Over the last four years, it has been a fortunate musical and poetic journey for me to create work for individuals all over the country...

These pieces have been purely instrumental, and sometimes with spoken words. They have been created as gifts for loved ones, as medicine pieces for a passage in a person's life, as part of a celebration of an important event, a wedding or an anniversary, and as recognitions for loved ones who have passed. 

The commission for a Musical Portrait is $500. If you have an idea for a piece, call me at 541-973-7415. Here are some examples of these pieces:

 "On The Malecon - For George and Travis" - a piece created as a gift for two men who were getting married in Seattle in the summer of 2011. 

Here is an example of a piece I created recently, as a Christmas gift from a woman to her husband - it is called "A Dance In The Home Of Your Love ~ For Jim":

Here are four other musical portraits, along with a little of the background on their creation:

The first is The Universe In Star Time ( For Amorah Quan Yin), which I completed in Ft. Collins, CO at the home of June Konopka, in a big temple room that has been the site of many deeply sacred ceremonies and much healing work. I was fortunate to be able to stay at June's and to be able to set up my gear in this room - it had a huge spacious feel, and this was appropriate for the piece, since it is created for a major spiritual teacher I had been fortunate to do some recording for and who was interested in hearing what I would come up with, given the task of bringing through such a piece. There was a theme that came through that to me felt like a starscape opening up, and then a hymn - like melody that I love - both of which feel very appropriate for Amorah. So this is another new instant favorite of mine - and I hope you enjoy it as well.....

Another is called "Down Wisdom Road". It was created as a gift from another friend of mine, to her husband, and I had an interesting set of characteristics to consider as I worked on this piece. After my first conversation with this man, it was clear that he had a very wide-ranging and rich connection to music - classical music, African music - all kinds of, and especially, very fine music that evocatively brings up the stuff of life that was clearly, to me, a reflection of his own inner world. To weave together these sensibilities, as well as the sense of this man's journey through life was a very interesting prospect, which I undertook with curiosity and delight, since I would be able to work with a palette of sounds a bit out of the range of what I have done previously. After spending some time with some musical ideas, a feeling began to emerge of something like a quest, something with some nobility to it, as well as a sense of discovery and real finding. I wasn't completely sure I was on the right track, so I scheduled another conversation with him, and after talking to him about what I was up to I was encouraged for two reasons. One, he said, "this may be something I put on my Ipod and listen to all the time or not - the point is I am trusting you to create something that seems right to you" - I am paraphrasing here, but just the sense that he had comfort with the relationship was very helpful. And, two, after delving a bit more deeply into the feeling that was emerging, I did actually feell I might be tapping into something that was in alignment with his life path. What emerged from there was a further development of the piece, where the initial sense of propulsion drops into something deeper and carries through to a sense of resolution that seemed to me to be the real reason for the journey to begin with.

Creating this Musical Portrait was another reminder of the fascinating alchemy involved in attempting to create music for another - mysterious and rewarding!

Here is the Musical Portrait I created called Man Under the Night Sky - This one was created as a gift from a friend of mine, Kim, to her husband, Jeff, on the occasion of his birthday. In order to do it, since it was a surprise for him, I had to interview six of his friends, over the course of a month or so, and piece together a feeling for his extraordinary life, which includes flying, arctic exploration, and sleeping out under the stars most nights of the year. I eventually arrived at this melody, which was initially composed as a song with lyrics, but eventually took the shape of an instrumental with cello as the lead voice. The piece was performed at his surprise birthday party with all his friends in attendance - for me it was a stunning experience, to get to know the man through his friends and then to create some music that hopefully will be a touchstone for him over many years.

Here is a video of one of my Musical Portraits - "Lydia and the Trees". Lydia is an occupational therapist in Nashville, TN, who came to one of my concerts and after purchasing my album, decided she wanted to have me create a Musical Portrait for her. 

Since I didn't know her except for meeting her at the performance, I needed a process that would help me get the sense of who she was, so I started with a phone interview, asking her various things like what were some of her first memories of music, and what kind of art she liked. I wanted to get a feel of what kinds of expression she gravitated towards, and also if there was any sort of theme that I could connect with in creating her portrait. One thing she shared was that her response to a lot of my music was that it was emotional, and that she was hoping her portrait would be " hopeful". 

So then I went to work, spent at least ten hours thrashing around with various different ideas - good musical ideas - but none that seemed to really spark the feeling of connection with her. I decided I needed to talk with her again, and scheduled a call for the next day. My thought was to just spend some time hanging out with her on the phone, finding out about her week and so forth - I needed some kind of feeling to go on that was really authentic to who she is.

After rambling around for awhile, she started talking about a tree farm she had inherited, a place in West Tennessee of old growth forest, and wetlands, with cedar, pine, sycamore, persimmon trees - she spoke about going and walking there and taking pictures and how she was aware that this place would not necessarily ever be a money maker for her and her sisters who had inherited it, but that it was a legacy that she needed to take care of and leave better than she found it. At that moment I knew this was her portrait. After I got off the phone, it took me about two hours to play the piano melody that came through and to add three cellos to fill it out.

This portrait is such a good example of what I love about creating these pieces. There is something so unique about each of you - each of the people I meet. And whether I know your whole life story or not, I do get some kind of sense from people about what there struggles and loves have been - and somehow, it can turn into music! There is something quite heartening about that for me....

I have right now three more of these Portraits in the process of being created. In some cases, the subject will let me share them and I will put them out to my list or even include on an album. In other cases, they wish the music to just be their own. Either way, this feels like something I am going to keep doing, as the flow of requests keeps coming in. 

If you have a sense of how this could be a good gift for your own good self, or for someone you want to honor, let me know. I can be reached at 541-973-7415.

Last, but by far not least, I wanted to share with you my first Musical Portrait. This one is for someone who has meant a great deal to me in my life - someone who I was fortunate to meet from my playing in the Park, and who was instrumental in encouraging me in the basic concept of creating "personal music" for people.