May 20, 2017 - PAJCL Convention, Penn State

 

Classics enthusiasts will tell you that the Ancient Greeks had a story about everything.

Then they'll tell you that over and over and over until you're sick of hearing about how the Ancient Greeks had a story about everything.

But, compulsive stereotypical didacticism aside, it remains true: Greek myth has insight into every facet of human existence from the mundane to the cosmic.

And that includes the phenomenon of suicide.

 

May 1, 2017 - Montgomery Bell Academy

 

One of the things implicit to the Greek oral tradition (and really any oral tradition) is that the audience matters.  

The meaning of any piece of art as transitory as a performance is created in the air between the performer and audience and then exists solely in and subject to the memory of the audience.

It's interesting that the role of the Homeric bard is explicitly sublimated by his own words in the Invocation function of both The Iliad and The Odyssey.  The Goddess/Muse is the one doing singing (though, significantly, in The Odyssey there is a pronoun attached to the performer) and the bard exists just as a vessel for the divine to express story and song.

Intuitively every performer knows some version of this. 

 

April 27, 2017 - The University of Chicago

 

My central interest in The Odyssey is the question of identity.  

Every time I sing The Odyssey I begin with the words I wrote in December of 2001: "Who am I?"

The identity of the person singing these words is deliberately ambiguous.  It could be me, it could be Homer... it could be Telemachus, Odysseus, Penelope... 

My appreciation for the importance of identity in The Odyssey has only grown as telling the story has become a bigger and bigger part of my life.

 

April 14, 2017 - Harvard University

 

It's taken me a long time to understand a fairly simple and obvious truth: being a musician is essentially a never-ending battle for validation. It's a negotiation between one part of my brain which can list the objective accomplishments and clear successes of my various musical properties and another part of my brain that starts every sentence with the phrase "Sure, but what about..."

You can say over and over that all the validation you need comes from inside of you but the truth is that by committing to being a professional artist, you need SOME sort of external validation, if only the kind that gives you the resources to keep producing your art. And maybe even pay your mortgage.

The strength of my Odyssey is that it's equal parts musical performance and intellectual interpretation, but that also opens me up to a possible complication:  Not only do I crave the kind of validation a normal musician wants but I also need it for the intellectual component of my piece in the same way a graduate student or academic needs validation for his or her ideas and scholarship. 

This cocktail of validation is at the core of the ups and downs of the 15 year lifespan of my Odyssey.

 

April 13, 2017 - Needham High School

 

My stop at Needham High School (just outside of Boston) came after having endured a red-eye flight home from Seattle early Tuesday morning and tempting the travel gods (Hermes?) by flying to Boston early on Thursday and leaving myself just barely enough time to grab an Uber, navigate rush hour traffic, and arrive at the well-manicured suburban high school with 45 minutes to set up for the first of what were to be two Odyssey shows.

 

April 10, 2017 - Pacific Lutheran University

 

Some Odyssey shows give me human insight, like the one I wrote about here.

Some Odyssey shows give me classical insight, like the one I wrote about here.

And on some very special occasions I get a perfect example of both.

 

April 7-8, 2017 - WABCJCL Convention, Washington

 

“I am a guy who travels around telling a story that a guy who traveled around telling stories told about a guy who traveled around telling stories."

For my blog about my shows for the Washington British Columbia Junior Classical Convention, I was planning on just posting the keynote speech I gave at the Convention’s opening assembly.

But then, as it often does, the reality of my experience out on the road gave me something better to write about.

 

April 6, 2017 - University of Texas - Austin

 

I’ve been rereading The Odyssey in full for the first time in several years, a book each day. It’s been amazing to see how my perspective on a story I know so well has changed.

It’s my first full reading of the poem since I started taking a more active interest in veterans and veterans’ affairs and understanding The Odyssey as a soldier song.  Like many things in life, this development came about through an equal mix of chance and magic.

 

March 20, 2017 - Northern Illinois University

 

Seeing as my trip last week to perform two shows at Northern Illinois University involved a simple drive out to DeKalb, Illinois, I'll spare you a post about travel (short story: I-90 to I-290 to I-88) and talk a little more broadly about how I came to the story that has become such a big part of my life, Homer's Odyssey.

Where to begin?

 

March 15, 2017 - Randolph College

 

Be Where the Ides of March? 

(Okay, that was terrible: sorrynotsorry)

One of the interesting things about doing the Odyssey year after year is that it gives me natural signposts to mark the passage of time.

 

January 26, 2017 - Duquesne University

 

It seems odd to start formally blogging about a project some 15 years after its creation.  

But these are the circumstances: this post is about the 208th performance of my one-man musical retelling of Homer's Odyssey, a piece which was written in late 2001 and early 2002.

Chronicling my performances in writing is something I sometimes wish I would have done from the beginning, especially now that I'm working on writing a book about my quest to perform The Odyssey in all 50 states (I'm at 31 states as of this post with 3 new states booked before next school year) but there's also a part of me that appreciates writing about the first 200 or so with only my memories and some scattered documentation and relics as my guides.