Monday, July 7th, 2008 5:47 PM
Weding and Cello Festival!
Chris White and Marcy Little are now officially married! The wedding ceremony at Taughannock Park was beautiful and the reception at North Point was rousing and celebratory with good fun and fine company and great dancing. We performed a rendition of my piece ChrisMarce with 3 cellists, 2 violinists plus piano and it came out really well. Lots of expressions of love for Chris and Marcy!
In June the ChrisMarce piece had its premier performance by the Cello Big Band at the New Directions Cello Festival, 30 cellos divided into 4 sections, really playing beautifully. What a great Festival this is!
Monday, October 8th, 2007 5:29 PM
Plans for fall/winter
Water Bear is honored to be doing a set of our Name Music pieces at the Interfaith service October 10 at the State Theatre, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama will speak. We will be joined by Lesley Greene on flute and Lynn Ray on harp, and the whole event should be lovely! Late in the summer we recorded the score for The Clean House, and we have a CD from that session available for $12.00 if you want to hear more of the beautiful music we created. And we're gearing up for our Light In Winter performance with biologist David Sloan Wilson.
--Mer Boel, composer for Water Bear.
Friday, March 3rd, 2006 1:45 PM
Name Music in Baton Rouge
Name Music takes Baton Rouge by storm! Ruth Roland, founding member of Water Bear who lives in Baton Rouge now, performed many Name Music pieces last night at a concert at the art museum at the University. She was accompanied by bass and cello, and received many enthusiastic responses and requests for more performances.
Meanwhile, back in NYS, our six-member version of Water Bear played on air for Crossing Borders last Saturday, and tonight our string quartet version is set to play in Corning. Name Music plays well no matter how many people are performing! Last summer we had the Grassroots Chamber Orchestra playing and improvising on "George". And this summer, maybe a Cello Big Band playing "Ruth"!
--Mer Boel, composer for Water Bear.
Thursday, October 13th, 2005 8:50 AM
Check out http://mermusings.blogspot.com/
for some occasional journaling on the composing and recording process...
Friday, September 30th, 2005 7:48 AM
On September 7, Tim, Nate and I played for an open house event at the Boyce Thompson Institute in their newly re-decorated auditorium. It was a lovely, intimate setting with wonderful acoustics, and we accompanied a gorgeous selection of slides all about plants - in macro and micro versions. The auditorium seats 100 in wide tiers, and people came and went, enjoying refreshments, other exhibits, talking with all the knowledgeable staff and scientists researching the plant world. We played "Joan and Nelson" for Tim's parents, and took requests.
Wednesday, September 7th, 2005 9:45 AM
Here it is coming into the fall of 2005, and we have big plans. To have a big group, that is. In June Water Bear played for the 50th anniversary party of Tim's parents, Joan and Nelson Reppert (see photo at left), and I got excited about the idea of working with an expanded line-up: two violins, cello, bass, piano, guitar, and even percussion. We're starting up with rehearsals next week. We'll be working towards local performances and recording a new CD of Name Music pieces in January or February 2006.
I've been inspired by jazz band composer and conductor Maria Schneider to consider innovative ways of funding recording projects, including sponsorships from individuals, so I'll keep you posted!
of Water Bear
Ruth and I would get together and play mostly scandinavian music together, especially music
by a glorious 5-fiddle group from Finland called JPP. One day in the fall of 2000, Ruth said to me "Why don't we
play YOUR music?"
With that encouragement, the early incarnation of Water Bear was born. We called
ourselves "Open Strings" and performed as a duo. Around the same time I had the idea of
creating music to honor people based on their names, and came up with the scheme to map the alphabet to pitches on the violin.
I started writing melodies that began with the pitches for the letters in a name, starting with
"Ann" - a short one, I figured I couldn't get into too much trouble. Once I got going, the melodies for
various names just seemed to flow from me, and in short order I had composed 20 name tunes. I was taking composition
lessons with Hank Roberts at the time, and of course just loved his playing, so I asked him to join Ruth and me
and record the Name Music pieces.
We recorded at REP Studio in Ithaca, and Tim Reppert was doing the mixing-down. He seemed to really like our music, which I appreciated hearing.
I saw an acoustic bass in the corner, and one day I asked him if that was his bass, and did he play. Yes, and so I asked him to play
on "Jill", a commissioned piece. He sounded great, so then our group was four strong string players. My own JPP dream come true!
It was Hank who came up with the name Water Bear, when we were getting desperate for a name to use in
Into a silence in between ideas, Hank said "How
about Water Bear", and suddenly it seemed right to me.
Then I found out that there is a little creature called a water
bear. It is a microscopic aquatic animal that lives in mosses
and lichens. It looks like a little caterpillar that is less than
1/2 mm in length. (That is TINY.) And when it moves it looks like
a lumbering brown bear. Its more formal name is a Tardigrade, and
it is sometimes also called a moss piglet. This animal is very special
because it can live under very harsh conditions, under extreme heat,
extreme cold, and can go into a sort of hibernation for more than
a century and still come back to life. Amazing creature!
In 2002, Hank Roberts started to devote himself to a new project with his own group, and he found
he was too busy to continue performing out with Water Bear. Since then we've been playing and recording as a trio, and with
Chris White on cello, Nate Silas Richardson on guitar, and William Cowdery on keyboards. We are working on two CD releases for 2003/2004,
one with an emphasis on vocals (including two Name Music pieces for couples!) and one with all instrumentals.
The Name Music pieces and commissions are continuing to flow. Ruth and I were both awarded "Meet The Composer" grants
for pieces that were premiered at the annual Women's Works concert on March 2, 2003 in Ithaca, NY.
photos: Niles Chandler, Robert Stuart, and Water Bear
Composer and violinist Mer Boel has a B.F.A. in
jazz vocal performance with a minor in violin from City College
of New York, where she studied and performed with John Lewis of the Modern
Jazz Quartet, Matt Glaser, and Ron Carter. She was co-founder of The Daughters of Sweden,
and original music group Cymbidium, and has written string arrangements
for Karen Beth, Tom Knight, the Crow Greenspun Band and the Sim Redmond Band.
She played in the Catskill Symphony, and with bluegrass bands The High Street Boys
and The Purple Mountain Cowtippers, as well as solo. She has sung with the Gerald Wolfe
Singers and the Robert Dale Chorale. Her composition "Meditation" for handbell choir
received its premier performance in Ithaca, NY in February of 2000, and she received a "Meet the Composer" grant
for the commissioned vocal chamber piece Mountains Swimming, which was performed by Women's Works with the
171 Cedar Arts Chorale in 2004. She presented a lecture recital on women in jazz music at the Festival of Women
Composers in Pittsburgh, PA in 2004, and in 2005 three of her Name Music
pieces were performed at the inaugural concert of the Grassroots Festival Chamber Orchestra.
Ben began studying violin at the age of 11 in Santa Rosa, CA with Dominic Dissaro.
During High School he developed an interest in various improvisational styles while jamming with
friends in the Santa Rosa area.He arrived at the University of California Santa Cruz in 1993, where
he learned advanced classical technique and repertoire from violin virtuoso Roy Malan.
While at UCSC he also studied jazz improvisation with jazz greats Ray Brown (trumpet)
and Smith Dobson (piano). He completed a BA in violin performance in 1997, and decided to
stay at UCSC to get a masters degree. During his masters program he continued his development on the
violin and also pursued his interest in electronic and computer music.
After finishing school, Ben spent some time earning a living playing classical music. He has played with the
Santa Cruz Symphony, the Monterey Jazz Festival Orchestra with Roy Hargrove and
Terrence Blanchard, and various other symphonies, string quartets, opera companies, etc.
Ultimately, he found the classical music world to be unfulfilling, so
he got a "day job" working for a computer music company as a software engineer.
He has spent most of his musical energy during recent
years intensely studying jazz violin and other fiddle styles. Ben has performed
with a number of groups in Santa Cruz, CA and the greater Bay Area including the
Hot Club of San Francisco and Frizz, an eclectic Jazz and Bluegrass string band.
He is very excited to have the opportunity to make music with Water Bear.
Composer and bassist Tim Reppert studied at the
Berklee School of Music in Boston, and has worked as a studio
session musician in New York City, Boston, and Ithaca. Reppert
is also a sound engineer, and owns REP Studios. He's recorded
for diverse clients such as Sly Stone, Billy Ocean, and The Beastie
Boys, and local artists such as the Burns Sisters, Mbusi, and
Composer and cellist Chris White has a masters in performance from Ithaca College,
and is the founder of the New Directions Cello Association & Festival,
a busy jazz and classical performer, and an active private teacher. His recordings include
works for solo cello and various small jazz ensembles. He has published articles on the history of
jazz cello in STRINGS (Spring ‘89) and Down Beat (Feb. ‘89), and a book and CD method (1997) called Jazz Cello. This method
is also available for violin and viola, and Volume Two is forthcoming. His latest CD, "First Principles", was released in February 2003
to great acclaim.
Nate Silas Richardson
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Nate Richardson
grew up in Boston and studied Jazz Composition at Berklee, graduating in 1996.
He tours with John Brown's Body, North America's pre-eminent
reggae band, and performed on their last three releases, plus releases by
10 Ft Ganja Plant, Eliot Martin, Adonai & I, and Sim Redmond Band, and his own production,
"Uproot", on I-Town Records. He likes Malian kora music, music from all over the African Continent,
and American music from early 1900s, although Jamaican music from the 1970s remains
his deepest long-running influence.
Bill Cowdery comes to Water Bear mainly from the classical side of music.
He serves as musical director and organist of the First Congregational Church in Ithaca, NY,
and as an adjunct instructor at Cornell University. He has taught on the faculties of Ithaca College,
Colgate University, and Keuka College as performer, musicologist, and theorist. A frequent soloist,
accompanist, and lecturer at Bach festivals in the northeast, he has been a three-year fellow of the
Bach Aria Festival at Stony Brook. Bill holds a Ph.D. from Cornell for a dissertation on the early
cantatas of J. S. Bach and has held a Fulbright Fellowship in England. He authored numerous
articles in the New Harvard Dictionary of Music and the Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (1996).
Recently he co-edited The Compleat Mozart with Neal Zaslaw (Norton). His compositions include
keyboard pieces, choral pieces and a children's opera called "Moses."
Composer and violinist Ruth Roland grew up playing
Eastern European folk music with her father's band. She has a
bachelor's in music and a bachelor's in language and literature from
Michigan State University and
a master's degree in violin performance from the University of
Minnesota. She is a member of the Binghamton Philharmonic and
the Tri-Cities Opera Orchestra of New York, and a founding
member of Women's Works, an annual celebration of women composers. She
has performed with artists such as George Benson, Smokey Robinson,
and the Moody Blues, and has conducted and arranged for orchestra.
She is also a published poet and performed playwright. Currently she lives with her
family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and returns to Ithaca for visits when she can.
Composer and cellist Hank Roberts, whom Jazz Express
magazine calls "One of the most respected improvising cellists
on the international scene," has toured extensively in Europe,
Canada, Japan, and the U.S., playing avant-garde jazz. He's performed
with many artists, including Bill Frisell, Andy Summers, Tim Berne,
The Second Hand (dance company), Cologne Radio Orchestra, Arcado
String Trio, and David Sanborn. In Ithaca, NY, he's played with
Ti-Ti Chickapea, Martin Simpson, and Peter Dodge. His latest CD, "The Truth
and Reconciliation Show", released in November 2002, features Hank and his band, Wiggy Dog Boy.