Eryc Taylor Dance Heats Up the Summer Season by ETD

Eryc Taylor Dance Heats Up the Summer Season with Festival Performances Throughout the Northeast Area ETD Premieres First Sections of an Evening Length Work, Earth at Brooklyn Botanic Garden on July 16th World Premiere of The Offering at Dancers For Good on July 19th ETD Travels to Provincetown for Cape Dance Festival on July 27th New York, NY, July 1, 2019-

As the temperature begins to rise, Eryc Taylor Dance (ETD) will be heating up the summer with a number of festival showcases throughout the Greater Northeast region. The company will be premiering a work-in-progress piece, Earth, new choreography by commission of Dancers for Good and a current work of the company’s repertoire, all throughout the month of July. As a “wake up call” to the impact of our actions on our global climate crisis, ETD is continues to produce EARTH- a full-length collaborative immersive dance experience featuring original choreography by Artistic Director, Eryc Taylor and two past recipients of the company’s New Choreographer’s Grant- Robert Mark Burke and Jordan Ryder, scored by commissioned composers Solomon Lerner and Daniel Tobias.

The company will debut the first three sections of the evening length work on Tuesday, July 16th at 7pm which will commence at The Sundial in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) presented as site-specific performances moving throughout the garden. Prior to the performance, ETD will be hosting an exclusive wine reception to support the Marta Heflin $30,000 Match Grant for EARTH, with 20% of the proceeds to go towards Greenpeace USA. Tickets range from $150-$1,000 (tax deductible). For more information, please email info@etd.nyc. This showing is in conjunction with the BBG’s Twilight Tuesdays- a new summer series where guests are invited to visit the garden and stay for special evening programming. The ETD EARTH dance event is free with admission to the garden. For more information, please visit the BBG website at EARTH at BBG

The ETD summer season continues with a world premiere to be performed at the Dancers for Good benefit on Friday, July19th at 7pm at the Guild Hall of East Hampton John Drew Theater located at 158 Main Street, East Hampton, NY. Micheal Apuzzo, a Producer of Dancers for Good and Principal Dancer of Paul Taylor Dance Company and The Actors Fund, commissioned Artistic Director Eryc Taylor to choreograph a special solo titled, The Offering, to be performed by Mr. Apuzzo and make its world premiere at the event. As the Hampton’s biggest dance benefit for the fourth year in a row, the program will highlight a full roster of world-class dance companies, choreographers and dancers, under one roof, for one night only. Other program performers include appearances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Carolyn Dorfman Dance and Amy Marshall Dance, special honorees of Tony-Award Winner Tony Mitchell and dance legends Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, hosted by Cady Huffman. This year’s proceeds will go to The Actors Fund and their large array of programs and services in support of artists. Tickets are on sale for what has become an annual favorite on the Hamptons social calendar. For more information, please visit the Dancers for Good website at https://dancersforgood.org.

Now in its seventh year, the Cape Dance Festival presents an evening of dance at the Province Lands Outdoor Amphitheater in Provincetown, MA showcasing some of the highest-caliber of American choreographers, dancers and dance companies. ETD will be performing Grand Duo on Saturday, July 27th at 6pm at Racepoint Beach as part of a one-night-only engagement. Conceived by co-founders Stacey-Jo Marine and Liz Wolff, the festival strives to build community through the enjoyment of world-class dance to the residents and visitors of Cape Cod. Tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information please visit their website at http://capedancefestival.com.

Upcoming Performances EARTH Part Four: Man Forgets Earth Martha Graham Studio Theater, NYC- September 8th at 1pm EARTH Part Five: Mother Nature’s Warning Martha Graham Studio Theater, NYC- October 13th at 1pm About Eryc Taylor Dance Building community through movement, Eryc Taylor Dance (est. 2006) is a New York City based not-for-profit organization with a mission to advance appreciation of movement through creating and presenting original performances, conducting master classes, and curating movement based community outreach. For more information, please visit the company website at: etd.nyc

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Guest Blog by ETD Composer Salomon Lerner by ETD

About 5 years ago I got a call from a friend asking me to cover for her playing piano for a movement workshop at a PGCMH residence (Post Graduate Center for Mental Health), a program led by Eryc Taylor which brought movement and dance classes to recovering patients. 

I came in to sub for my friend not knowing what to expect; there was no sheet music for the gig. I walked in when Eryc was warming up for the class he was leading. He kindly showed me where the piano was and his only direction was to play anything I felt would support the movement. It was a very freeing experience for me as a musician. And even though too much freedom can be terrifying for a composer, the freedom Eryc gave me was confined by the comforting greater purpose of supporting the movement of mental health patients.  

I improvised music on the piano which Eryc responded to. And I also responded to his movements with my music. It felt like a fluid conversation between music and dance with the common goal of helping people in need. 

The collaboration I had with Eryc that day has only grown since then. He has commissioned original scores from me in a wide variety of musical styles but always maintaining the same conditions: a lot of musical freedom for a greater purpose.

When I got the call to work on the music for E A R T H, it made total sense with Eryc's style: he basically asked us to create music and dance to tell the story of our planet and how it is urgent for the world to take action in saving it. He gave a very specific outline and goal, while also giving us the artistic freedom to do something we truly believed in as humans. 

I feel proud to work with ETD in projects like this which surely make us, the artists involved, grow as professionals and as people, while also supporting a greater cause to hopefully raise awareness of our planets urgent needs.

About Salomon Lerner. . .

Salomon Lerner has an M.F.A. from NYU's Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. He
studied Film Scoring at the Berklee College of Music and Composing at the Ars Nova School of Music (Caracas). In New York, he has works as composer, orchestrator and music director for off-Broadway
shows. His original compositions have been performed at various renowned venues including La Mama's Ellen Stewart Theater (New York) and Barrington Stage Company (Pitttsfield, MA) and the Colony Theatre (Miami Beach, FL). He also founded the VirtualStudio.NYC which connects musicians and engineers around the world to produce top-quality recordings online.
Before moving to New York, he worked professionally as a music director/conductor, a composer for film, TV, and theatre, and a record producer and arranger in his native Venezuela. www.salomonlerner.com

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ETD & GEYK (Green Environment Youth Korea) by Andrew Tran

While we were on tour in Busan, Eryc Taylor sat down with Green Environment Youth Korea GEYK and interviewed the group on the status of climate change in South Korea. Check out our conversation below! 

What is your (GEYK’s) mission?

We want to change our society to be more sustainable. It’s kind of a “textbook mission” - to try and spread environmental knowledge between the people and strengthen alliances within the community.

Mission from website: A climate change organization whose main focus is young people, exploring solutions to climate change issues and making efforts to raise the voice of young people at home and abroad. 

Tell us a little about yourself and why you formed this group.

JiyuYonKim- I am the co-founder of GEYK. I majored in Pre-Law and I am currently working for a company. In 2009, I went to a conference where I met a lot of people fighting for climate change.  

Jiyu - I studied international studies as an undergrad. I took an international security class where I went to a climate change workshop and was inspired. From there, I went to grad school to major in climate change. I currently do environmental studies and I am the VP of GEYK.

SeJin - I like to call ourselves the “GEEKS” of Climate Change because we are so passionate. I originally studying French, but changed my major to climate change because I felt it was my mission to work on it and change the world. I am currently a student and studying environmental studies in university. I also work as a bartender and attend regular conferences about climate change. 

____

* Eryc introduced himself and explained the mission of Eryc Taylor Dance (ETD) and ETD Outreach: Using music and dance to bring vulnerable communities together.

Then they asked him why he got into climate change - how did we (ETD) get interested in climate change and dance? And why combine the two? 

Eryc - I grew up in Los Angeles, CA where there was major smog and air pollution. I developed asthma as a young kid and felt the effects of it daily. I have also traveled around the world and have seen the devastating effects of climate change. I want to use my art form as a platform to talk about it all. I want to address different options for our daily routines such as cutting out plastic and trying to be more globally aware. I strive to combine this passion with my dance company to make an even bigger impact. Art is universal and can really make a difference. *

——

When did GEYK begin?

We began in 2014 - 5 years ago (but we prepared in Fall of 2013 to gather info and begin the organization). We officially launched on April 5th, the Day of Trees (similar to Earth Day in the US) — it used to be required by law to plant a tree on this day.  This was because a lot of trees and vegetation were destroyed during the Korean War. Therefore, all citizens were required to plant trees. Now, our land is 64% trees.- the 2nd highest in the world. Tree Day is now a celebration!

Why do many Korean people wear masks?

Korea  relies on Coal Power Plants - one of the biggest in the world and is in 7th in the world for emissions. Seoul’s air quality is very bad. It is filled with yellow and micro dust from cars and factories, and also residual dust from China. People tend to wear nice tight masks to help filter the poor air quality (even though it does not do much to help). 

What are some policies aimed to help Climate Change in Korea? 

The government is trying to make policies but it is not having a strong effect. We have policies where people can only drive a certain amount of cars at a time, but no one listens to them. There are also restrictions on filters in factories, but it doesn’t seem like they are being followed either. 

Everything seems to be “voluntary.” For governmental officials these policies are enforced and required, but most people ignore them. 

What have you done at GEYK to help Climate Change? 

Participating in our youth organization, we have worked specifically on policies with the Seoul government in particular about pollution in the air. Ten members of GEYK are working on making a proposal for the government by suggesting they provide energy vouchers for people using electric vehicles. We also had a few members attend a meeting for the Paris Agreement and worked on a few documents.

In addition, we are in the process of publishing a book on recycling. GEYK received funding from a foundation that gave us several thousand Korean Won to write a book about recycling that is specific to Korean culture. We conducted 4-5 months of research, and now we hope the book will educate people on how to recycle well. Most of the stuff goes to the dump, so now, we are telling people how to be smarter with their waste themselves. The book will be released in July/August.

What does it mean to recycle here (in Korea)?

We do not have the same recycle culture as you the US such as can or bottle recycling machines in the supermarket- you can only find those in a few Giant Marts. But people do collect cardboard boxes to recycle for money. 

Every apartment building has recycling units, and it is becoming a daily habit for everyone to separate their garbage. There are also special bins for food waste, and we have companies that will then take those bins and make a giant compost of it. So, people are recycling very well but, the giant companies are not actually doing anything- they are just throwing everything away with the trash. We want to stop this from happening and educate the public about it. 

Do you have renewable energy? Solar Power? Wind Turbines? 

In Korea only about 4% of electricity is coming from renewables. 

In the city, there are not many houses just giant apartment complexes, so there are limited places to install solar panels. But in the countryside, solar panels are built so that people can earn money. People are given supplemental pension plans to help install a solar plant. 

Some headlamps and streetlamps are powered by solar panels, but not many because they don’t get a lot direct sun due to the pollution in Seoul. The government is trying to give incentives to people who want to construct solar panels on their apartments, but the incentive is not big enough to make it worth it. 

We have a few mountain ranges with some wind power plants, but a lot of the turbines are not moving. There is not much wind, so the government is hesitant to add in more because it might not be worth it due to our weather restrictions.

What is the millennial response to Climate Change?

Millennials are not as concerned here. It doesn’t affect their lives. They are not interested in the particulate dust and trying to get rid of air pollution. They notice the weather is getting hotter, so the millenials are aware of it happening, but seem to be more interested in employment and debt. The economic situation is more important-  the environment is not a priority. 

Are you feeling the weather is changing?

We have felt hotter summers and colder winters. We used to have four seasons, but Fall and Spring are gone. The weather changes abruptly. May was very hot, when it was never that hot. We are nervous for July and August. 

We are seeing the weather changes very vividly, and the climate feels more subtropical. A lot more tropical fruits are growing. 

How are the oceans?

Micro plastic is a global problem - the plastics are all over the sea. We used to eat a lot of pollocks but they are dwindling. The temperature increase is killing them off. 

There are some places in the ocean where the trash is just everywhere. We went on a fishing trip and instead of catching squid, we were catching trash! The islanders said there is no law or regulations about their trash, so they are just throwing things everywhere. Now, the fisherman are fishing and will catch trash instead of squid. 

What about plastics? How are Koreans cutting down their waste?

The consumption of plastic in Korea, per capita, is the biggest in the world (plastic bags and to go containers are very much used. There is a big “take-out” culture in Korea, so all of the to go containers just keep piling up. 

Now, some grocery stores are charging a fee per plastic bag that is used at check out.   

What about urban farming?

Vertical Gardens are very popular. Most of the big buildings have gardens on the roof, but mostly for recreational use, not for oxygen. Small farms are gaining popularity. People who have one acre land are now growing their own food. We call them “weekend farms.” 

Are organic foods popular?

Not really, we don’t have it here in Korea. In giant supermarkets they may have small organic sections. “Moms” want to buy organic foods in the grocery stores, but we do not know much about organic farming. 

How do you keep everything so clean here?

There is a very efficient group of people whose job is to keep the subway, roads, and parks clean. Also, throwing trash on the ground is illegal. We say “the Korean way is to keep it with you.” If you have trash you keep it on you until you get home, where you can properly recycle it. 

How do you receive funding for your organization?

There are several environmental groups in Korea that are funded by the government, but the little ones do not get funding and rely on donations from the people. However, people in Korea do not spend money on donating to non-profit organizations. There are not the same kinds of tax incentive. So, there are only 1 or 2 little Youth Environmental organizations, not too many. GEYK gets corporate funding. We are a volunteer organization, so we donate our time every weekend or after work. We all have other full time jobs.

Eryc: Thank you for your time ; it was such an amazing opportunity to be able to speak with your organization while we were on tour here  in Busan, South Korea. Getting a different perspective is also crucial to our understanding on how to make a global impact.

 ETD’s fight for Climate Change continues--stay tunned for more interviews, blogs and follow us online @eryctaylordance. To help join our fight consider supporting our program EARTH to help us match our grant from the Marta Heflin Foundation at ETD.nyc/earth.

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Prolific, with Pride: Gerald Busby, on Collaborating with Young Gay Artists by ETD

BY GERALD BUSBY

| Collaborating with young gay writers, filmmakers, and choreographers has been a major stimulus to my creative life as an 83-year-old composer. The same could be said of my association with young straight artists as well, though I’ve felt a special satisfaction, a completion really, in sharing my history as a gay artist with other gay artists who are 40 to 60 years younger than I.

At the beginning of my career, I accepted the conventional wisdom that the best environment in which to create was one of comfortable isolation. My mentor, the composer/critic Virgil Thomson, who got me an apartment at the Chelsea Hotel in 1977, suggested that I spend time at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, two artist colonies that are idyllic retreats from the distractions of day-to-day living. I wrote lots of music at those places and met many other artists, but I gradually realized that creativity, at least as far as I was concerned, depended more on social interaction than isolation. This has become increasingly true as I’ve gotten older.

John MacDermott, a friend for many years, contacted me not long ago to say he was engaged to a bright young composer/performer who wanted to meet me. His name was Jake Bellissimo, a 23-year-old transgender musician/performer who lives most of the year in Berlin, makes albums, and tours extensively in the U.S. and Europe. John took me to hear Jake perform at a cabaret in Brooklyn, and I was impressed with the intimate charm and invention of the songs.

Jake Bellissimo (seen here) and Gerald Busby’s “The Budding of a Rose” was created completely online. | Photo by John McDermott

There was no amplification, and Jake’s accompaniment was various musical instruments, some of them toys. Many of the songs told stories about being transgender, coming out to parents, and becoming engaged to a man 34 years older. Jake’s emotional singing ranged from whispers in your ear to sharply penetrating exclamations in full voice. Jake’s voice was steady and perfectly in tune, a quality perhaps acquired as a viola major at Eastman.

When Jake sent me a poem and asked me to set it to music, I was honored and delighted to do so. I asked them if they could sing and play the viola at the same time. They said yes, so I began a duet for one person. Jake liked my musical ideas and executed them perfectly, but there were textural problems when I wrote double stops (two notes at once) for the viola. Jake suggested pizzicato instead of double stops, and that worked perfectly. It was a real collaboration, and done completely online. It’s called The Budding of a Rose, Jake will record the song and take it on tour.

My collaborations with David Kagan, a young filmmaker, were exactly opposite the way I worked with Jake Belissimmo. I met David and his husband, Gabriel Beck, at a cabaret performance of my music by Adam Tendler and Brandon Snook. I invited them for tea at my place at the Chelsea Hotel. David gave me a short film called Do Not Feed Horses that he had created from footage he shot during his travels to South Korea and Ghana. He appeared in these distinctly foreign and exotic environments dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and a black tie. All his films, I came to discover, were self-portraits, and the ways he found to present himself were daring and surreal. He was an adventurer, and I liked that.

When he gave me his film to score, I was happy that he said nothing about what he expected the music to sound like, or exactly where he wanted each cue to be. I preferred to set David’s visual images to music the same way I set words and phrases in a poem, without any discussion with the author about meaning or intention. Several times, I’ve set poems to music without even reading through it. I decided I liked them after reading just the first line. I wanted each word, as I read it for the first time, to guide me to the right note.

A self-portrait of filmmaker David Kagen, whose “Regarded as a Hole,” featuring Gerald Busby, was shot in the under-renovation Chelsea Hotel.

When I finished composing the score for Do Not Feed Horses, I sent it to him with the understanding that he could edit my music any way he wished to make it fit as he liked. This reciprocal method of minimal discussion of expectations, David’s or mine, worked for us. It was my version of what I experienced when I wrote music for the 1977 Robert Altman film 3 Women. He allowed me, with no directions, to create any sounds I wished, to accompany his images. I never felt so empowered in my life. His trusting me with no considerations taught me to trust myself the same way. That method of working, I think, was the purest form of his genius. It epitomized inspiration.

Another film David and I did together, Regarded as a Hole, was shot at the Chelsea Hotel, where I live, during the renovation of apartments across the hall from me. David directed every detail, and we both appeared as ghosts/characters in the film. He read an original poem, Regarded as a Hole, and I sat wordlessly listening to every word. One scene was shot in the gutted interior of an apartment where Mildred Baker, a close friend, had lived for more than 40 years. I had often visited her and had dinner exactly where I sat to be hearing David intone his words. I felt like a ghost, and that made itself evident in the music I wrote for the film.

Choreographer Eryc Taylor and Gerald Busby’s “Dances on Wood” premiered at the Martha Graham Studio | Photo by Steven Menendez

Eryc Taylor, the creator of modern dances that have a distinctive sensuality, was a choreographer whose work I first encountered through a mutual friend, the painter Mark Beard, a prodigious producer of romantic homoerotic art. Mark was an admirer and supporter of Eryc’s and had more than once asked Eryc to model for him. Dancers and painters, especially gay ones, share a rigorous and meticulous fascination with the physiology of young male bodies.

I contacted Eryc through Facebook and asked him to come to my place at the Chelsea Hotel for tea and tunes. I have studio monitor speakers connected to my computer so I can give listeners a reasonably accurate sense of my music. Eryc seemed to like it, and we became fast friends. He already knew my music for Paul Taylor’s Runes and he had studied at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with Ruth Andrien, an original cast member of Runes. I also visited Eryc’s studio where he rehearses with his company and saw how organized he was and how responsive his dancers were to his choreography.

Eryc’s responses to my music were primarily intuitive. He responded to the spirit and rhythm of my music, not its form, something I remembered being true of Paul Taylor, when Runes was being created. Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist trying to interest Eryc in the music of Bach and Mozart, saying, “If I’m going to be Stravinsky to your Balanchine, you’ve got to know the greatest composers who ever lived.”

I wrote a suite called Dances on Wood, for piano and percussion ensemble. Each of the four movements was named for a different kind of wood. The piece was premiered by Eryc Taylor Dance at their annual New York season in the Martha Graham Studio. I couldn’t have been happier with the result. Eryc’s talent and good nature had totally transcended all my academic considerations about musical sophistication. He didn’t really want to be Balanchine. He was at his best being himself, and I was fortunate to work with him.

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Prolific, with Pride: Gerald Busby, on Collaborating with Young Gay Artists added by Scott Stiffler on June 23, 2019

Guest Blog by ETD Composer, Daniel Tobias! by Eryc Taylor

DANIEL TOBIAS & ERYC TAYLOR DANCE
By Daniel Tobias

 I first met Eryc Taylor in 2010 in the Pilates class he was teaching. I can’t remember exactly how toning my midsection led to composing for his dance company. Just one of those New York City serendipities. But not many months passed before I’d composed “The Missing” for his dance company - a seven-minute piano solo. I was new to the world of modern dance, so I tried to absorb everything. I went to his dance retreat. I attended rehearsals. I watched every video I could find on modern dance. By the time The Missing was premiered, I’d composed another seven-minute chamber piece for his company – “Song for Cello and Piano” – which integrated even more romanticism and movement. Then the raw, emotional, athletic “The Missing” became a huge hit that season. And then “Song for Cello and Piano” became an audience favorite.

Does Eryc’s choreography match the movement in my head as a composer? Not at all. But Eryc’s choreography always adds a schizophrenic complexity to the experience. He salivates at the opportunity to challenge assumptions. In that regard, we’re very much aligned. Also, literalism in modern dance is just plain tedious, isn’t it?

After two projects, I understood what turned Eryc on creatively: passion, dark souls, eruptions of emotions, and a solid narrative. He played in a ball game I wanted more tickets to. At the end of 2016 I composed a full orchestral piece called “The Lure” that climactically complimented “The Missing” and “Song for Cello and Piano.” It was a big twelve-minute thing - dark, foreboding, twisted, and romantic.

However, we learned the hard way that recording a full orchestra in New York City is both prohibitively expensive and nearly impossible unless you’ve the resources of The Met or The Disney Corporation. It was so frustrating because I shed blood and tears composing that monster! But good things grow out of mulch, and I sat my butt down and finally learned Logic Pro once and for all. Does any music software provide the perfect replication of an orchestra? Of course not! But it allowed me to render my own compositions without having to shell out thirty thousand for a full orchestra and recording studio. And it opened the door to the next phase of compositions: Eryc’s extraordinarily epic EARTH series.

Listen…I get it.

There’s nothing more tedious than to read a composer’s process. Typically the process is always esoteric and infused with academic bombast – as if the composer is still seeking approval from professors at Juilliard or The University of California, Berkeley. I studied at both. I know the kind of scholasticism that gets academia’s rocks off. And I don’t care. I’m not seeking tenure. I’m not a misfit in dark-rimmed glasses who pretends human ears haven’t been exposed to a full century of movie music. I’ve Meisner-trained emotional access. Also, as a social dancing addict, I refuse to ignore the body below my neck. I want my blood, core, limbs, and nether regions stimulated by music - not just my left cranial lobe. I write music that moves limber sweaty dancers, and, more importantly, moves me. I need lyricism and musical narratives, and I won’t compose without either.

So…along came Eryc’s rather epic request:

“Daniel, will you please write a twelve to fifteen minute piece of music that represents the Creation of Earth?”  

I blinked twice, swallowed hard, and replied, “Umm…sure, Eryc, no problem.”

“And Daniel, would you drop everything and have it finished in three weeks?”

“Umm…sure Eryc, no problem.”

I wiped the shine off my forehead.

Oooh, what am I getting myself into?

Secretly, I actually loved the challenge, and Eryc knew I’d drop everything and work 24/7 until I got it done. Even at the expense of paying my rent.

God, what a bastard!  

So, how does one even tackle a musical representation of The Creation of Earth? One researches everything one can about Earth’s history. One hunts for anything that makes an emotional impact, from geology to physics to astronomy. In the end I felt completely justified in concluding that the word collision would be the emotional center and through-line of my piece.

Somewhere in infinity, two dust particles accidentally collided, and Earth was initiated. Over billions of years more dust particles collided into these original two, eventually growing to generate heat from the ever-increasing friction of collisions - the same friction that sustains Earth’s molten core today. Asteroids collided by chance into our planet over billions of years and brought with them the elements that would create water. Theia collided into Earth and sheered off a piece that would become the Moon. The collisions of tectonic plates would produce volcanic combustions that radically altered Earth’s temperature pendulously, creating and destroying life over and over, long before dinosaurs appeared. Finally, after continental collisions upheaved the Himalayas, Earth arrived at the very delicate, precarious, pristine, and momentary arrival point in which mammals could survive and flourish.

All that gave me a dynamic palate I could use, but it was still sort of cerebral. I needed an emotional context to draw out the musical themes.

And I found it.

There's a poignant, spiritual beauty (represented in the last third of the music) where Earth seems to take a deep breath, sigh, and indulge a short respite from all the turbulence it suffered in order to arrive at the Time of Mammals. Earth in its present state is in a serene pause, but one that only exists in the eye of a hurricane. To me this is very moving. To know that, sadly, no matter what we do on Earth and to Earth, according to the long-term pattern, it would be consistent that another collision will eventually wipe life out entirely yet again.

All we can do is be as full and present as we can in the short time that Man has left in this solar system. To be fully alive - for all our joy, tragedy, and impermanence - is our obligation and our role to play before the next collision that renews Earth once again.

So Earth’s Creation became all about the emotional dynamic of collisions vs. serenity.

And I tried to synthesize all that in…um…twelve minutes.

Yup.

Bombastic?

Yup.

Too much brass?

Maybe.

Well, YOU try creating the entire Earth in three weeks!

This last March, at the performance of Earth’s Creation, I opened the program and learned something I’d previously not known.

I cornered Eryc at the reception, “Um…Eryc…sweetheart…I see in the program that I will be composing two more pieces.”

“Yes,” he affirmed. “Oh! Didn’t you know that?”

“No.”

“I’m sure I mentioned it.”

“No.”

“It was a last minute decision. Civilizations Rise is your next piece. Twelve to fifteen minutes. Your choreographer is Gierre. You guys worked well together in the past. You have until the middle of May to finish it.”

“Fine,” I answered. “But in return, you have to let me use your apartment for the table reading of the play I finished.”

“All yours. C’mon, let’s take pictures!”

Oh, boy.

I suppose I could sell my body to pay rent. Or write a Romance – those do well. Or go back into the corporate world. Uggh. None of which I’d now have time for anyway. My heart beat fast trying to reconcile writing Civilizations Rise and finance.

God, I wish my brain worked faster!

God, I wish I lived in the days when composers had patrons!

The truth is I really did want to work with Gierre again. I love the muscularity and musicality of his choreography. And Eryc knew full well I couldn’t say no to this.

What a bastard!

So…how does one attempt to rope in ALL of civilization into twelve to fifteen minutes? It’s an insane goal. For a week this challenge had me stumped. Until, mid boot-camp at New York Sport Club, it occurred to me that all civilizations – from ancient ones to today – have one thing in common: civilizations can only form when its citizens put the needs of the many above the needs of the one. Jane doesn’t just plow Dick down when she wants to drive through the intersection. Jane agrees to wait for the light to turn green before accelerating. The more I thought about this, the more profound and noble that idea of self-sacrifice became.

And that was the starting point for my piece.

Once I had a starting point, I had something I could develop and variate. I had something I could color. Then I could contrast it with the middle section. Personally, I’m pretty proud of that middle six minutes of the march. It gets my heart racing. It’s suspenseful. It makes my body want to move. It slowly and sinuously crescendos to a climax and then de-crescendos in eerie chromaticism. Then that noble French horn duet emerges out of that swamp of eeriness. Very Pines of Rome. Very early Stravinsky.

“Daniel, stop composing for the masses. You’re far too populist.”

“I don’t care, Professor of Music Theory! Go alienate another audience with one of your Twelve-Tone lectures in a dark museum somewhere! Ughh!”

I shouldn’t say things like that. That attitude will never get me to Carnegie Hall. But maybe a gig scoring Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Universal Orlando.

Anyway…

What is that march in the middle? Is it the trampling down of human rights and the fragile eggs of endangered species in the name of progress? Is it the construction of an Egyptian or Mayan pyramid using thousands of slaves? Or is it just some contrapuntal reference to Mesopotamia and other ancient civilizations?

A lot of ideas kicked this piece into gear, sure. But, honestly, after week upon week of writing all through the night, I sort of dropped agendas and just wrote music that felt good. That stimulated me from head to heel. Plus I was determined NOT to merely loop digital music samples in the Rise of Civilization! No, no, no! All fourteen minutes and seven seconds are fully orchestrated, Eryc Taylor, and you’re welcome!

What is the final take-away of the music to Rise of Civilization?

I sat in Hells Kitchen, New York City, writing every note. From my desk window in my little apartment I can see the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Intrepid, Times Square, and the park where they filmed the last scene of West Side Story. This incredible metropolis is the final act of centuries of sacrifice, cooperation, creativity, and vision. It’s profoundly inspirational to think man has the ability to work together in order to coexist, thrive, and achieve such great things. So, if we can work together to grow to the point where we’ve put Earth in peril, do we not have the ability to work together to heal Earth?

I think we do.

Perhaps that is the final message of this piece.

Listen to it yourself and let me know.

Whatever it is, it took a big, beautiful, hair-greying journey to get to it.

I’m grateful to my friend Eryc Taylor, as always…but mostly for motivating me to get to the gym just in case my husband divorces me for falling short of the rent. But Civilization had to Rise! 

ABOUT DANIEL

Daniel studied at University of California, Berkeley and The Juilliard School of Music. Daniel’s debut book “The Next” was a Lammy Award finalist for Best Mystery of 2014 under the pen name Rafe Haze. He taught the Meisner Technique of Acting for the Bay Area Acting Studio for a decade. He competes regularly in line dance choreography competitions, and won First Place in 2016 at the Fort Wayne Dance For All Line Dance Choreography Competition. You can find him West Coast Swinging, Two Stepping, or Line Dancing in New York City at least three times a week. In the works are: 1) a new play entitled “Be Still Be Silent,” 2) a new novel by Rafe Haze, 3) a backstage theater book for children, and 4) a song cycle to benefit the Japanese victims of the Tsunami of 2011. Daniel’s greatest credential is his husband of 18 years, Gerardo Torres, the Executive Chef of Masa, Bar Masa, Kappo Masa, and Tetsu. No, Gerardo never cooks for Daniel at home aside from quesadillas, but he loves him to death anyway.

Contact: daniel@danieltobias.com