Ursel Schlicht: Piano Colors - Inside and Out
If it sounds like Schlicht sets high standards and shows a motivation to articulate her preferences, it would also be correct to say that she is increasingly aware of how easily she takes on too much. "I volunteer easily out of motivation to get things done. However, I tend to take on too much and am not necessarily very strategic. For example, In 2003, I received a fellowship at Harvestworks, New York, to do a score to F. W. Murnau's 'Faust', one of the films I play live. I recorded several layers of piano, inside and keys, and then edited it onto the film - which is over 2 hours long, one of the largest editing projects ever done by a resident. Having never worked with ProTools before, I had no idea how huge a project I had proposed. It was a great experience, but it took forever to get done."
Early this year, I made a commitment to myself to not take on anything new until, step by step, all CDs in process are finished!"
String Theory with Bruce Arnold and Schlicht has just been released on Arnold's Muse-Eek label. The next one to come out will her duo CD with Reuben Radding, recorded live at the Roulette concert series at Location One. "We both feel this concert represents our duo sound very well. It is all improvised, and has this strong live energy." Schlicht really appreciates working with Radding. "Reuben and I happened to meet when we both had time to play on a regular basis. We played together in the Laura Andel Orchestra - a large ensemble that I love being a part of. Reuben and I then did weekly sessions for months, playing, listening, finding what works best for us musically. I value that a lot. Plus, both of us made an effort to find work. In 2004, Reuben had an invitation to the Festival of Creative Music in Seattle and he had carte blanche from the festival to choose one musician from New York to come with him. He chose me! As all my colleagues know, I've often created work for others - it was so good to see something coming back."
Also in the works are an Ex Tempore CD, a duo CD with Robert Dick, and a CD with Adam Simmons, Radding, Schlicht, and John Hollenbeck. Forthcoming in the fall is a new release of the Laura Andel Orchestra called In::Tension on Rossbin Records.
If Ursel Schlicht had a wish list, it would probably include a number of items that any busy musician would recognise.
"I would love a representative or a manager. I actually think that with the range of things that I do - the various ensembles, my scores for silent film, workshops, lectures - there should be lots of work that could be found if somebody was into it."
"And two, three, four hours a day to work on my music - to write and to practice. Sometimes it feels like those two or three hours are impossible to find. Although," she says, "this year things are changing in the right direction. I have very good performances coming up. In September, Robert Dick and I will open the World Music Institute's 'Interpretations' series at Merkin Hall - that is one of the best concerts to be had in New York, and I am very excited about it. Ute Kaiser and I will tour with our Mascha Kaleko program in October. I will tour with 'Faust' in Germany in November. Then there are of course the Ex Tempore residency concerts. My teaching is getting easier because my courses are well developed now. During the summer months, I will write music and work on the various CDs - and seriously practice.
"Today - right before this interview - I took a piano lesson with Connie Crothers and it made me really happy. I practiced all morning and then went to meet with Connie, and it was wonderful. Taking lessons myself again after several years feels almost like a luxury · but I think that to get to the next level it is absolutely essential that I not neglect those hours at the instrument like I did in phases when organizing a complex project seems to take over my life. I respect when some of my colleagues say 'Well, I can't talk to you right now - I need to practice. Call me back in two hours.' That is a side that I am cultivating right now."
· Ursel Schlicht/ Bruce Arnold: String Theory Muse-Eek 2005
· Implicate Order (Schlicht/Swell/Filiano/Grassi): Sound Quest Cadence 2001
· Duo Statements (Ursel Schlicht/Hans Tammen): Statements Hybrid Music Prod. 1995
· Laura Andel Orchestra: In::Tension (forthcoming) Rossbin 2005
· Laura Andel Orchestra: Somnambulist Red Toucan 2003
See all Ursel Schlicht reviews at All About Jazz
For a complete discography, visit Ursel Schlicht on the web.
This article sprang from ideas and conversations with Ursel Schlicht in Sydney and New York City between December 2003 and June 2005. It could not have been written without her input and support during a period when the author was experiencing considerable personal difficulty. What a pleasure to interview a gifted musician who also turns out to have compassion :-)