Here in our Forest and Estuary Land, the sun has come back to keep us company.
As the precautionary measures take place in the area, many events have been canceled and rescheduled, and the Sitka Campus is even quieter than usual, as the office staff is now working from home to practice social distancing.
Meanwhile, new resident Melinda Hurst Frye has joined our crew! Some of us have been on the other side of the estuary for a hike last week, and it was a lovely way to get to know her, followed then by grocery shopping, and cards craft during the last political debate! Welcome in the Sitka’s family Melinda 🙂 Here you can find more about her fantastic work.
As for the New World Project, some updates are in order!
The dual aim of the Project “New Worlds: am artistic journey” -art research and outreach- has been quickly altered by the new social measures, and 3 events that were planned for this week were canceled.
I was going to the Neskowin Valley School on Monday and Wednesday, to offer a concert and activities to the children on the topics of sounds, creativity and ecology. And on Saturday, a Sitka Special Show and Tell event was organized at the Bijou theatre, where I would have played 25 minutes of my music to open a retrospective of Joanna priestly movies.
Also, I was trying to go and visit the After-School program at the Nestucca valley school…
And now well, a long free week stretches in front of me! I guess, it will all be for the advantage of the other aim of my project -research.
I hope I will have chances to share it soon, bring it back in circle and enjoy it together with our community.
Before I get to tell you more about what I am currently working on, I want to share the very interesting Social Distancing Festival, a web platform for the events and productions this new global status left unfinished, or unperformed. it was made by director Nick Green, whose Musical was supposed to hit the scenes last week, and is now in stall. He calls for more sharing and stories, so that might be something inspiring to take part to 🙂
As for my research work, I am now getting back to the humpback whales project, finally preparing a newly-coded score for a beautiful song from South Pacific. The music making with Alex South will soon follow…
I am also trying out new embroidery-on-paper techniques (never heard of it? Check it out it is much fun!!!) for my herring-spawn ecology and art research, which is gradually taking more shape.
As for music is concerned, I am working on a new piece, called “Heron”, which will be ready for performance soon -very exciting!!
Meanwhile, the seals call me often down the estuary and I finding comfort on getting to the water every day. Its patterns and never ending moves give me a sense of deep peace, as if every time it welcomed me home. And seeing the seal’s heads popping around is just the best gift I could ask for.
I have been sending some videos from forest and water to family and friends, and noticed they were appreciated, so I am sharing some of them here too. Below you see the estuary shining in golden wind from a couple of days ago, and then the same spot wrapped in a mellow dusk from yesterday.
I recently found out that very spot has been home to a very ancient Native American settlement, of a tribe that now is part of the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde.
They were pushed away by white settlement in the last century (here you can find out more about the Confedertion’s history and the US treatment for these people during 1800 and 1900) but today, the estuary of the salmon river serves again as a learning ground for the young paddlers of their community, as they are introduced to canoeing during the warm season.
And this brings up anther tale! Before the social restriction came to order, I had the wonderful chance to go and visit the Grande Ronde Community, around 30 minutes inland from Sitka.
I had been in touch with Travis Stewart, the Interpretive Coordinator for the Chachalu Museum of Grande Ronde, offering a concert to their community as part of my Project. Travis got back to me and proposed to meet at the Museum, and the meeting happened last week, thanks also to Tamara Jennings who joined and gave me a lift.
At the Chachalu Museum, I found out I was the first Italian visitor ever!
The museum is an incredible chance to experience how history can be shared, as it still breathes through the daily lives of a community. I deeply recommend a visit to all locals!
We were accompanied by Travis through wonderful curving spaces and images that made us curious to go and explore the grounds and waters, and we saw the canoes the community uses for their voyages, to visit other tribes when Potlaches (big gatherings) are called. They went as far as Bella Bella, BC Canada!! It is almost 800 km by the sea, paddling! Travis told us, It took them 2 weeks. I was bewildered.
The canoes are put to sleep during wintertime, as that is the indoor season, the one when stories are shared and outdoor work is suspended. Then, in spring, a ceremony takes places to awake them again. They are in the museum just to rest: as the year wheel turns, hey will be on the water again.
We learnt abut basket making, pigments and traditional foods, about a knowledge of the land stretching back thousands of years, back to the ice ages, when the Willamette valley was flooded and the coast stretched miles more into the ocean.
We learnt of new generations that are growing learning their traditional language alongside English, taking part to their community culture and tradition as part of their daily lives, and being aware of history, but without carrying on the strain and pain of the past.
It was one of the best stories of resilience, creativity and joy I ever met. I am deeply grateful for the gift Travis gave us, by sharing it.
Travis brought us to their Plank House, a traditional house made of cedar planks where gatherings and cerimonies are held today. As we stepped in, the dark and smoky space immediately summoned in me a feeling of sacred, a wish for listening, and for singing. Seconds after, Travis offered me to do my concert there. I was deeply honored to receive such an invitation, and of course said yes. It was a magic moment.
Later on that day, as I spoke to my family on the phone, I said that if the Carnegie Hall had just been inviting me perform It wouldn’t make me happier than Travis’s invitation. It was a truth moment: I realized what I belong to the most as an artist, and that it is not what I have been taught, but what I am finding now on my path, and it is a story of rebirth and creativity and joy.
I will keep you updated as I find out when and how this magic concert is going to take place, given that since my meeting with Travis much has changed…
It will be a part of a big question for me now, which is: how to go on with the outreach side of my Project, through this new situation?
As far as now, I am focusing on keeping up contacts, hoping to be able to eventually reschedule the canceled events. Also, I will use my passion for playing outdoor and try and organize small-size concerts to be held outside, if the weather will allow. Finally, with my life-sister Federica Vecchio, who is now in a little town outside Rome, we are going to work out some link between artists in residence and quarantined lives. So…Stay Tuned!!
I thought to share some open calls that are accepting applications right now, for artistic residencies around the world… If you are finding yourself doing art to occupy your days, maybe it would be something to think about!! I know of artists that didn’t call themselves so, until they got to their first residency… 😉
Calls open till March 31st: The Sitka Center (where I am now! amazing wonderful place!!) is accepting applications, for fall and next year residencies. The Italian Foundation Lazzaretto, is open-calling too, for residencies later this year. Open call from Finland-based Saari Residency. Florida-based “A studio in the woods” residency will accept applications till April 13th.
If you decide to jump on board such new adventures, you have my support!! In case you need any help dealing with the applications, feel free to get in touch.
I wish you all a wonderful day and night, and spread hugs right and left, and smiles! Let’s keep spirits light and bright together.
My Weekly thanks 🙂
The New Worlds Project thanks its generous supporters and friends!
Today I would like to say a big GRAZIE to THE PROF and SILVIA, for joining the New Worlds Project crew of backers!
Also always thanks to CLAUDIO MURRI, to AUNTIE GRA, and to my whole FAMILY.
Thank you all for your presence and support, thank you from my heart!!
If you’d like to find out more about the New Worlds Project, please click here. If you’d like, please share the link below to family and friends!