Joan La BarbaraUSAMusic2013

I established a new working routine, rising around dawn (as my bedroom window faces east, I got first light each morning), making a pot of coffee and improvising at the beautiful baby grand piano. It was especially good to have the solitude of “Pizza” studio as I did not have to worry about awakening my neighbors. I began a daily music journal, and entered ideas each day of the residency, so that I have about 30 individual ideas that will be expanded into full scores. (Some days, I added to or revised material of earlier daily entries.)

I worked on conceptual material for my opera and did sound recordings (vocal winds, birds, thunder), which will become part of a “sonic atmosphere” for the opera. “Sonic atmosphere” is a term I coined for the soundscape I create by layering many elements, which provides context, supporting material, background, a kind of key into the mind.

I also took inspiration from the stars outside my window and that image (framed nightsky stars) provided a new focal point for the opera, a portal connecting interior and exterior and beyond. “The Star Window” is now the working title. I also took photographs of light patterns on the walls of the castle; these are part of the visual elements for the opera. My recollection of light patterns traveling across the ceiling and walls of a bedroom at my grandmother’s house have always been a strong memory and integral element. I now have light patterns from sunset reflected on the interior castle walls that blend into this imagery. Frozen light, light in motion, light as mystery, light as illumination and inspiration. While I did not finish my opera here (and did not really expect to), I accomplished a rethinking of the intrinsic elements that form its bones.