Composer; Performer; Vocalist
Contemporary Classical; New Age
Jul 2, 2022
Composer, harpist, pianist, vocalist, poet, and performing artist Elizabeth Clark is gratefully native to the Hudson Valley in upstate NY. Weaving together elements of early, sacred, and world music with classical and contemporary minimalism, she creates modern-day sacred music for world instruments, performing original work with her ever-evolving world music project ‘Mamalama’ and employing interdisciplinary art forms in performance. Exploring music as a form of prayer and a way of healing, she invokes an otherworldly sound experience that is simultaneously ancient and modern, striving to create doorways into spiritual experience through music.
IN HER OWN WORDS
I approach music not only as a performance, but also as a form of prayer and a bridge between world cultures, thematically exploring spiritual experience, global mythologies and sacred traditions, and the interconnectedness of human relationships with our planet and each other. I view my work as a healing art, creating ways to step into sacred space together through the doorway of music.
An artist-in-residence at Woodstock’s Byrdcliffe Colony of the Arts from 2018-2020, I recently finished composing “Seeds Under Nuclear Winter: An Earth Opera”, a large-scale interdisciplinary body of work for live world and sacred music, dance, storytelling, moving visual art, and light experiments. The ‘Earth Opera’ is a transformation of visions, dreams, and spiritual experiences into an immersive experience— stepping into otherworldly realms and unfolding upon a non-linear and timeless path, similar to the way we dream.
The trajectory of my work has been shaped by many deeply formative experiences; finding a deep connection between the creation of music, healing, and the embodied practice of prayer. serving the needs of the dying through live music at the bedside, and working with the life experiences of Elders through the transformational and healing power of music and song.
Music is and has always been, for me, a form of medicine. It has become a way of prayer. It is a mirror. It can hold anything for us. Music reaches the heart quickly. It heals, it teaches, moves us, soothes us, riles us, strengthens us, and gives us good company if we are lonely. It soothes a cranky child. We can pray with it, we can cry into it, we put into musical forms our joy, sorrow, wonder, anger, hope. It is (mostly) invisible in it's delivery, ancient reinvented rhythms and new melodies traveling wherever they want, without boundaries— free, like water, lifting up and crossing over and under all borders, and redistributing as it pleases. It carries the stories and rhythms of our ancestors, and it always has. It breaks our heart. It heals our broken heart. There is nothing that music cannot hold.
I have been a composer/songwriter with the Hudson Valley non-profit organization ‘Sagearts’ since it began in 2014, and I have been deeply committed to working with music as a way to honor and celebrate the lives of Elders in my community. ‘Sagearts’ music projects involve collaboration between Elders and songwriters to create original songs that honor and deeply reflect upon an Elder’s individual life, bringing forward the jewels of each persons long life experience, and sharing them with the larger community through live performance. Most recently, original songs were written with Elders who are survivors of the Holocaust, a deeply moving musical project that has recently been made into a documentary film called "We Remember: Songs of Survivors", airing nationally on PBS April 26th 2022.
With a long time practice of working with music as a way of healing in various ways, I have often provide live harp and vocal music at the bedside for those receiving hospice/end of life care within nursing homes, hospitals, and private homes. Bedside music is offered in prayerful support for the one who is dying, and for the family surrounding them during their transition. This work found me long ago while working in a nursing home during my college years. A 94 year old grandmother with no living family was actively dying—alone— with nothing but the television set blaring in her room. Traveling down the hallway to a recreational activities program with my harp that day, a nurse randomly asked if I could sit with her for a few minutes, as they were short staffed. I entered the room with my harp, and sat at the bedside playing and singing softly until she finally left her body—all the while her eyes fixed on mine, the fear in her eyes lifting as we held together during this sacred moment, held by the mystery of music.
That moment changed my relationship with music.
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