Tuesday, March 27, 2007


You can find me here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

In Loving Memory

Col. Jim Roueche, Jr. 1923-2007

We called him “Jingle Jim,” at first. We noticed him my sophomore year at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro sitting in the back of Hart Recital Hall, in the old music building. When he walked, he jingled. I suppose it was his keys? I never knew, for sure. Like many young people in today’s society of prevalent stalkers, abductors, and weirdoes, we initially found Jim… well, creepy. But he didn’t care, or didn’t notice, and continued to attend student recitals, ensemble concerts, and before long befriended the students and faculty at UNCG’s School of Music.

He was at my senior recital. He was at my best friend Julie’s wedding. He liked to talk about jazz and his days in the military. When I graduated and moved away from Greensboro, he sent me clippings about the local music scene, and programs from the school’s jazz recitals, always folded up into free mailings from local arts pamphlets, a message scrawled inside, he knew how to avoid paying for a stamp! He also ALWAYS sent me a birthday present. Usually an oddity of jewelry. I sent him Christmas cards and postcards, and the occasional picture of me with other UNCG alums.

Jim was as eccentric and mysterious as they come. He hinted at being financially well off, yet donated only $10 when Julie and I raised money for our first marathon through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training®. He showed us numerous pictures of his race car (?!), and had many, many framed pictures of UNCG students in his home. I’m not exactly sure of his family situation, where they are located, or how often he saw them, but we got the sense that we students were his extended grandchildren. He kept track of everyone, and was a good resource when trying to find old classmates.

Sadly, Jim passed away a few days ago, succumbing to prostate cancer. His death caused a ripple across email, myspace, and phone lines. John J. Deal, Dean of the UNCG School of Music writes:

Jim's death is a tremendous loss to all of us in the School of Music, especially for those students he befriended over the years. He loved the School of Music and all who worked and studied here, and we will long remember his dedication and support. It is fitting that we as a School do something special in his honor. Please contact me if you have a suggestion for an appropriate tribute to Jim.

The James Roueche Scholarship in Jazz Studies has been set up in his name.

Jim’s final years illustrate the omnipotence of music. Clearly Jim had an initial love of music that brought him to the local music school to satiate his musical needs. But he attended a LOT of recitals. Way more than the ordinary music aficionado. I believe it was not just the music in itself, but the vibe, the energy of the student recitals, the comradery of studios supporting each other, the fruition of long, harsh, coffeed hours, that kept him returning day after day to his seats in the back of the new music building’s two recital halls.

There is energy in music, and then there is the energy that surrounds, and supports (?) music. We all know it. It’s the reason we alums feel odd when returning to our alma maters. Sara and I were just talking about this last night. Why did we feel suffocated when returning to MSM for friends’ recitals? I think it’s because we are no longer part of that energy. We actually sleep at night now. We belong to a new and different energy (the kind that can longer claim that we are broke because we are in school!).

I think this surrounding force is important to recognize as a musician, and as a composer. In a way, it alleviates the pressure of transforming music into perfection. Sometimes, maybe it’s just as important to have a good music scene.

I believe Jim exemplifies why, though we may strive to achieve the highest quality of music possible, it’s not always the music itself that makes music so important and necessary as humans. It’s the long lasting relations and bonds that are forged and maintained, as a result of music.

Jim, you were, and still are, loved, and you will be deeply missed.

New blog location

So in my never ending quest of a place to fit in (sigh, tear.), I’ve decided to join the ever-growing collective of bloggers. With just my toe in the water, I morphed my “news” section of my website into a haphazard blog. But alas, the lack of html preventing me from posting links and pics finally got to me, so here were are! Plus I think Anyssa was the only one who was actually reading it! I’ve backtracked and spiffed up the few posts I had before, so feel free to reread and add comments, for what blogger doesn’t love comments! -K

Friday, March 9, 2007

Notes in my... tea?

As many of you know, I am in training for the Flora London Marathon, scheduled for April 22. My long distance running partner and best friend, Julie and I agree that this has been our best training so far (this is our fourth marathon). Diligently following our Hal Higdon Novice Marathon Training Guide, we are currently in the hardest part of training, logging in 30-40 miles a week.

While I feel good about the training, I’ve become victim to some a disturbing side effect… (deep breath) I can no longer stomach coffee. I CAN NO LONGER STOMACH COFFEE!! Coffee!! Coffee. My sidekick. My crutch. My muse. My Linus’ Blanket. Indefatigable. Bold. Strong. Gone. All, gone. Sure, Green Tea is great, and healthier, won’t stain my teeth, blah blah. But c’mon…

How am I supposed to write without coffee???

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Hundred and One Days

Last week I finished reading A Hundred and One Days by Asne Seierstad. Never before have I enjoyed a non-fiction book quite as much as I did this one. Seierstad is a Norwegian journalist who spent 101 days in Baghdad before, during, and “after” the war in 2004. What made this book so great was Seierstad’s way of weaving her frustrated observations and interviews with the Iraqi people she encountered with mythological and historical accounts of the “land between the rivers” as well as her own emotions of fear, obsession, and compassion. The book reads like prose as she describes with a fair simplicity the stories of the people she works with, and is simply, heart wrenching.

I picked up this book after buying another one of her books, The Bookseller of Kabul for my brother, Patrick’s birthday. Pat is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps currently stationed at The Basic School in Quantico, VA. I am constantly impressed by Pat’s commitment to learning about today’s political situation and he is always reading military books describing the history of the Middle East, and previous military combat, amongst other things. Seierstad’s book caught my attention when looking for a book for Pat because it seemed to present a fresh viewpoint: non-American, non-military, non-political, and simply an account, as best can be given, of the people themselves living in the land we are currently engaged in. At the time I decided it was important for a future leader in the military to be as well rounded in the culture as possible; it was later that I realized it couldn’t hurt me either.

Those of you that know me well know that I loathe politics and all things partisan. I don’t trust the media and therefore never know what to believe. This book was not about politics or even the war. It was about the people. It was intriguing to read about the Saddam Hussein propaganda that was force fed to the Iraqis as well as the rehearsed responses the people gave Seierstad’s questions. Parts of the book where extremely hard to read, especially as an American with a long, proud militaristic family (four generations of marines). Seierstad never gave her opinion of the war, of September 11, or Saddam Hussein. I like to think she presented as non-biased an account as possible.

Which is refreshing. And inspiring. I appreciated learning about the individual stories as well as Seierstad’s personal experience. I can’t help but wonder if the same thing is possible with music. Could I learn to write music in such a reflective way as Seierstad’s writing? Could I portray people’s stories with sound rather than words? Maybe, if I can perfect the art of illustrating comic books through music, I can one day move on to more serious, and real stories.

For now, I’ll retreat back to fiction: Neil Gaimen’s Coraline followed by Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, with possible tunes to follow!