Songscape: "To Dust" 

"I will grow from the ground 
after you burn me down."

-Ingrid Michelson, "Fire"

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day that (as our minister claimed in this evening's sermon) at least one child has described as "the day all United Methodists begin their diets."

Ash Wednesday begins the journey of Lent, and is a time of putting aside all of those things that hold us back from the fullness of life. For many, that means a time of fasting from behaviors that separate us from God. For some, it is as simple as walking away…Read more

"Rise Up:" A Call for Compassion 

Compassion.

This is the thing I see most missing from our national discourse as of late. Compassion... and empathy. Each of us is so sure that we are right that we fail to put ourselves in the shoes of another person. We listen to respond, and in doing so never actually interact with what is being said. We make assumptions about the other person based on our own personal experience without giving a thought to the fact that not everyone has lived the same life as we have. We belittle, we malign, and we…Read more

Running a Revolution: Ignoring the Naysayers 

When I was a kid, I absolutely hated physical activity of any sort- ESPECIALLY running. Having to do any of those short sprints in gym class was some circle of hell, reserved for overweight kids who, incidentally, liked to sing and make up songs. (I can't imagine what twelve year old kid could have fit that description). And, after all, I had good reason- I was defective. As a young child, I was a freak of nature, bound for orthotics, with two ankles that one doctor suggested that my mother have "broken"…Read more

The DIY Musician: Music Videos 

I'll be the first to admit that I have a problem. It's a serious problem. I have a constant need to be creating things. If I'm not creating something, I'm thinking about creating something, and I'm usually in both of these processes simultaneously with various types of projects. So it's probably not a huge surprise that I became interested in creating music videos to go along with some of my recordings. Given my interest in photography and visual arts, I suppose it's a given that I might start to have…Read more

A Tale of Two Cities 

As I write this, it has been almost four weeks since I left Santa Fe to embark on a new life journey. In July, I was called to be the new full time Director of Music Ministries at the First United Methodist Church of Trussville, a suburb of Birmingham, AL. Life has been a whirlwind ever since, beginning with trying to discern if this was the correct call, advancing to packing up and saying goodbye to New Mexico, and finally to my current project of settling in and adapting to a new place and a new job. My…Read more

An Evolutionary Process 

It’s a classic tale of “one thing led to another.” Microphones were purchased. New audio interfaces were hooked up. New software, plugins, and sound pathways were examined. What began as an experiment to test what I could come up with from simple, one-instrument-and-voice renderings of songs from the past two years, to see how I could do recording and mixing them one at a time on my own, quickly moved to the idea of a short EP and ultimately to a full CD. I had long hoped to find an engineer to record a new…

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Songscape: Moonrise 

In June of last year, I had the privilege of participating in an “Earth Honoring Faith” Seminar at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. The week consisted of interactive workshops that showed that Faith and honoring Creation are certainly not mutually exclusive (although I know there are many that would have you believe they are) and that encouraged participants to specifically think about lessons learned from the Desert. Along with  my most excellent colleagues from the United Church of Santa Fe, I helped lead…

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Exploring A New Wilderness 

When I first started dabbling in recorded media a few years ago, I was under the assumption that there is only one right “sound” for a recorded project and the recording engineer knows what that sound is. Further, said divine knowledge makes them able to magically produce a professional recorded sound that I could never reproduce on my own.

But then I was encouraged by a friend to really listen to recordings. There are many, many different sound aesthetics out there… how far out the vocals are from the rest…

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No Greater Love 

At last night’s Maundy Thursday service at the United Church of Santa Fe, an augmented version of the Sanctuary Choir premiered my newest piece, “No Greater Love.” This was a piece that got me up in the middle of the night to write the text and to write down the first four sonorities before putting it aside. I finally finished the piece months later, the Saturday before I needed to start rehearsing it with the choir. Sadly, this is an all-too-common occurrence.

An even sadder fact is that I was all set to…

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The Balancing Act 

Through the wonders of social media, last week I saw a headline from The Spectator Magazine entitled “The mean bullying maestro is extinct- or should be.” The article by Peter Phillips (of Tallis Scholars fame) asserts that deplorable behavior from aggressive conductors indicates that they feel their extraordinary talent warrants said behavior “despite the fact that every musician knows they will perform better if they are encouraged rather than being shouted at. In this day and age, to have to play or sing…

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Finding Your Voice 

It was a normal day in Cyberland- Facebook was brimming with the typical bevy of cat pictures, George Takei posts, and half-baked political opinions. (Note: of these, I do love me some cats and George Takei. But I digress.) There was also a post (all names shall be omitted to protect the misguided) about this fabulous, young, new composer on the block that EVERYONE should hear. As a conductor who loves to program new things, I eagerly examined the work of this young whippersnapper. Only… in the first three…

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Songscape: Beulah Land 

 

It takes a bold landscape to stand, exposed, as wind and rain have formed it. It is otherworldly, a “savage beauty,” something that has been shaped by weather, eruptions, and time. Of course I am talking about the strange and iconic landscape of Northern New Mexico, with its stretches of badlands and red rock country. There is no gradual ascent and sloping climb into the mountains, as it seems when one is traveling into the mountainous regions of the Southeast. Out here, vast stretches of flat land and…

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Going the Distance 

Looking back, I’m sure that most (sane) people would say that coming out to New Mexico was the zaniest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the question I get asked most: “What in the world brought you out here?” Okay, maybe it’s not asked QUITE that way, but that is usually the intent behind the question. Journeys are funny. You put one foot in front of the other, sometimes without being able to see what’s around the bend… and you just go. Because going feels like the right thing to do.

You are entering the Pecos…

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Storytellers 

“You really should tell your story.” I’ve heard this a number of times. The story the person wants told depends on who is asking and what they actually know of me. It could be the story of the girl with the meager beginnings who goes on to get her doctorate. The story of the girl with a dismal upbringing that goes on to… well, do anything. The story of someone who wandered into Santa Fe and became the conductor of four beautifully satisfying choirs. The story of a girl who wandered into Santa Fe and…

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Songs from a Desert Sky 

Straddling two musical worlds is a delicate task. How does one move gracefully between situations where, in one moment, the musician is expected be the fearless, impervious leader who gives instruction and “takes no prisoners,” and in another, the vulnerable singer alone at the piano, bringing pieces of herself to light? After all, my singers have enough difficulty comprehending seeing me at the gym or in the grocery store (yes, we do that, too!) let alone being let into a world in which they can see I’ve…

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