Emigrants Crossing the Plains (Albert Bierstadt), 1869
Our long journey thus began in sunshine and song
Peter H. Burnett, May 22, 1843
For the past two years, I’ve been researching the history and music of the early American West for an ongoing research project I call Heart and Place: Music of the Westward Expansion. The history of the American West brims with inspiring stories, musical diversity, artistic creativity, and valuable life lessons relevant to our modern world.
Today I’m sharing four video clips featuring short narratives and music of the Westward Expansion -played on four instruments. I have played this music for concerts in Oregon, Washington, and Montana, and even at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. I’m looking forward to working with this music and history for many years to come.
A “June Gloom” day in Seattle made for the perfect opportunity to visit the VICTORIAN RADICALS exhibit at Seattle Art Museum (SAM).
The attention to detail in the array of colorful paintings, tapestries, clothing, jewelry, and pottery transported me into a romantic world of gardens, gods, goddesses, secret liaisons, betrayals, and courtly love! My hands down favorite painting was Musica, by Kate Elizabeth Bunce. The lovely young musician with her ornate lute, sumptuous dress, and intricate jewelry, posed in front of a blooming floral arrangement, swept me away.
At one point I was asked to kindly step back from a display case (got to close). The case held a book which was open to a poem entitled, Edward Gray. I was mesmerized by the beautiful poem written by an English poet, Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892). I thought to myself, someone must have set this poem to music. When I got home, I did a little digging online and found a piece of sheet music written by Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. As it turns out, Edward Sullivan set Edward Gray to music. Sullivan’s setting is operatic, covers multiple octaves, and is far too complicated for the purposes of laying down a quick track for my blog…….. so I modified the melody and accompanied myself on my Taylor guitar as I don’t have a lute lying around the studio, I do however, have plenty of floral dresses.
Here’s my version of Edward Gray:
Here are some more beautiful paintings from the exhibit!
Sigismonda (or Gismonda), 1897 by Joseph Edward Southall
I didn’t get the name of the artist for this one… the narrative of the painting is about a young man who died in battle, the women are handing over some of his personal belongings to his broken-hearted lover!
Couldn’t we all use more flowers, more color, more art, more music, more beauty, more love?
It’s June, the garden looks fabulous, and exciting music projects are in the works. Just a quick note to let you know I’ve revamped my wedding and special event offerings page. I’m available, that is, musically speaking! Check out my new page here!
Laura playing Sunday Kind of Love by Louis Prima:
I want a Sunday kind of love A love to last past Saturday night I’d like to know it’s more than love at first sight I want a Sunday kind of love
I just returned from a week at the health and fitness spa, Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. This was my eighth visit to the Ranch as a visiting musical artist. The motto of the Ranch is ¡Siempre Mejor! (always better). My first visit was life changing, and each visit provides inspiration to lead my best and healthiest life possible! Here are my top 10 experiences from the magical week, in no particular order.
Wandering around the brick paths that snake through the entire property while taking in the colorful gardens!
Attending two concerts from Grammy Award winning classical guitarist, Jason Vieaux! I will never forget his magical playing and commentary in the intimate setting of the Oak Tree Pavilion. Here’s a pic of Jason below.
Hanging out with my handsome husband who worked at the Ranch for thirty-one years before retiring to live in Seattle. I literally took the Ranch home over six years ago, when Joe came to live with me and my daughter, Ruby. Now he visits the Ranch as my guest and gets to relax and do whatever he wants!
Seeing old friends and making new ones! Below, the lovely Manuela, Concierge Extraordinaire!
A wonderful hands on cooking class with master vegan chef and cookbook author, Jill Nussinow, the Veggie Queen! Joe, Ruby, and I been following a plant based diet for over two years now, never felt better.
Performing an evening solo piano program, Across the Borders, in the Oak Tree Pavilion! I also led two sing along classes in the same space, terrific fun.
Swimming Workouts in the beautiful fitness pool.
Watching a barn owl swoop into a tree at sunset like a winged white ghost from another world. Joe and I experienced this together. We also saw a family of 7 skunks the same night- luckily, they kept the family party moving! click here for some magnificent bird photos
Returning Home. Good to go away and oh so happy to return home to the yellow house. There’s no place like home.