Ukraine at VCCA

The atrocities are continuing. It is horrifying. While here we are at VCCA. The juxtapositions are disorienting. There was a suggestion from a fellow fellow to get together one evening last week and share something about this war and being here. Below (photo and mini-essay) are my contributions.

Stream of consciousness on Ukraine at VCCA.

Sorrow and rage are two of the many emotions that overcome me (along with fear, disbelief, despair and…). Years of therapy have taught me that ignoring or denying these emotions does not usually help for very long. The high energy of rage leaves little room for the depth of sorrow, but there they are, both, together. Confusing. Exhausting. 

Of course, this is nothing compared to what the people on the ground are experiencing. What privilege I have of never experiencing a war zone or having to flee for my life. The Ukrainian response has been inspiring, heartbreaking and a model for us all. If you haven’t seen today’s Post article, “Music as Resistance” – a 25 minute concert in freezing weather – amazing! But the brutality continues. This is one of those situations where my empathy is not helpful, just debilitating. But what can we do? Here, in paradise at VCCA?

Donate if you are able, sure. If you can’t send money (and even if you can), send energy, good juju, reiki, prayers, meditation, whatever tradition you follow. Send the yellow bursting joy of those daffodils on our walk, the swooping delight of bluebirds and cardinals, the endlessly varying songs of mockingbirds, send all this possibility of spring – to yourself, to the world.

Try not to break down under the pressure, the fear, the anxiety. Solidarity in whatever fashion we practice, such as doing what we are doing here, right now.

This will help us to continue to practice our art, which is why we are here at VCCA. And to stop practicing our art – that is to let Putin win.

Onward in solidarity. Slava Ukraini! Glory to Ukraine!

I tried to take a photo of my favorite tree with the moon behind it, lying on the wet ground. I failed. So here above, instead, is the iconic VCCA night photo (thank you, Karen Bell for printing it for me). I’m sending the energy I get from looking at it to those who need it. Onward.

Sarah B. Dorsey

What a Wacky World!

Barn from the back road.

OK, maybe that is too flippant right now. But the world has turned upside down since the last time I posted here. Covid…and now Ukraine (and so many things in between). Including navigating lots of grief.

I am here, back at VCCA, in this different world…which, of course, has affected VCCA. Masks and covid tests (thank heavens I passed mine!). I am in writing paradise and full of gratitude that this is possible. On sabbatical (FFB) and getting work done on the biography. I have a deadline and I am going to meet it.

Here are some cloud photos I took today. Enjoy. More soon. I am determined to be a little more regular than three years (or so)…

These were moving pretty quickly.

VCCA 2019!!!

In heaven here at VCCA for much of June 2019. This is the best case scenario for moving forward with the book. Clearly I am way distracted when I’m not here as I don’t post on this blog. This will change as I get closer to a publication date. Don’t hold your breath just yet 😉

I was lucky that AFTER this last post I was able to go to the Third International Thornton Wilder Conference in Peterborough, NH in July of 2018. That was an exciting experience on a number of levels. I won’t go into it right now, because…VCCA. But I will create a post about this sometime in the near future. Not only was that the location of the conference, but it is where the MacDowell Colony is located – where Louise wrote a majority of her music. And we were able to go visit Wilder’s studio (thank you, David Macy) en masse which was moving (we went right by LT’s Phi Beta Studio in the bus). VCCA is my MacDowell. As mentioned elsewhere, Louise was here at VCCA three times, so I do feel a connection. This time two of the three composer studios have actual composers in them. I’ve been in two of them which was very cool – working in a space that Louise had probably composed.

But I digress. Focus is what I am able to accomplish at VCCA (in spite of my Sunday shenanigans here). Like the detail on this lovely flower, I am able to slow down and see details that will add up to make the next chapter interesting and as true a record of Louise’s life as I am able. Onward!

Honored and excited to present on Louise Talma and VCCA at Riverviews Artspace in Lynchburg, VA May 30, 7:30.

I am grateful and delighted to be here at VCCA for the month of May. Deep in book brain and it is delicious. I love that I get to give back to VCCA (and Louise and Riverviews) by sharing some of my work.

Here is a link to the Facebook event:

And once I figure out how to put the PDF of the flyer here, I will do so (geezer problems). Thanks to Kirsten McKinney (wonderful VCCA staff member), here it is:




Vermont Studio Center – May 2017

Wow. Just wow. I was able to spend most of the month of May at a most beautiful location in Johnson Vermont, the Vermont Studio Center.

It is hard to know where to begin. I have been to other residencies (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts – AKA VCCA and Wildacres in the mountains of North Carolina), but VSC is, well, first of all it is in VERMONT!! And that meant I got to experience another spring in VT after a spring in NC! And second of all, I met all sorts of amazing creative artists (3D, 2D and writers and those dabbling in more than one of those media).

Third of all, and really the most important part, the shitty first draft of Chapter 4 was born. This was a bit of a phew because when I got there I had more letters back and forth between Louise and Thornton Wilder than I thought. Hundreds. Thousands of images that I took at the Beinecke in May of 2016 (while I was on sabbatical) and then later in November of 2016 (because there were more than I expected and I ran out of time and had to go back). Both of those trips were funded by the Faculty First Grant at UNCG (THANK YOU!). But I digress.

So it took me OVER TWO WEEKS to read the rest of these letters (I had started reading last June, but, well, the sabbatical ended and then I had a slight issue with the EHD with all of my images – there will be a whole ‘nother post about THAT). But finally the narrative arc of the chapter emerged out of the miasma of my brain, mostly based on the arc of this correspondence. It really is a luxury to have both sides of the conversation. There are some places in the Nadia chapter where that luxury also exists, but this is really almost all of the correspondence between TW and LT. They were even thinking of publishing it, so Louise had added footnotes to Thorny’s letters when she thought there might be confusion about what he was referring to. But, once again, I digress. Isn’t that what blogs are for, though?

Anyway, I am still processing the experience of VSC and will post more about it once I can find the time to do so.

I will, however, post my studio shot (see above fancy B&W, thank you, Howard Romero, and a couple of colored versions below) because, it contains many important elements of my residency. The river which I heard each day, which sang outside my studio window without ceasing, inspiring focus at times and delightful distractions at others, which went up and down depending on how much rain we got (LOTS of rain), the bridge we all walked back and forth across daily, hourly (I miss that river and that bridge), the LT program in my hands (from 2015 at UNCG), my VSC mug which takes me back, and the Maverick writers studio building in the background where all happened.


And a little more pensive…I tell you, that river could bring it on…


P.S. This post is just now going out because I got distracted. More photos later when I find time…so many beautiful spring flowers!

Wait, one more: here we all are, VSC, May 2017 (photo by Howard Romero)

VSC Residents, May 2017


I was lucky enough to attend a SEMLA (SouthEast Music Library Association) conference in New Orleans, LA last week . It was a lovely conference with our colleagues from Texas (TMLA) and members of the MLA Board. It was great to be back in one of my favorite American cities (partly because it makes you feel as though you are NOT in the USA). And to my surprise, just one little block from the hotel was this place:

They provided much needed espresso drinks, delicious food not to mention wine later in the day. I told them I was writing a book about a composer named Louise and they revealed that the restaurant was named after the owners’s daughter. I had breakfast with my dear roomie of many SEMLA and MLA conferences over the years, Lois Kuyper-Rushing. And some wine with my dear pal of many years (can you say BU??), Diane Steinhaus.

I enjoyed the cosmic message, of course! 🙂 Will keep working on that book. Word by word…

Photo credit (for the second two items) to Diane Steinhaus. Thanks, sistah!

OMG! Check out this article in Breve Notes…

That I wrote TEN YEARS ago. It is lucky I did not know at that time how much time this would take.

A little spooky to read now, but at least I finally have a contract. Phew.

(Breve Notes is the newsletter of the regional professional group I have been in for over twenty years, the SouthEast Music Library Association (SEMLA) – Semla is also a Swedish sweet roll)

SAM Poster preview

I’m excited to be traveling to Montreal for a number of reasons:

  1. I get to see snow!
  2. I owe my very existence to McGill University (that is where my parents met)!
  3. The Society for American Music is having their 43rd Annual Conference and I get to present the poster below. Woo Hoo!  Stay tuned for more…

OK, removed the image because, well, copyright.

Stay tuned for a cleaned up version that is legal 🙂


Concert Postponed…

Just as I was getting ready to post the press release for the March 4 concert of Chamber Music by Louise Talma (companion piece to the lovely flyer by Brad McMillan from the previous post), we realized that, given a number of circumstances, it made sense for us to postpone the concert until early next fall semester. Stay tuned for a date here. More soon.