I will never forget my first artist residency. In the spring of 2011, I had the privilege and honor to attend the prestigious MacDowel Colony as a MacDowell Fellow. It was one of the most rewarding and validating experiences of my life. Having the time and place to work without interruptions or distractions in the most idyllic surroundings is truly a gift. I remember thinking: "you mean to tell me there are places like this around and I've been to one before?". Ever since then, I promised myself I would do this again soon, if not once a year. Well, life happens, it is hard to believe it has taken me six years before I got around to doing another artist residency. This time I had the great privilege of attending a residency at the Hambidge Center as a Distinguished Fellow where I completed a three-week residency. Actually, I was only there two of the three weeks, for I had to interrupt my residency to play concerts.
Hambidge is located on a 600-acre property in the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia. The overall setting, beautiful scenery and peaceful wooded surroundings, is conducive to once’s practice. The ability to work without interruptions, if by the fact alone that there is no or limited Internet access and cell-phone service available - as is commonly the case with these places - is to me priceless. If nothing more, it provides a much-needed respite from our all too wired modern day living. While there, I worked on composing and preparing music for my upcoming recording Sorrows and Triumphs. I also had the opportunity to meet some wonderfully interesting people, artists and writers of various disciplines and walks of life, including visual artist Allen Peterson.
I highly recommend attending a residency to any artist or writer looking to deepen their creative practice. It will change your life.
As I mentioned before, my residency at Hambidge was interrupted briefly, but for good reasons. I left for New York to perform at Chamber Music America’s initiative celebrating National Chamber Music Month hosted at National Sawdust. This performance marked the first New York performance of my CMA commissioned work House of Numbers. The performance was very enthusiastically well received and I had the opportunity to perform with some great musicians including Dan Weiss, Matt Brewer and David Binney. While in New York I had an inspiring playing session with my old friend and ex-bandmate, drummer Eric Harland and master bassist Dave Holland.