<![CDATA[S I D E W A L K   <br />C E L L I S T - P R E S E N T]]>Mon, 16 Apr 2018 01:19:31 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[​An open letter to every Canadian and West-Coast politician, resident, and citizen,]]>Wed, 21 Mar 2018 19:06:48 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/an-open-letter-to-every-canadian-and-west-coast-politician-resident-and-citizenClick here to download this letter as a pdf.

​An open letter to every Canadian and West-Coast politician, resident, and citizen,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put it very simply: “Governments grant permits but communities grant permission.”

Nearly 60 First Nations and 22 municipalities oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, including the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby. The premier of British Columbia and the governor of Washington State have also taken a stand against Kinder Morgan.

The federal and provincial governments of Canada granted conditional approval for Kinder Morgan to twin its Trans Mountain Pipeline and expand its oil tanker terminal in the Burrard Inlet. The Texas oil giant has begun construction despite the fact that those conditions have yet to be met.

One of Christy Clark's five conditions was for KM to demonstrate their ability to provide “world-leading marine oil spill response, prevention, and recovery.”

As Raincoast Conservation Foundation has stressed repeatedly, there is no such thing as world-leading or world-class oil spill response, prevention and recovery. The existing yardstick is wholly inadequate as estimates of open-water recovery by mechanical equipment are 10 to 15 per cent of the oil from a marine spill, at best. As we have learned from previous spills, no response is possible in rough weather, high seas and dangerous conditions. Importantly, these conditions often precede, or follow, oil spills. Pumping and skimming recovery options are ineffective in over one knot of tide or in waves and choppy waters. In rough conditions or offshore spills, response is limited to the use of dispersants, as containment is not an option. Dispersants have proven to be largely unsuccessful on water-in-oil emulsions and on oil that has weathered, and will not likely be successful on diluted bitumen. Furthermore, reliable knowledge regarding the extent of dispersant toxicity is lacking. (1)

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to revoke Kinder Morgan's permit and halt construction immediately. This is vital to ensure the safety of concerned citizens who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect the earth, stand up for beings that do not have a voice, and stand up for first nations rights.

Even without a spill, this pipeline expansion poses serious risks to the environment, directly contradicts the goals set out by the Paris Climate Accord, and threatens the existence of the remaining 76 Southern Resident Orca whales.

The increased capacity of the pipeline will result in a five to seven-fold increase in tanker traffic through the Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea. “Southern resident killer whales are designated as endangered in the U.S. and Canada, and noise pollution is a key threat to their survival,” said Lance Barrett-Lennard, the head of the Vancouver Aquarium's cetacean research program, who co-signed this letter (2) to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with the ministers of fisheries, transport and environment.

It's absolutely a critical time for the survival of that population,” said Barrett-Lennard. “These animals swim around in a kind of acoustic smog if you like. And every ship that goes by absolutely fills their world with noise.”

The best case scenario, with a fully functioning pipeline and terminal that operates flawlessly without spilling a drop, could still lead to the extinction of one of the most beautiful animals on earth. The worst case scenario, in which a major spill occurs, would devastate an entire ecosystem and cause irreparable harm to communities up and down the coast.

This is why I and thousands of others are standing up to the government and Kinder Morgan. This pipeline will not pass.

The icing on the proverbial cake of shame is that this expansion is slated to transport diluted bitumen from a new tar sands mine - Canada's biggest ever. 

Canada made a commitment on the world stage by signing on to the Paris Climate Accord. As Bill Nye the Science Guy pointed out to Justin Trudeau in person – tar-sand extraction is a very inefficient and expensive way to make crude oil. (3) The tar sands produce some of the world’s most costly oil, and they are already the largest source of greenhouse gases in the nation. We must divest in old technology and join the world moving in a new, clean, sustainable direction. We have to keep tar-sands oil in the ground if we are going to keep our commitment to decelerate the rise in global temperatures.

Those that support the pipeline are promoting it for its economic benefits, tax revenue, and job creation. However, the International Energy Agency says in its latest Oil Market Report that, “There is currently little evidence to suggest that economic activity is sufficiently robust to deliver higher oil demand growth.”

Robyn Allan, a former President and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of BC and, before that, senior economist at the BC Central Credit Union has done considerable research that challenges the economics of the Trans Mountain proposal, for the industry and for Canada (4). Allan points out that Kinder Morgan has been clear in its annual report communications to shareholders that it pays very little tax on its Canadian operation: during the five years between 2009 and 2013, Kinder Morgan reported average income of $172 million on which it paid an average $1.5 million in taxes.

As for the jobs promised, the jobs are mostly temporary, according to Kinder Morgan's own evidence. There will be 2500 construction jobs for two years and then there will be only 90, yes NINETY permanent jobs. (5)

This is an open letter to every Canadian and West-Coast politician, resident, and citizen, because we must stand together to stop this calamity.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
-Clara Shandler

Footnotes:
(1) http://vancouversun.com/opinion/opinion-christy-clarks-five-conditions-con
(2)https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3553862-Scientists-Statement-Salish-Sea-12-April-2017x.html
(3) http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/bill-nye-trudeau-kidner-morgan-1.4564547
(4) http://robynallan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/05/Economist-Robyn-Allans-Submission-To-The-Ministerial-Panel-September-28-2016.pdf
(5) http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/elizabeth-may-pipeline-q-a-1.4575788

Other References and Further Reading:
http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/adkin-alberta-should-hold-inquiry-into-oilsands-subsidies
http://www.iisd.org/library/g20-subsidies-oil-gas-and-coal-production-canada
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/facts/crude-oil/20064#L3
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/mikisew-first-nation-takes-wood-buffalo-concerns-to-unesco/article25156281/
https://www.nap.edu/read/21834/chapter/2#2
https://www.thetyee.ca/News/2016/11/29/Kinder-Morgan-Approved/

]]>
<![CDATA[Life in Plastic]]>Mon, 18 Dec 2017 02:15:05 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/life-in-plasticBe the change you want to see in the world. I want to see a world with less plastic and more love, more sustainable thinking and no more planned obsolescence. I've been working towards living a waste-free life and have been very inspired by this blog. There are so many organizations working towards raising awareness about plastic pollutants and facilitating clean-up projects, hare are a few that I know about (click the picture to check them out):
This past fall, when I started on my trip around the world, I left home with one cloth bag, one waxed cotton food bag, a reusable plastic container, a spoon, a metal straw, a travel cup, a few cloth hankies, and a couple plastic bags that I had already reused a couple times.

These few items have helped me avoid hundreds of plastic bags, dozens of plastic utensils, hundreds of plastic and paper cups, dozens of take away containers, and packs of kleenex/tissues. Not only does this reduce how much waste goes into landfills and incinerators, it also reduces the energy consumption of producing these products in the first place. 

Its a small contribution to this planet, but I feel empowered doing my part. When I see images like this one, my heart swells and I am compelled to do everything in my power to reduce my footprint. 
I hope that one day we will find a way to halt the production of new plastic and styrofoam containers, and instead, mining our landfills for these materials and recycle them. 

Perhaps I can encourage you to join me in the practice of keeping a bag with you whenever you go out (a plastic bag folded up fits inside a pocket quite easily), and/or to take a reusable cup/container/utensil/etc when eating out or ordering take-away.

My father is an economics teacher and I have been learning about the way money makes the world go around since I could talk. The basic principal that drives our free-market economy is supply and demand. If we reduce the demand for plastic bags, plastic cups, styrofoam take away containers, etc. - we will reduce the supply, the production, and therefore the existence of these vile things.
]]>
<![CDATA[From one world to the other....]]>Sat, 04 Nov 2017 12:26:07 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/from-one-world-to-the-otherI started writing this post from the incredibly magical, spiritual, and captivating city that is Kathmandu and am finishing it from the bustling city of Phnom Penh.

Europe feels like a world away and I had some incredible experiences after leaving France (which is when I wrote my previous post). I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful canal-lined streets of Amsterdam and could hardly believe the stunning architecture of the Oude Kerk (old church) - its roof is made out of old wooden boats!! I rented a bicycle for a couple days and had an incredible time meandering around the beautiful streets, but the hoards of tourists were a bit much for me after a few days...
A friend recommended I check out an open air museum in Enkhuizen and since there was no hostel there so I booked two nights in a town called Alkmaar and made a day trip, basically across the entire country to visit the East coast of Holland. The train ride was lovely, about 2-3 hours in total, and the museum was a reconstruction of a 15th-17th dutch fishing town. It was really neat though I was pretty much the only one there without kids! On the way back "home" to Alkmaar I got off the train at Hoorn and had a little picnic on a bench over looking what was possibly the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life...

It was so beautiful I couldn't take a single picture (I knew the camera on my phone could never do it justice) so I simply sat and took it in for well over an hour.
After leaving a piece of my heart behind I had a big adventure day taking two trains and a bus to Hoek Van Holland to then take a ferry across the English Channel to Harwich, then got on another train, and then jumped the tube to arrive at a friend of a friend's house in the North Eastern corner of London (it was a long day but the adventure was less than half the price of taking the direct train). I only had two days in London but I managed to see Platform 9 and 3/4, 22 Baker Street, the Regent Park, Kensington Park, the outside of the Kensington and Buckingham palaces, the Parliament buildings, Big Ben, London Eye, the Tower of London, London Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and ride on the front seat on top of a double decker bus - so so so so cool!!

Actually, all of that sight seeing was on my first day (which was a perfect weather day) and when the skies opened up on the second day I decided to take it easy and stay closer to "home". My host, Valerie, is doing a Masters Degree in directing at the University of Essex and was having a dress rehearsal and table reading of an excerpt of Waiting for Godot that afternoon and evening. She invited me to bring my cello along and improvise some music, and I did, and it was so much fun! We went for a beer after at a good ol' fashioned British pub and the next morning I woke up at 5am to make the 1.5 hour tube ride to Heathrow Airport and fly to Kathmandu!
Two weeks in Kathmandu fllllleeeewww by!! Everyday I'd wake up at my hotel, have a wonderful breakfast, practice my cello, practice my French, then get picked up by one or several friends, drink tea (its the thing to do in Nepal), explore beautiful temples, walk around the winding streets, take in the incredible sights, sounds, and smells, eat incredible Nepalese food, drink more tea, and on a couple occasions jam, witness some incredible festivals, play music for friends and strangers alike, see traditional dancing, and then drink more tea and go to bed!

It was so revitalizing to be surrounded by mountains and I somehow felt very at home. The culture of Nepal is very unique in that Buddhism and Hinduism have mingled and overlapped over hundreds and thousands of years, very beautifully borrowing and exchanging traditions and rituals. Nepalese people are extraordinarily polite, kind, and generous - not once did I feel the least bit threatened or uneasy about walking around by myself or interacting with people, not even late at night. I observed that passersby would either look you in the eye (and smile and return a "Namaste" - the common greeting) or they would ignore you completely.

If you'd like to see some videos of me jamming in Kathmandu, check out my personal Facebook page, or my Sidewalk Cellist Facebook page as that's where they've been posted.

Now that I'm in Phnom Penh and have reunited with my faerie godmother, we've settled into a wonderful new routine: wake up, make our coffee in our little hotel room, head to Music Arts School (MAS), rehearse for a few hours (collaborating with a number of different musicians here and sending music out into the world as the doors are always wide open there), find some lunch, stay cool in the afternoon, and then return to school to make more music in the evening - it's fabulous!

We were honoured to be guests of the first Empowering Youth Cambodia conference and I am so inspired by the stories that were shared. This organization is doing so much to help Cambodians: providing education, medical attention, housing, food, scholarships for promising students to pursue post-secondary education, sports programs, music programs, yoga, mentorships, employment, skill training for parents (so that the children can stay in school and not have to drop out to help their parents earn money), and going the extra mile to help people in extraordinary situations overcome obstacles. Many of their current teachers and staff of EYC an MAS are alumni of their programs, the organization is like a big, ever growing family.

Before I leave Phnom Penh I am making a donation to both of these organizations and I encourage you to so as well. Every dollar will make such a difference! Furthermore, if you are interested in visiting this magical place to see for yourself how extraordinary these people are, I would be very happy to assist you in organizing a trip.

​Email me anytime: clara [at] sidewalkcellist [dot] com

Until next time,
​-Clara
]]>
<![CDATA[Merci Beaucoup, France!!]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 19:36:44 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/merci-beaucoup-franceI have spent the last two weeks in France and it has been lovely! The short version of the story is that I spent a week walking around Paris and checking out a whole bunch of beautiful buildings, waltzing through gardens, sneaking into the occasional museum, strolling through cemeteries, galleries, scoping out anything Victor Hugo related (his house, church, grave, and favourite garden - the Luxembourg), and sitting on many terraces sipping the various liquids of the day (coffee, beer, wine).
Then I took an invitation to Nantes and visited the West coast of France. I got to see the ocean, several castles, a giant steampunk mechanical elephant, a Timber Timbre concert, medieval towns and several more awesome terraces, cafes, and ancient pubs.

I'm absolutely in love with the charm, the pace of life, and the cobblestoned streets of France and I could totally get used to eating bread, cheese, and wine all day! Next stop: Amsterdam, I leave tomorrow. Wish me luck :)
]]>
<![CDATA[Free Outdoor Cello Concerts....]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2017 19:38:20 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/free-outdoor-cello-concerts I had SO MUCH FUN playing my cello around Vancouver parks this summer! Here are a few videos, pictures, and recordings from friends and listeners..... Thank you Eric, Yvonne, Lolli, Luis, Scott, and Markie for documenting the summer!

Download Pacific Rain for free or by donation here: sidewalkcellist.bandcamp.com/track/pacific-rain-3

Download Cirque for free​ or by donation here:
sidewalkcellist.bandcamp.com/track/cirque-3

Download Commercial Blues for free​ or by donation here:
sidewalkcellist.bandcamp.com/track/commercial-blues

Download So Much So Badly for free​ or by donation here: https://sidewalkcellist.bandcamp.com/track/so-much-so-badly

I look forward to seeing you again next summer! If you'd like to hear when and where I'll be popping up next.....

Subscribe to the Sidewalk Cellist's Quarterly newsletter

* indicates required
I would like to hear from the Sidewalk Cellist
Email Format
]]>
<![CDATA[August 09th, 2017]]>Wed, 09 Aug 2017 20:36:43 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/august-09th-2017
What a year it has been… (I've been making a conscientious effort to spend more time at my instrument and less time at the computer, so I've gotten a little behind on my blog…)

After releasing my single last summer I went cross-Canada to visit and play for friends and relatives in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax. I played on board the VIA Rail train nearly the entire length of the country which was a fabulous experience - I couldn't recommend this enough to my musician and performer friends (it's called the on-board entertainment program). A big thanks to Helen, Alyssa, Stacy, Jessica, my sister Steph and her family, my aunts Sue and Nicky, and my Grandad for putting up with me!!

I made my annual pilgrimage to Montreal to play for Yegor Dyachkov and this year, I asked him if he could take me on for regular lessons if I moved to Montreal…

He said yes!!

So I've spent the last year rehearsing and learning music to perform at benefit concerts with the Singing Tree Collective (on Salt Spring Island and preparing for a trip to Nepal and Cambodia), organizing events for and teaching at the East Vancouver Community Music School, working as assistant strings teacher at West Point Grey Academy, all the while preparing to pack my bags and move beyond the boarders of the Greater Vancouver Area for the first time in my life…. and experience true cold winter for the first time in my life… eek!

I have had the extreme pleasure of collaborating and making music with some incredible individuals over the past year. I was thrilled when Monica Shah and I were accepted to the
12 Minutes Max dance showcase at the Scotiabank Dance Center. She brought her classical Indian dance training, I brought my classical Western music training and we mashed the two together in loosely organized improvisations, centered around the intention of channeling Kali. Monica is amazing, if you ever get a chance to see her perform - do it!

Rodney DeCroo asked me to play with him in a theatre work he had written titled "Stupid Boy in an Ugly Town". We performed the work most recently at Templeton Highschool and have since rehearsed a few songs from his latest album "Old Tenement Man". I have indulged in both this album and his most recent book of poetry (his 3rd? 4th..?), "Next Door to the Butcher Shop," cover-to-cover. Rodney has found a powerful way to authentically share himself with the world.

I have fallen in love with a number of friend's bands and solo acts: Only A Visitor, The End Tree, Natalie Ramsay, Hildegard's Ghost, No Mothers, The Creaking Planks, The Myrtle Family Band, Michael Fraser, and The Ruffled Feathers… just to name a few (in no particular order).

I also saw a bunch of snazzy people in the Gamelan Bike Bike at the Parade of Lost Souls last, last fall which inspired me to join the community gamelan group Gita Asmara and learn two pieces of Balinese gamelan music (though I don't think we played them at "Balinese Speed").

This incredibly intricate music put my ear and brain in a whole other world, so much so that I didn't think twice about accepting an invitation to improvise with a microtonal piano this past spring. Noah and I explored two rounds of sounds, textures, and unpredictability, and afterwards another pair of musicians improvised for two rounds. It's an ear-bender for sure. This piano is re-tuned so that there are 15 pitches within an octave (instead of 12) so that each spacing is slightly less than a whole semitone. You can listen to the whole thing on soundcloud by clicking here.

Now that the school year is wrapped up, I've spent a good chunk of this summer playing chamber music on Salt Spring, performing Free Outdoor Cello Concerts, practicing and preparing for Nepal/Cambodia/Montreal, and brainstorming other projects.

I've been writing and reading everyday this past little while; if you'd like to poke around and hear what I've been up to click here or send me an email: clara [at] sidewalkcellist [dot] com. If I take a while to respond, feel free to send me a second poke.

In the mean time, take care (and click here if you want a laugh).
]]>
<![CDATA[Lights in the Dark]]>Sun, 31 Jul 2016 16:11:24 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/lights-in-the-darkWow! The big moment is almost here..... Last year I was fortunate to receive my first FACTOR recording grant to bring a new single of mine to life. The song is called "Lights in the Dark" and is very much inspired by the chaos of the world around us, and asks us to ponder - perhaps there are some lights we can only see in the dark.
This journey began on a bright, sunny day in June at the lovely Vancouver home of pianist and faerie godmother, Linda Kuttis. Her beautiful Steinway piano was recorded by the lovely Alexis Douglas and Sam Koop with equipment borrowed from multiple friends and studios.
Elliot Vaughan, local composer, friend, and violist, joined me at Alexis' home studio a few days later so that we could record a scratch track of the string quartet section, I laid down a rough version of the vocals, and therefore the whole track was roughed out for Dr. Timothy Van Cleave to add his percussion magic.
Timothy recorded his drum tracks in Portland (sadly he and his lovely wife are no longer in Canada), and with the magic of the internet, sent the files up north for our listening pleasure. Alexis and I had a lovely evening sipping wine and comp-ing the drum tracks, "Lights in the Dark" was starting to come alive....
Our last day of recording was at Raincity Studios where I was thrilled to see all sorts of amazing local band's records on the wall (The Pack A.D.!! So Cool!!). We recorded the vocals for reals, I laid down a nice little cello line to pull the string sounds through the whole song, and then Molly MacKinnon and Genevieve MacKay joined us to record the string quartet - for reals. I thought it was hilarious that our recording engineer for the day was Mark MacKitrick (so many Scottish last names!!).
Lastly, our day of mixing was at Hipposonic Records in North Van. It was soooo warm in that little room as there were so many pieces of equipment operating. I was STUNNED to see that the brilliant Alexis, the lovely Sam, and the recording engineer du jour Karl, were running all of our sounds through this guy:
REAL TAPE guys!! For rrrrrrrreeeeeeeals! I was over the moon because my intention from the beginning of this recording was to allow this track to have a live and analog feel. This is why the piano bed tracks were done without a click track, all of the room sounds that we picked up we kept, and all of the layers were done with as little editing as possible... and running the sounds through this tape machine robot made everything sound so warm and alive.
After the mixing was done I sent the files off to Brock McFarlane at CPS Mastering and now I'm just waiting for the final file. I made the album art myself but I'm saving that image for this Tuesday (Aug 2) when I do a soft release and begin sending it out to friends and family. If you'd like a copy as soon as its out, send me a poke: clara [at] sidewalkcellist [dot] com.

Before I sign off, I want to take a moment to thank all of the lovely people that helped me write the grant to make this song a reality. Alexis Douglas has been an inspiration and a huge driving force from day one - her energy and spirit are out of this world. My friends and colleagues Ruth Cornish, Rodney DeCroo, and Timothy Van Cleave believed in me enough to write letters of reference, as did friend and radio DJ Gabriel Munro, which undoubtedly played a huge role in securing this funding.

As a budding French student, and as a Canadian desiring the ongoing unity of our country, I wanted to include some French lyrics in this song. My very dear friends Alexis and Sarah from Montreal helped me translate the chorus into French and I got a little help squeezing in all of the syllables (as in leaving out some syllables) from Jean-Michel.

I had initially hoped to include Alyssa Stevenson (flute), Anita Eccleston (trumpet), and Theo Kraulis (electronic producer) on this track but the reality was that we had to simplify the initial intention to finish everything by the FACTOR deadline. I think you'll like it....

I'd like to sign off on this blog by sharing the lyrics from "Lights in the Dark"....
Our past is full of daggers,
it ain't wise to keep it close
If we kick up our inner embers,
that fire better be for light
How big is your sky?
Can you cradle it in your eye?
Can you seek your peaks and valleys
with a smile deep inside....?

Time can make anything crumble
There are lights we can only see in the dark
Even the mountains were young once
Only a fraction of what was still is

I was drawn to the darkness,
in spite of myself
Don't touch it -
clouds burst into harder things
For nothing cleaves a mountain's sides
like time and sky's watery eyes
There may be more existence
then we will ever find.....


Tout peut s’effondrer avec le temps
Il y a des lumières qu’on ne voit que dans le noir
Même les montagnes ont été jeunes 
Qu’une fraction de ce qui était, l’est encore
 

This recording was made possible in part by the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (#FACTORfunded) and the Government of Canada.

Ce projet a été rendu possible en partie grâce au Fondation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings ( #FACTORfunded ) et le gouvernement du Canada. 
]]>
<![CDATA[My Second Self-Imposed Salt Spring Island Sabbatical ]]>Thu, 14 Jul 2016 00:26:42 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/my-second-self-imposed-salt-spring-island-sabbaticalJuly 9th, 2016
I am very happy in this moment, floating on water between two worlds - the serenity of island life ahead with the hustle of the city drifting in my wake.  I've just about got it all: a hot cup of coffee, a bustling mind palace, lessons for learning, ideas for musing and very few worries beyond not having enough time...

I never have enough time... It is so easy to get caught up in all of the city's distractions and with so much to see and do, it's impossible to get everything done. All we ever have is this moment, and I cherish having the space and distance to pause and reflect.


July 13, 2016
It has been a whirlwind and somehow several days have passed at the Sidewalk Hermit Cellist annual retreat. I have been practicing a lot of Bach, catching up on my practicing (cello, yoga, and French), and ending a several-month-long-procrastination of  some computer work. I've also reunited with my addiction for the Daily Show, featuring the comedian Trevor Noah who recently hosted Terry McMillan. She said something very beautiful and inspiring:

"Tell the truth... do it with humor, and do it with gusto"

This has become my new mantra whenever I am playing my cello, especially for Bach. I have had the house to myself for a few hours over the last couple days and I have been recording little bits and pieces of the Bach cello suites. I'll probably upload a few of them to share... Check my band camp page in a few days or give me a poke, I'll send you the link :)

]]>
<![CDATA[Westward Reflections]]>Thu, 10 Mar 2016 03:06:59 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/westward-reflectionsAs my partner-in-musical-crime returns to Cambodia to teach, collaborate, and share music, I find myself gazing westward to that magical place that has changed my life forever.... I realized that I never shared any stories from my last trip with my online family yet - so it's time to correct this!
This was my third trip to South East Asia and it was the first time I had flown across the Pacific alone. I met a really lovely girl around the same age as me on my connecting flight from Taipei to Phnom Penh. It was her first time leaving North America, so I happily volunteered to show her all the best places in the city. We became instant friends :)

Now that I've been three times, settling in is very easy.... Besides, life in Phnom Penh is out of this world: Linda (my musical partner-in-crime) and I make our coffee on our hotel roof top garden, then we walk to the music school and often pick up a fresh coconut or a croissant for breakfast.... we practice and rehearse and teach until the mid-day heat is upon us, then its time for a tasty lunch, maybe a dip in the pool, a happy-hour cocktail, some reading time, and/or a nap!

The evenings are spent rehearsing, organizing the teaching/rehearsing/workshops/concerts for the following days as well as checking out lots of local events to support the growing arts scene. We went to the Phnom Penh International Film Festival as well as the International Jazz Festival - within the same week! We also got to see the Cambodian Space Project live (Linda got a video, I'll see if I can convince her to upload it...). I've got to learn one of their songs!!
We even went out for a night of caroling in the neatest little corner of town known as Basak Lane. There is a new choir in town called "Cambodia Sings" and they are welcoming of new singers of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and voice types. I sang along :)
There are so many moments that are simply too beautiful to put into words.... If you're curious, ask me about the "White Building" next time we're in person and I will happily tell the tale.
Linda flew home to Vancouver on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day I flew from Phnom Penh to Yangon to be greeted at the airport by my wonderful guitarist friend Charlie - my cello even arrived in Yangon with me this time!! (Last year, I was given the worst scare of my life when I got to the luggage claim... It showed up the next day, but that was one of the worst nights of my life.)

I opted to stay at a hotel very close to the music school and I was so glad I did. Every morning I made my coffee in my room, then took the 5 minute walk to the music school, saying hello and "Mingalaba!" to faces that became more and more familiar each day. Charlie and I had a concert to do on the fourth day after my arrival so we set to work right away rehearsing each others songs, putting together a program, inviting friends, and sound checking at our venue.
The rest of my time in Yangon was spent making new friends and catching up with old friends. I taught a few lessons, coached a chamber orchestra, and jammed, but everyone at the Gitameit Music School in Yangon is so friendly, it just felt like I was hanging out with friends all day.

The pagoda across the street was having a week-long festival which I checked out numerous time with my friends. The festival had two or three dangerous-looking carnival rides (I did not partake), Burmese street food (so tasty!), and stalls selling everything from toys to incense, clothes to woven mats, baskets, pottery, and numerous other goods and wares.

On two separate occasions Charlie and I took public transit downtown. Once to go see Star Wars, and the other time we went to explore and find the Pansodan Art Gallery (run by a friend of a friend - I had to check it out!). It was my first time on Burmese buses, and I have to say - it was pretty cool. The "seat" was a mere plank of wood and I had to hold on to dear life the whole way, but for $0.20 you can't beat the price! A truly authentic Burmese experience!

My last day in Burma was New Years Eve and it came way too fast. I hardly got to see everyone that I needed to see and I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with everyone. I don't have any photographic evidence, but my New Years Eve was really quite special. I didn't have plans so I just hung around the music school waiting to see what people were up to. A few of my musical friends were packing up their instruments and I asked where their gig was because I'd like to check it out.
"It's too expensive," they said "you won't want to come"
"How much are tickets?" I asked, I could afford to splurge once, right?
"Over a hundred dollars...."
Whaaaaaa!? I couldn't believe it - $100 in Burma is a LOT of money.... But then, we had an idea!
"Why don't you grab your cello and join our band? You can just jam along!"
Aaaaaaand that's exactly what I did! We rolled up at a fancy downtown hotel, unloaded our gear, sound-checked, then got to help ourselves to some seriously fancy buffet! We played until the count-down, had an absolute whale of a time, and then I had to get home (my flight to Chiang Mai was leaving at 7 am the next morning).
Needless to say by the time I got to my layover in Bangkok I really needed a coffee. Going through security I met a guy from Paris, we went to grab a coffee and he was kind enough to rescue me when the cashier scowled at my American cash (I didn't have any Thai currency yet). Merci mon ami!!

When I landed in Chaing Mai I was invited to stay with some friends of Linda's that run a resort just outside of the city. Nothing could have prepared me for the paradise that I found myself in.... I was besides myself with gratitude and determination to make good use of a very profound, deep, and peaceful space. Every day I did yoga, practiced my French, practiced my cello, swam in their pool, did my physio exercises.... I was very well behaved!!

There are two pictures of their property in the gallery above - can you tell which one is where I stayed and which ones are the Queen of Thailand's? I'm not joking!

I had five glorious days in Chiang Mai, three of which were spent on a little rented moto, driving around through the back roads, checking out buddha after buddha, pagoda on top of hill after pagoda on top of a hill. It was glorious - no map, no phone, no one with me - just the road, a helmet, sunglasses, and an adventurous spirit.

From Chiang Mai I went back to Phnom Penh for three super-short days where I caught up with Kate, my friends at the music school, and a wonderful Cambodian film maker named Polen Ly. He had emailed me months prior asking if he could use some of my music in one his films. Yes! I said, you can click here to see the trailer and click here to help them fundraise to make it a reality. We finally got to meet in person and had a really lovely Vietnamese dinner on my last night in Cambodia...

Alas, it has now been nearly two full months that I have been back in Vancouver and my heart aches for the countless people that I have been fortunate enough to make friends with. I very much look forward to returning this winter, maybe this you'll come with me...?

Feedback is always appreciated, write me any time - clara [at] sidewalkcellist.com
]]>
<![CDATA[I get by... with a TON of help from my friends]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2015 21:33:17 GMThttp://sidewalkcellist.com/p-r-e-s-e-n-t/i-get-by-with-a-ton-of-help-from-my-friendsWhoa, what a day - and I'm NOT complaining! But what could it have been without all of the amazing people on this planet? I'm lucky enough to be friends with an amazing bunch, and I just want to share a bit about them.
Picture
These are two of my best friends. One is an amazing violist/throatsinger/bike-bike-gamelan-player and the other is a flutest/knitter/amazing-vegan-chef. I highly suggest you listen to the skeleton song. Its almost Halloween, yo!

Picture
This is Charlie, he is an incredible Burmese guitarist. I introduced him to my producer and he recorded an album in Bali while we were there. You can listen to it by clicking here. You can download it free or make a donation and I will ensure that 100% of the funds go directly to him.

Meghan and Timothy Van Cleave (above) are starting a new life in Portland, OR. I miss them tremendously and cannot wait to: 1. go down and visit, and 2. hear more about their new studio!!

I by with a lotta help from my friends, and they give me a lot of inspiration too. There have been a bunch of amazing albums this year, and I hope I can remember them all:
I don't know what I'd do without my Vancouver family, my Halifax family, my friends in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, up and down the coasts, across the oceans in Aus, Cambodia, Burma....
Picture
Last but not least I don't know where I would be without the lovely Linda, the amazing Ryan, all of my parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and nieces and nephews.... I'm sure I'm forgetting to list someone, so let me just say that my human family the world over is loved and appreciated. 

Let's have tea sometime :)

Have you recorded something, or put something together and want to share it? Leave it in the comments section, and I always read all of my email: clara [at] sidewalkcellist [dot] com
]]>