Friday, March 04, 2016

The duty of creativity

If you're a creative person, says composer Abbie Betinis, "It's not just a nice thing to be--it's your job, and the world needs it."

What the world needs is more Abbie Betinis. 
Earlier this week, the young composer appeared with our college's concert choir to discuss the works they were performing and the creative process that led her to compose those works. She pinpointed nine essential characteristics for pursuing the creative life: duty, necessity, persistence, lateral thinking, brain rest, vulnerability, optimism, a sense of play, and daring. Persistence, she said, "helps make the ground fertile for creativity," while optimism provides a way in to the creative world when we tell ourselves "No matter what happens, I'm gonna do it!"

The young composer's love for the canon form was on beautiful display in "Lumen" and "Be Like the Bird" (click here for a sample) as she explained how the canon form allows her to put "the extemporaneousness of play into a fixed form." The canon's spare lines provide harmonic support for each other as they go along, spreading from a simple point to spread out into rich textures that build and grow; in this, she said, canons are like people:  "We all get to support each other--we get to be the harmony for someone else's melody." 

What a gift! But the gift goes on only if others take up Abbie Betinis's challenge to embrace with daring a creative life.   

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