MUSIC OF DIFFERENCE
Music of Difference Ensemble
Catherine Branch, flute
Katelyn Westergard, violin
Albert Kim, piano
Robert J. Bradshaw
Art and Graphic Design by:
TRANSLATING PHYSICAL MOTION INTO MUSIC, Concerto No. 2 "For Catherine"
Robert J. Bradshaw, composer
On January 30, 2009, I had the pleasure of reading a call for scores written by Catherine Branch. Catherine was a research fellow of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, exploring disability throughout the world. Catherine lives with diplegic cerebral palsy and feels very strongly that music can be a catalyst for conversation, reflection and an instigator of change. Moved by her request, I contacted Catherine and we began a lengthy dialog conducted entirely through email.
Catherine wrote, “Just before leaving London I was chatting about [the project] with my host, Jo Paul, who happens to be a scenographer and designer with spina bifida. Jo came up with a really inspiring suggestion. She and I both have been told that, due to our unconventional walking styles, we seem to move about in ‘our own kind of dance.’ Once, a friend of Jo’s said that the rhythm of her walk was quite similar to the rhythm of his mother’s walk (who had MS.)”
Catherine continued with a discussion about the idea of disability resulting in beautiful rhythms of movement rather than awkward gaits, wobbles, or limps. I was quick to respond, as I thought this concept was one of the most beautiful, positive and personal ways to express the beauty of individuality I had ever heard.
Over the following weeks Catherine sent me videos and I researched over the Internet. Using a number of audio and video applications, I carefully mapped out the movements of several people, but focusing primarily on Catherine’s videos, for the creation of this work. I found that the complexity of the movements, when separated into individual rhythmic tracks, was remarkably similar to my own interpretation of rhythmic structures. Metered grace notes, pointillistic accompaniments, counterpoint and trading of melodic and internal lines all synchronized beautifully with the different video transcriptions. I felt right at home - proving that these walks were not awkward, just different. Please join me, disregarding labels placed on us by science or society, in celebrating Catherine and all people for being both similar and different.
CATHERINE BRANCH LEWIS, flute