The Water, The Trees

When I first went to Europe I went to Paris for a summer program at CCMIX. I think though that some of the most important experiences of that summer were those of the time I spent with the rivers: the Seine in Paris, the Thames in London, and the Rhône and the Arve in Geneva. It was during these long walks by these rivers (and in Geneva, swimming in them after a coin toss, still one of my favorite stories and memories) that I think I first truly ever felt a real connection to the Earth and my environment.

In my first trip to Krakow a few years ago, again I had come in contact with the water in my daily walks along the Vistula, to and from town. In the colder temperatures with the air so crisp and clear, the image of the river and Wawel Castle would be absolutely stunning…

At that time though, I found myself also begining to observe the trees as well, especially against those amazing gray skies which seem to glow, leaving only a sillhouette showing, the negative of the tree against light. I remember starting to look up at the trees, through the leaves and branches against the sky, mesmerized by how the drifted in the wind… thinking about it now, I think this fascination started when I was back in Brooklyn, in the backyard, as I seem to remember an image of a full moon and a tree swaying against it…

I remember one day in my first trip to Krakow, while walking back to the hotel I was staying at after an orchestra concert I had seen, thinking about the orchestra and orchestral composition (those thoughts lead up to the development of the orchestral composition library I wrote in Python, which I very much use today in my compositional work), my mind was racing with abstractions and ideas. I remember walking by a number of trees some time after, with these thoughts on my mind, and thinking that the branches of the trees were all performers, playing from the same score (the wind), all just a little differently…

This past trip to Krakow, where I stayed did not really have the river to go by in walking to and from the city, and so that connection seemed less present. I did spend many hours though in the Planty–the park which surrounds the Old Town in Krakow. Often I’d just sit there to read books, write down thoughts, or simply listen to MP3’s of drafts of pieces, of music, or of interviews with Feldman. After sitting a while, I’d usually take a nice long walk around some part of the Planty, listening to my latest draft, and really just enjoying the trees and observing curiously.

I find that back here in SF, where I work by the water and have an amazing view of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin, Berkeley, etc., the water is truly something I find myself connected to, but I miss the trees and the park very much. Perhaps I’ve just grown closer to them lately.

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