Amazingly enough, I found the DVD that contained the video for Water Bear’s Light in Winter performance, and Tim Reppert, my hero, was able to edit it and mix the sound, and now it is up on our YouTube channel. This is the only significant footage that exists of any Water Bear line-up, and it pleases me no end to have it resurrected.
We collaborated with the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, whose book “Evolution for Everyone: “ I read and absorbed. Then I developed Name Music pieces that could bring to life three concepts from the book: Individual differences, social control, and expanding the circle of cooperation. In between our pieces, David gave two talks on the state of evolution and its application to daily life. David says in the talkback section at the end, that the dress rehearsal where he got to hear what we had prepared was a revelation to him, and led to him adjusting his talk to complement the music to some extent. A true collaboration, you see.
To illustrate individual differences, I wrote a piece based on our names: MerChrisNateBill, and had two of these themes be played “Bold” and two be “Shy”, at least initially. And we improvised with one of us taking the lead at a time, the others supporting. To illustrate social control, I wrote a Latin-infused piece: Community, in which one of us goes all out in soloing, beyond what is usually done, so extreme and socially overwhelming that then another one of us tries to bring back order to the group. You’ll need to watch to see who does what on this piece!
Then to illustrate expanding the circle of cooperation I wrote a piece that incorporates some audience singing participation: Planetary We. The audience singing the pitches for “We”, of course.
Two of the pieces turned out very classical, in a somewhat atonal but still pleasing way, but the Water Bear musicians were of course more than equal to the task of bringing out the best in the pieces. These guys: Bill Cowdery on piano, Chris White on cello, and Nate Richardson on electric fretless bass, are excellent professional musicians! I played violin of course, and also sang at times, including leading audience singing in Planetary We. What fun! And beautiful music, even if I do say so myself.
At the time I also remember that preparing all the comments and instructions I would need to talk about was terrifying to me! I had to practice the talking sections many times, and wrote them out in large type so that I could essentially read them if I needed to. Very odd, because playing violin and singing does not terrify me — apparently it is public speaking that terrifies me! But in the end, watching the video, I can see that I did pretty well — that I was able to look at the audience fairly often, and there are parts where I am not glued to my notes as much as I feared I would be. And I make jokes! I seem comfortable! How great to see this version of myself, and have a chance to re-frame my relationship with public speaking.