The journey with the project has been quite powerful for me. My original intentions had been to create stronger connections to traditional Western harmony through the analysis of music of different time periods from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th. I had made it a point to study the basics of counterpoint and harmony, but after months of drilling exercises, I felt I was just hitting my head against a wall. At a certain point, I set myself a goal to perform an improvisation on John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” in my master’s cello examination last year, which was the moment when I felt I started learning how to put music together (for I had a lot insecurities when creating tonal improvisations). In this process, I realized there could never be an exercise that could teach me how to improvise a particular poem. I could, of course, keep training my musical faculties to make my language more fluent and sophisticated, but ultimately, the most important thing was to try to convey meaning in what I did. From that point on, I started really focusing in depth on understanding the cultural context of these time periods - I felt this was much more important for me than to try to perfect my command of harmony (for that is something that takes years and that I know I will continue working on for the rest of my life). Through this, I have enriched my understanding of the music that I perform on a regular basis, and it has inspired me greatly in the process of making the recordings for this exposition.
When working with my trio, my first step was always to give them an overview of the time period or the particular artistic movement we were dealing with. I would often give suggestions or hint at particular sounds that I had mind, and from there, we were able to create these works - of course some are more improvised than others, and some more finalized than others. Because all three of us have gone through intense classical training throughout our lives, playing and hearing remarkable music for such a long time, this project helped us access a large variety of sounds that we have been able to use in a creative way.
We are in a time period in which people advocate to change the traditional ways of education and art (I am referring to the discussions regarding the canon of “Dead White Men”) and embrace the contemporary topics and issues of the time. Just like 100 years ago, that artists felt the need to break with traditions of the past, I see great similarities in today’s attitude towards art and different aspects of society. We truly are in stage where anything can be considered art. As much as I agree with using contemporary approaches (like the work that I do with my trio, which is very much based on instinct), this project has made me realize that everything is connected, and the more we know about our past, the more we can understand (on personal level) what our art should be about and what our position is in society. People have even asked why I would want to create music in a style of the past, as if it were an act of inauthenticity. It would be wonderful to have the tools to replicate a style of the past, but the beauty lies in what one does with those tools in that particular moment in time. If we look at art history, we see that everything is a reference to something else. Even innovations are linked with our past, for we cannot create something new without having had some sort of reference point of what it is that we are innovating. Everything we do and the way we do it is a reaction or product of our own past, therefore, looking to history could only expand that potential for growth and innovation. Like I mentioned in the Prelude, I feel that our lives constantly play with the sense of a linear and progressive trajectory and a cyclical and recurring one.