Does my blog feel a little schizophrenic lately? Grief post … grief post … why are coachings so expensive? … grief post … Mozart! The truth is, that’s my life now: swimming in an ocean of difficult feelings, occasionally finding a big rock (?) where I can rest and focus on something else for awhile.

I am so excited about this collaboration — which utterly fell into my lap — that I’ll be part of at the beginning of June. I’m going to be working with Szu-Han Ho, a School of the Art Institute graduate and now a professor of art at the University of New Mexico, on a piece for her art opening June 3 at the Julius Caesar gallery in Garfield Park. The show, created together with artist Samantha Topol, is called Etudes and Duets. It explores the nature of duets and dialogue, largely through back-and-forth dialogue between these two artists. Szu-Han’s description of the show:

Departing from a shared interest in the form of the duet, the parameters for the work in this exhibition come from related independent projects and subjects of inquiry, namely mirroring, the structure of bird songs and communication, the hidden melodies of speech, and the spatial experience of language.

A performance will take place on the opening night in which two violinists (performed by Szu-Han Ho and Ellen McSweeney) attempt to play strapped back to back, and begin, over the course of the performance, to try to turn around toward each other. This is a new evolution of a performance Szu-Han Ho staged in México City in 2011, where two trumpeters played facing each other while holding up a table between them.

Yep: Szu-Han and I will be playing Mozart’s Mirror Duet while attached to each other, back-to-back, in a custom “garment” that Szu-Han is making. Which I cannot wait to see.

When I first heard about the piece, I’ll admit I was skeptical. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it could be an intriguing opportunity to get to know a new artist, perform for a new group of people, and explore performance from a different angle. In fact, I think my colleagues from Chicago Q Ensemble might identify with this piece. As a quartet, we often feel like we’re tied together! (I’ve heard quartet playing called musical marriage, or “life in a musical submarine.” Basically, you’re stuck with each other.)

I was very lucky to take a performance art class with a wonderful lady, Mari Novotny-Jones, when I was in high school. In fact, one of the pieces I created in her class was a ritualization of unpacking my violin! When Mari asked us to choose a ritual to work with, that’s what I chose — after all, unpacking your instrument is something that you do over and over and over again as a musician. I think my piece involved hiding pieces of sea glass all over my violin case. Ah, the experience was wonderful, and I’m delighted to be touching the outskirts of that world once again. Thanks Szu-Han!

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