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Ensemble Resonance: Musings on Creativity

Gurdjieff Books and Music is fortunate to carry music by the chamber group "Ensemble Resonance."

In the summer of 2000, an international music conference took place near San Francisco. Musicians who had been steeped in the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music for decades, as well as their own musical pursuits, came together from far and wide. I was also present, lending my experience as a singer.

Looking back over all these years, it was as though the atmosphere of this conference was like a flower such as lilac which overwhelms with an intoxicating sweet fragrance. There were meetings with guest speakers as well as workshops with other musicians attending the conference. People the world over shared their own ways of exploring music from their inner depths; I remember participating in an exploration of plainsong as well as preparing Armenian pieces for voice and piano.

The entire compound was transformed into a musical hothouse with musicians practicing far into the night in the laundry room, their cars, anywhere they would not disturb others. The week culminated in a public concert. Not everyone was involved in this, but those who were, including myself, went through their own particular experiences, always involving work with others.

In this fertile atmosphere Ensemble Resonance was conceived. I only recently became aware of its existence. Three professional chamber musicians from North America and three from Europe started a project which received help from both the Paris Institute and the Rochester Folk Art Guild in Middlesex, New York. Here is the conception of the effort in their own words:

"Until recently, the music of Mr. Gurdjieff has been heard mostly on the piano, and under certain definite conditions we have sensed its power of transformation.

"Today in Gurdjieff groups around the world, we see more and more the value and the need of working together. The question then arises: can working on and listening to this music in various instrumental settings help us open to another influence?

"Since it was felt that the living atmosphere of a concert (including improvisations by birds!) would encourage a deeper listening, these pieces are drawn from two concerts given at the Rochester Folk Art Guild in July 2001. Their selection emphasizes a search for quality of attention rather than technical perfection. Many different instrumental combinations, balances, and tempos await exploration."

We could say that the influences of these two communities complemented each other. My experience is limited and I can only go by my felt sense. The Institute in Paris could be said to be one of the grandest outposts of the Gurdjieff Foundations. The Folk Art Guild is an intentional community of craftspeople and farmers coming together in a way that seems essentially American. Somehow the center of gravity of each of these places merged in a right way and produced something new and hopeful.

From the Creation Rose window, Washington D.C. National Cathedral. Master artisan Rowan LeCompte and fabricator Dieter Goldkuhle included every color they could summon to celebrate the majesty and mystery of creation.

Since these recordings were made the ensemble and its individual members have traveled throughout the world and occasionally come full circle. Their concerts involve the audience in an "open rehearsal" where there are first-hand glimpses into the workings of a small chamber ensemble.

The first recording, "Resonance," is out of print. We are carrying the last remaining copies. I am reminded of the fleeting nature of all endeavors and the necessity of deepening perceptions during our short life.

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