During quarantine I felt the energy of the world change and my own energy shifting daily. Overnight, all of my live performances were cancelled and even more impactful to my life was the realization that I no longer had a connection to the pulse of people at the Atlanta Airport where I would perform several times every week. I fell into a malaise and it only worsened when I saw the world seemly falling apart around me with the COVID virus, political strife, violent injustices, riots, and no sign of it getting better. I started to reflect on where exactly did my happiness came from, what my purpose in life was, and how I could help create the change the world so obviously was needing to become well.
I didn’t know the full answer, but I did know one truth. My answer was music. I’ve always felt the true power in music is that it creates an energy and that it moves energy. So, I rested in this truth. I began playing a melody that was haunting me and needed to come out. This was the beginning of “E3”, as in ‘E’ to the third power. I realized that I was singing a musical story on my cello. It was the story of the world as I felt it in this time; so, I named my multi movement work E3 Oratorio. (An ‘oratorio’ is an opera that is sung with out costumes or a set but still tells a story.) E3‘s story goes like this:
- Earthborn – Despite Our Differences (Largo, Mvt. I) We are all born on this earth despite what our differences might be; so, can we make this a good experience or must we continue on the path of strife? Universally, we search for the answer and for meaning. The cello melody yearns and strays from an earthbound string section as it searches.
- Extensity – the Ability to Grow (Allegro con moto leggerio, Mvt. II) This movement is all about conviction and motivation. “Extensity” means ‘the ability for expansion’. In addition to the steady pulse signaling inner fire and growth, the piece is filled with a musical motive called syncopation or a displacement of the accents so that the strong beats become weak and vice versa. Syncopation is an interplay against and between the normal pulsing, but ultimately (in music) it all works together to create a rhythmic movement. I ask if humanity can find our “Extensity” and ultimately work together?
- Exaltation – the Agony of Joy (Grazioso, Mvt. III). One of the meanings of the word ‘agony’ is: ‘an intense outburst of emotion or joy’. This definition intrigues me because I feel that when I surrender to the process of life and its’ uncertainty and moments of pain, that I have an opportunity to experience a sense of gratitude to be alive coming through that journey. My goal with “Exaltation” is to communicate a feeling of deep joy which can only come from the experience of agony. The cello line travels from deep pools of syrupy strings up into the stratosphere and back to where you land somewhere over the rainbow.
In addition to the oratorio, the album E3 will also have a bonus track (or two!) including a song called “The Infinite Loss” which I wrote to represent all the world’s mourning. It is a musical representation of deep grief. The way one feels when crying uncontrollably with heaving and surges of emotion. The piece ends with the same release one feels at the end of a “good cry”. The album’s other bonus track is a surprise! :))
Ultimately, the time of COVID has been one of incredible creativity for me. During this time, I have released my first solo project album “Freedom Pulse”, I composed two additional EP albums and I will have released a total of 3 albums by early Fall. Through it all, I am grateful to have the truth of music to rest in and I will continue to rest in it in the foreseeable future. Specifically with “E3 Oratorio”, I would like to help all people feel better through music the way it helps me.