Sunday, November 18, 2012


A few months ago, my friend Cole asked me to send him a few poems he might use for a school project as a Music Composition student at Cornish College of the Arts. 

I sent him a few, and he chose 3 to write music for the harp and voice, a project which eventually ended up as part of his Junior Composition recital this weekend. Our mutual friend, Ruth Mar, who founded the non-profit Classical group The Parnassus Project, played the harp, and former Cornish student Achil Jackson read the poems and sang the soprano part.

I was so honored and excited to hear these poems spoken and sung for the first time, and Cole's music really put them in a new light. As strange and nerve-wracking as it is to hear your own words performed from a stage, it was a very special experience.

Cole's wife, my dear friend Luz, had made the gorgeous posters and programmes, as well as the handcut-paper and light set pieces.

The Parnassus Project performed the second part of the recital, with Beethoven's Sonata in G Minor for cello and piano, OP. 5, NO. 2, a beautiful performance of the two-movement Sonata by Brooks Tran on the piano and Nathan Harrenstein on the cello.

For me the real highlight of the evening was Cole's String Quartet, "Waiting Games," performed by members of the Parnassus Project. I am not an expert on classical composition, but the complexity and tension of the music had me on the edge of my seat, and during the last movement I couldn't keep the smile off my face.

This was such an exciting project, and in Cole's thank-you card  after the event, he wrote something that stuck with me, "collaborations like this give me hope." While the discipline of pursuing art and creating is in many ways a singular journey, participating in collaborative projects always brings a particular hope and joy to the work. Whether it's looking through the same lens for a while, or the new perspective working with someone else brings, or perhaps that sense of "you too? I thought I was the only one!", the few collaborative projects I've been a part of have always been very special and life-giving.


Jenna St. Hilaire said...

Sounds lovely! If it ever winds up on YouTube, let me know.

My lifelong friend B once asked me to write a poem for a gorgeous series of photographs she'd done for a school project. The poem turned into a song, and is still one of my favorites I've ever written. She later gave me a beautiful framed version of the photo series with the words beneath. So yeah, I share your and Cole's feelings about a good collaboration. :)

jana.kaye said...

That is so cool, Jenna! I love that you can actually write music as well.

One poem in particular, Apple Day, had always felt lyrical to me, but since I quit piano lessons at 11, I'm never able to follow through with the musical part. So it was really wonderful to hear it set to music.