The First NP Video ~ Carlsbad Caverns in NM!

Zoom session with Chromatic Stories Film Crew based out of Las Cruces, NM

The very first video of the National Parks project is coming up the end of October at Carlsbad Caverns National Park!

I spent a week in New Mexico in 2015 to perform Lon’s beautiful piece Carlsbad but didn’t make it to the Caverns. They look absolutely gorgeous in pictures…can’t wait to see them in person!

I plan to always hire a film crew from the state that the park is in and I hit on a gold mine with Chromatic Stories, a group based out Las Cruces. From the short films I’ve seen them do, they are incredibly creative and master storytellers. I don’t want to give away too many details but the story they are painting for the Carlsbad video looks amazing…so excited to be a part of the process and to watch it all come together.

I am happy with the amount of time I’ve given myself to memorize the piece. I’m not feeling rushed and that’s good because I’ve found out that I’ll need to continue preparing in a whole new way. While talking with the video crew at one of our zoom sessions I discovered that we aren’t, according to Park regulations, allowed to “emit sound” which of course makes a music video a tad difficult!

I am going out today to pick up a bow that has zero rosin on it and then will need to learn how to control it (it slides all over the place with no rosin) so that the bow will be on the string but there will be no sound coming out.

When I get my bow rehaired a couple times a year the person I get it from has already put a bunch of rosin on so I didn’t even know what it was like to play with no rosin until several different students over the years have come into lessons with a violin they purchased online that had zero rosin and therefore zero sound.

I’ll be putting up little videos on how it goes on Facebook if you’re interested in following along. It’ll be an adventure for sure!

I’ve learned one very important lesson in the process of preparing for this video shoot (I think that’s what you call it…or maybe filming session…?) I don’t know but they all sound cool 😉

… and that’s to not buy my outfits too early! I was so proud of myself for having the dresses lined up and ready to go a year in advance. Of course, I didn’t have much else to do a year ago… Much to my chagrin, I discovered that they are too small now, when I need to actually wear them. Rather than stress about losing pounds I decided to get new ones. They are so pretty…I love and will create any excuse to dress up 😉

I do believe you’ve been all caught up! Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter and follow on Facebook to get the latest stories and random behind the scenes videos at the shoot in October!

Website Is Live to the World!! is up and running!

Website is ready!!! This website has been a long time in coming. I was totally gung-ho in 2014 with the Green Dot Journey Project which involved the composer competition and driving scenic (road atlas green dot) roads across the US while doing house concerts.

The composer competition was a complete success and I’m so happy I did it. The driving, house concert tour….not so much. I’ve learned a lot since then about planning vs. preparing and not counting my chickens before they hatch and that sort of thing.

Even though I’ll always have a soft spot for the Green Dot project I am happy to finally be letting it go, quite literally since my domain just expired!

This time, instead of trying to combine my love of music and my love of road trips, I am replacing the Green Dot Project with 2 different projects/websites. The first is the National Parks commissioning and video project as you see here, and the second is a road trip travel blog which I hope to have up and running in 2022.

I’ll be sharing all my driving adventures separate from my music adventures. Although, I’m sure there will be overlap since I’ll be visiting National Parks for the music videos and for the road trip blog as well.

Yep, so there it is in a nutshell. The new me that actually hasn’t changed all that much. I’ve just given myself more room to breathe and enjoy all the wonderful things that life has to offer. There is no rush, I have a life time to discover composers, learn new music, visit all the National Parks, and have a ton of scenic road trip adventures!

You can sign up for the newsletter here if you’re interested in coming along for the ride!

Just for fun, here is a screen shot from the Green Dot Journey website, 2014 courtesy of artists and web designers Sara & Rob Zimmerman.

Indiana Dunes NP Composition

I am really excited to learn, record, and do the video of  this beautiful piece  in 2021.  I am originally from  IN, as well as Jeffrey, and having gone to the Indiana Dunes State Park several times as a kid it was great to see it become our newest National Park in 2019. 

Here is a bit of back ground on the composition in the composer Jeffrey Hoover’s words. “To paraphrase an idea from Leo Tolstoy’s book What is Art?, I believe that true art can not only emerge from “native soil” but also from “native sand.” Although I grew up in Northern Indiana, I didn’t experience the Indiana Dunes for myself until I was an adult. ‘Such an opportunity I missed in my youth, but later I was able to take in this marvelous and unique place where the northern edge of State of Indiana and Lake Michigan caress each other. To consider the wildlife, human inhabitation, and the natural landscape and geology leaves one with a sense of awe.

To be honest, it wasn’t an easy to write this music, as the features and history of the Indiana Dunes presented a great and wonderful challenge for musical representation. After all, I’m a Hoosier. I was born in Indiana and grew up in Indiana. I wrote and re-wrote this music. You see, it’s not easy to funnel our experiences into just what we can hear. To help with all this, I did come up with an idea that seemed natural. I presented each movement as a “picture postcard,” with the concept of a single thought being scrawled rapidly in my tight handwriting on the back of it. I know this “dates me” and reveals where I fall on a larger timeline of popular cultural history, (who talks about “picture postcards” these days) but again, I have to be honest.

Part memory and part imagination, the vivid images in my mind suggested what had to be composed, and how it would be composed:

• “i ran the dunes” with feet plowing through shifting sand, centering around the pitch “A 440” (the common tuning note of the violin and the full symphony orchestra), while the interval of the minor second (a half-step) keeps shifting and twisting the melody;

• Drones and undulating passages, with musical fountains erupting, mimicking how “the crashing breakers look cold to me”;

• Standing on the Lake Michigan shore, one can see “the old paper mill” on the shoreline, in this music representing the presence of contemporary Man. The mechanical rhythms and the occasional waspishness of the music reminds us of the process used to create paper.

• “a great Blue Heron” stands proud, portraying the wildlife of the Indiana Dunes;

• “i saw heat lightning over the lake” is a personal sharing of the visual experience of the pyrotechnics of heat lightning in Northern Indiana in the summer;

• “you should have seen the sugar dance” shares the energy felt when seeing a preserved cultural dance by First Nations peoples of Northern Indiana (I personally grew up in a town – Kewanna, Indiana – named after an important Pottawatomie Chief, Chief Key-wan-nay);

• “the sky was on fire from the sunset” in some respects is a bookend to “i ran the dunes.” Long, linear musical gestures reflect the waves of the water and the sunset over Lake Michigan.”


Composer Biography:

Jeffrey Hoover’s works – ranging from soloist to symphony orchestra – have received recognition through the Premio Musicale Città di Trieste (symphonic composition), the 2° Concorso Internazionale L. Russolo (electro-acoustic music), Mu Phi Epsilon, the Lancaster Fine Arts Festival, Universal Edition / SMP Press Contemporary Music award, grants, publications fellowships and more than 25 commissions. He is a member of the ACME roster of Mu Phi Epsilon, recognized for distinguished achievement as a composer.

One unique aspect of Hoover’s creative output is the joining of his compositions with his paintings, creating synergetic works that intrigue and captivate audiences and performers. His work is seen in exhibitions and in concerts where his paintings are projected while musicians perform his music. Hoover’s experience as a performer includes both classical and jazz music, as saxophonist and conductor. His book The Arts and Society: Making New Worlds is published by Kendall Hunt Publishing.

Jeffrey Hoover was born on September 11, 1959, in Anderson, Indiana. He holds a Ph.D. in Fine Arts (Composition and Interdisciplinary Fine Arts) from Texas Tech University, as well as a M.M. and Bch.Sc. from Ball State University. His career in higher education has included both faculty and administrative appointments.

Contacting the Composer Directly

+1 (309) 264-9631

Connecticut House Concert, 2014

I still remember the day when my very first house concert was booked for the Green Dot Journey tour. It was by 2 of my closest friends, the kind of friends that are with you through thick and thin. In my particular case, friends that stay constant and supportive through all of my crazy ideas, best listeners ever, and have the best advice ever. Jen, Jim and I have spent hours over the last decade, cooking, drinking, and chatting together until the wee hours of the morning.

They sadly moved away a couple years ago and I really miss hanging out and shootin’ the breeze with them. On the bright side (pre covid anyway) I was seeing them several times a year (and will again) at their beautiful home on Vashon Island (they have the best cider tastings ever on Vashon!) and at their cabin on the river (have such good memories of sitting in the river with a beer watching the sun set and talking…always talking…pulling the world apart and putting it back together again). I am truly fortunate to have friends such as these and am counting the days to when covid is over and I can see them again…

Wow, I got totally (and happily) off track. Yeah, so they were the first to book a concert on the new fangled booking system on my new fangled website. I was soooo excited back then. You had to scrape me off the ceiling to get me to sit still. Anyway, I performed the concert for Jen & Jim, Jen’s dad Mal, and their family and friends in Connecticut. The beautiful, old home was full of history and stories which Jen was able to fill me in on, with her vast store of historical knowledge.

It was a great concert with wonderful people and beautiful music, thanks to Jen, Jim, and Mal and the Green Dot Competition winners.

House Concert in Connecticut at the Holloway House
Visiting Jen and Jim at their home in Vashon, Washington

Ohio House Concert, 2015

In 2015 I had the pleasure of playing a house concert in Ohio for parent’s of a friend of mine from college. Lindsey, now married to Joe, both musicians, sang and played the piano during the program. I played a Bach concerto and several compositions by Green Dot Competition winners. And then the three of us performed the last piece on the program together.

Wally, one of the Green Dot winners lives in Ohio and was able to come out and see the concert, so of course I programmed his piece Suite America. He happily gave the audience a very personal background on the piece, what it meant to him, and how it came to be. I just love moments like that.

That concert feels like a lifetime ago, and in a way I guess it kind of was. A ton has happened (and not happened) in the last six years. There were a lot of ups and downs emotionally and creatively during that time. By 2015 the Green Dot Journey project had turned out differently than planned and I couldn’t help but be sad, even though the composer competition part of the project was absolutely amazing. I’ve learned a lot, these last few years, about so many things and know (hopefully) what to do this time to make it happen.

Currently, with the whole covid thing, I appreciate those moments of audience connection even more, having not performed live in what seems like forever. Virtual concerts are all well and good and I appreciate them as a creative outlet but I really, really, really miss connecting with a live audience. I don’t know how long it will take for things to get back to normal or what that new normal will look like but I do know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m waiting with bated breath…

Lon Chaffin, Carlsbad Caverns NP Composer

Carlsbad Caverns is a perfect fit for Lon Chaffin who lives not far from the park. In 2015 he invited me to visit New Mexico to conduct several clinics at New Mexico State University where he is chairman of the music department. He also set up a performance of his piece Carlsbad at the Branigan Cultural Center in Las Cruces. Lon is a wonderful person, great composer, and a graphic designer as well. I look forward to seeing him again when it’s time to film his piece in Carlsbad Caverns!

Performance of Carlsbad at the Branigan Cultural Center, Las Cruces New Mexico

Memories of the Green Dot Journey Competition

Vanessa with the 2 competition judges and most of the winners.
Polina wasn’t able to make it to the premiere in Reno but Vanessa met her a couple months later and was given a grand tour of New Haven, CT, of Yale, and of Polina’s favorite park in the area.

Putting this new website together has been a fun trip down memory lane. The competition was a highlight for me and I look forward to connecting with the composers again to put together the promised Green Dot Journey CD recording of their pieces. This video, put together by Andrew Ardans sums it up perfectly!

Suite America by Wallace DePue Sr., Green Dot Journey Competition Winner

Wallace DePue Sr.’s Suite America commemorates the beautiful landscapes and waterways of America and Canada from the Cape Breton Highlands of Nova Scotia to the sand dunes of Michigan to the turbulent waters of Niagara Falls. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, DePue’s musical gifts were recognized and cultivated from an early age as showcased in the premiere performance of his first operetta libretto at his high school graduation ceremony. As a concert pianist, he would go on to perform on the Arthur Godfrey and Horace Heidt shows during the 1950s. Following the completion of a Master of Arts Degree at Ohio State University and a Doctoral Degree in Music Composition from Michigan State University (under the guidance of Dr. H. Owen Reed), DePue joined the faculty of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and retired in 1998. DePue composes music every day and is currently immersed in his latest musical endeavor, The Wonderful Witch of Oz, an opera that addresses mankind’s responsibility toward nature.    Website

Frank Felice, Glacier NP Composer

Jules Pegram, Vanessa, and Frank Felice – after the Green Dot Journey Concert Premiere

Frank and I go wayyyy back. He was my Composition and Form & Analyses teacher in my undergraduate at Butler University. He was a mainstay when I was putting together the Green Dot Journey Composer Competition in 2014 and also one of the judges for the competition. Now he is a part of my newest project and has written a beautiful piece representing Glacier National Park. When he heard about the project he asked right away to be given permission for this particular park as Montana is his home state, incredibly gorgeous state that it is. I can’t wait to visit!!

To describe Frank, other than the wonderful, personable, friendly, and helpful soul that I know personally, I’ve included a quote from his website… “An eclectic composer who writes with a postmodern mischievousness: his pieces can be comedic/ironic, simple/complex, or humble/reverent. Recent music has taken a turn towards the sweeter side, exploring a consonant adiatonicism. ”

I look forward to recording and sharing his beautiful piece with you. Sheet music is already available and the recording, if all goes as planned, will be finished in January of 2021 and then the video filmed in Glacier National Park a short time after that…so excited!!