Balance - March 15, 1999


My wife Anna and I recently took a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where I played a concert, and where we had other business to attend to. The day we left was the day the New Carissa ship got beached in Waldport, leaking oil in our beloved Alsea Bay. The time we spent in Jackson was a whirlwind of activity; preparations for the concert, long hours of meetings, searches for wildlife in the snowy expanses, parties, family, friends...all to the accompanying beat of news, rumors, speculation and worry about Carissa. A week later we came home to learn that they had managed to tow the ship out to sea on that very day.


Although my concert in Jackson was a very rich experience, it was difficult to be away from home while our beaches were being threatened. Now that I am home, I have a busy concert schedule coming up, with a diverse range of performances. I find myself in a similar position of dividing my energies between the music I am totally immersed in, and the other important loves, needs, and obligations in my life. There is still much work to be done on our beaches. Beach Clean-up Day is March 27, the same day as my concert at the Newport Performing Arts Center. (I will do both.) Anna and I have a number of projects going on at our home. I have friends, family, students, neighbors, loved ones, dogs, and cats all of whom require, to one degree or another, my love, attention, presence, and groundedness. It is a challenge to rise out of my musical tunnel vision and be in the world. Sometimes I'm more successful than others. Today I have to do my taxes.


These things were on my mind when I read an article in Guitar Review. The classical guitar magazine had published an interview of Angelo Gilardino, the composer, Director of the Andres Segovia Foundation, and according to Guitar Review, " of the most compelling personalities of today's classical guitar world." In the interview, he was asked how he managed to "do so many things" in his profession. Here, in part, is his reply:

"By doing absolutely nothing else other than composing, teaching and editing guitar music all the days of the years of my life: I am nothing and nobody else except the music I do. I cannot cook, drive a car, swim, play games. I have no family, no ability, no club memberships, no hobbies...Making music is an end in itself; if you create something, your life will not need anything else."

Now, I do not know Mr. Gilardino, and I realize he is accomplished and respected in his field. Far be it for me to say how anyone else should live his life or practice his art; we all find our own way. But, this statement sent quite a charge through me, and it was compounded by the fact that the magazine seemed to endorse his views by reprinting the excerpt: "Making music is an end in itself; if you create something, your life will not need anything else..." in large, bold type, in the center of the page. My question is: If you have no life, what song can you possibly have to sing? If you have no love, how can you play music with love? If you insulate yourself from sorrow, how can you express compassion? If you have no skills, what skills can you possibly bring into your music other than the most technical and academic abilities? If you have no connection to the earth, what can you possibly learn from it that you can bring into your music? If you are nothing but the music you do, then what is your music?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe to totally devote yourself to music as a monk does to prayer will enable you to reach a universal connection. Maybe a genius has such musical purity that nothing else matters. But I don't think so. It is a struggle for me to keep my musical passion in balance with the rest of my life, but it is a battle I will continue to fight, because I believe to be a wise, loving, responsible, integrated human being is "the end in itself." The music is there to teach us that. The great cellist Pablo Casals said, "I am a human being first, a musician second." That's good enough for me.


One of my favorite cartoons which I kept for years had a picture of J.S. Bach totally engrossed in his keyboard. His wife was entering the room saying, "Johann, take out the garbage!"


(March 15, 1999)



Old School, by Paul Chasman and the "Great Gatleys"


Accompanied by Dan and Laurie Gatley on bass and vocals, Paul Chasman returns with 11 new original tunes that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think. With his trademark sparkling guitar at the forefront, Paul’s poetic lyrics contrast life and mortality; grief and celebration; and light that penetrates the dark.