The atmosphere in Civitella was extremely conducive to work. I rarely have uninterrupted time, so over a month without ringing phones was simply incredible. Of course, the physical environment, the landscape, the quiet surroundings (excepting the odd off-road motor scooter every few days) the architectural beauty of the castle, and the weather are all very attractive. I learned tremendously from the other artists. The apparent policy of multi-axial diversity (gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, artistic field, aesthetic discourse, age, etc.) made it possible for everyone to gain a variety of perspectives from exploring each others’ work, from conversations at dinner and elsewhere, and chance meetings in the library. People talked about their work, but nobody seemed to be so obsessed that they couldn’t open up to exchanges about a wider variety of subjects. When I arrived at Civitella I had the goal in mind of completing (1) the chapter outline for my book on the Chicago musicians’ collective, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM); (2) a revised interview method for future fieldwork, including an extensive, wide-ranging set of questions. (3) transcription of key interviews I had already done (4) creating a taxonomized database of contacts. I got that done, along with many pages of useful notes and ideas, amounting to around 90,000 words of notes and other texts that I was able to generate. Basically, the Civitella environment allowed me the temporal, physical and mental space to ask these new questions, develop ideas, question my own ideas, and most importantly, to consider innovation as a viable option instead of a out-of-reach luxury. Thus I feel that I achieved a lot more than I expected to, and am rather satisfied with what happened there.
07/06/2020: Lifting the Cone of Silence From Black Composers