Dear Teacher, You were my very first formal classical guitar instructor…
Thus begins an open letter I wrote years ago.
The new vistas that surfing the ‘net* opened up in the ’90s prompted me to try contacting my first classical guitar teacher to thank her for the role she played in my development as a musician. I posted a copy of my open letter on both** of the forums I was subscribed to at the time in the hopes it would yield a lead towards finding her. As was common in those days, this inadvertently started a new thread on each of those forums…that of honoring those teachers who most influenced the direction of our lives.
However, it did not bring about the desired outcome.
I have always wanted to thank-you for all you did to nurture my first forays into the world of classical guitar. I think you’d be proud of me. Not because I am anyone famous or great, but because you’d recognize the method of love I use in teaching others about our common bond: the classical guitar...
*a term bandied about along with riding the internet highway in the earlier days of internet development.
Thank you for your patience while I revised, updated and transferred to another hosting site this space on the internet known as Laura Bruno Lilly – The Journey Continues.
That said, please ‘click around’ the site to view the many changes – not the least of which is a re-design from my former 2012 Child Theme to the more modern Hemingway Theme.
On the menu bar above – or just on the following titles here – be sure to click on the Home, About, and Purple Tulip Music tabs to view exciting new content.
Yep, had to use the word ‘exciting’ because this is after all a ‘Grand Re-Opening’!
And, hey, how about that header? Familiar, yet refreshed with the artwork by my Great Uncle Tran. Whose piece, Colorado, inspired the entire color palette of this site. And whose piece, Colorado, has a whole ‘nother story behind it which I will fully disclose in future blog posts on this newly revised site.
Also, to be revealed in the coming weeks, is a new page waiting to be nestled between the PTM and DMW tabs on the menu bar. It will be published with an accompanying blog post telling its backstory, so stayed tuned folks.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I could do with getting lost in trivialities. Making small talk with strangers, while waiting for my coffee to be made, about inconsequential things. Nothing of importance that mean everything.” Andy Murray
As mentioned in Pandemic Potpourri #1 herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality.
In other words, this space is reserved for escaping Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!
I saw a Great British Baking Show ‘masterclass’ rerun on PBS last week where this was a featured bake. It inspired me to bake up a batch for this coming Easter Morning. Seemed reasonable as I always have Bread Flour in stock. I use it for my own special breads as opposed to regular All-Purpose flour and know there truly is a difference in baking results for specific items. When I checked on my personal supply, turned out our cupboard was bare, so I had to go out into the cold cruel COVID world of grocery stores in search of a 5 lb bag. Guess what? The grocery shelves are also bare of any type of flour whatsoever. So I’m debating whether or not to try this new-to-me recipe with the regular flour I have on hand…still undecided – what do you think?
Oh and BTW: Paul’s from Liverpool, folks! yeah, yeah, yeah
In the previous Pandemic Potpourri Post I featured a photo of a colorful array of newly planted Gerbera Daisies on our front porch. That very Friday evening I jotted this down – sans margarita!
On the front porch – gorgeous afternoon – the cool/dry lull before the ‘storm’ of a normal SC Spring/Summer filled with heat and humidity.
What is adding to my delight are the heavenly scents of BBQ* chicken wafting in & out with irregular intervals that tease and entice. Looking over to my right – a few feet away from my – ahem – feet are the bring-a-smile-to-my-heart newly planted Gerbera Daisies. They’re settling nicely into a fav Italian Lemon Tree clay pot with the tree stumps collected from our Family mountain property in CO and Breck** behind and beside this bit of joyful color.
TWL’s (my hubby) BBQ is filling the neighborhood with smells of soulful food. Our appetites continue to need quenching regardless of this virus that is eating away life as we know it – scattering collaterally damaged humans as its tally & proof of power over us as vulnerable.
Because Green Gunk*** Allergy Season is in full swing, I am struggling with fatigue and other allergy related malaise in the afternoon especially. A price I willingly pay for enjoying these few otherwise perfect days outside before the SC Spring/Summer (seasonal weather) ‘Storm’ and expansion of the COVID-19 ‘Storm’ continues to ravage this Earth and its peoples.
In conclusion, please enjoy “The Sound of a Pandemic” parody by Shirley Serban – shared and brought to my attention by bloggersJennie and By Hook Or By Hook:
*Apologies to our Southern neighbors, but we call it BBQ, not ‘grilling’.
**Breck = local term for Breckenridge, CO
***Green Gunk Season = my term for the SC seasonal thick coating of pine pollen that engulfs and smothers anything outside from mid-March to around mid-April
– continuing with the musical pokes and prods – re: “…David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov who lead to Gavin Luke” –
After a trip down snowy Raton Pass memories, my musical (re)search landed me at the merging of a folk/classical piece performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in conjunction with contemporary folk-pop artist, Gregory Alan Isakov. Thus introducing me to a new-to-me younger generation of folkies.
Note: the YouTube featured here is the only media readily available on-line with the CSO/GAI arrangement-performance of this piece. That said, watching it isn’t as important as just listening to this IMHO.
Isakov’s The Stable Song,as performed with the CSO is the type of musical collaboration that excites me as a musician.
Performing in and composing for mixed ensembles has been and continues to be one of my deepest passions as a working musician. Back in the day, it was more unusual for instrumentalists of differing genres to play together in performance or to hear ensembles of unlikely instrumentation in concert outside the University music department recital setting.
It appears these types of cross-over collaborations are becoming more mainstream* – to the delight of musicians and audiences alike.
But that has always been my bent. And upon my life’s reflection, I’m thinking I was perhaps even born into it.
My Dad as a professional jazzman on sax and clarinet was always up for a jam session with me, his daughter, on 12-string acoustic and/or classical guitar. For awhile there we even made the rounds in small performance circles as 3D: Dad Daughter Duo. Our set list comprised of standards, show tunes, contemporary pop, Latin, country, classical repertoire – you name it – with my classical guitar solos and/or 12-string acoustic folkie riffs alternating with his show stopping improvised tenor sax and/or clarinet solos dancing rings around my chordal vamps…Yeah I was born into this.
Finding that sweet-spot key where the natural intonation of disparate instruments sound good while playing together is a greatly rewarding endeavor.
I find it deeply satisfying, stretching the sonic boundaries via unconventional instrumentation and encountering others who explore that same territory in myriad ways.
Included with that exploration is my fascination with anything related to ‘prepared’ instruments. A technique I first encountered during my music school days, John Cage‘s forays into this altered soundscape has since given birth to a wide range of instrument manipulation in the name of New Music. Again, there is cutting edge and then there is what is palatable for mainstream.
Enter Gavin Luke, composer. More of a New Age pianist/composer, I stumbled onto his piece, In Search of Home, while perusing a composer website. The main theme of his piece is compelling, but what I found most interesting was the simple use of felt sheets in his ‘prepared’ piano as central to his composition.
Note: the YouTube featured here is a short 2.5 minutes long in which Gavin demonstrates his process in the creation of this piece.
While I appreciate the creative process as shared by compadre (he)artists regardless of genres, the take-away for me in this case was a surprising appearance of my poetic muse…
*In order to keep this post shorter and to my intended points, I did not go into depth on the well-known, well-received and highly successful collaborations between unlikely genres & musicians over the years such as The Beatles & orchestral musicians/eastern instruments just to name one example.
One of the things I do on a regular basis is search and discover ‘new’ (to me) music via a myriad of ways…all part of being a working musician – seeking, learning, creating.
A fine example of this occurred recently. As noted in a prior post, CNN’s short video in tribute to David Olney lead me to seek out more of his music. Which lead me to two other seemingly unrelated musicians/composers. I say ‘seemingly’ because I haven’t a clue as to how I arrived at their respective websites/youtube channels/streaming stations but some invisible google-ly algorithm guided me based upon something related to its way of calculating.
I know standard streaming sites routinely offer up an ‘if you like X, then try Y’ approach to new music seekers. However, my pokes and prods seem more organic, focused, personal – with a touch of human (mine) direction in the seeking. In addition, it is not limited to a particular platform.
Anyway, David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov * who lead to Gavin Luke.*
And then I discovered an unexpected related theme – that of home.
David Olney was an itinerant wanderer, Gregory Alan Isakov is a transplanted Boulderite (my hometown) and Gavin Luke is a composer whose style draws deep home yearnings front and center.
Olney’s cover of Snowin’ on Raton** reminds me of all the traveling back and forth between hubby’s and my family homes…driving over Raton Pass in all types of weather from Colorado to New Mexico and back again from New Mexico to Colorado.
Specifically, two significant snow times come to mind.
1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops, image from google
January 1979. Just a little over 6 months into our newlywed-ness, we packed all our belongings in the smallest sized U-Haul trailer and hitched it onto hubby’s 1977 Burnt Orange Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham (complete with T-tops and other extras). Moving in the winter was dicey but needful as hubby was set to resume studies at NMSU that semester requiring our move from Boulder, CO to Las Cruces, NM to begin our new married-student phase of life. He, as an older student to finish his CS degree on the last of his GI Bill (at that time, NMSU was on the cutting edge as one of the few Universities to offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science Program). And me, to forge a more direct relationship with my in-laws in hubby’s hometown while exploring our own new surroundings filled with endless possibilities. On the day of our move, we expertly navigated the increasingly dense low visibility January snow storm conditions. We even managed to slip (pun intended) into the climbing lane as we began the long steep grade over the pass…before CDOT closed I25 behind us. Yep, we were the last vehicle allowed on the road to mount up and over Raton Pass into NM. Suffice it to say, we jackknifed only once on the steady upward climb and managed a controlled descent on the other side of the pass into Raton, NM.
January 1982. After hubby graduated in December and with our firstborn less than 4 weeks old, we packed up that same Cutlass – with more precious cargo this time around. The plan was to move back temporarily to CO to stay with my folks while waiting for more details concerning hubby’s new job at HP in the Silicon Valley to determine exactly where we’d be relocating. Again, a January snowstorm. Again, slipping past the road closure signs as the last vehicle going up and over the pass. Safely strapped into her rear facing car seat, our newborn baby girl who’d been sound asleep for most of the trip opened her eyes with a start and immediately began her screaming cries as we began our ascent. She sensed the tension of our situation – and added to it – all the way up & over Raton Pass. This newborn Mother could not – dared not – pick her up to nurse her back to calm – and was thusly initiated into the lifelong Sturm und Drang slice of what it means to be a Mom.
And those are the snowy times when we drove Raton Pass and where listening to Snowin’ on Raton many years hence intersect – hitting squarely through my heart –
Missing home. Missing our baby daughter.
The thing of it is: I remember where I was when I first heard this. I was in my bedroom, doing homework on the floor, while listening to music on the radio, circa Thanksgiving holidays 1970.
Where were you?
Note: Marty of snakesinthegrass posted a 4-day diary of experiences toughing it out in his St. Augustine, FL home as Hurricane Dorian passed. I decided to continue where he and Dorian left off…overlapping on Wednesday’s entry.
For context, Florence, SC is an evacuation city – a destination for those temporarily displaced during a hurricane. Only 60 miles inland from Myrtle Beach, we also feel the effects of weather encountered along the Atlantic coast, sometimes more acutely and in the form of water-storm surges that can last for days after the actual hurricane has passed.
Wednesday, September 4th:
After yesterday’s gorgeously sunny, though highly humid day, I woke up to a more ‘beginning to look like a storm may be coming’ type of morning.
Just kind of waiting – not wanting the storm at all – but wanting it to pass, to be done with, come what may.
So much depends upon spontaneous trajectory changes during the course of a hurricane. All it takes is a deviance of a few miles in one direction or another to determine the level of devastation it leaves in its wake. Dorian already has a destructive track record so this isn’t something to be taken lightly.
South Carolina’s mandatory evacuation of Charleston and coastal communities has been in effect since Monday with accompanying highway lane reversals and will end this afternoon.
Here in FloTown, it amazes me how polite everyone is, no panicked motorists or freaked out customers in Walmart getting supplies. Just everyone doing what needs to be done. Oh, there are shopping carts piled high with packs of bottled water, cartons of saltines, jars of peanut butter and such, but the crowds move along in an orderly and even convivial manner. Dorian is expected to arrive in Myrtle Beach sometime tomorrow, with the beginnings of the increased rainfall and wind starting around 7AM. Thursday, September 5, 2019: Dorian is on its way – albeit slower than expected – we’re as ready as we know how…including trusting the Lord in all that will come to pass.
This will be the first time for us to experience a hurricane from start to finish.
Last year’s Florence occurred while we were back in Colorado getting Ma & Dad’s house ready to sell and then finalizing that sale. We delayed our drive back to South Carolina due to the extent of time needed for local and statewide clean up after the hurricane.
Then there’s Matthew. In 2016, towards the end of my Summer of Dad, I was in Colorado awaiting hubby to drive out and join me after Dad passed away and for the funeral. Hurricane Matthew began bearing down on Florence earlier than projected causing hubby to scramble in the middle of the night to leave ASAP – well before his scheduled time. He literally drove through a hurricane to come to me in my time of need. Joaquin in 2015 and Irma in 2017 we were also out of town.
In all instances, we came back to food gone bad in the refrigerator and blinking clocks – both of which were easily dealt with and remedied. In all instances, our little rental was still standing, surrounded by those huge long needled pine trees native to this area, unscathed and without a trace of flooding.
In all instances, we were immensely grateful to find things pretty much the same as when we left. In all instances, we never took it for granted we’d have anything to come back to… Friday, September 6, 2019: Dorian came through our section of South Carolina – Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand area – on the bestcase scenario path. Totally unexpected change in intensity, and totally welcome for those of us here. Dorian arrived then flew the coup without leaving much in the way of a mess. Yes, there is damage, but everyone knows we got off easy. And none of us around here takes that for granted.
Wilmington, North Carolina took a huge hit for the second year in a row. The Outer Banks are ravaged.
This is the height of hurricane season. There are Dorian buddies queuing up all along the Atlantic – any one of them a potential surreal powerhouse destructo-machine.
Lord have mercy – enable the helpers to help. Please comfort the Survivors in the wake of their loss and give them hope and strength to reconstruct their lives.
Note: Something triggered this nostalgic moment and while more on the rough draft side, I thought I’d use it for day three of my “6 years on WP.org” posts.
Detail of Denver Mandolin Orchestra group photo (circa 1999?) Laura Bruno Lilly (me) – kneeling in front, Paul Drury – tall one in the back
One of the joys of being a performing member of the Denver Mandolin Orchestra was the sense of generational genesis. The turn of the 20th to the 21st century marked my introduction and induction into this motley crew of musicians. A group ranging from violin virtuoso Thereza Stephan doubling on mando; mando greats Eli Karasek, Charlie Provenza, Drew Horton; to mother-daughter and father-son mandolinists sharing music stands during rehearsals and consequent performances. And then there were us guitarists headed by Ron Grosswiler whose collection of historical American classical guitar scores along with Mandolin Orchestra Repertoire from then till now was legendary and not fully revealed until after his death in 2010.
Peppered throughout the DMO’s 23+ musicians, amateurs and professionals alike, we all contributed to the awareness of this largely unknown type of accessible American music. Plus, those like myself who just wanted to play in an ‘orchestra’ with instruments not normally associated with conventional orchestras.
But what I remember most vividly is the memorial service Swallow Hill hosted for one of its own volunteers, and for one of our very own DMO members, Paul Drury, sometime in 2004 (?).
Living within modest means, and one who knew hardship as well as gritty challenges, Paul cared for others. He made sure everyday people got to enjoy simple pleasures – like music. Often, he’d pass on Swallow Hill concert tickets he purchased himself to people he knew marginally (often a little lost in life) – just so they could bask in the healing that is music.
One evening, he died suddenly due to an unperceived advancement in symptoms of diabetic shock…
I hadn’t been a part of the DMO for several years, but was contacted about the jam-session memorial to be held in his honor…an invite to bring my instrument and pluck some of the corny rep we played as a group. And yes, he had a proper musical tribute played by a smaller version of the DMO.
However, it wasn’t until the first strums of Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart drifted through the auditorium sound system that the crowd got silent…Paul’s wish for all, sung for the one we had all come to honor that night.
“A beloved Northern California festival (Gilroy grows great garlic and is a small town for goodness’ sake), a neighborhood Walmart in Mississippi (who doesn’t go to Walmart?), another Walmart near the US-Mexico border (Cielo Vista Retail/Mall is a major shopping area that even Las Cruceans go to…) and a popular entertainment district (summer evening activities in the heart of the city…should be safe). All four were the scenes of shootings in the last week — events that together left at least 34 people dead and more than 50 wounded.
A week bookended by violence has left residents shaken, frustrated and grieving.”
“A weekend bookended by violence…”
That phrase, that sentence keeps resounding loud and clear in my mind along with the images of the people and places known and unknown to me.
We lived in the Bay area during the 1980s often joking about Gilroy because of the garlic in the way most large metropolises talk about small towns. Hubby is from Las Cruces, NM where we’ve lived at different times in our married life and where the connections with El Paso and Juarez are more profound & active than with Las Cruces’ New Mexican cities to the north. In fact Cielo Vista Mall was the place to go from all around to shop for clothes. And as for the other two places – who doesn’t go to Walmart or enjoy a summer’s evening out?
Who doesn’t go to school or church, temple or mosque for that matter?
Everyday Americans doing everyday things.
Then the loudest voice among ‘experts’ chiding us everyday Americans for not carrying weapons in order to protect ourselves while going out and about doing our everyday activities…(ref. Larry Ward responses to Amna Nawaz interview questions on PBS Newshour)
Lord have mercy. 20 years ago our kiddos sat in their respective classrooms in Boulder County schools (the eldest in high school) during the shock-surprise of Columbine just 34 miles away from us.
Not directly in the line of fire – but definitely in my backyard.
Our backyard. Our American Backyard. This cannot be our new normal.
Lord have mercy.