Saturday, March 05, 2016

Gravitational Waves: Listening to the Cosmos

Today, my brother is giving a couple of talks about the Big Bang and Gravitational Waves in Fort Collins, CO. I assure you, he is a highly engaging educator who is remarkably enthusiastic and eloquent when it comes to this material. I encourage you to attend his presentations, today or in the future, especially if think you'd rather get your teeth pulled. Gavin's presentations exemplify that complex topics need not be "dumbed down" to be accurately presented and accessible to every listener in the room.

Speaking of which, I have little background in physics, aside from hearing my brother talk about it a lot (which may be quite significant, given his talents described above). I have yet to hear him speak about gravitational waves, but I read this wonderful New Yorker article about them and was thoroughly enthralled. So why am I posting about this on an otherwise music-related blog? Because I am fascinated by the ways that scientists are not only looking into the cosmos with telescopes, but also listening to it. It happens that the "chirp" of gravitational waves sounds like a glissando from the lowest A on the piano up to middle C. MIDDLE C! Can you believe that?!? Gravitational waves are within the spectrum of human hearing, but are too faint to be heard without state-of-the-art detection materials.

Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light. We are listening to events that happened 1.3 billion years ago. Even if it is the briefest, faintest "chirp," it is music to my ears.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Parenting and Musicianship Collide: Naming Emotions

I am a parent of children of a certain age. A certain age during which I am encouraged to help them "name their emotions" by saying things like, "It sounds like you are angry right now." This is REALLY difficult for me, and I think I have discovered part of the reason why. In the moment, I often start the sentence, and then end up saying, "It sounds like you... might be... angry? Or sad. Or frustrated! Or maybe lonely?" Obviously, I am not clarifying much for my children with regard to their emotions. I also hate putting words in their mouths about how they feel. How should I know what they are really feeling? And more than that, what about the emotions that can't be named?
I had that last thought on the way to a gig this morning, thinking about the power of music and the mysterious ways it serves humanity. I think it may be precisely that it taps the emotions that cannot be named. It is the meeting of intellect with intuition. The melding of the tragic with the divine. Within a single performer, it can be the meeting of physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental energies with something entirely mysterious and unknowable. Music is both fleeting and eternal. I sure as heck can't name with a word or two what I'm feeling when I give a great performance, or witness one.
Perhaps next time I have the urge to help my children "name their emotions," I'll put some music on instead.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Brief Update

I haven't posted in more than two years now, and want to provide a little informaiton about some of my activities since then. I perform regularly as principal oboe with the Colorado Chamber Orchestra in addition to my work as 2nd oboe/English horn with the Boulder Philharmonic. New experiences included playing with Opera Colorado, the Central City Opera, and performing a recital as guest artist with the Highlands Square Ensemble, a fabulous string trio. Guitarist James Cline and I continue to perform together; our next show will be presented by Fresh City Life at the Denver Public Library on May 9. Please check out the links above and come out to some shows! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Time to celebrate the holidays with music!

December 1 at 7 PM
Messiah Sing-a-long with the Colorado Chamber Orchestra at Littleton United Methodist Church

December 15 at 2 PM at Saint Andrew United Methodist Church
December 16 at 2 PM at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church
December 17 (Monday) at 7 PM at Bethany Lutheran Church
Canto Deo Christmas concerts

Happy holidays, all!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I have decided not to perform on the Boulder production of the Nutcracker this year - sorry to my friends who usually look for me there!

It is an active month for the Mountain Music Ensemble, however:

Thursday, November 8 at 7 PM
James and I will be joined by Becky Weidman for the Denver Eclectic Concerts series!  We will perform the world premiere of our most recent commission by Timothy Buckman in the South Pearl Street shopping district in Denver.

Friday, November 16, time TBD
The Mountain Music Duo's 3rd annual contribution to National Adoption Day at the Denver City Courthouse!  Despite the fact that this gig is early in the morning, it is our favorite of the year!  It is so fun to celebrate with these families and hear inspiring stories from around the city and state.

Check back for holiday concerts in December!

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Saturday, October 6 at 7:30 PM
Boulder Philharmonic Pops concert featuring Byron Stripling in a tribute to Louis Armstrong!

Tuesday, October 16 at 7:30 PM
I will appear on Skyler Smith's Alumni Bassoon Recital at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to School!

Monday, August 27 at 7:30 PM
Chamber music from The Marriage of Figaro, edited and directed by Richard Frey.  Organ Rehearsal Hall at the University Center for the Arts (2nd level) in Fort Collins.

Saturday, September 15 at 7:30 PM
Boulder Philharmonic season opener featuring Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony at Macky Auditorium in Boulder.

Check back for updates and more concerts for the fall!