it was a strange dream: artist & storyteller brian andreas as muse

Strange Dream by Brian Andreas
It was a strange dream, he said,
& I don't remember a thing except
it kept my attention the whole time.

(*Disclaimer: There will be many links in this entry, as I do want to share as much of Brian's related work as possible.)

Sometime during my undergrad (um-teen years ago-ish), I became aware of the works of artist and storyteller Brian Andreas. He creates StoryPeople (http://www.storypeople.com) – sculptures made of found objects, such as wood and wire – covers them with vividly colored paint, and prints short little quirky, poignant & inciteful stories about life, love and the general pursiot of happiness & goodness. These stories are also available as colorful prints, furniture, books, postcards, and wherever else your imagination might take you. Scanning the walls of my home, you might discover five or six of these prints sprinkled about creating an air of whimsy.

When I first started composing during grad school, I was constantly in search of new forms of inspiration. I was about to start writing a duet for alto saxophone and marimba to enter in a composition contest (which I subsequently lost) and decided to turn to a couple of books of Brian's stories. The name of one of these books was "Strange Dreams" which immediately struck me as the perfect title for a collection of these 4 little vignettes for sax & marimba. Then I read the corresponding story to the title (above) and immediately thought it captured how I wanted people to perceive my music. I mean of course I want them to remember it, but capturing their attention so they are living 100% in the moment for at least the duration of the composition.

The stories I chose for each of the four movements were Unheard Music, Ballerina Mom, Mermaid Song, and Pools of Light. I encourage you to follow these links to read each of these stories. The RoseWind Duo (University of South Carolina professors Clifford Leaman, alto saxophone and Scott Herring, marimba) recently released a fantastic recording of the piece on the Equilibrium label and it is available on iTunes.

I have since returned to Brian's stories as the source of inspiration for two more of my compositions. One was a duet for marimba and vibraphone titled Edge of the World, which I gave as a wedding gift to two of my former students and now friends, Michael & Sara Wood. It is based on the story True Things ("They came to sit & dangle their feet off the edge of the world & after awhile they forgot everything but the good & true things they would do someday."). The other is a duet for piano and marimba titled Almost Beyond ("She laid on my chest & her breathing filled me to almost beyond what I could hold.")and commissioned by another husband/wife duo, Una Duo.

Something tells me this will not be the last time I use Brian Andreas and his writings as my muse, so stay tuned. I'm pretty excited about a future collaboration with him, but more on that when it actually comes to fruition. In the meantime, I highly recommend following him on Twitter (@briandandreas). Every time he tweets, another one of his little stories flows right on out of him, usually in the same vain as his StoryPeople, but if you're lucky, occasionally you catch a much edgier Brian Andreas giving him even more depth. I've been fortunate enough to become long-distance friends with him as a result of the mutual admiration of our respective artistic offerings.

Summary of Places to Find Brian:
StoryPeople website: http://www.storypeople.com
Zen Bandit (his personal blog site that hasn't been updated for a while): http://www.zenbandit.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/brianandreas