Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Friday, July 24, 2009


East Village Mosaic
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I am in New Hampshire, at the MacDowell Colony, happily ensconced in Hillcrest, the house where Edward MacDowell and his wife Marian lived. I have the house to myself and it is rather grand, but grand in that New England kind of way, quite different from Brooklyn grand.

This is my first time back to MacDowell since 1990. It is hard to believe that so much time has passed by. I never reapplied after my second residency. I'm not sure why, but life intervened, I started going to Yaddo instead, and MacDowell receded in my memory. But now that I am here again I realize that I should come for another residency, perhaps next summer. Although I wonder: what will my little family do in my absence?

The rehearsal this morning went beautifully and I am very pleased with how my piece turned out. With every new piece I learn more. I hope that never stops.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

This is what remains of the Berlin Wall. It is a stretch about fifty feet long on a rather bland street. Across the street from this remnant of the wall is a little museum in the form of a steel tower which you can ascend and get a view of how the scar of the wall bisects the city. I came upon it unintentionally--although it was a place I was interested in visiting--and found it very moving. To imagine this magnificent city split in two, and how people who might have been friends separated by only a few streets were entirely cut off from one another. And the utter prosaic location, and the blocks of post-war East German apartments across from it, belie it's intense symbolism. Like much of Berlin I found it intense, and it made me wonder what it must be like to live in a city with such a powerful and dramatic history.

Monday, July 13, 2009

leaving Berlin

water lilies
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I like this picture a lot, because it sums up some things I've discovered about this city. It is a beautiful city, full of history and architectural wonders. It is also a vital living city that does not in any way feel like a museum. There is creative energy all over the place: witness the pink wall in this little park I stumbled upon today.

But I am ready to leave. I have been in solitude long enough. I am beginning to feel alienated, and I feel my spirits sinking. I have no friends here; I have not had a real conversation in days save for a nice night out for drinks with a former student and her boyfriend. I have walked miles and miles, looking, watching, listening. But I need human contact; not the superficial kind, but the kind I get from my friends. I am lonely by nature. Traveling alone makes me keenly aware of how significant loneliness is to my life. I should not force loneliiness for long.

So I am packed. I will sleep for a few hours and go to the airport. I am quite tired so hopefully I will sleep on the plane, something that is difficult for me usually. I can't wait to see my pets. I miss them terribly.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I am in Berlin. I arrived on Tuesday. I am here alone. Traveling alone used to thrill me, and then for many years I could not do it. Yet this time I feel a sense of wonderment at how, thousands of miles from home, I wander strange beautiful streets; I negotiate the subway and find that my German is better and worse than I'd thought. And I live in my own head, for I hardly speak to anyone else. And so now it is almost five a.m. and the strange jet lag makes sleep impossible. I went to Daniel Libeskind's museum, one dedicated to the holocaust, and had a profoundly sad experience, connecting to the story of my mother's family in a powerful way. I cried. And then I plunged myself headlong into memory. I was not focused on old memories of childhood, but those of the closer past, a time when I was almost crazy with confusion and lust and dread and heartbreak.

I feel ill at ease here in a way. It is a beautiful and vibrant city. It is also in Germany, the country that perpetuated a horror that killed most of my mother's family and made my own childhood one suffused with a tragic sadness. My mother told me of her story too early in my own life for me to be able to process it, and so I am convinced my depression or melancholy or whatever I might call it stems from that, in part if not wholely.

But then I found these children playing in the Garden of Exile.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

traveling man

Tomorrow afternoon I will head to JFK and from there fly to Berlin on SwissAir. There is a layover in Zurich. From Berlin I will go to Wernigerode to the International Choral Festival "Johannes Brahms" where I will be a guest of a music school in that small very old village in the Harz Mountains. Then I will return for a couple more days in Berlin, and then back to NYC to begin preparing for the premiere in New Hampshire at the end of the month. I am looking forward to Berlin. At the same time I have to admit that my depression/anomieis on the upswing. I will just see how it goes. One thing I know is that I will have time to stroll and think and that maybe I will manage to post something here from Germany. Stay tuned...