tracks that played was about Amma. When I looked over at the table where the CDs were, I noticed that Wah! was one of the groups that was represented. They do benefit performances for the Amma organization, so it was probably their track.
Another thing I finally gave myself permission to do yesterday was to watch a Netflix film. It had been months since I had watched a film. I rented V for Vendetta so that I could get a better context for the association of the Guy Fawkes mask with recent protest movements. It had its ridiculous implausibilities, of course, but it was visually appealing and there were some effective moments in it.
After I came home from the program this weekend, I replaced the Shiva Sutras that were on my book stand by my shrine--the book stand is actually a rihal, haha--with Shambhavi Chopra's Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess. Her book is written in the form of short essays--2-4 pages in length--that can be read easily in a single sitting before or after meditation. I'm realizing that there is a place for classical sources that teach detachment through the pursuit of clarity--essentially a Shiva path--and poetic and creative sources that are about grounding activated spiritual energy in feelings and in daily experiences--essentially a Shakti path. It seems that I'm learning to be flexible about which path needs the most attention at any given time.
Another that occurred to me is that I noticed a lot of muscle tension in my back, shoulders, and neck by the end of last week. I started working through it with the help of a yoga DVD I have at home and then continued to do so in the yoga class yesterday. In reflecting on what might have been going on, I recalled that my mother had been diagnosed with malignant brain cancer about this time of year 10 years ago, she began to experience the effects of a recurrence of her illness around this time of year 5 years ago, I took my partner last week to have his fourth eye surgery since we had moved here, plus there was the Amma program. Even though I can prepare myself mentally to try to remain open and to accept whatever feelings come up around things like this, it seems that if my body wants to try to hold back and resist, it will do so. All I can really do is to notice when that is happening and then gently and patiently work with it to try to remain flexible and open.
Om Kreem Kalyai Namaha,