little lovely images 5:200:00/5:20
The Seven Sayings 8:290:00/8:29
Sleepless Nights 3:030:00/3:03
She Told Her Beads 4:440:00/4:44
Messe des Perdus 19:300:00/19:30
little lovely images (2022)
electric guitar, vibraphone, fixed media
Premiered 2022 at the Walden School Creative Musicians Retreat.
Dan Lippel, electric guitar and Kyle Flens, vibraphone
Voices (in order of appearance): Mara Yaffee, Alicia Hurtado, Bobby Ge
One of the difficult parts of being in your twenties, at least for me, is the constant state of transience that seems to surround everyone you know. This was amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic, which started during the final months of my master’s degree. So many of my friends left for spring break and just, never came back. No goodbyes, no ceremony, just gone. I’ve thought about this strange disappearing act pretty consistently for the past few years and the ever-changing carousel of new faces that have seemed to rotate through my life.
The idea for little lovely images grew out of this experience. I’ve lived in Baltimore for the past four years, and while this place has developed a fairly specific meaning to me, I wanted to hear what it meant to some of the people I met while living here. The three people you’ll hear speaking in this piece are three of my closest friends from Baltimore: Mara Yaffee, an early music singer and former roommate of mine, Alicia Hurtado, an opera singer and another former roommate, and Bobby Ge, a fellow composer from my time at Peabody.
Aside from being close friends of mine, they also represent different phases of transience. Alicia was one of many who went somewhere for spring break right before Covid, never to return, Bobby is prepping for a big move to Princeton, and Mara has continued to live in Baltimore. I sat down with each of them, both virtually and in person, to talk about their experience with Baltimore. While they answered many questions about their time here, the responses chosen were to the questions, “What were some defining moments from your time in Baltimore,” and “what do you/will you miss most about Baltimore.”
The piece took shape from there. I started by trying to precisely notate all my musical ideas in very strict time so that the guitar and vibraphone would line up perfectly with what I had constructed from my friends’ words. After a while though, I realized that that sort of rigid structure pushed back against the very nature of the piece. The “interviews” I conducted served as a guide for my friends, but ultimately, their responses were their own. I felt that the notated music should operate the same way: as a sort of framework, within which the performers would get to choose when and how to fill space. The trust exercise of letting my friends answer how they pleased is extended to the performers and lets them do the same.
Ultimately, little lovely images is a reflection on trust, transience, and the joys of place. It’s a love letter to my friends and a thank you note for the ways that they too, have shaped this place for me.