About me

I am an active composer and organizer of music events. I share a monthly Music as Meditation concert with listeners and fellow musicians and I organize several concerts of new music each year. I use this blog to tell people about my musical endeavors.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Planning for

The Comic and The Divine

     This weekend holds an enormous glut of music activities ranging from the hilarious to the transcendent. Perhaps those two charachteristic exist within the same piece! 

    On Friday at noon,  my school offers a Jokes Concert at our new building. you can read all about it below. It's been delightful to get to work with five very different pianists in my community. We're playing music that runs the gambit of human experience. The most sure thing about the program is that it will bring laughter to all who attend, musicians and listeners alike. 

     On Saturday, after the experiencing the joy of lots of elementary and middle school students playing in state-wide orchestras, I'll head to Mountain Top Music's 24 hours of Music event to kick off the Composers' Carnival. That event brings together composers and players for a lightening-fast creative experience. Composers find out who they are writing for at 6 PM on Saturday. They hand in their scores and parts at 6:00 AM Sunday morning. Rehearsals begin at 9:30 and the pieces are premiered at noon on Sunday.

    But even that is not all, the weekend concludes with a Music as Meditation event at 5:00 PM on Sunday, April 3, at Christ Church in North Conway. This time, Natalia Shevchuk, Nancy Farris and I are offering our music. Though the spirit of the weekend may change the program on Sunday, Natalia is planning to play Prokofiev and Schubert. Nancy and I will play a Poulenc Sonata for four-hands. I will improvise on some of the themes that come up from the Composers' Conference. I hope to share some laughter and some joy with you!


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Music as Meditation

In a few minutes, I will head to Christ Church in North Conway for a Music as Meditation event. This is the fifth one of these events. I don't expect, despite that number, that it will be anything like the others.

At this one I'm planning to play all solo piece, some written down, others improvised. I will try to use the whole space. I seem to have chosen, without really planning to, several pieces in the same key or at least in the same tonal family. 

I've been thinking a lot about influences, and perhaps that will be the theme of today's event. How another person's musical language affects my own is obvious to me. I enjoy improvising after playing a piece by someone else--it always changes how I improvise. But my voice is still the same despite the influences. 

It is often easy to tell the musical era a composer comes from just from listening, even if you don't know the music. We humans tend to have a huge impact on each other.
Perhaps this has implications for life, too. I will ask a question about influences at the beginning of today's event. I do hope people tell me what they think, here or in person, about this deeply human phenomenon. 

In case you are reading this after the fact and want to attend, don't despair. There are more musical meditations planned. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016


     Who says conversation has to involve words? On Saturday, January 30, and Sunday, January 31, you can witness Dialogues, a performance of new music with dance and visual art. Ellen Schwindt composed a set of five duets for violin and viola and Jeanne Limmer choreographed them. They are counterpoint—a musical conversation involving similar but independent parts. Jeanne brings out the human side of this idea through evocative movement, using the talents of four expressive dancers: Jeanne herself with Lori Richardson, Jamie Robinson, and Kelley Simpson. Ellen Schwindt and Chris Nourse will play these duets while the dancers move around them.

     Ralph Farris, founding and artistic director and violist of the string quartet Ethel contributes two pieces to the concert. Ralph's sense of humor comes through in his table top music for two violins. Chris Nourse and Ralph will bring this duet to life. Ralph is also contributing a piece for viola and piano that he and his mother will play. His mother commissioned this piece in honor of his father, Ralph H. Farris, Sr.
     A reprise of Ellen Schwindt's viola sonata will be performed by a mother-son duo in the concert. Ralph Farris works with Nancy Farris, pianist and organist known in these parts for her contributions to choral music through organizing and accompanying, to play this neo-romantic sonata. During this performance a montage of projected photography provides a narrative-without-words for the listener. The photographic images include a narrative of sorts that may be described as two walks and a nap.

     George Wiese brings his virtuosic trombone playing to realize Ellen Schwindt's newly penned Cycles for Trombone and Piano. The Cycles are composed on an altered scale related to the familiar blues scale. This scale has two distinct centers, rather than the one we are used to with our normal Ionic and Aeolian scales. You may think of the two nodes of the scale as analogous to the two foci of an ellipse.
     Saturday's concert takes place at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center at Fryeburg Academy. It is presented by and benefits Mountain Top Music Center. Tickets are $15 at the door. Sunday's Concert is at 3 PM at the Dance Studio on the campus of Brewster Academy and benefits The Composer's Consortium. For more information contact Ellen Schwindt at 603-447-2898 or ellen.m.schwindt@gmail.com.