This past week I (Maya) got to do a really fun project with composer and friend of andPlay, Hunter Long. He asked me earlier this fall if I would be interested in flying out to St. Louis (better known as the gateway to the west) for an experimental opera that he was writing, Drawing Down the Moon, at this amazing gallery space called The Luminary. He had been chosen for one of their artist residencies and was working on putting together the team of musicians. I love traveling, operas, and experiments, so it was a no brainer to say yes to that dress, and oh boy am I glad that I did.
I arrived at the St. Louis airport last Wednesday and met up with Hunter, Carmen Moreno (director), and Rebecca Woodmass (singer). We were put up in these enormous (by New York standards) apartments about a 7 minute walk from the gallery. The apartments were generously donated to the gallery to house resident artists by a MEGA sweet couple that owned the building. Our first outing in town was to the Fortune Teller Bar that definitely lived up to its name. There was an actual fortune teller in the window ready to tell your future, dark lighting, and taxidermy animals strategically placed all around the space.
Our first rehearsal was the next morning. I woke up and armed myself with my violin, iPad, and Google map of the best coffee shop nearby. The Mud House (the aforementioned coffee shop) was everything that the Yelp reviews promised and more. It was my safe haven for the four days in St. Louis, and I waltzed through those doors at least twice a day. If you are ever in the neighborhood it is a MUST not only for its Gilmore Girls inspired name (props to you if you can tell me where this is from), but also because the coffee and food are delicious, the artwork made me laugh, and the baristas are genuinely friendly.
At the first rehearsal I finally got to meet the other singer, Sarah Hawkey, who also hails from New York. We worked through each section/chant and all got to know each other a bit.
Over the next couple of days we worked out all of the movement, props, and timing. The piece is about these three witch-like women reciting chants and performing rituals in order to draw down the moon. The singers and Carmen started the piece on the end of the room farthest away from the moon and with each chant came closer and closer. They crazily broke sticks, lit matches, had their ESP cards read, walked around a salt circle, and lit bowls on fire to name a few activities that took place.
Hunter and Carmen were constantly rushing around making sure that everything was ready for the big day, and they did an incredible job!!!!
When show time came around everything was in place, and we were all jazzed for a transfixing performance filled with 70 pounds of salt, clay face paint, and an enormous moon waiting to be lit.
I am so glad that I was able to do this project with all of these incredible new (to me) artists, and I hope we can perform it again sometime soon!
andLiked this week: THE CITY MUSEUM of St. Louis. It is an enormous playground filled with whimsy, hidden passageways, and slides for kids and adults that is open until midnight on weekends. You can and dare I say should get lost in there for days if given the opportunity.