Artist in Residence: Lara Eidi
"At the end of the day, we do what we can.”
Music comes to me in all sorts of ways. Sometimes, they creep in gently, like the morning sun, finding their way to my singer’s hear other times, they appear to leap from the shadows, demanding to be heard. Believe me when I say, that during my stay at Hawkwood, I learned the power of both. Or rather, I learned to be the observer to my own music, soon realising, that the music and words that found their way to me came from above. It came from the trees, it came from the rain, it came from the timeless words of a first edition of Keats in the library, and it came from silence.
On my very first day, arriving from the meandering chaos of London, as we drove up to Hawkwood College I rolled down the taxi window to take the air, fresh with invitation and embrace. Rolling hills of green and autumn hues held me in my place, suitcase in hand, as I made my way to the reception.
There is something to be said about creating a space for artists and then there are hosts that do their part to guide you to follow and be at your own pace. The energy and care of each person at Hawkwood from the second I arrived gave me the reassurance that this was a community; a way of being, as each person, such as the wonderful gardeners who I greeted every morning before I made my way to the dining hall went about their daily chores with the kind of pride and commitment found only in those of a humble accord. The food was cooked with love that fuelled me for the entire week, as if I could taste the effort and creative energy that went into it.
You may notice that I have yet to talk about the music I created, but I need to remind the reader that a residency is so much more than the work produced. The environment is what makes the artist feel at home, and hence, gives them the power to adapt to the magic of their surroundings and allow the place to inspire.
And so, my week began at Hawkwood with the line I quickly scribbled in my notebook:
“At the end of the day, we do what we can.”
I now realise I started my creative process by already imagining that whatever I would create, it would be what I could muster. I decided that there would be no strenuous effort to create a masterpiece, but rather there would be a newly acquired need to create moments that seemed to come at me like meteors. On the first day, it rained.
I love the rain.
So, I proceeded to walk the suggested circular path. Laughing inwardly, I compared it instantly to my creative process: I seemed, prior to my residency ta Hawkwood to go round in circles when trying to finish a piece of music. Ideas were never connected and went off on circular tangents. So, as I made my way up past the most majestic birch and oak trees laden with hints of red and golden hue, I spotted an opening to a green meadow. Tentatively, I made my way across the fields, the rain slowly subsiding, and I was gifted the view of Hawkood and its surroundings. Notebook in hand, I wrote the following.
“All is still. All is silent. The light grows dim, yet I can still hear it sing. Circling round and round I hear the clocks in everything. If only the world would cease to move, then perhaps we can be found again, I can still rejoice at the sound I hear, the story I know I must write, and again, at the end of the day, we hear the clocks in everything.“
Two hours later, I made my way hastily to the piano studio. The Yamaha grand seemed to gleam and morph into a new friend, begging for conversation. I sat down, and, for the first time, I found myself thinking of the words I wrote, but chose not to sing them. Instead, I decided to let the piano be the voice.
What followed was the composition of 4 piano suites, aptly called “The Variations: Ode to a Leaf”. I had amassed 4 distinct kinds of leaves from my walks, and each time I played, I placed a single leaf on top of the piano, with the words I had written that day to remind me of that sentiment I felt. One can say I composed music in these suites that were extensions of a single moment of appreciation for the wonder I found in the wisdom of trees, branches, and leaves. It brought me back to my very first love, poetry.
On Days Two and Three, I carried on with this daily walk of 2- 3 hours, and when it rained, I made my way to the library. Keats toyed with me from day one, and of course, Coleridge soon after. I believe in intuition, as opposed to random inspiration. Everything happens for a reason, so it was no surprise that I opened to Coleridge’s remorseful “Kubla Khan”. The words “sunless sea” filled me with an instant desire for my beloved Mediterranean Sea, and I made my way to the piano studio.
Therefore now, as I write this, listening back to my recordings, I am happy that I chose to just compose through an improvised approach. I purposely did not overthink my structure. Like my thoughts which seemed to pour with emotion, I allowed myself to observe the music, not as Lara, but as someone who was channelling words, sounds and everything in-between.
At the end of Day Three, through to the end of Day Four, the weather turned into a sunlit heavenly dome. My pace of walking changed. I smelled a change in the air and yet again, I allowed myself to be led by the surroundings. Making my way further this time round, in the afternoon, coffee in hand, I made my way across the rolling hills and stopped when I came across cows, sleepily and gloriously sitting in their slumber. I was transfixed by them. I hurriedly wrote in my notebook:
“Remember the ones before you
Echoe in their stride
Even in our waking hour,
The moon still shines
And we still are one with the world beneath us”.
Now, one may think I could have written that inspired by the glorious full moon that week, but this was written inspired by the cows of Hawkwood. Do not ask, the creative process is a funny thing.
That night, I made my way excitedly to the studio. This time, instead of my regular tea, I purchased the local Cider (yes, Cider can be inspiring). I suddenly thought of Ireland, a place I lived and studied in, and started playing a joyful little pentatonic riff, repeatedly. I thought of the fields that day, the grazing animals, and the fact that we are lucky to be alive to witness the power of nature, all at the same time connected to the world above and within.
And so,” What lies beneath “was composed that evening. On a musical note, I had not played that joyfully without singing since I can remember. It was as if I remembered why piano was my first instrument, and how voice made its way to help me converse with it.
All: what is music but a conversation about the connection of one’s soul, heart and the world?
Thank you Hawkwood, for giving me back my love of music.
Find out more about Hawkwood Artist Residencies here.
Written by Lara Eidi
Born in Athens to Lebanese-Canadian parents, Lara Eidi is an artist who thrives on celebrating difference. An independent singer-songwriter and multi- instrumentalist, she has received critical acclaim for her compositions that combine deft storytelling with intricate rhythms and jazz folk motifs.
Jazz UK described her as “a singer with true gift of a voice, a kind soul, and a captivating presence.”
As a multi-disciplinary artist, she is sought after as a composer for film scores. She writes as a freelance music journalist, and delivers creative workshops in Greece and the UK. Her long awaited debut album SUN weaves the threads of her folk, acoustic rock and jazz-classical upbringing to her heartfelt message of hope, empowerment, and freedom.