What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. I was blown away by his breath of humanity, American/Buddhist philosophy, and ecumenical outlook. Also, his love of nature and of fellow man and his startling use of language and his tenderness. It inspired me to write a full-evening setting of excerpts from Leaves of Grass for Kurt Elling, Kate McGarry, and an octet. I received a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Composition for the piece and had the opportunity to perform it [at, among other spots, South Carolina’s Spoleto Festival and New York’s Zankel Hall.]
Pianist Fred Hersch returns to An die Musik on May 2nd for shows at 8 pm and 9:30 pm. Nominated for two Grammies last year, he's an amazing solo performer. I'd recommend picking up a copy of 2011's Alone at the Vanguard, or maybe even the Leaves of Grass recording, at the show.