Why are we alive? Why does anything exist?
From this profound place of questioning unfolds the secrets of my life. Dissatisfied with the formula & answers from culture I grew up in, I have demanded more. Over the course of my life, I have journeyed from the powerful magic of childhood, through a deadening adolescence, and back into a robust relationship with magic and mystery.
As long as I can remember, music called towards me, with a clear voice it spoke, often directly to me, with a purpose, direction, and meaning that other communication lacked. It spoke to me from beyond, from some invisible world.
Since I could ask questions, mainstream story of who we are didn’t quite add up; “you go to school, then more school, then you get a job.” Either “There’s a god but we don’t talk about the details” or “Life is meaningless, and there’s only this world that humanity is accidentally destroying but no one knows how to hit the breaks.” The threat of extinction from climate change drove me insane as a 10 year old! When I was lucky, people would level with me when something was going wrong, but I struggled to find that intimacy when things were going right. I often didn’t know how to uncover what I needed to say, or who I wanted to be.
It seemed only music met me where I wanted to be — total meaning, pattern, ecstasy, catharsis, and intimacy. In the songs of the Beatles, Elliott Smith, Say Anything, Ben Folds, Dashboard Confessional, and the piano works of Chopin, Beethoven I found “it.” That missing thing. The ‘meaning of life’ — or at least the most meaningful thing in my life.
There’s lots of poetic ways of saying I was miserable for 10+ years of my life; but it was tough. Parts were really very bad, some parts were bright shining warm goodness. Through all that, music was there for me. I was a mediocre violin student, but in middle school took up piano, and some other instruments. I started putting my negative emotions into the music, and wonderful — though mostly solitary — things happened.
As I started to jam with others and friends, music engendered relationships that sustained me through the rest of high school. This pattern flourished in college. I was an extremely dedicated musician at Brandeis. I composed, went from a “your skills are frighteningly bad — though you have a good heart” (a lovely professor of mine) to winning school awards as a composer & classical pianist.
The community at Brandeis always inspired me to go deeper. I had peers who were exceptional classical pianists, world-class graduate student composers, and lots of inquisitive “best friends” to help me have the patience to work hard and keep chaos at bay.
My classical studies with Evan Hirsch, and later Jared Redmond and Eve Kodiak, put my intelligence to its full use. I always gave my heart, but I learned to employ the ears, the body and the mind with the piano. Learning to (almost) master challenging classical repertoire altered my musical life forever. There is a special place in my heart for those years and those teaching relationships.
A notable mentor of mine is Tom Hall, who tuned me in to free improvisation: ‘Any sound can belong with any other sound’; ‘every piece is a playful experiment in how things feel.’ This direct, embodied process of social integration through music was enlightening, enlivening, and helped me become a fluent musician. And it was there for me in the dark nights of the soul; that process is healing and I am privileged to continue teaching this work with others.
Though I am a musician and improviser and composer… I work with theatre a lot. I loved the stage as a kid (I played Mozart in “Of Mice & Mozart” in 3rd grade — lol!) and did some serious acting in high school. Improv Boston has been a home for 6 years, and I have collaborated with a few other theatre companies as a a pit musician, Music Director, and in 2019 as an improviser/composer with Boston Theatre Company.
My creative work is an eclectic mix of improvisations, writing melodies & lyrics, playing tunes, and work with bands. I have been studying jazz for a couple years. A lot of work is on the tip of my tongue and I’m sure it’ll be flowering in the next couple years.
There’s been a lot of other spiritual journeying, namely through healers, relationships, and an intense study of Tai Chi. But that’s for another bio. I don’t ultimately know what’s real, but I know that magic exists — whether its in a musician’s performance, the way a bird sings to you, or in the touch of a loved one. The world is alive; we are the universe becoming aware of itself. Life is a gift — we didn’t ask for it! Make of that what you will — but in the meantime, focus on the good, the beautiful, and PLAY MUSIC TOGETHER.