Quote: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." - Henry David Thoreau
I've had this posted where I can see it for a long time now, and it's always inspired me. I've always been really into transcendentalism, and a big fan of Thoreau and Emerson in particular. It seems like a simple message, but I think really following it and believing in it everyday is probably one of the most challenging things to do in life. Being a musician is hard and can involve a lot of negativity and discouragement from others (and from yourself), so I think you really need to visualize what you want in life and remember to do what makes you happy. I try to do this everyday, and that's why this quote has continually inspired me.
Person: Milton Glaser
Milton Glaser is a famous graphic designer that has done work as wide ranging as Bob Dylan posters and the I Love New York logo. He is also the source of another very inspirational quote for me: "Art is work". He has this phrase prominently placed on his office door in New York. He also wrote a book by the same title, and it's basically his entire philosophy when it comes to creating art professionally. His ideas that artists are in fact hard working professionals that deserve to be paid and respected is something that's always been very inspirational for me. There are many stereotypes when it comes to musicians and artists, so I think someone like Milton Glaser is a definite inspiration for a professional artist, whether they are working in music, graphic design, or some other medium.
Place: Steinway Hall in NYC
A picture of the recital venue in New York's Steinway Hall is in eyeline from my desk in my studio. Originally I put it there to inspire me to perform at that recital hall, but it's really become a bigger inspiration than just that singular goal. Just the image of a beautiful piano in a perfect recital hall is inspirational to me on a regular basis. It helps me to visualize the end result of all the work I do with music day in and day out. And of course it's always inspirational to play on a brand new Steinway!
Person: Philip Glass
Philip Glass is an inspiration to me on many levels. For one, his musical abilities and style are a constant inspiration. The way he has been able to take his training and experience and boil that down to a simple stylistic statement across many different areas of modern classical music is very inspirational. But his past and his struggles are also very inspirational. There are some great stories about his life as a cab driver or plumber when living in New York, even when he was premiering his first opera at Carnegie Hall. I think when you hear about those beginnings and then look at the icon he has become in American music, that is very inspirational.
Quote: "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." - Arthur Ashe
I think there's a lot to be learned from professional athletes when it comes to determination and focus, and Arthur Ashe was certainly no exception. This is another quote that is on my wall and I look at every day. I think in music there's a tendency to look at the big picture of your career as opposed to the little everyday things. And also there's really no road map or formula for music success, so sometimes it can be overwhelming when you don't really have the guidance you think you need, or you don't know exactly what direction in which to go. So this quote just grounds me and reminds me to work on the little things everyday and just enjoy doing it, and that those things will eventually become the big things.
I also have a very large painting of Barcelona in my studio by artist Anthony Pilley. I've lived in and traveled to different parts of Spain many times now, and I'd say it's definitely left a mark on me as a person and a musician. Spanish music, from Flamenco to Granados and Albéniz, and even many contemporary Spanish musicians definitely influence my own musical output. I also love Spanish painters such as Dalí and Picasso, and filmmakers like Almodóvar.
Person: Keith Jarrett
For me there's really no musician that's more important than Keith Jarrett. I've listened to all of his solo concerts more times than I count, and I had the pleasure of seeing him live at the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. He is an amazing, original, and brilliant artist, and I always aspire to be even half as talented and skilled as he is. I love his playing style and his philosophy on music, and I truly admire his skills as a musician.
Quote: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes." - Marcel Proust
I've traveled quite a bit since I graduated high school- you could almost say I've led a fairly gypsy like lifestyle for the past twenty years or so. Right now I'm back in my hometown of Cincinnati with my wife and eight year old son, and I'm really enjoying the idea of staying in one place for a little while. That's why I look at this quote and find inspiration from it. In a way it's kind of a more profound version of the grass is always greener, but I think it goes a little further than that. For me it's even about personal happiness with yourself and your life. Instead of constantly striving for more and never having enough, just try and see things from a different angle that allows you to be happy. That's something that inspires me and something that I work on everyday.
I'm going to completely sum this one up with my favorite passage from Moby Dick: "Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can." - Herman Melville