Fragile Beauty, a blog by Bill Stevens: Vol. 2, No. 7 - One Day at a Time...

As one day moves into the next during our continuing saga of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's as though time is at a standstill. It is for this reason that I have made the decision to put on hold any further blog posts and/or Newsletter distribution. If you are like me, much of what is written or presented has caught my attention, but only momentarily. I, like everyone else has their COVID stories or new music to chart this time that we are in and I do hope that you will read and listen to my contributions when the time is right for you. Much of the stories are interesting, profound, distressing, sad, literally every emotion that you can think of. And the music, art, dance presentations although running the gamut from either outstanding to simply too quickly produced have in their own ways been exciting to follow. Hundreds of different voices all telling of the same story in their own way, through their own voice.

I have also been using this time to tell my own stories through my music, spoken word and video productions. Here is what I have been up to...

1. In September I released the fourth and final movement of my suite, Spirituality and Faith called Far Away is Close at Hand in Images of Elsewhere.

2. I have concluded an 18 week project of performing and recording a tune per week while sheltering in for solo trumpet that I call: We Are Apart, Our Song Together. It is dedicated to the musicians that I miss dearly and hope to play with once again.

3. I have composed a ten movement suite that I call Echoes that through the music and my own voice performing the spoken word interludes is like a personal journal speaking to my thoughts and feelings on New York City pre-COVID and what a post-COVID New York looks like, immigrants and migrant populations in New York who are truly our essential workers, income disparity and the racial tension that has made itself manifest by the death of George Floyd. The suite is based on the five types of minimalism: additive/subtractive repetition & phasing, silent music, music of minimal differences, music of limited means and drone.  For this suite I have added three very special guests who have recorded their parts remotely from Syracuse, NY and New Bern, North Carolina: Peter Allen, Bob Cesari and Phil Owens.

4. The Echoes suite has two bookend compositions as well. The opening is a spoken word sound collage that speaks to New York in the first nine days of sheltering in called Never Without Music.  The epilogue, called Mandatory Reality, is a concluding musical statement that speaks to the changes that the arts will need to take and what New York will need to do to remain the artistic capital of the world. This will also feature some friends who are recording remotely from Syracuse, NY. It is return of sorts for the ensemble Bill & the Belltones (Syracuse, NY, 1982 - 1985) - Lee Tiffault, Peter Allen and Mark Tiffault.

5. I did a series of arrangements with a group of younger musicians that I have had the privilege to know and in the early months of the pandemic we did a remote recording. I am also hoping to reassemble a group of long time friends of over 40 years from our time at Fredonia State  to record a second series of arrangements to round out this project. Of course, that is all based on the level of cases in New York and Long Island to allow us to get together in person. Until then, I have recorded the pieces myself using GarageBand. 

6. In October/November 2020 I will be releasing through SoundCloud all of the new works as described above and in November 2020 I will put out a reflection of this past year as I do each year to put a bow on it and to start looking at the projects that are planned for 2021.  

Something very special is planned in 2021 leading to a three day event tentatively scheduled for June 11 - 13, 2021. More information will be coming in January 2021.

Even in a pandemic, life goes on. I am hopeful that everyone is safe and well. Until we have the opportunity to meet up again, all the best and thanks for being the most important part of my music.

Bill