"Blooming" and "Echoes"

Mary AM Douglas, Bard College

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My two senior concerts were born of very different impulses. As a double major with the biology department, I am always looking for ways to connect these two equally important parts of myself. After discovering a love for plants in my Junior year, I began to find much artistic and emotional inspiration in plant life. I was not only interested in the biology of plants, but also how human and plant lives intersect. We often fail to see them, yet we give each other life. We move constantly, but they remain in the same location for their whole lives. Without even knowing it, we are often tied to places of comfort by the plants that live with us. In addition to this interest in plants, I have also become interested in expanding my art beyond the medium of music. However, I am limited in that music is one of the only arts I have ever studied. These two lines of discovery came together in my first concert, “Blooming”. In this concert, I programmed piano music written about or inspired by plants. I collaborated with composition student Oga Li to include their piece “THROUGH” on the program. I also worked with photography student Riley Truchel to pair her photographs of or inspired by plant life with the music that I played. The result was a multisensory exploration of plants and their depiction by humans.

For my second concert, I was initially driven to create a concert solely of chamber music. I always find music most enjoyable and rewarding when I am making it with other people. Though I have had opportunities to grow in my chamber music at Bard, I haven’t been able to take on large works or work with the same group of people for an extended period of time. I was hoping to more deeply explore working with other musicians by programming my whole concert around this kind of music. However, as my interests in baroque music and organ playing expanded, my concert began to change shape to accommodate these interests. Simultaneously, I experienced a loss that made me think more deeply about all of the previous losses in my life. As I spent my time contemplating this, my project became more philosophically focused.

The final product, “Echoes”, is a conglomeration of all of these themes. Framing the concert at the beginning, middle, and end are three baroque songs, which I programmed both due to my love of the music and to acknowledge the time I have spent over the last two years learning about continuo playing. These songs, along with a set of piano trios, allowed me to collaborate with other musicians, as was the original plan for this concert. They also allowed me to include organ music on the program (in addition to a solo organ piece), representing my passion for this new instrument that I have learned while at Bard. The solo piano works are united only by my deep love for them. Each one took me in new directions that music had not taken me before. In putting this program together, I began contemplating how I may make music both for the people who are here to listen and for those who are gone. My focus when performing or constructing a program is always offering the listener opportunities to walk with the music in whatever direction they would like. For this concert, this ideal expanded into an attempt to create music that makes space for the listener to sit for a moment with those people in their lives who are gone. I hoped to offer a space of contemplation of not only the absence of those who have left, but also a renewed recognition of what they have left behind with us.