musical musings

Growing up in Colorado Springs, I always loved reading. I was that introvert with a quiet voice and a loud imagination, and I spent much of my early childhood dreaming of becoming a fiction novelist. While that ship has sailed, I never lost that part of myself that just aches to tell stories, looking toward the power of words to find meaning and to spark change.

This page is dedicated to the fragments of thoughts, the incomplete utterances, that might help to tell a story — my story, a journey of personal development and an ever-evolving understanding of the world — particularly in relation to what I have learned about art and human culture.

Check back soon for some of my other writings!

Over the past year in particular, I’ve spent a lot of time with musicians coming from traditions completely different from my own. And also listening to music I’d never listened to before - Cecil Taylor and Thelonious Monk all the way to Kendrick Lamar! These musicians’ work has deeply influenced my artistic approach and given me a better understanding of not only where I am now, but also where I hope to be in the future.

While I wouldn’t trade the education my colleagues have given me - and I cherish the opportunity to continue to learn from them - I have to admit that I have often been left feeling overwhelmed by the comparative emphasis on control and perfection and “correctness” in Western classical music. The rules. The etiquette. The exclusion and marginalization. There was a point at which I even began to feel ashamed of my own training and background.

I definitely don’t know all the answers. Sometimes I’m not sure what values Western classical music should or does embody because it seems that everyone sees it and passes it on differently. For me, though, I have come to believe that there is something to be said for the sheer commitment to integrity when performers work to really, truly, deeply understand the situation of every composer whose music reaches their stand. To not pass judgment, or put someone into a box, but to simply look for humanity. I feel lucky that this is the spirit with which my mentors have always guided me.

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, but today we live in an age in which the value of truth is constantly being called into question. I find it really important to be critical of my biases as a performer, as a listener, and as a person. If the Western classical tradition can represent something valuable at this point in time, then for me, it is that.
— July 2019

With all of the recent headlines about sexual assault allegations against politicians, actors, news anchors, musicians, and so on, I’ve become very interested in the historical relationship between female and male pioneers in the arts.

When you enter “classical music composers” into a Google search bar, it returns 50 photographs of the Western canon’s most beloved minds. Out of the 50 – Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Beethoven, Debussy, and many other personal favorites of mine – all 50 are white, and all 50 are male. These are all considered “the greats” – and in many ways, for more than good reason – but I am left wondering if this history, and the way it has been documented, is reflective of the direction I see our society and our art going during my lifetime.

There’s no artistic medium that lies “outside” of the normalization of white male privilege, and as a musician, I think there’s no better time than now to really think about the nature of the platform I’m so privileged to have, and what messages I choose to send to the world as a result.
— December 2017