Pianist and author Jessica Roemischer combines music and story telling and video for a unique concert at the Byron Theatre titled Once in a Blue Moon.
Tell me what inspires you about Byron Bay.
Ever since I set foot on Australian soil in January 1983, having left the cloudy winter of New York, it has felt like my true home. I first visited Byron Bay a few years later. What a magical place. Meditating on the power of the sea from Byron Lighthouse is a truly spiritual experience. You feel the expanse of the ocean and its eternal rhythm. Byron is an especially spiritual place and I’ve always gone there for rest and healing.
What is the essence of a good story?
What I’m realising is that every story is significant. Whatever life you’ve lived and experiences you’ve had, there is beauty, revelation, heartache, discovery. All stories are of value and the greatest tragedy is that so many people are not given the chance to tell their stories. My life’s work has become, in part, to offer people that opportunity.
What stays and what goes when you write; is it important to stick to the ‘truth’ or is it better to find a new twist?
It took me four years to write my memoir, In Duet with God: The Story of a Lifelong Friendship. I was honoured to receive a major award for the book. The book was self-published and it won alongside the books of incredible spiritual leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Part of the four-year process included my own intensive editing. I’d strip out any word or sentence that was commentary on what happened, rather than simply the description of what had happened.
If you go to a bookstore, all you have to do is pick up a book, any book, open it to a random page and read two sentences. If those sentences touch you directly, deeply and without artifice, that’s a book worth your time!
How does your work on the piano tie in with your presentation, in particular Once in a Blue Moon that you have created with Luke Taylor.
I was on Facebook last year and saw a remarkable image of the ‘blue’ moon rising over the lighthouse by Byron photographer Luke Taylor. His post said that he was in the process of producing a video of the moonrise. I didn’t know Luke, but I messaged him and asked, ‘Would you like me to create piano music for your video?’ He said yes, and sent me the specs (length of the video, etc). On my piano in western Massachusetts (where I live when I’m not in Australia), using the image I saw on Facebook and the specs Luke sent, I created the music. I emailed him the audio, we fine-tuned it, and the video was complete – a trans-Pacific collaboration between two people who’d never met. The video has received nearly two million views and counting. I’ll meet Luke for the first time at my Byron Theatre concert where I’ll be showing the video as I play the piano soundtrack live.
What should we expect for your Byron show?
Every concert that I do is inspired by the particular place and people where I’m performing. This is going to be a very special concert, because Byron is so close to my heart. Imagine experiencing the majesty of the heavens and of Earth as you hear inspiring piano music and the Theatre’s magnificent Steinway piano. I’ll tell wonderful stories, too. I welcome readers to contact me through my website and share some of their stories in advance of the concert. The unique tapestry of the land and the people are what I’ll bring to life.
Saturday, 7.30pm at Byron Theatre. Cost: $33, conc (ID req.) $25, child U13 $18.
Tix and info: www.byroncentre.com.au or call 6685 6807.