What inspires artists, musicians, and other “creators”?

Conversations inspire artists. Works of love and labour do also. Living in a place with panoramic views in Maui is another.

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“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Thomas Edison

Creativity requires inspiration. It takes a spark to light a fire. Where does that spark come from?

Maybe it’s more like 20% inspiration that fuels the 80% perspiration — the 80-20 rule. One idea may start a chain of events, like the idea of getting a guitarist to go on a solo concert tour by himself. Most of his time is spent practising, preparing CDs for sale, getting concert bookings, making travel arrangements, and doing the actual work of performing and traveling.

Inspiration comes from conversation with people who stimulate us, like the recent gourmet dinner in the home of a composer and his chef-turned-knitter wife. That evening in Kula led to a private viewing and a house concert the following week.

Works of love and labour inspire us to try something of our own or remind us when we were in the “flow.”

Some people move to environments that are conducive to their creativity.

Every morning we wake up to the following scene, when the sun appears above the slope of Haleakala in Maui.

Dawn in Maui, from our balcony
Dawn in Maui, from our balcony

Even from inside the apartment, we can look through the floor to ceiling glass and admire the harbour and the volcano. This is what inspires me to write my blogs. This is what inspires Robert to create the CD covers and concert posters.

View from inside the apartment looking out
View from inside the apartment looking out

Every visitor that has come to our intimate house concerts in Wailuku has marvelled at the spectacular view from the balcony. From here, we can hear the outdoor concerts at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Elton John is visiting on 24th and 25th of February 2011. Perhaps that’s an occasion to discuss what inspires artists, musicians and other creators — on our balcony.

Balcony view of Maui Arts Cultural Center
Balcony view of Maui Arts Cultural Center

Preparing for Maine in Maui: making 3 CDs for concert tour

Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers races against time to finish producing three CDs for his upcoming solo concert tour of Boston, Wells, Pelham, Houston, and Phoenix.

Dutch classical guitarist Robert Bekkers is preparing three new CDs for his upcoming solo concert tour of Boston, Wells (Maine), Pelham (New York), Houston, and Phoenix. The first two are live recordings of the Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in concert in Maui (2007) and Durham, North Carolina (2010). The third is a new solo CD still being recorded from the bedroom of the apartment below.

Combining breakfast with making the artwork for the 2nd CD in Maui
Combining breakfast with making the artwork for the 2nd CD in Maui

Before the sun appears above the slopes of the volcano Haleakala, he is already awake, preparing coffee and breakfast. He usually reads his music history book while it is still cool in the apartment.

On Saturday 29th January 2011, he turns on his laptop and imports the new photos from the previous evening —  a private viewing of a newly commissioned painting Maui-based artist Frances Ku. He crops and re-sizes the image of the unframed watercolor of guitar and piano.

All preparations for this second CD, the live recording of his duo’s concert at Duke University on 2nd November 2010, have been made, except for the artwork.

The 10 tracks from the Duke CD have been uploaded onto CDBABY. The CD itself is being copied in upper Kula, in a house on the path to the crater of Haleakala. All he has to do now is to make the CD cover and send it to the CD presser and at the same time upload the album artwork onto CDBABY.

Meanwhile he is practising his solo repertoire to finish the third CD which contains the one-hour programme he will play on his solo concert tour. After the recording, he will listen to each track, edit, and master them to create a CD.

For the first CD, Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo LIVE in Makawao, he used a photo of the new painting “Piano and guitar in acryllic” by Georgia-based artist Rob Judkins. He extracted pieces of the photo image for the poster for the house concert in Maine. He also cropped part of Judkins’ painting for the CD label, which appears on the physical CD itself.

In the week that remains on Maui, he will be racing against time to finish recording his solo album, finish the artwork for the second CD, and assemble the envelopes (CD sleeves) for the first CD.

Next blog posts: CDs, music, collaboration with artists and composers.

Piano Guitar Duo CD Makawao Live! on CDBABY

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo releases their new CD Live in Makawao on CDBABY on 25th January 2011.

To prepare for Robert Bekkers’ solo guitar tour (2-page PDF) in mid-February, we are releasing two CDs of live recordings of concerts in Hawaii and North Carolina.

We will release our next CD first online in digital format for download (as entire album or individual tracks). The physical album will only be available at the forthcoming concerts of Robert Bekkers in Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Texas, and Arizona. [Correction: the physical album will also be available by ordering through CDBaby.]

Release date: Tuesday 25 January 2011

Where? On CDBABY.COM [the exact link is http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bekkerspianoguitarduo2]

What’s inside? 70 minutes of music from our first public concert in the USA.

Album cover art: Piano Guitar in Acryllic by Rob Judkins, January 2011

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo Live in Makawao CD
Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo Live in Makawao CD

Ebb and Flow Arts presented this free concert on 29th December 2007, preceded by a lot of publicity (colour posters, radio clips, newspaper mentions and listings, etc). One of the sponsors was the Hawaiian Tourism Authority.

We had not had the time in these past 3 years of marathon-like existence to review the live recording until we returned to Maui again. Otherwise this CD would have been released much earlier. The public would have then heard music of living composers Lan-Chee Lam in Toronto, Allan Segall in Amsterdam, Erik Otte in Haarlem, and Henk Alkema in Utrecht.

Makawao means “edge of the forest.”  The Makawao Union Church is located on Baldwin Avenue on the way to Maui’s famous volcano, the Haleakala. As I recall, its wooden interior and architecture provided excellent acoustics for the Baldwin grand piano that stood below the stage. We had stayed in a yoga master’s cottage in nearby Paia (a hippy town) to be within the vicinity of the church.

Over the next few days, we will blog about the works on the CD.

For a preview, download the programme notes (164 kB PDF).