I first became a fan of Arvel Bird’s music at Ganondagan‘s Native American Dance and Music Festival. His music, which combines rich, earth-bound sounds as well as soaring melodic phrases, is infused by the influence of his mother’s Paiute heritage, that of his father’s Celtic ancestry, as well as his own taste for a variety of other genres, including Appalachian, Bluegrass and Country. Although his “Celtic Indian” music that incorporates fiddle, violin, drum and flute is uniquely his own, the strong foundation he acquired in classical music is woven throughout.
When I learned he would be in Rochester for a performance with the Rochester Chamber Orchestra, the Bach Children’s Chorus and the Genesee Valley Children’s Choir, I invited him to be a guest on Conversations with Creatives. In spite of a rigorous schedule for the weekend, happily, he agreed.
When we met for lunch between rehearsal and the show taping, I had the delightful opportunity to chat with him and Kimberly Kelley, his wife of 26 years. The two travel and perform together, and Kim also helps coordinate marketing, logistics, schedules and the many other details that challenge a professional musician. It was wonderful to see how their loving relationship, built on mutual respect and nurturing, strengthens the music, and how the music, in turn, strengthens their relationship.
During the interview, I found it fascinating to learn how, using a “portable studio” and the internet, he is able to produce as many as two or three CDs a year. He speaks about how, after two generations of distance from his Native roots, he was able to reconnect to “the call of the whispering winds” that flows generously through his music. He also shares how his storytelling came to be such an intrinsic part of each performance.
Full Interview with Arvel Bird
Web Exclusive: Arvel Bird Performs with Kimberly Kelley
Web Exclusive: Arvel Bird performs three Native American songs with the Bach Children’s Chorus and the Genesee Valley Children’s Choir
Many thanks to Arvel, Kimberly, the Rochester Chamber Orchestra and its Director Gerard Floriano, the Bach Children’s Chorus and its Director Karla Krogstad, the Genesee Valley Children’s Choir and its Director Amy Cochrane, and to the Musician’s Association Local 66. In filming and incorporating the performance into the following interview, every attempt was made to respect the integrity of the music while adhering to union regulations.