About this time each year, I develop colony envy, that affliction which affects only pianists, instrumentalists, and singers who are too noisy for the calm reflection allowed primarily to composers, poets, visual artists, playwrights, authors, film makers, and other quietly creative types, at various artist colonies around the world. This malady is usually fleeting, as I am happy to be home with my beautiful Steinway, but I do admit that I feel a bit envious of this time for retreat, to get away from it all and create great work. Perhaps some designated haven (from the ringing phone, constant email, family, and other professional and life duties) might allow me to really have the time I need to learn all that music that is sitting on top of my piano. If you put me in a cabin at the end of the road, and I promise to keep the lid down and use the soft pedal, could I come then?
Yes, there are many other summer festivals in which I can participate, but they usually require quite a hefty amount of teaching, coaching, master classes, concerts, and the like. It is invigorating, but usually exhausting. And then there are those pesky students. Actually, if you are a student performer, then there are retreats for you: Aspen, Tanglewood, Chautauqua, etc., where you can practice all day if you like, and simply play in the orchestra or sing in the opera, and take your lessons and coachings with master teachers each week. I spent several happy summers in Aspen this way, practicing all day, and hanging out with my friends in the evening. Very little was asked of me, and my hardest task was finding food and lodging that weren’t on a celebrity price level. Ah, education is indeed wasted on the young. What I wouldn’t give now for truly uninterrupted creative time where all my daily needs are met and I am simply required to get my work done?
My ideal colony would be a tranquil (yet inspiring) environment where I could practice whenever I wanted, while working alongside other resident composers and instrumentalists to workshop new music in the free hours. The rehearsal space would be equipped with at least two pianos, a variety of percussion instruments, and electronic equipment for interactive media pieces. Anyone who was interested in developing new repertoire could come together to experiment and create. Nothing required, but participation strongly encouraged, with time expected for getting one’s own work done. Five-star lodging and meals would be provided; beautiful surroundings a must.
Anyone have any ideas? Maybe I should become a composer.