Today I had the pleasure of hearing Lina Bahn perform my solo violin work, immaus, as part of the Rocky Mountain Regional Conference of the College Music Society in Denver. Lina is a member of the faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Executive Director of the VERGE ensemble in Washington, D.C. I first met her when she gave a spellbinding performance of immaus at June in Buffalo in 2009. With that performance still fresh in my ear and memory, I was again reminded of what a thrill it is to hear one’s work come alive in the hands of an amazing performer.
From the opening three-note motive Lina grabbed the listener’s attention. There was an appropriate edge to her playing that worked well during the music’s frenzied runs and tense silences and emphasized the “scurrying” nature of the opening tempo indication, making the soaring lyric lines of the central slow section even more searing. Hers was a compelling and personal interpretation of the work that left everyone blown away. What more could a composer want?
After spending just half a day in Denver I elected to take a long, winding, peaceful, and productive trip on Amtrak back to Philadelphia. I’ve been hooked on trains for some time, and this trip gave me the chance to experience the California Zephyr eastbound (My only other travel on the CZ was westbound to the Aspen Music Festival last summer.) as well as riding the entire length of the Capitol Limited from Chicago to Washington, D.C. Train travel in the US is certainly not the fastest route, but with a private room it does offer some key ingredients to a composer’s success: a distraction-free environment, regular meals, and…no escape! Here’s hoping the smooth clickety-clack of the rails inspires me to “work the rhythms” in my percussion quartet, Kinetic Attractions.