Composer/Bassoonist Joy Guidry shares how they protect their own mental health while exploring personally traumatic content in their art. We discuss their critically acclaimed debut album, Radical Acceptance (2022), which traces Joy’s personal experiences of Bipolar Disorder and PTSD. Joy differentiates between the harmful nature of forcing oneself to relive a traumatic personal memory in order to create art, and the act of reclaiming and transforming one’s experience through communal storytelling. Lastly, Joy shares what they wish others knew about Bipolar Disorder and how musical institutions can be more ADA compliant and accessible.
Ukrainian-born violinist Dr. Myroslava Khomik shares how anyone with creativity and compassion can work as a spiritual leader during times of global crisis. We discuss the centuries-long history of Russian aggressors targeting and executing Ukrainian artists while appropriating Ukrainian culture, why promoting Ukrainian music is a revolutionary act, and how we can each use our own unique individual voices to contribute to the health of our society.
Composer Andrew Norman shares how his creative anxiety has led him into a current period of writer’s block. We discuss how his frenetic language captures how thoughts move in his mind, the underlying sources of his anxiety, and brainstorm together how he can move forward to reconnect with the joy of his creative process.
Composer and pianist Billy Childs shares the impact of the pandemic and systemic racism in America on his creativity and how he returns to his writing process with practice and persistence. Billy speaks candidly about the pressure he puts on himself to create and perfect his craft, how his musical brain is constantly processing the world around him, and the healing nature of artistic experience.
Composers and best friends Dale Trumbore and Julia Adolphe discuss living with anxiety disorders and writing during a pandemic. Dale is the author of Staying Composed: Overcoming Anxiety & Self-Doubt Within a Creative Life. They discuss Dale’s choral works written specifically for Zoom, her experience with anti-anxiety medication, and how she addresses unhealthy thought patterns in order to return to her creativity.
Librettist and Singer Aiden K. Feltkamp, who serves as the Emerging Composers and Diversity Director at the American Composers Orchestra, shares how they work with large institutions to identify & dismantle internal discriminatory practices and address unconscious biases. Aiden speaks openly about their personal experience transitioning, the impact that Gender Dysphoria (experiencing discord between one’s gender identity and one’s assigned sex at birth) had on their mental health, and how writing helped their healing process. We discuss our shared experiences of mental illness, or what Aiden and fellow diversity educators call Neurodivergence, the benefits of therapy; medication in treating Anxiety, Depression, and ADHD.
[Ed. Note: Although Julia Adolphe’s talk with New Music USA Amplifying Voices composer Jessie Montgomery was recorded eight months ago, in November 2020, it is still an extremely timely conversation which is why we wanted to share it again now on NewMusicBox – FJO]
Composer and Violinist Jessie Montgomery shares how she has shifted her creative process since the pandemic began to cultivate a sense of playful freedom and reconnect with her childhood love of diverse musical styles. We discuss how systemic racism has affected Jessie’s perception of her own musical identity, and her thoughts on her growing role within the classical music community to represent Black women. Jessie offers advice on how to pace oneself while participating in the ongoing process of Anti-Racism work so that we can continue to care for our own health and creative vitality.
Co-hosts of the Trilloquy podcast Garrett McQueen and Scott Blankenship share their experiences with depression, therapy, medication, cannabis, creativity, and addiction. They also discuss how they continue to navigate their professional and personal relationship following Garrett’s controversial termination from American Public Media, the original owner of Trilloquy and parent company to Minnesota Public Radio, where the two worked together as broadcasters and Garrett served as the only Black classical music host. Scott and Garrett share how they put their relationship first, how they stay motivated in their work to decolonize classical music, and the importance of being vulnerable and honest in conversations surrounding mental health.
For years in therapy, I focused on recognizing and then extracting my anxious impulses from my creative process to allow greater room for freedom and play. Now, I am examining how my lingering anxiety that appears while I write can actually serve as a tool in the editing process, provided it remains in check and in direct dialogue with my work.
The idea that art stems from deep suffering is ingrained in Western European classical tradition. I share my thoughts on why this myth is attractive to society and to myself personally, as I was struggling to come to terms with my Anxiety Disorder. Belief in this myth ultimately did me more harm than good, and I discuss why I’ve let go of this romanticized, if not dangerous notion of the creative process.