Sunday, August 16, 2015

21st Century Musical Healer Series--Fred Clarke Alvarez

Fred Clarke Alvarez
Tuning the Andes & Nature as Sound Scape

I met the multimedia artist and sound healer Fred Clarke Alvarez on my Linked In group, Musical Healers. His work with healers, musicians, and teachers from the Andes possesses both a compassionate and adventurous patina. Fred builds instruments that hail to further back than the Incan Empire. They include a variety of flutes, lutes, and percussion instruments that most westerners, at least in pop culture, have never encountered.

Fred's approach is to heal others in a more or less shamanic-conscious way that blends the healing power of sound with frequencies found in the natural world. Prior to venturing into music and sound healing, Fred's background is in photography and film making. I personally believe that visual as well as, musical expression have the power to transform society when used correctly and with conscious intention of healing.

With no further ado, here's my e-mail interview with Fred, who at the time was on route in California. 

Whole Music Exp: In your biography on your website you mention that you started out as a photographer and filmmaker and then you discovered Native Peruvian healers and medicine in 1998. When you discovered this medicine, did you also discover sound healing practices related to it?

Fred Clarke Alvarez: I discovered Wachuma (Echinopsis Pachanoi) native medicine from Peru, when I was in the school. But in 1998, I had my first deep experience, which started to change my life in meaningful ways. After that experience by myself, I decided to go further. I lived in the jungle and Andes. During that time I met and learnt through different healing traditions and healers their sound/music healing practices in different rituals and sessions through chants, flutes, drums, rattles, and shells, among other instruments. After that experience I understood the relation sound as medicine = sound healing. 

WME: You also mention that you rebuilt instruments based on ancient Peruvian instruments. When you say ancient, how far back are you going—the the Incan Empire? What sparked your journey with these instruments?

FCA: I went further. I started to explore with Pre-Incan instruments, from cultures like Nasca, Chavin, Mochica, Chincha, Ischma, Inca, among others. I started to explore making flutes and antaras (pan flutes) with bamboo, bones, and feathers. That spark came to me during my early years working with native medicines and healers in the jungle, as wildlife as well. I experienced the magic and healing power of sound and music working in myself, in my life path. A simple flute took me into another step of the spiral, reaching a new understanding, and consciousness about sound healing and Peruvian ancient healing sound traditions. After that I started my sound-healing path, searching about different Peruvian ancient instruments and healing techniques. Meetings with different native healers, musicologists, archeologists, and sound healers inspired my work and research in deep ways.   

WME: You have four recordings featured on your website. I am especially interested in Paqarina (instrumental with nature sounds) and Willka Una al Agua (a studio album) which you play flutes and on the second album a type of lute. What are the main medicine features of these two albums? (I did find them relaxing).

FCA: Both albums are related and inspired by the water. Paqarina and Willka Unu are in Runasimi language, native tongue of the Andes. Paqarina means a source of life. In the Andean culture it could be a spring, a lake, a river, the ocean--where life can emerge. Willka Unu means sacred (willka) water (unu)-- so both of them are working with the water element as a conductor for healing and connection. I like to work with nature sounds as part of the healing process, so I have recorded from jungle, Andes and coast from Peru, rivers, creeks, ocean, birds, rain, storms, blending them with the ancient instruments. In Willka Unu, the nature sounds goes through jungle, Andes and coast doing the circular dynamic of water from the sky to the ocean, giving an “end” with a poem to the water written and spoken in Runasimi language (mistakenly known as Quechua language). 

In Paqarina I used different nature sounds and instruments as well. I used Nasca pan flutes with the sound of waves, as Nasca people are deeply connected to the ocean, pelican quills flute, eagle bone flute, double flute, among others. The charango is a string instrument from the Andes, inspired by the Spanish guitar. There weren’t string instruments in ancient Peru. This instrument became a profound musical symbol of the Peruvian Andes, which I started to work with in my sound healing sessions and in the next albums. 

WME: You also mention that you co-founded a sustainable intentional community, Chirapa Menta Ecolodge. Is this eco-village based around sound healing and music therapy?

FCA: At the beginning of 2005, I was part of a sustainable intentional community effort, which we were trying to put in practice and learn from nature and each other to live in harmony, respect and consciousness. Years later, two of my dear friends continued living there and created Chirapa Manta Eco lodge, a center for healings arts, ecology, sustainability, intercultural exchange, and healthy nutrition. I will offer this year, probably in OCT/NOV 2015, a workshop about sound healing/sacred connection with nature through meditation, sound of nature, walks, energy work among other activities up there in the high jungle/Tarapoto, in Chirapa Manta Eco Lodge.

WME: With your background in music, energy medicine and visual arts, have you ever combined all of that in a healing practice? And how do you feel about movie soundtrack composers who don’t use music mindfully? I ask this since music has the power not only to sway our emotions (manipulation in some instances), but we entrain to it.

FCA: Not yet. I have started to do some short documentaries about inspiring stories of people who work and keep creating a better ways to live in harmony with nature and ourselves, like animal assistance therapy (dogs, llamas, and horses), ethnomusicology, ancient weaving tradition from Peru, sustainability, healthy food, among others topics. I am using my music as well for editing the video. So my intention to combine video and music as a healing tool is to share and open mind/hearts into a new awareness and consciousness--to inspire. One of the next video projects I have in mind is to talk about sound and its healing approaches through different healers and perspectives.  
About the movie soundtrack composers they are musicians doing “their work”. They don’t have any sound healing background and consciousness about it, something that for me is a waste of energy or ignorance/manipulation that in music schools or in most of the educational pedagogies, don’t see and teach music and sound as a healing tool in itself with awareness and responsibility to use it in “better” ways, understanding the huge power and effects of sound and music on people and our whole environment. A huge part of the music and film industry is using music and sound to persuade and manipulate emotions, “to entertain”, to sell and get more material power. It’s an unfortunate reality, but we are changing and trying to bring that harmony, as nature does, finding harmony between chaos and order.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Traditions--A Griot & a 22-String Harp

21st Century Songs of Mandinka


I first heard the modern griot and kora player Seckou Keita when he performed with the UK band Baka Beyond. The second time I heard Seckou perform was on an album with his international quartet on the album Silimbo Passage. So when Arc Music sent me a press release for Seckou's solo album, 22 Strings, I requested an e-mail interview with the Senegalese musician.

And since that release of his CD last May, Seckou has experienced limelight and acclaim.

Whole Music Experience: Similar to many traditional musicians (from musical dynasties), you received intense musical and religious training as a child, rebelled as a young adult, and now you have returned to your musical tradition, in this case, that of a griot. Do you feel like you have traveled full circle? And how have your other musical experiences with Celtic musicians, your quartet, and other genres shaped who you are as a musician today?

Seckou Keita: My link to the century-spanning chain of griot transmission is on my Mother site Fatou Bintou Cissokho. It’s known as father to son but more of generation to generations, (as I’ve seen my grandfather training others that are not his own kids but coming from other griot communities /family) So therefore, it’s as much for me to come back to the source to inspire the next generation, but still exploring the new music.

Yes my experience with other musical journey played an important part of who I’m as a musician today and probably inspired me to what some people will call coming back to full circle. 

WME: Your name seemed familiar to me when Arc Music sent me the press release for 22 Strings and then when I read your biography, I noticed that you were in the band Baka Beyond and I had also reviewed your CD, The Silimbo Passage for my blog. In some ways the work with Baka Beyond (getting the word out about the Baka musicians and their plight) has similarities to the griot tradition in that as musicians you report a situation or news to the public, but in this case, an international audience. What has been your role musical and otherwise with Baka Beyond? Are you still performing and recording with the band?

SK: I was one of the drummers in Baka Beyond and I contributed on some compositions on the album East to West, both kora ,djembe and drum kit. When I released my 3rd album Silimbo Passage with my Quintet (SKQ) with 400 concerts around the world, time didn’t allow me to work with Baka Beyond.

WME: You mention in the press notes that the kora originally had 22 strings, but after the death of the creator of the kora, Jali Mady Wuleng, musicians honored the griot by subtracting a string thus ending up with a 21 string harp. When did the 22nd string return? And is this acknowledged by griot from Senegal, Mali, and other West African countries with the griot tradition? Oddly 21-strings would be considered sacred by some spiritual folks who follow sacred geometry, but 22 strings also has powerful significance, plus it sounds wonderful.

SK: first of all the Origin of the kora is from Gabou. Gabou was an empire which consisted of three places before colonization -  Guinné Bissau, Casamance (the southern part of Senegal) and the Gambia. The Honored strings to Jaly Mady Wuleng have been done after his passing but some griots have kept the 22 strings aside, and places you can found it is the Casamance and a bit in the Gambia too. I personally found 22 strings more adapted on the modern musical world for example ( the main key on the kora always have 4 octave  and that leave you  6 notes with 3 octave each ) …But in the case of the 21 strings  lets say your kora is tuned in G  that’s 4 octave  on G, and there’s 6 notes to cover with 3 octave  you will end up having only 2 octave on the C. Hope this makes sense.

WME: The peaceful resonance of the kora is mentioned also in the press notes, and before I placed your recording into my computer to listen to it for the first time, I was feeling irritated and angry. By the time I had listened to the CD, I felt calm and even peaceful. Kora also appears on some new age recordings and I often think recordings featuring solo kora would make lullaby music for children. Was the kora originally created to bring peace to a community or kingdom?

SK: Well said WME. Let’s put it this way and instrument that use to help Hero’s big kings that go out and cause troubles and wars .The kora was one the instrument that they will listen to and help them to deal with they emotion in a peaceful way, and I believe it has got a better place now in the 21 century where now things are a bit out of control.

WME: You were born in 1978 so you’re relatively young for a traditional musician, yet you have encountered many crossroads, forged relationships with diverse musicians, and returned to your roots wiser and more understanding than you would have been in your youth. When you encounter young musicians now, especially ones wanting to study a tradition, what advice or encouragement do you give them?

SK: There’s a proverb in Mandinka that says if you’re not sure where you are heading, go back where you come from. My advice is never force your ears, not to listen to all type of music and never give up learning the tradition and especially the histories behind anything you learn. As I’m still learning, make sure you mastered what ever you are learning before adding your own touch.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

21st Century Musical Healer Series--Harping with Kate Kunkel

Harpist/Healer Kate Kunkel
Harping Our Way to Healing & Health

As the founder of the Linked In group, Musical Healers, I have experienced the great privilege of meeting the best and brightest sound healers and sound therapists of the 21st Century. Canadian-based harpist Kate Kunkel (Harp Lady), is among those Light Worker musicians who have crossed my path. She has been featured on Shirley Maclaine's radio show and other broadcasts as well as, having several products available in the form of recordings and books.

Kunkel's inspiration story reminds us that each of us has a true calling for how we can serve on the planet, and thus find our healing, transformation, and happiness.

Whole Music Experience: You went through two major transitional periods which led you to the work you’re doing with sound therapy. First, while you were dealing with stress as a business woman, you encountered playing harp in a dream. Then the second transition took place when you performed music for a last rite of passage for a man dying from cancer. Could you briefly describe these situations?

Kate Kunkel: My first transformational experience came as a result of incredible stress.  I had a business in Palm Springs, California, that I felt demanded that I keep 12 other individuals (my employees) happy as I built the business. Obviously this was not possible. Consequently, I suffered terrible stress working seven days a week at the business and networking in the evenings to build it. 

One night as I returned from yet another networking meeting, I fleetingly considered driving off a bridge. It was only a nanosecond, but I realized that I was in a very bad place. As I lay in bed that night, I prayed for guidance and in a dream that night, I was given what I believe to be divine insight. In that dream, I was playing a harp, and for the first time in my life, I felt peace, and a true sense of purpose. The next morning I began my quest to find and learn the harp. One year later, I walked away from that business and began my true life – as a harpist.

The second transformational experience came when I was playing harp professionally in Las Vegas. I was asked by a friend to play for a man whose cancer treatment options were at an end. I did not realize he was so close to death when I arrived at his home, but was happy to be able to play for him when I arrived. His family said that he was waiting for me, even though it was obvious he was not conscious. But I could feel his presence, and I greeted him and began to play. It was only about 20 minutes from the time I started playing for him that he passed, but in that time, I felt an intense soul connection with him. It was a feeling I cannot adequately express, but I know it was real, and that I felt his spirit leave his body. It was the moment, the second that I knew my destiny. This was why I played the harp--for healing.

WME: You mention on your website that you offer Vibroacoustic Harp therapy. Can you describe this therapy?

KK: Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy (VAHT) is a branch of sound therapy inspired by vibroacoustic therapy, a 40 year old modality developed by Olav Skille in Norway. Basically VAT uses sound to produce vibrations that are applied directly to the body. During the vibroacoustic therapy process, a client lies on the specially designed mat or bed or sits in a chair that is embedded with speakers or transducers which transmit specific computer-generated frequencies into vibrations. In the case of VAHT, which was developed by Sarajane Williams, I actually play my harp into the amplifier, which then sends the frequencies of the harp directly into the client. It is an incredible experience; combining the beautiful tones of the harp with the powerful resonance of vibroacoustics.

WME: You have several recordings and a book on the healing consciousness of sound available. In the book you go into detail about the sound frequencies in our environment such as leaf blowers, booming stereos, lawn mowers (all my favorite sounds, lol) and the damage caused to us by exposure to those sounds. Then you mention healing frequencies to counteract our daily barrage of noises.

So I’m wondering, do you ask your clients to keep a diary of the noises they’re exposed to and the health effects? I already know how those sounds affect me. And do your CDs act as masking for those sounds, or do clients play those CDs in a quieter environment at a different time to recalibrate their bodily systems?

KK: My CDs are not created to “mask” those sounds. I believe that adding more sound to obnoxious sounds only adds more substance to the obnoxiousness. I do ask clients to pay attention to the feelings they have when they are exposed to different sounds, and encourage them to find a way to eliminate those sounds from their environments. Obviously, that is often not possible, but by acknowledging the noise and understanding that in many cases that is what is causing you to be anxious or irritated, it goes a long way to making it possible to reduce the feelings of anger, irritation, whatever. I invite clients to play my CD or any other soothing music during times when they can pay attention and enjoy/understand/absorb the healing qualities of the music.

WME: I’m fascinated by the article on your website about Codes of Tones which I haven’t encountered previously. You mention that Mozart used the Codes of Tones and that they hail from ancient times.

How did you learn about these tones? What are they? What other musicians have used the tones in their compositions? Are you referring to Solfeggio tones or Sacred Geometry?

KK: No, I am not referring to the Solfeggio tones or Sacred Geometry when discussing the code of tones. I learned about the code from harpist Joel Andrews through his book, A Harp Full of Stars, and the system basically uses a letter/pitch equivalent chart. We know that Haydn used it also, but of course many musicians don’t share the source of their inspiration.

WME: You have joined a global tradition performing the harp. And as you mention on your website, the harp goes back to Biblical times, and I’ll add that the instrument in various guises and forms was performed in medieval West Africa, and I believe ancient Greece. Many of us also associate the harp with angels.

Where do you see the future of harps going? I noticed more and more sound healers are led to the harp.

KK: As a harpist, therapist and teacher, every day I see more and more people drawn to the instrument.  Perhaps it is the yearning for peace that we all experience now. When you sit down and play a harp, something changes in you. I believe it is partly the vibration of the instrument against your body, partly the history of it. Surely most of us have heard the many stories in various cultures of the healing power of the harp, so I do believe it elicits a kind of soul memory for many. I know for me that the first time I picked up the harp I felt “I’m home”. As I and many others work to dispel the myth that the harp “is such a difficult instrument”, I hope that more and more people will pick it up and realize that it is very intuitive, and far from being a complicated instrument that only the elite few can master, it is in fact a folk instrument. Given a few moments, anyone can pick out a tune on a harp. I encourage people to do just that, and see where it leads them.

Video explaining VAHT: 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Traditions Series--Vishtèn Plays the Music of the Red Earth

 Songs from Terre Rouge 

Hailing from Prince Edward Island and the Magdalene Islands (off Quebec's coast), twin sisters Pastelle and Emmanuelle LeBlanc along with Pascal Miousse, better known as
Vishtèn cook up a musical stew of Acadian, Cajun, Quebecois, and Celtic influences that get the feet tapping.

The three muli-instrumentalists perform double, triple, and even quadruple duty on their latest album, Terre Rouge named after the red earth of Canada's Maritime islands. The album features love songs with surprisingly happy conclusions, as well as, stories about blizzards, comical tales, and homages to the islands. Album release date is July 10, 2015 in the US.

Whole Music Experience: When and how did Vishtèn form? I read that Pascal is from Magdalen Islands and you’re from Prince Edward Island? (Your trio is the second band I’ve heard from PEI--Gadelle was the first).

Pastelle LeBlanc: Emmanuelle (LeBlanc), and I founded Vishtèn in 2000 with a fiddler from PEI. We enjoyed playing music together and decided to apply for a showcase and got accepted. The showcase was presented to many international buyers and was a huge hit! We hadn’t really thought of music as a career but it took off then and we got really busy. We played together for a few years, along with a guitar player, and then the fiddler decided the road life wasn’t for her, so we were in search of a new fiddler.

We met Pascal Miousse through mutual friends and immediately fell in love with his playing. We jammed and hung out one weekend and asked him if he would join the band. As he was finishing up a touring project, he said yes - the timing was perfect. Since then, Vishtèn has had 5 members, and then 4 members, and now a trio for the past 5 years.

There are lots of musical connections between Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Island and both Acadian styles compliment each other very well.

(Yes, Gadelle are friends from the same area as we are from, and Helen was our step-dancing teacher for many years growing up)

WME:  It says in the press notes that all three of you are multi-instrumentalists so who plays which instruments? And what were the ages you first began playing traditional music?

Pastelle: Emmanuelle – whistles, octave mandolin, bodhran, piano, podorythmie (foot percussion), jaw harp, step dancing, vocals
Pascal – fiddle, guitar, mandolin, vocals
Pastelle – piano accordion, piano, mandolin, step dancing, vocals

Pascal started playing fiddle tunes when he was 4 years old. His father’s a guitar player who accompanies numerous Magdalen Islands fiddlers and he encouraged Pascal to play at an early age. He later picked up the guitar and mandolin.

Emmanuelle and I started step dancing when we were about 5 years old. We started off imitating our mother, a great step dancer, then joined the community dance classes and soon started performing at local events. We both played a bit of piano growing up and learned the fundamentals of accompanying traditional music by listening and watching the musicians that would drop by the house to play a tune.

We come from a community where house parties are common and consider ourselves lucky to have been exposed to so much great traditional music. 

Emmanuelle picked up the whistle and bodhran in her late teens and the octave mandolin a few years ago.

I started playing accordion and mandolin around the time the band started, when I was about 20 years old.

WME: Is the track Corandina” the only song from the Magdalen Islands that appears on Terre Rouge? It definitely has stronger roots in Quebecois traditional music and less so with the Celtic strain, especially with the call & response vocals and the rhythms even if the fiddle has Celtic strains.

Pastelle: Yes Corandina is the only song on Terre Rouge that comes from the Magdalen Islands archives. The song wasn’t originally a call and answer song, but we adapted it a few years ago.

WME: How big of an influence is Celtic music with the Acadian folk traditions?

Celtic music has a very strong influence on our islands when it comes to the instrumental pieces (reels, jigs, strathspeys, etc). On PEI, Scottish and Irish settlers brought their music and dancing with them. Since French-speaking Acadians are a very small minority (only 5% of the island’s population still speaks French), we’ve been surrounded by these Celtic traditions for a long time and have learned the repertoire.

The Celtic tunes are often times adapted to more of a French style however - Acadian fiddlers will use a shuffle to create a rhythmic effect instead of Celtic ornaments such as cuts, rolls, etc. When it comes to step dancing, there are also a lot of common steps with the Celtic styles, although only in the Acadian traditions would you see sitting down dancing and foot percussion that accompanies the music. The songs come from our French ancestors - lots of different versions in different Acadian communities and households.

On the Magdalen Islands, they have a strong Celtic influence as well, mostly from Cape Breton. Repertoire were learned by tuning in to radio stations from Antigonish and Cape Breton, where people listened to a lot of Scottish players. Most fiddlers on the Magdalene play a repertoire of traditional pieces from Cape Breton, often times hybrid tunes (example : part A of a Scottish tune, but then a made up part B). We’ve heard from fiddlers that they would learn their pieces from the radio programs, but that sometimes the radio would shut out…the fiddler really wanted to play a new reel at the next dance so if he hadn’t caught a tune in it’s entirety, he would make up the rest which is where the hybrid tune comes from.

The Magdalen Islands are part of the province of Québec, but since they are situated in the Maritimes and in proximity with Cape Breton and PEI, the repertoire is Maritime/Celtic influenced rather than traditional music from mainland Quebec. 

WME: Where would we hear the Micmac Indian influences?

Pastelle: The name of our band is a song which is part Mi’kmaq, French & English and represents the strong ties between our cultures (the natives helped the Acadians during the deportation). The song is tinged with Mi’kmaq sounds.

WME: The Cajun song Joe Feraille acts as a departure rhythmically and coming from the US, I’m familiar with Cajun music also realizing that the original Cajuns came from Acadia (though you don’t hear much of the Celtic influence with the Cajun songs I’ve heard). Which genres of traditional music most influence your trio?

Pastelle: Cajun music and Acadian music have definitely had different influences based on the geography and different settlers in the area. What we have in common are the songs, which have traveled and evolved but we find some common repertoire for sure.

Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish traditional music was part of the scenery for all of us growing up in our communities, but we soon were listening to many other types of traditional music which have influenced us a lot, like Cajun music, Québecois, Appalachian, Swedish & music from Brittany.

WME: Final question, how do you go about collecting and researching songs for your repertoire? Do you listen to field recordings, meet with old timer master musicians, or swap songs at folk music festivals? I noticed that you do all the above, but I like hearing it in your own words.

Pastelle: We’ve been doing a lot of research for old Acadian songs since the band started and have a collections of field recordings that we work with. It has truly become a passion for us and as we’ve traveled, we realize the importance of celebrating our roots music as not a lot of people out there are doing it. We’ve spent many hours collecting songs at the archives at Université of Moncton, going through hundreds of songs, we’ve had sessions with our local folklorist/historian, we’ve also met a lot of people who have shared collections with us or have even sang songs to us which we then incorporate into our own style. 

YouTube channel

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In Conversation--Pianist-Composer Peter Kater Explores Love

Love, Gratitude & Enchantment: Improvisations & Compositions by Peter Kater

Prior to receiving Peter Kater's latest CD Love (Mysterium Music), I had heard the pianist-composer's work on numerous Silver Wave and Canyon Record albums as well as, having associated his name with new age music.  When I received his lengthy biography of achievements and the CD, I was more interested in the music speaking to me. After all, I spend most of my time reading and writing which leaves me with stress and migraines. It's rare that I can read through an entire bio these days.

Thankfully, Kater's CD brought some healing to my head and my heart so I listened to the album several times (I don't often do this with albums mainly because I have over a thousand recordings, most of which I have reviewed over the past ten plus years). I opened the windows of my apartment allowing the music to drift outside where people could stroll by and absorb the enchanting piano and love offering.

The following interview took place via e-mail and I'm honored to post it here.

Whole Music Experience: Your new album, Love which features solo piano has had a powerful healing effect during a stressful week for me. I read in the press notes that you have set the intention to produce healing music since your first collaboration with R. Carlos Nakai. What was it in your collaboration with Nakai that moved you so deeply to turn away from jazz and embrace healing music?

Peter Kater: It was so long ago, I don’t remember.  Ha ha.

I wasn’t embracing healing music as much as I became attracted to doing music that came from a more essential place inside of me. The fact that it was (is) healing wasn’t really the goal. It just seemed natural, pure, and effortless. One doesn’t set out to do healing music. One allows the music to heal oneself and then is moved to play music from that place from that healing. Then in the listening back to that music other people resonate with the healing that has and is always occurring, which can then resonate and invite their own healing. 

WME: On your new album you focus on the various aspects of love ranging from romance and intimacy to compassion to passion. You include both compositions and improvisations, do you ever feel like you’re channeling this music?

 PK: It’s only channeled. 

WME: Besides love, what else inspired you to record this album? Do you think of your listening audience while you compose and record or is there some musical place you go (such as a trance), where you allow the flow of music to wash over you?

PK: Only love inspired me. No, I don’t think of my listening audience. I follow my muse. I trust the unfolding.  

WME: Your career is impressive as is your humble beginnings. What essence has stayed with you since your days in Colorado renting out churches to perform your music to playing with renowned musicians and making appearances Carnegie Hall? 

I believe strongly in the Law of Attraction and I’m sure that there are thousands of musicians, sound healers, and music therapists who would love to know how you journey from point A to point B. Did you take many risks, land in the right place at the right time? 

PK: To answer that would be more like a few chapters in a book rather than a quick interview question. But to answer briefly, it’s all a risk. There are no assurances. It’s all about trust and faith and doing what you have to do because you have no choice.  You journey from point A to B one step at a time, hopefully without thinking about it too much. Actually, thinking is one of the most undermining things you can do in creative process.  I landed where I landed. It’s all about faith and surrender. You can’t plan a life or anything creative.  It unfolds and you show up (or not).  

WME: You have collaborated with several Native American musicians including Nakai, Kevin Locke, Mary Youngblood, Robert Mirabel, Joanne Shenandoah and others. I also took a listen to the albums, How the West was Lost, volumes 1 and 2, which is some ways reminded me of the multimedia work Edward Curtis did in preserving Native American cultures.

What is the process for you in melding western well-tempered piano and keyboards with indigenous flute and other music traditions?

PK: I open myself up to the energy and ideas and music starts coming in. I don’t have a process. I wait and Listen. Music is all about listening, not about being creative. I listen and wait until I hear something. And then I start to write or play. When I stop hearing it, then I stop. Faith, trust, presence and surrender. No second guessing.  No self-doubt.  Just surrender to what is.    
Learn more about Peter Kater's compositions, recordings, and performances at his website and Mysterium Music