Art In Times of Darkness (COVID-19)
Photo: Brian Raphael Nabors
In this time of unprecedented stillness, my heart has been overwhelmed with the sheer amount of tenacity my fellow artists have shown. They have performed the most exquisite music from their homes, rendered visual and sonically innovative experiences in ways that only the prowess of technology has made possible. It's moving to see so many large organizations/institutions employing new strategies of concert music to continue to reach their audiences. This experience has brought about a way of connection that I feel could have been there all along. I can only hope that this is a continued effort after we have all gotten through this dark time.
Lately, I've found myself in a weird mental bubble (which is very odd for me, I'm usually EXTREMELY OPTIMISTIC 😥). I'm finding myself VERY much inspired to create, but the gravity of the situation prohibits me from doing so when I finally sit down to do it. It's as if the weight of the situation is sucking the life from us all. It's been an extremely rigorous time as my professional life, along with SO many of my colleagues, has been flipped completely upside down. Since the 2020 Fulbright program was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had no choice but to leave my new home in Sydney, Australia 8 months earlier than I originally planned. In many ways I'm simply relieved just to be healthy and back home with my parents, sister and niece. It's also a plus that my Fulbright Australia mentor and phenomenal composer Carl Vine has been so gracious as to still work with me remotely although the program has ended. So here I am, back in my old room in Birmingham, AL (which I've made into a great music studio and video game paradise 😂) trying to figure out what to do with my time. Well...I'm hardly ever bored, as I have about 12 hobbies, but I wanted to do something more than just build incredible houses in The Sims 4, relearn Beethoven sonatas, and study orchestral scores. However, through all of my back and forth scrambling for something I feel is a worthy rendering to uplift my fellow man, I think I've finally got it.
The quarantine has recently inspired me to jump back into writing literature. From about age 12 onward, if I wasn't expressing myself through music or visual art, I was writing poetry, short stories, and even starting a couple of novels. These days, I try my best to squeeze in a few poems amidst an ever-growing sea of new music projects, waiting for the right moment to combine all of my various artistic practices into one. I feel that now is as good a time as any, so I think I may have finally settled on something I'd like to give. The things I've been writing about consist of many of the simple things us humans take for granted: sunshine, rain, smiles, joy, etc. They also consist of many things we are becoming so much more aware of because of being in quarantine. This has made me settle on a title for this project relatively quickly: Poems of Isolation.
I've decided to divide these poems into 3 books: Sketches From the Natural World, Being Human, & Spirituality. Within these books are sets of poems that will be accompanied by corresponding short works for the piano. I eventually plan to take this project and release an album. I follow behind some of my favorite composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff + many more who created thematic books of piano works. Perhaps I might eventually arrange them for orchestra as well.
I look forward to being a vessel of healing in this great time of isolation, birthing something valuable to reflect upon this time in the future. Time and time again, I find it has been the artists who have remained the sanity of humanity. I have no doubt that it will be artists again who help to push mankind through! Stay strong you all. You have my best and 'til soon!