In my last blog entry I focused on ways in which we can preserve our waterways, and protect our clean water, highlighting the piece “Mountain Stream” by Bonnie McLarty. Another of my favorite pieces in the Mother Earth project also features a beautiful waterway: the delightful Dunbar Creek that runs through the Laurel Highlands, just an hour or so east of Pittsburgh where I live. Robert Schultz, who nurtures a passion for fly fishing in this region, wrote a spectacular piece that portrays the journey of water—ever onward and forward, never passing the same place twice. The piece explores the peaceful eddies, as well as the rambunctious rapids and waterfalls that can be found along the length of Dunbar Creek. We see sparkling splashes, smooth-flowing areas, calm lulls, and places where the water is crushing, pulsing, and crashing over rocks in its path.
I, for one, would love to see Dunbar Creek—and all streams and rivers everywhere—to be protected against toxic contamination, irresponsible waste-water dumping from fracking, pollution from plastics and other garbage. We need to protect the beauty of these wild places, and we also need to protect the cleanliness of our drinking water. See my last blog post for links to more information about this issue, and what we can do to help solve it.
Visions of Dunbar was first premiered and recorded by pianist Tina Faigen on the 2006 album of Schultz’s original compositions and transcriptions. The album bears as its title the name of this same piece, Visions of Dunbar, and can be purchased on all major platforms.
Pittsburghers are lucky enough to be the first to hear several of Schultz’s brand new works in an upcoming concert on April 20, 2019. This program will feature the World Premiere of three new Schultz works with performances by pianist Tina Faigen, as well as soprano Anna Singer, clarinetist Mary Beth Malek, cellist Paula Tuttle, and pianist Walter Morales.
Additionally, the program is presented as a Music for Food event by Chatham University so all donations will benefit this musician-led initiative for local hunger relief.
Schultz, Faigen & Friends 2019
Saturday April 20, 3:00 PM
James Laughlin Music Bldg.
8 Songs for Soprano and Piano Op. 50 (poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
Anna Singer, soprano / Tina Faigen, piano
Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Cello, Op. 52
Tina Faigen, piano / Mary Beth Malek, clarinet / Paula Tuttle, cello
Finale for 1 Piano - 4 Hands, Op. 47
Tina Faigen and Walter Morales, piano
And for Pittsburghers reading this post, you can also hear Schultz's Visions of Dunbar at my Mother Earth CD release concert and party (details below).
Mother Earth CD release concert and party / Becky Billock, piano
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Levy Hall, Rodef Shalom
4905 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Advance tickets: $10 general / $5 student
At the door: $15 / $5
“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”
--British poet W. H. Auden
I’m a water drinker. Those who know me know that I’m REALLY a water drinker. Sometimes if I’m out with friends and I want to be a bit festive, then I kick it up several notches and order sparkling water! Once after being asked what I would like to drink, a friend overheard me say, “Just water, please.” Just water? she said. No, no, no, you have to say, “Water is my drink of choice!” Indeed, water is my drink of choice.
Beyond the obvious life-sustaining necessity of drinking water, I love being near water in nature. Give me a lake, a pond, a stream, a river. Or if I’m in a city, a fountain will do. In particular, hiking along a mountain stream is one of exquisite pleasures of my life. Not only do you have the sound of the water, pressing its way between boulders, splashing and sparkling in the sun, gurgling between clumps of moss, but there’s also the wonderful reassurance that with a stream close by, we can refill our drinking supply at any time.
The other day I was practicing Mountain Stream from Bonnie McLarty’s Pole Mountain Suite, with visions of various mountain streams that I love burbling around in my head. The idea of putting together a video collage featuring Bonnie’s piece came to me as a sudden inspiration. I wrote to Bonnie right away and she responded enthusiastically about the idea. This video is a result of that day’s creative impulses.
Given my love affair with water, it’s very disturbing to think about how careless humans are with this precious resource. Around 80 percent of our wastewater is dumped untreated back into our waterways, causing disease and pollution that effects human health as well as that of wildlife. One of the most thorough articles I’ve read about the pressing issue of fighting water pollution is this one from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
There are many factors contributing to the ongoing pollution of our waterways, ranging from factory chemicals, to fracking wastewater, to agricultural runoff. The beef industry is one of the worst offenders due to both the high consumption of water, as well as the large quantity of contaminants that make their way back into the streams, rivers, and groundwater. Becoming vegetarian, or at least limiting one’s consumption of beef, will make a difference towards protecting our clean water. We also need to make sure industries are held responsible for how they deal with their wastewater and toxic chemicals.
The Mother Earth project features a whole set of pieces dedicated to water, only one of which is Mountain Stream by Bonnie McLarty. Tides of Manaunaun by Henry Cowell describes the ancient and mythical forces of water from the time preceding human life on earth. Karen Tanaka’s Water Dance III is a jubilant celebration of the sparkling and joyous quality of water, conjuring imagery of a burbling stream or fountain. Patrick Burke’s Cumulus Humilus explores water in cloud form. In Sounds of a Fjord by Kaja Bjørntvedt (which I wrote about extensively in an earlier post) we take a journey to a place where water is the connecting force. Robert Schultz’s Visions of Dunbar portrays a beautiful waterway from near my hometown of Pittsburgh—Dunbar Creek—where, as in any stream or river, the water runs ever forward along its inevitable trajectory to the sea, never traversing the same place twice.
Part of the goal of the Mother Earth project is to raise awareness for the protection of our clean water. I’ll drink to that!
Learn more about the Mother Earth project at www.beckybillock.org