Stretch of road near 6749 W KL Ave.
Stretch of road near 6749 W KL Ave.
42.281286, -85.682127 : Directions
From the day I drove into Kalamazoo for the first time anticipating the start of grad school at Western Michigan University in 1988, I fell in love with two roads where 100-200-plus-year-old trees offered a beautiful canopy for all to appreciate; Oakland Drive & KL Avenue. The subject of my piece is focused on the nine trees that were removed from KL Ave (West of 9th Street) to grounded stumps, leaving the future life of these trees to continue underground.
Our road was amidst a sewage pipe project back in 2017. Unrevealed circumstances led to their removal. We returned from a week’s long trip to Mississippi, to experience the sun’s blinding glare as a result of these trees’ absence. Sick to my core’s being, I vowed to write a piece for these trees! The Connecting Chords Music Festival’s “Music In Place” commission was the nudge needed to bring this piece into reality.
Luckily, I took video footage of the tree stumps back then. All along, I visualized the banjo representing the trees. I didn’t know it would involve two banjos! Two years ago, I fell in love with the minstrel banjo as performed by Rhiannon Gidden’s soulful “Julie” performance. Soon after, I ordered one to be hand built.
Having the two banjos offered complimentary melodic threads (like overlapping swaying tree limbs) that are uniquely independent at times, yet happy to intertwine, and capable of sharing space and time. After the tuneful representation of the trees comes the middle section. This part aims to express the unrelenting removal of the trees by powered machines, exerting the vision lacking desires of a few. I allowed the music to get so lost that it was a murky muddy quest to somehow get back to some semblance of the beauty of the nature that once was represented by the opening banjo duet.
Recently, I gained the realization that the trees are still alive below the surface. That not only provided a change of title and redirection as to how this piece would conclude, but a slight sense of comfort knowing that they’re still communicating in this universe of ours. The dulcimer solo which enters after the tree’s destruction, offers a clue to the rebirth of an altered existence for these trees. This experience is not too different than the one that most of us have experienced during our current pandemic situation. It is very poignant for this piece to enter at this time for reflection.
Laurie A. Jarski
Banjo, Minstrel Banjo, Dulcimer & Percussion
C.O.R.E.tet String Quartet:
Sofie Yang– Violin I
Jaclyn Ruedisueli Burke – Violin II
Carlos Raul Lozano – Viola
Laurie A. Jarski – Cello
Composer, cellist, singer/songwriter, guitarist and owner of Broughton Music Center & Northville Center for Music & Art, Laurie A. Jarski is a professional cellist in the Presence of Three Trio, Red Willow Dream, the Battle Creek Symphony, C.O.R.E.tet String Quartet, and principal cellist with The National Women’s Music Festival Orchestra under Nan Washburn.
Laurie has composed commissioned works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, choir, and a variety of chamber ensemble pieces.
Her current compositional endeavors are women focused – one project honors pioneering women of the professional orchestra world (Lois Schaefer, flutist of The Boston Symphony, and Winifred Mayes, cellist of Philadelphia Orchestra); another explores the powerful rhythm of speech possessed by some of the great women in our history: Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Kiran Bedi, Hillary Clinton, Viola Davis, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Michelle Obama, Michelle Bachelet, and Queen Elizabeth II.