Opera Mariposa Benefit 2024

I’m excited to announce that I’m a featured artist in Opera Mariposa’s 2024 Benefit + Awareness Month! 🦋 I’m honoured to share both art and music to support the ME | FM Society of BC and raise awareness for those affected by ME/CFS, Long Covid, and Fibromyalgia. Join me for this all-online charity extravaganza at Benefit.OperaMariposa.com from May 1 – June 1, 2024. There’s music, art, over $3,500 in prizes and more – and it’s all for a great cause!

Violet, blue and teal graphic featuring a side profile of a young Asian woman with her hand upheld, a purple butterfly hovering above it. The background features translucent torn strips of paper twined with blue watercolour flowers. Gauzy purple and blue text reads, Opera Mariposa 2024, May 1 - June 1. Benefit + Awareness Month for the ME | FM Society of BC. Smaller dark blue lettering features the URL Benefit.OperaMariposa.com above a globe icon next to the words All online; a spoon icon next to the words self-paced; a closed captioning icon next to the word English; and a dollar icon next to the words By donation and free.
Collage by Christina Baltais. Design by Stephanie Ko

I’m involved in the benefit in a few ways. Read on for how my music and embroidery are being featured!

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The Hum

The album cover for The Hum. It reads: The Hum. Lia Pas. The image is of Lia's embroidery, "sensorium" with a purple navy tinge and dark purple navy bars on either side. In the centre of some bone white linen, there is a spine in thick satin stitch. Emanating from the spine are thick burgundy lines in an undulant oval shape. This oval is bisected across the middle. In the top half, there is a section outlined in burgundy filled with coiling blue lines and a similar section in the bottom half. The rest of the undulant oval is filled with fine coiling burgundy lines. The spine is very straight, the rest of the embroidery is very coiled and busy. Lia’s initials are stitched in fine thread the same colour as the cloth at the bottom right.

I have completed The Hum—a piece of music based on my hyperacusis and tinnitus symptoms. It’s just over 11 minutes long, and is a calm, ambient, and somewhat minimalist piece. Here is a 1 minute, 20 second taste of the recording:

You can buy the entire 11 minute recording on my Ko-fi page as an mp3.

Read on for more information about my long and gentle music reintegration and composition process for this piece.

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Nov ’23 to Feb ’24: Renewal and Propagation

It’s been a challenging three months. Winter is always hard on my system and I’ve been getting all my vaccines up to date which has required a fair bit of recovery time. I also found out my cyborg part (an iliac vein stent) needs an adjustment so I’m waiting for a date for day surgery. But, because creative work is what makes me flourish, I’ve done a surpri­sing amount of work in that time.

In December I realized that my routines weren’t working well and were causing me a lot of unnecessary internal urgency so I totally scrapped them and rebuilt them from scratch. It took about a month of trial and error but I now have routines that work so much better for where I’m at cognitively, physically, and with my current projects. My music work is a bit more spaced out now, as is my journaling, but the internal striving and pressure I felt with my old routines is gone.

I do think the impetus for such a large shift is due to my continuing research on the vagus nerve and polyvagal theory. Urgency activates the sympathetic (stress, fight, flight) system, and reducing that means I can come back to ventral vagal (calm and engaged) much more readily which is very good for my entire system.

Embroidery WIPs

An image of an old engraving of a vagus nerve is embroidered on green cotton. The head and chest are in a large bamboo embroidery hoop. The embroidery of the main nerve lines is done in blue chain stitch in perlé cotton. The brain and some of the face is stitched in the same thread in backstitch. Details in the face are stitched in single strand floss. A bright red anatomical heart is stitched in two and one strand red whipped back stitch. Around it a bright golden yellow halo in a vesica piscis shape is stitched in single strand thread. Three sets of ribs have been sketched in chalk and the lowest and second lowest ribs are being stitched in bright green/yellow stem stitch. A needle minder in the shape of an hourglass that reads, "This is taking forever," sits near the stitches holding a needle.
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Monthlyish Update: Getting Guts in Order (late Sept to early Nov)

Note: This has been cross-posted on my ko-fi. There are a few other monthly updates there if you would like to read back a few months.

Webinar Report

Another monthly-ish update and another very full month. The main creative work on my plate was teaching a webinar for CHASE Medical Humanities about the visualization process I use to create my symptomatology pieces as well as how to use the poetic technique of homophonic translation to re-vision and re-own dense scientific texts.

It felt good to stretch my teaching muscles again. I’ve been teaching in some capacity since my late teens—music, yoga, and meditation—but had to stop when I got sick in 2015. Despite an ME/CFS crash the day before, I was well enough to present my webinar and the par­ticipants seemed to enjoy and get a lot out of the work. A few people even shared their symptomatology image/test pieces on social media. Here are a few:

crayon drawing  of a body with photocopied esophagus, awkward poem and a bunch of triangles

Gillian Blekkenhorst started with a trachea and expanded their piece from there.

website: https://blekkenhorst.ca/

Twitter: @gblekkenhorst

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Fihi ma Fihi dance opera in Calgary

This dance opera is a project I was still hard at work on when I became ill in August 2015. I’m pleased to say that La Caravan Dance Theatre continued the process despite me needing to attend to my health.

If you or anyone you know is in Calgary, please pass this information on to them.

A lovely article in the Calgary Herald.

Kindred spirits Lewandowsky met the production’s composer, Lia Pas, in a workshop at the Banff Centre. The two discovered that they both were fans of Rumi’s work. Pas composed the music to fit the poetry. “It’s not Middle Eastern, it’s not a Far-East kind of sound,” says Lewandowsky. Instead, it’s contemporary, blending the classical with electronic music. “(Lia) can breach between the two worlds unbelievably.”

Another great article on GetDown.ca:

Lia Pas has taken 13 poems by Rumi and created a musical composition and libretto. The company then “experimented in the studio with the lyrics,” Lewandowsky explains. “We saw what sounds would come and we performed different exercises.” The company improvised as well as they worked through the poetry and created a narrative around the poetry. Some poetry was expressed purely through movement and some through singing and musical composition.

 

Fihi Ma Fihi - poster2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Caravan Dance Theatre Presents World Premiere of Fihi Ma Fihi (It Is What It Is)

New artistic work draws inspiration from 13th century Sufi mystic and philosopher Rumi

Calgary AB – La Caravan Dance Theatre presents the world premiere of Fihi Ma Fihi (It Is What It Is) at Theatre Junction Grand, June 8-11, 2016. Tickets range from $40 – $75 and can be purchased at lacaravan.com.

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Ritornello Festival 2015 and other projects

I’m excited to announce that my composition a small piece of sky will be performed at the Ritornello Chamber Music Festival in Saskatoon on 30 May 2015.

2015 RITORNELLO FEST POSTER

The festival runs from 29-31 May at three different venues. Carissa Kolopoushak and Jaqueline Woods have been producing this festival for seven years and always have an exciting lineup featuring a number of local musicians as well as musicians who have grown up in Saskatchewan and studied and worked around the world.
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Coram Boy at UofS Drama Department

For the past few months I’ve been working with the University of Saskatchewan Drama Department as Musical Director for their upcoming production of Coram Boy.

UofSCoramBoyPoster-Mar2015

The action takes place in the 18th century. The benevolent Thomas Coram has recently opened a Foundling Hospital in London called the “Coram Hospital for Deserted Children”. Unscrupulous men, known as “Coram men”, take advantage of the situation by promising desperate mothers to take their unwanted children to the hospital for a fee. The story follows a range of characters, focusing on two orphans: Toby, saved from an African slave ship; and Aaron, the deserted son of the heir to an estate, as their lives become closely involved with this true and tragic episode of British social history (from Wikipedia)

I’m very proud of the cast and choir learning a number of very difficult pieces of music for this play and want to thank Robert Grier for being an excellent assistant music director and conductor and Natasha Martina for her directing and holding it all together.

Coram Boy previews on March 18, opens on March 19, and runs until March 28 (no performance on Sunday, March 22).

There are several ways to buy tickets:
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