This is Grace

dedicated to the memory of George

Composition, lyrics and production: Racheal Cogan
Ganassi Recorders, tenor recorders, Bass Recorders, Paetzold Contrabass, treble recorders, whistle, overtone flute, vocals: Racheal Cogan
Male vocals: Robert Poliquin
Violins: Wendy Rowlands
Bass Viola da Gamba: Jay Elfenbein

All of the stories that hold our lives in place,
Can be scattered like ashes and blown away.
And blown away.

I pray my spirit to be whole.

It’s the stuttering, the stuttering between moments,
That reveals the sticky, sticky damage in the mind.
And all of the stories that hold our lives in place
Are scattered and blown away.

What is Grace?
I wash your body
I clean your wrappings
Is this grace?
This is grace.
I am your hands, your feet, your mind.
This is Grace.

I pray my spirit to be whole.

Alleluia.

This work was inspired by a part-time job I took 6 months ago caring for George. George had advanced Alzheimer’s combined with Lewy bodies and was living at home in the primary care of his daughter. I was in a very practical way faced by the devastation that this disease brings to the individual and their loved ones, and to be honest, it terrified me.  It crept into my dreams in the form of nightmares where I was forced to face my fears and was often genuinely astounded that I remembered not only my name each morning but also all of the people in my life. To appear to lose the thread of our lives and the stories that hold it together is a frightening reality for the many people around us and their families who live with a form of dementia. Furthermore, the loss of connection with the body for even the most basic functions requires 24 observation, care and unlimited patience that has the potential to easily spiral downward into poverty, abuse, and abandonment. I was shocked by the inadequacies of a government system to help provide even the most basic medical needs for dignified palliative care in the home. To choose to look after a person with dementia, at home until they die, is a huge undertaking that will drain most people of all financial resources, cause them to be unable to work as the caring is so consistently demanding, and rob them of any sleep. I admire the courage and trust of George’s daughter to have cared for her father so lovingly and consistently despite what seemed to be unsurmountable odds.

George passed away as I was finishing this project. The music is dedicated to the courage in his daily will to live and enjoy the disjunct sparkling moments of life he had left to him. He was consistently patient, cheerful, polite and always thankful that there were people around him who cared for him as his mind and body deteriorated. He could never recall my name, despite the regular hours I spent with him, but to the day he died remained very clear who his daughter was.

I have been blessed by the three amazing musicians who participated in this project with me:
Wendy Rowlands, Jay Elfenbein, and Robert Poliquin.
They worked with me from disparate parts of the globe – Newstead, Australia; Paris, France; and Montreal, Canada.
Thank you so much for the time and generosity in each of your beautiful contributions.

Thanks to Violaine Corradi for listening and for your valuable insights and never-ending support.

Gezi

This piece was inspired by the protests in Turkey originating at the Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul from May 28th 2013. They began as a peaceful protest as this park, one of the last green spaces in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, was about to be demolished to make way for a new shopping complex.

According to Wikipedia ” The protests developed into riots when a group occupying the park was attacked by police with no mercy. The subjects of the protests have since broadened beyond the development of Taksim Gezi Park, covering issues such as freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, as well as more broadly defending the secularism of Turkey. The protests also spread to other cities in Turkey, and protests were seen in other countries with significant Turkish Communities.”

“In 31 May 2013, police suppressed the protesters with tear gas, pressurized water, rubber bullets, real bullets and arrested at least hundreds of people and injured thousands.

“By 10 June 2013, a total of five people have lost their lives in the protests: Ethem Sarisuluk (Ankara), Mehmet Ayvalitas (Istanbul), Ali Ismail Korkmaz (Eskisehir), Abdullah Comert (Hatay) and Police Officer Mustafa Sari ( Adana).”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taksim_Gezi_Park July 19 2013

On July 22nd Istanbul’s Administrative Court gave the go ahead to demolish Gezi park, overturning an earlier decision by a lower court to save the park.

Whirling Sufi Protester wearing Gas Mask. Photo credit: Azirlazarus.

Whirling Sufi Protester wearing Gas Mask. Photo credit: Azirlazarus.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Whirling_Sufi_Protester_wearing_gas_mask_in_Gezi_Park.jpg

Composition, mixing, lyrics, recorders, vocals, sampled drums, and synth – Racheal Cogan.

Many thanks to Violaine Corradi for her creative and mixing suggestions.

Lyrics:

och aman
When joining a peaceful demonstration against a government or a large corporation, wear sensible close-toed shoes and clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible.
Close arms and legs off at the cuffs with tape.
Gas masks are ideal for exposure to tear gas and pepper sprays, but may draw unwarranted attention to yourself from police or army.
Swimming goggles with a tight seal can protect your eyes.
Have ready several bandanas in a sealed plastic bag soaked in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Urine works if you have nothing else.

Be calm. Be safe.
Promote non-violence.

och aman
Solvents used in tear gas can cause a pregnant woman to spontaneously abort, birth defects, and genetic mutations.

Birth Defects.

Spontaneously Abort.

Genetic Mutations.

But stay calm.
This is not the worst thing that can happen to you.

och aman
We have become our own worst enemy.

Song image from:
www.vam.ac.uk/b/blog/posters-sto…zi-protests-turkey

Goodbye to Banff

I wrote this piece to say goodbye to Banff.

Thank you to this beautiful place for keeping me quiet for a year and giving me the space to study, compose, play music and to come back to myself again after a little over four hectic, unquiet years working for Cirque du Soleil. I am grateful to have had the time to hike in these incredible mountains and breathe fresh, clean air.

Thank you to everybody here who smiled at me, spoke with me, and welcomed me. Monica and Carolyn for being good friends and taking my hand in these sometimes challenging times. Jessa, thank you for talking about music with me. I don’t know what I would have done without the support and mentorship from two amazing people, Robert P. and Violaine – thank you, thank you, thank you, you both helped me stay sane; thank you for your wisdom and teaching (and thank you to skype!). Most of all, my biggest thanks to Andrew who stood by me, supported me, and helped me to find a new home in Canada (for the moment). Now it’s time to move to the city and rejoin the rat race.

Composition, lyrics, recorders (Paetzold contra bass, bass, tenors, ganassi in G), vocals, sump pipe, Futujara, and mixing – Racheal Cogan.

Lyrics:

goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

i will wander

i will wander forever

forever, forever, forever, forever

i have no home

no place, no place is home

 it’s inside me

forever, forever, forever, forever

the wind blows through me

forever, forever, forever, forever

goodbye coyote, goodbye elk, goodbye friends

thank you thank you thank you thank you

fare thee well

forest

the wind blows through me

This idea for this piece of music started exactly a year ago, in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

My new home had a 180 degree view of snow covered mountains and a vast wilderness that was totally new to me. The bears that live here were just starting to emerge from hibernation. I realised that from my home, I was looking out on an expanse where bears slept through 6 months of bitter cold (up to minus 40 degrees celcius) in hollows, caves, snow and ice. The music in my head became a meditation on sleep. Such a long sleep with the fear and connotations of death that the human mind brings to it and finally the hope of  awakening in spring with the rebirth that this time of year brings to all of us. I originally thought it would be amazing piece of music for a choir and a group of four soloists with recorders. Being new to Banff and not knowing anybody, I didn’t have access to a choir! So I kept it to a short length (5:52) with only the four solo vocalists.

It’s a meditative slow piece – enjoy the icy cold of it in a quiet, dark space.

Many many thanks to Robert Poliquin’s generosity and wonderful rich voice in this recording.

Robert Poliquin – male vocals. Racheal Cogan – composition, lyrics, recorders, sump pipe, female vocals, mixing.

My spirit feels you bear,

Inside the ice, the cave of ice.

My breath, my breath becomes still.

The darkness has embraced me

Darkness, embraced.

In incandescent, in incandescent light.

Inside the ice, my breath, my breath becomes still.

The darkness has embraced me in incandescent light.

I will awaken.

the black bear I saw last spring

the black bear I saw last spring

Frunk *explicit language warning*

I have a show in my head

I want to get it out of there and into the world.

Racheal and Her Virtual Recorder Orchestra

This is the first piece that spawned the idea:

Racheal Cogan – recorders, vocals, lyrics, recording and mixing.

***********************************************************************************

If you have nothing nice to say

then, then, then keep your, keep your, keep your, keep your,

 keep your mouth shut.

F——————ck

F, F, F, F, F, F, F,

F, F, F, F, F,

F-ck F-ck

Truth is dripping in oil as she slithers right out of your hands.

The truth has balls, she isn’t nice,

but she can heal you.

She is a snake and will whisper you

She will whisper, she will whisper and she will whisper you away,

From false prophets and gods

(you’re welcome have a nice day).

from false prophets, from false prophets, from false prophets, from false prophets, from false prophets, from false prophets, from false prophets, from false prophets, from false prophets, from false prophets….

Among, among, among: Among the lies

Among, among, among: Among the lies

Among the Lions.

What is truth in all the lies?

F, F, F, F, F,

Find it, find it and set the word,

F, F, F, F, F,

Find it, find it and set the word free.

Photo by Sandrine Bretaudhttp://madsushie.netFrunk - Recorders

Photo by Sandrine Bretaud
http://madsushie.net
Frunk – Recorders

Into the Dark – a song for Winter Solstice

This is a piece of music I wrote over Christmas. I had just been to a carols concert that really didn’t resonate with me.  At all. I left early, feeling a bit like the Grinch and wondering if Christmas really meant anything to me. As I sat backstage waiting for my partner to finish working the show, the words to this piece came to me and I spent the time waiting scribbling and refining the lyrics for a melody that had already shaped itself. I spent the next few weeks slowly making it whole; working out a piano part and a recorder arrangement to work with the song.

 Most of my life I’ve had summer Christmases. It is a fresh experience to have Christmas in a very cold northern place where the marking of the Winter equinox makes such sense.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

The wild geese have flown away, some time ago

I too would fly away, but will remain

through the long dark white of the coldest Winter I have ever known.

I fear you Winter,

you stalk me from behind.

The river slows as it turns to ice

I walk upon her now.

Darkness comes this is the longest night.

My breath is ice and my heart grows still,

as the earth tilts slowly back towards the sun.

Christmas is darkness turned,

yet Winter has just begun.

The wild geese have flown away,

but the raven stays behind.

snow laden

Into The Dark

Music and lyrics: Racheal Cogan

Recorders, vocals and keyboard: Racheal Cogan

Recording and mixing: Racheal Cogan

Two Geese

This music is beautiful. Tony Lewis has done a superb job mixing this piece and breathing life into the tangled spaghetti I had made creating and recording the recorder parts. He also created and played the perfect and intricate percussion parts that are as much a part of this composition as my original work on recorders.

Sit down quietly with some great speakers and enjoy. I have been.

I have no words able to express how grateful I am to have this time to be working on creative projects again and with such amazing people like Tony, who has given so much time, energy and knowledge to this small piece.

Music by Racheal Cogan and Tony Lewis.
Mixing by Tony Lewis, David Hackett, and Dane Charles; MMCCS Studio 1, Macquarie University.
Instruments:
Tony Lewis – tombak, bass drum, tambourine, handclaps, cymbal and finger cymbal.
Racheal Cogan – Paetzold Contra Bass recorder, Bass recorder (Kung), Tenor recorder Takeyama), treble recorder (Michael Grinter), Ganassi in C (Michael Grinter).

 

Two Geese began in my tiny, but quiet living space with a stunning mountain vista. The snow was beginning to melt and I had no idea that my quiet-ish haven was about to be suddenly transformed by an impressive gaggle of geese returning to their summer quarters. They settled directly outside my window (for months): feasting on the fresh shoots of grass in the newly exposed earth, fluffy goslings in tow and generally making a louder noise than I ever thought possible. Recording was a frustrating exercise – but somehow I found quieter moments and they became the foundation for this short piece. It was named for a couple flying on an unexpectedly quiet day that I managed to do most of the recording in. It was lovely to see them, but I was also afraid that they just might have been the harbinger of the entire skein of geese returning to their home, and that my recording time was about to be cut once again by their raucous honking.

Vermillion Lakes, near Banff. Alberta, Canada.