I have had Nathalie Joachim and Spektral Quartet’s album Fanm d’Ayiti on repeat during lockdown. Nathalie is one of those people who you think is just a phenomenal flautist, and then you learn she’s also one of the best vocalists out there – and a brilliant composer. This album is achingly beautiful.
I have been getting really into the music of Anna Meredith, especially her piece Nautilus and her album Anno which is a beautiful, strange version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons from somewhere else in the multiverse.
Jlin is one of my favourite composers writing for percussion today. Her 2018 album Autobiography (which features music from choreographer Wayne McGregor’s production of the same name) is complex and relentless like most of her music, but also has moments of hypnotic beauty and tenderness.
Missy Mazzoli also wins the award this year for most appropriately titled piece with her Dark with Excessive Bright. A recording of this haunting – but optimistic – concerto for contrabass and string orchestra just came out with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. It’s incredibly cathartic music to hear for the first time during a global pandemic.
I finally read Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music, which is the best novel about a career chamber musician that I’ve ever read. Ok it’s the only one, but still: it is an absolutely beautiful novel about love and music.
Colum McCann’s Apeirogon was hard for me to read as a new father, but it’s so beautiful and important that I made my way through it slowly and am so glad that I did. It’s a somewhat fictional novel based on the lives of two real life fathers who lost their daughters, a horror that no decent person would wish upon their worst enemy.
One of these fathers is Palestinian and the other Israeli, so the world conspired to put their young and innocent daughters in mortal danger. These men have since dedicated their lives to peace and mutual understanding.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s autobiography Infidel was illuminating, troubling, humbling and eye-opening. Her life story is extraordinary to say the least, and I found reading about her life and how it has shaped her thinking both important and valuable.
Look, I’m not gonna lie. My wife and I sit down on the couch every night, put on Queer Eye and ugly cry.
When I’m not able to maintain my normal rather hectic tour schedule, I channel most of that extra energy into baking. The best things I’ve learned how to make during the quarantine thus far are a double crust chicken pot pie from Sally’s Baking Addiction, this extraordinary American sandwich bread courtesy of Gather for Bread and via my all-time favourite food blog Macheesmo these delicious pancakes.
Parenting in lockdown
While my daughter’s daycare has been closed due to the pandemic, I’ve had the good fortune of spending more time with her than I normally would have, and the challenge of continuing to work full-time for Third Coast Percussion while also sharing full-time parenting duties with my wife Liz.
Fortunately, Liz is endlessly crafty and creative as a parent, and bought a bucket of black chalkboard paint. We covered one small wall in our house with the stuff and our daughter absolutely loves drawing all over it.