Oh, To Be Free

The Liberty Bell The world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.

– Helen Keller


The Liberty Bell: cracked, broken, vulnerable, imperfect. It is no mistake that she is an enduring symbol of freedom, for the condition of the bell is not far from the current state of liberty and justice in this mysterious existence we call “the world.” The bell gives those who encounter her an invitation to reflect on the sting, wound, and struggle wrapped up in the expedition to seek deliverance.

And though I am writing this post on USA’s Memorial Day, I am not solely referring to the sacrifices made by military men and women in various wars and conflicts around the world. I am summoning the reality of the oppressed, downtrodden, and disenfranchised; the men, women, and children who have suffered, and continue to suffer under iron fists, in conditions of poverty, in places of total despair.

What is freedom if freedom has no cause? Freedom from what? Freedom for what? Humanity can only understand the nature of freedom when posed with its absence, either partially or completely. And so, on this Memorial Day, it is appropriate to remember those who have lost their dignity, those who cannot feed their children, those who find peace in death rather than in life.

Four years ago, I wrote a piece scored for mixed choir and string orchestra, called “Liberty.” In it, I attempt to communicate these elements of freedom in a slow, sorrowful, and plaintive lament. Please listen to the piece in its entirety below:

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San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble
Nicole Paiement, conductor

Some Summertime

A field of sunflowers

May 2008 will reach its inexorable conclusion on Saturday the 31st, ushering in a brand new month the following day. Even though Summer doesn’t begin until June 21st, early June marks a temporary finale of some time-consuming commitments

June inaugurates the beginning of the travel season, and I am happy to say that this Summer, unlike the last, I will be traveling quite a bit. Destinations include London (England), camping in Northern California, New York City, and Las Vegas.

My blog will likely get a face-lift in between travels. I have additional plans for content, including a re-exposition of my older compositions, chronicles of family laid to rest in a Salinas cemetery, architectural reviews of my favorite Catholic churches in San Francisco, among other items. I should be composing quite a bit during the Summer months, too, and will likely include some score samples and digital mock-ups of my work. Please check back for updates.

Plans for travel, hobbies, ways to be constructive, and room for some laziness, too . . . isn’t that what Summer is all about? I think so.