I’m getting ready to release my new album, “A Brilliant Awakening!” I decided to take the album artwork design into my own hands. I took a backpacking trip this past year on the Sierra High Route starting at the north end in Yosemite. Five days into our trip we ran into the Rough Fire which was devastating thousands of acres of forest near Kings Canyon. We ended up creating a loop out of our two week adventure and circled back into Yosemite where I found myself at Evelyn Lake. The artwork you see now on the cover of A Brilliant Awakening was just a moment in time on that epic adventure. Anyways I’ve got to get back to work, there is lots to be done. Funny since the recording already happened in December I thought I might get a chance to catch my breath. Guess not. Stay tuned for A Brilliant Awakening in stores soon!!
Also I’d like to give a special thanks to Barbara Hirsch, Opus One Mobile Recording, who brought her equipment to my studio in Ojai for the recording of “A Brilliant Awakening.” The sound quality and her hard work made this album truly Brilliant!
Thank you to Natasha Kislenko, my teacher who has worked with me as I composed this music. You’ve been a constant inspiration and kept me focused whenever I lost my way. Thank you!
Thank you to Raymond Powers, an Ojai Composer and dear friend, that came to the recording to listen and give feedback on the musicality that raised the level of musicianship for the entire recording.
Musically yours, David
I discovered a book at one of our campsites. On the front cover it read, “Please do not burn me or any part of me. I am history for all to read. Feel free to add to this sacred book and be a part of history. Enjoy and happy trails!” I was ecstatic to discover a diary that had passed through so many hands. To be shared without being copied or transcribed. Though the once blank pages had all been filled by pen and ink. I think I’ll share my adventure here, and be a part of history.
Day one, we left our car and belongings to the company of a lonely rustling tree. In front of us all I could see was a never ending range of mountains looming far ahead. I slowly lost track of the miles we traversed as we: snaked along the river bed, rolled over mountains, and weaved our way through a forest of trees. When I stumbled into camp that night I almost walked right past it without a second glance if not for the oddly shaped circle of rocks. A fire soon blazed from the pit that designated our arrival. Welcoming us to eat and sleep under a canopy of stars.
Day two, the numerous lines that rippled on the map foreshadowed the days hike. It was grueling and strenuous. Every mountain that we conquered had another to take its place. This monotonous pattern continued well into the afternoon when I stopped for lunch. But now as I spun around I was the looming giant that had intimidated me before. I could see the ocean and the forest and the mountains to the south. To the north stood nothing between me and the sky. It was an easy descent to our campsite that night. As we made our way into the shadows of the cliffs the climate shifted to allow for patches of snow, and shivers throughout the night.
Day three, we were to leave the mountains behind for the wide expanse of the valley. The only sign of life was a squirrel that seemed sad at our departure. It was easier now to lose myself. Thoughts would cease in place of rhythmic footsteps. We traversed the valley to be confronted by another mountain. We once again reached the top to look down upon the puny mountains behind us. Putting all my sore muscles aside to admire what I had accomplished. I could hear running water and we soon came upon a river separating us and our campsite. We hopped from rock to rock trying to avoid the drenched clothing that seemed inevitable. As the sun was setting I immediately spotted our campsite. This was no pile of rocks in the wilderness. It had huts, shelters, running water, and a bed! By which I mean there was a bed frame with rusty springs. I can’t remember what I was most thankful for but it was here that I found the book written by all the wanderers before me.
Day four, I fought the chirping birds for what felt like an eternity. They danced in the treetops but still I refused to open my eyes. When the sun broke through the shattered window I stumbled out of bed. Being awake and being functional are two very different things. My legs did not seem to respond to my countless commands. Time was all I had to counteract the slow moving parts of my body. Bags packed. Sun blazing. We took off in search of our next shady residence.
Day five, this was the last day of my wilderness wanderings. I woke up driven to reach our destination where I would find a hot burrito waiting for me! The landscape flattened out as we left the Sespe National Forest as if even the mountains were helping us find our way.
Returning to civilization was easier than I thought it would be. Settling back into comfortable assumptions like automobiles and electricity to name a few. I am thankful though, that if only for a few days, I was able to hear the whispers of the trees. I only needed to open my ears.
I have never been able to juggle anything (especially professions). I hadn’t taken the time to think about what it meant to be a pianist and composer. I’ve been bouncing between practicing my pieces and composing my third album with limited success. Imagine having your arms stretched in opposite directions. Not the most pleasant feeling in the world.
On a completely unrelated topic I’m packing up my bags and leaving my piano behind for the unknown wilderness. While only for five days it still seems absurd. I’m mostly looking forward to the silence. The constant buzz of a city never sleeping. But amidst the forest and the mountains, I hope to hear the whispers of the trees.
Now that I am sitting down to write about my adventures I realized, that it may have seemed like I disappeared from the world for a couple years. You’d be surprised just how easy that can be when your living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean: Molokai, HI. I was flying from Molokai to Oahu on a weekly basis to take piano lessons from Jonathan Korth, a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
I spent my days composing from the second story of my house that overlooked miles upon miles of sand. The ocean waves crashed through the night, not even stopping for a restless composer. I was taken in by the serenity on Molokai. People accepted you for what you are, without judgement and predications. It was so easy to lose myself in the sand, to get swept away from all my worries by the rustling of the trees. Looking back now I can definitely say that my time on Molokai will not…could not be forgotten.
I’ve been composing my second album for longer than originally planned. As with everything in life, it seemed inevitable that there would be predicaments and quandaries along the way. Indeed there was one that had never occurred to me before. Sitting down at the piano I realized that I could not play any of my pieces on this album. They were impossibly challenging: three handed melodies, notes jumping over spans of octaves, and no thought given to how a pianist might play the flurry of notes.
I had it all planned out. I assumed I could perform my compositions and they would magically sound beautiful! The grueling work of endless practicing could be forgotten. Alas, it was not to be. Now I was confronted with my greatest enemy, the metronome. I feared this day would come since the first time I heard the monotonous ticking.
Befriending the metronome is my greatest technical feat in my musical career. Now all that’s left is to master the seven compositions from my second album, “A Brilliant Awakening.” Which honestly, doesn’t seem so daunting after reconnecting with my long time nemesis. My repetive practice has become a daily ritual I now find myself unable to be without. I can see a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel as i’m completing my second album.
I am now living in Ojai, CA. I’m beginning to share my latest compositions that were once numerous dots on lines and spaces. But now they have become much more. They’ve become musical ventures that through the piano as a medium I’m able to express to you the stories of my life these past few years.