What can make or break a residency experience? John Duffy

What can make or break a residency experience? John Duffy

Three things attracted me to The Mesa:

1. I was offered a fee to come and compose.

2. The Mesa offered a quiet house, car, and weekly stipend for groceries.

3. The Mesa arranged three lectures at local schools and opportunities to rehearse my music with local singers, all of which brought me into communities in and around Zion.

Before my residency, it had never occurred to me to go to an artist colony, as I work at home, being around people was ideal. But something about Utah touched a chord in me. Like angel dust in the air.

At Zion, I found nature of such majestic beauty, of such transforming presence, that my heart rejoiced. My soul took flight, and music and literary writing poured out of me. Much of this, I attribute to a change in landscape from Maine and Manhattan and also to the beauty of Zion, which is beyond possession.

Local people invited me into their homes, their churches, coffee shops, and community centers. I felt like Bach roaming around his hometown. The Mesa board and staff were warm, helpful, but never intrusive.

The mayor of a small evangelical Mormon community granted me a rare invitation to lunch and a Harvest Festival. The idea of a composer being around seemed exciting and an honor wherever I went, though my time and privacy were respected. I was so filled with creative energy and could have stayed up all day and night writing. Each day, I bolted out of bed.

The Mesa is gold, and I imagine countless works will be created there and like the radiant sun moving over Zion’s majestic peaks, travel around the globe. What a magnificent thing… to have a rare colony dedicated to the arts.

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