Thursday, August 5, 2021

A Gift of Listening

Jessi Harvey

August 2021

Rensing was my first residency, and I came to finally begin a passion piece that I’ve been thinking on for two years. The work is based on a walk I took through the heart of the Rocky Mountains and the sounds I encountered. I wanted to get back to that experience of listening to those sounds and so I was searching for a residency where I could simply sit and listen and remember that state of eternity where every noise starts as a whisper but ends as a roar. Rensing appeared.

And thus, at Rensing I listened. The rustling the leaves as the wind whispers through the trees, the chirp of the cicadas, the buzz of the bees. The sound of a pitchfork going into earth, the occasional whoosh of the cars driving by, the frogs at night. The endless variations of those sounds. I think best when walking so I’d pace up and down the driveway, to the cows, occasionally all the way to the waterfall, and listened, and thought, and remembered.


For two weeks I’ve had a gift that I’ve not had before, time and space to do nothing but create. To not have to force the music to come and when I hit a snag, it was back to walking and listening. As I walked and listened the snarls would untangle and then it was back to my chair outside, rocking back and forth and continuing to compose. When do the horns come in and how do I create a Ponderosa Pine out of sound? Oh, Ok…. Back at it. 


This is my thank you for this lovely gift, wrapped in kindness, of space and time and listening. Thank you to my fabulous cohort, Rachel, who was the best neighbor across the hall one could ask for! Thank you, to Ron, Will, and Ben, and everyone I met for the conversation.  Thank you to Kiely for taking me swimming in a river, one of the only times I’ve done so since leaving Montana. And for the very largest of thank you’s to the most hospitable and kind of directors, Ellen. You have truly sewn together a extraordinary quilt of people, battened by a scenery you could listen to forever, to weave a remarkable residency I hope to return to in the future. 

Jessi Harvey

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