Volume 1 CD Has Been Recorded!

With some of my out of state/country performances were canceled due to Covid-19, I was able to repurpose some grant money in order to get started on my three cd recording project. So, on May 18-20, I descended, mask and all, upon Albion College’s Goodrich Chapel. I managed to record the entire Beethoven Diabelli Variations, Op. 120! It is completely edited and ready to go. I’m so happy. I feel like my journey has really come alive with this project.

Managing this project is a big deal–I have the website to work on, practicing of course, trying to get the website out to non-commissioned composers, and trying to have a blog post every now and again. My sabbatical semester in Spring 2021 will allow me the time to record the other two CD’s throughout the semester and I’m thrilled that I have one CD finished at this point.

I need to thank my recording engineer, Kurt Judy, and my CD cover designer, Jim Stuart (who is also my awesome web designer). Additionally, I want to thank Jim Reeder of James Reeder Pianos, Inc., of Lansing Michigan for taking care of Albion College’s Steinway D so beautifully. My husband listened faithfully to every track and I am very thankful. Well, until my next post!!!

Quarantined Diabelli

Well who would have known after my website launch party was canceled on March 16, 2020, that life as we basically know it has halted. Fortunately, my family and I are safe and healthy and staying home! I have, like many musicians, been given a gift of some more focused practice time (or at least that should be the case). In reality, I have been forcing myself to practice, but with difficulty. I find myself unfocused, unmotivated, and probably depressed.

But I try to press onward, as I am still planning on recording Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, Op. 120 this summer as part of my project. I have secured two new variation commissions from South America and Asia and I am quite excited to learn this new music. And finally, I am finding new joy in practicing all of the new music. So here is to finding joy and peace in these difficult times. I hope to have some recordings posted later this summer after our campus (hopefully) opens up so I have access to our recital hall to record. I wish anyone reading this health, rest, and purposefulness in this difficult time. Perhaps this quarantine enlivens my concept of the Diabelli Squared project even more, as its main focus is to bring the humanity of music together.

My Website Launch Party Was Canceled.

Today was supposed to be a great day. After three years of imagining my Diabelli Squared website, this evening was supposed to be the official Albion College live event where the website was put out into the world. My many thanks to Jim Stuart of Albion College and owner of Stirling Books and Brew in Albion, MI, for all of his time and incredibly creative ideas. I couldn’t have this even happening without him. He brought my imagination to reality.

But, the coronavirus situation has made that event not possible. For now. While this is a small disappointment compared to the larger global issues, this website’s entire purpose is to bring people together through music. So from that standpoint, I think everything will turn out just fine. My upcoming concerts where I was going to officially premiere several of my new commissioned variations have been cancelled as well, but I have great hope that I will get to perform them very soon in public. Thank you everyone!

First Blog Post!

Today marks a truly pivotal time for me with this endeavor.  This is the first blog post I get to write for my website about my Albion College Diabelli Squared initiative. 

Thank you for visiting this site!  I hope after reading this, you will strongly consider submitting a variation to this project.  Hopefully you have read the history and genesis of my ideas, so now I’d like to talk to you about why I think this is so crucial in our world today. 

For me, the very essence of a variation symbolizes in microcosm the struggles of our social world.  It makes me sad to see people discriminating against other human beings, and it’s happening constantly.  Variations in a small way, heal these wounds.  Their nature is to embrace all that is constant and common between itself and its variation.  Translation for society?  We are all human.  We are all deserving of dignity and respect.  Then, a variation transcends these commonalities and completely embraces and empowers diversity of all kinds.  Translation for society?  We must love and respect each other for our uniqueness and our wonderfully diverse ideas.  It makes us grow. 

Variations accomplish this so magically.  By submitting a variation for this project, your art will become part of a living, organic piece of music.  My website will never end.  There will always be more submissions, giving me, the performer, the chance to present a new “version” of the Diabelli theme all the time.  Furthermore, I have had the chance to commission nine (to this point) variations from persons around the globe. 

I don’t have endless funds, and while I cannot compensate you for your submission, I will play your music.  I will champion you as a composer, where you’re from, and I will give you space on this site to promote yourself beyond the variation you submit.  Please be part of my Diabelli world.  I hope to spread kindness, compassion, art, music, and hopefully, joy, enrichment, and understanding, throughout our planet through this virtual project. 

All I ask of you is that you agree to let me perform and record your work once it is submitted.  In return, you will be part of a large conglomerate of artists, all striving to give a new and different voice to a two hundred year old theme.  Please embrace this history and its future.  I believe, in a small way, that this can change our world for the good. 

I am honored you have chosen to consider this important work.  I am grateful if you submit.  If you do not have time, please consider sharing my website with your colleagues and your students.  I will play every work submitted as long as I can read the score.  I will love trying to get to know you over time.  And I value you as a musician.  Please submit your variation to me by email (ljensen@albion.edu), and if you have any questions about this endeavor, do not hesitate to contact me. 

Warmly,

Lia Jensen-Abbott

Under Construction

Well we had a good first meeting on the initial release of the website today, with Lia and Jim (there’s something about those three-letter names).

We’ve got consensus on the overall structure and made some initial corrections to the content. And we’ll continue with content development through the end of 2019, with Jim working on initial population of the Anton Diabelli project page and the Albion College Diabelli Squared commissioned pieces, while Lia works on the verbiage for voluntary submissions and the first Director’s blog. We’ll meet again after the new year.

Progress!