Be Still, Listen

COMPOSER: Erin Donovan

Performed by: Erin Donovan (vibraphone, wind-wand), Rhonda Baker (text)
Recorded by: John D.S. Adams (ambient sound from East Dover, Nova Scotia)
Text by: Susanne Chui

This work is an excerpt from part of a larger work entitled Burnwater: Alchemy

In the summer of 2000 I attended a Deep Listening Retreat in Haliburton, Ontario with Pauline Oliveros and IONE. My newborn daughter Grace turned 6 months old on this retreat. I wrote a piece to be performed by myself, Katherine Duncanson, and my husband, John Adams, with myself on the shoreline of a beautiful lake and John and Katherine in a canoe. Grace had been quiet for long meditations, non-verbal communications and performances. As soon as this piece started she cried her eyes out for the entire length of the piece. I had to retreat with her to my tent and I missed the whole thing. In 2016 my company premiered a large piece for dance, music, and sculpture called Burnwater: Alchemy. This is an excerpt from the beginning. Picture a dancer in a tent organizing photos and writings to curate her space. She invites us to “Be still, listen” and we begin. Pauline is very present in this part of the work for me and it is very reminiscent of this meaningful time we shared in nature. I first saw Pauline perform in St. John’s, Nfld when I was about thirteen years old. I giggled throughout her performance as I didn’t know what to make of it. It wouldn’t leave me alone in the weeks and years that passed and Pauline went on to be a big influence on my musical life. Thank you Pauline—we are all so lucky to have crossed paths with you.