Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Waco Variations a novel

This book came to me long after I'd decided that the writing side of my life was best expressed in articles, essays, and blog entries.  But, to adapt an old cliche,  this novel is what happened when I was making other plans.

The book is (of course) about music.  It's also about survival and recovery.  I've included a short description:

On April 20, 1993, sixteen-year-old Cassie watches her world burn to the ground. A week later—far from Waco, TX and the Branch Davidean fire that claimed her family, friends, savior, and the only life she had ever known—Cassie enters a new life—a strange new ‘normal’ life after being ripped from a cult and forced to function in routine society with little knowledge of how to navigate reality.
Cassie has just two goals: to play the piano and to learn how to be normal. Her love of music, especially the music of J.S Bach, is her only thread to a past she buries under her “normal” fa├žade, the thread that holds her together where therapy and religion fail. But Cassie’s habit of using music to hide from her emotions fails her and she must grieve the truth about losing her family and her world in the Waco fire and begin to let time, and Bach, heal her.  And only through that music can she dare to feel the loss of her parents.
The Waco Variations celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit and the healing power of music. 
This story is available on

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Three Intermezzi by Paul Schoenfield

I was introduced to Paul Schoenfield’s music a couple of years ago when the Oregon Symphony performed one of his compositions.  It blew me away.  The next day I wrote him a fan email and was thrilled by his quick reply.  When I purchased a copy of his piano duet, “5 Days in the Life of a Manic-Depressive”, Paul graciously included his Three Intermezzi as a gift.

These three introspective pieces are works he says he wrote just to please himself, specifically, “music my hands feel like touching and sounds my ears enjoy perceiving.  The music is intimate, serene and contemplative.  It’s the sort of music I improvise at night with the lights out and the house empty.”

I’ve included all three Intermezzi in this post because I feel they progress so beautifully from one to the next.  It’s rare to find modern music that borrows much from the past (Bach and Brahms are two influences) yet is still fresh.  The challenge, of course, is to allow it to sound improvised, all the while never losing sight of the introspective nature of each one.  They’ve been a joy to learn.

The videos were shot by my friend Bob Wall, in my home.

To order a copy of this lovely music: