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Artist in Residence

Sarah Wilson
Stags' Leap Winery
Artist in Residence
2011 & 2012

Composer/trumpeter Sarah Wilson has emerged as "one of the most intriguing and promising composers and trumpeters on the contemporary music scene" (Derk Richardson, San Francisco Chronicle).

Her music has premiered nationally and internationally and she earned wide critical acclaim for her 2010 Brass Tonic Records release, "Trapeze Project". This CD features herself on trumpet and vocals with clarinetist Ben Goldberg, pianist Myra Melford, bassist Jerome Harris, and drummer Scott Amendola and showcases her "...danceable, visually evocative, and melodic music that is both sophisticated and accessible" (Jazziz).

Wilson's original work has earned numerous commissions including the prestigious 2011 Composers Collaborative grant from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as well as the highly acclaimed 2010 Center for Cultural Innovation Artistic Innovation Award. She is a 2011-2012 Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum with funding from The James Irvine Foundation.

In 1993, she moved to New York City to concentrate on music, studying with trumpeters John McNeil and Laurie Frink. Through her affiliation with Bread and Puppet Theater where she worked as a puppeteer and musician, she soon found herself musical director and composer of Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Festival's annual puppet program.

Moving back to native CA in 2005, Wilson hit the music scene with her critically-acclaimed CD, "Music for an Imaginary Play" on Evander Music. Wilson has received numerous accolades since then including a 2010 William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Honorary Fellowship as well as funding from the Zellerbach Family Foundation, East Bay Fund for Artists, de Young Museum Cultural Encounters Initiative in collaboration with Intersection for the Arts and Meet the Composer's MetLife Creative Connections program. She was also a 2010 Djerassi Resident Artist.

She currently resides in Oakland, CA.

de Young Artist Fellows
Stags' Leap Winery is proud partner of
the de Young Museum Artist Fellows program
Click here for details

View Past Artists in Residence

Stags' Leap Winery Artist in Residence Program Partners with the de Young Museum Fellows and Welcomes its First Musician, Sarah Wilson.

Since its inception in 1893, Stags' Leap Winery has been a gathering place for artists, actors and other creatives—an inspiring location to come together, to create and to share. A contemporary focus on art is a natural part of this tradition.

The Stags' Leap Winery Artist in Residence program began almost 20 years ago as a Poets' Weekend to celebrate the winery's 100th Anniversary. Over the years, the program has included poet laureates, painters, sculptors and conceptual artists from all over the United States. Today, in partnership with the de Young Museum Fellows and Sarah Wilson's residency, Stags' Leap Winery is very excited to welcome its first musician to the Artist in Residence program. Stags' Leap Winery looks to provide a setting that serves as an inspiration to Sarah, as she fills the vineyards with her musical vibrations.


NOVEMBER 5, 2011

First morning at Stags' Leap. Sitting with my tea on couch in Carriage House looking at The Leap, thinking about color. Listening to Myra Melford's "The Image of Your Body." The sun is peeking through the grey sky. Myra's composition builds with guitar, drums and her striking piano. The colors of the vineyard are more vibrant with each breakthrough from the clouds. Shades of red, yellow, orange and green. In the treetops looking down. Some leaves just starting to turn—gradation of color. Will pursue this concept. Color. Gradation. Light. Climax. Subtlety/drama.


NOVEMBER 7, 2011

Wrote new composition "Color" over the weekend inspired by view of vineyards. Explored how light moves across vines and the spread of color within the leaves. I really love this piece—hopeful, buoyant.

Started working on a new composition, "Night Still" at dusk today. When I tried to sleep last night, I heard an owl and the howling sounds of coyotes. The moon cast a glow.

Tonight I watch the sun set over the hills illuminating treetop silhouettes. New piece so far is haunting, thorny—want it to be slow, not forlorn, not melancholy—something else. A deep heavy sigh. Night sound as comfort. Working on interplay between piano and bass. Hear muted trumpet and violin. Guitar playing a counterline. I want a heavy, complex beauty with this piece.


NOVEMBER 9, 2011

Bright morning. Sitting on couch in patch of sunlight. Now working on two pieces, "Night Still" and a new piece, "Edge".

Visited Hess Collection yesterday. Saw some incredible art—moved by Andy Goldsworthy's piece crafted entirely out of thorns. Entire experience confronted my own safety/comfort zone in my work. A piece with a typewriter spewing live flames was telling. Need to push myself out of comfort zone with new music.

"Night Still" thoughts: flip side of the night, the coyotes, which I heard again last night really late during fit of insomnia. Sound like distorted, howling women's laughter. Ghostly. Struck by winery's early history: gypsies in The Leap, wealthy folks frolicking here in the early 20th century. An eerie frivolity to the night. The moon almost full. My mind won't stop thinking.



NOVEMBER 11, 2011

Today: gloomy, grey threatening to rain, great day to work.

Inspired by conversation and winery visit with Stags' Leap winemaker Christophe Paubert on Wednesday afternoon. Got a sense of winemaking stages. Taking freshly picked grapes, settling juice in storage, then maturing the juice into wine through ongoing complicated chemistry. Refining over years. Smelled Cabernet grapes just picked now stored in oak barrels—unique process for the best grapes, not to place immediately in giant steel tanks, but go straight to barrels at greater cost, time and care.

Witnessing this process and dialoguing with Christophe also about the process of anticipating a flavor of the finished wine made me question my usual habit of coming up with a ton of musical composition ideas at a residency, essentially creating sketches as inspiration hits me. Decided instead to just focus on two pieces most developed ("Color" and "Night Still") and to keep breaking those down and refining. A contrasting pair--oxymoron of light & dark.

Today: further refinement of "Night Still". When it gets sunnier, I'll delve back to "Color." Yesterday late afternoon took some photos of Petite Sirah vines around 4 p.m. "Color" might need a bridge, another melodic concept awash in color.



NOVEMBER 13, 2011

Yesterday I naturally went tangential and started working on another composition (untitled). Refining strategy for composition was a nice concept in theory. In practice my brain doesn't like to belabor and those two pieces need more space/breathing room. Set down for a bit then fresh again. Not unlike those silently percolating grapes in the barrels.

In walking the grounds yesterday, struck by swimming pool and surrounding structures. Photographed the heating rooms days ago at dusk; the doorways , tiny vistas and spaces intrigue me. Interested in structure.

Love fish drawings that echo the pool walls. I imagine floating on my back in the swimming pool playing my trumpet.


NOVEMBER 14, 2011

Last full day at Stags' Leap. Gave brief solo trumpet concert for the winery crew in the wine cave this morning. A sonic experiment. Sound cascaded off the walls. First live music performed there.

This residency---very fulfilling. I feel a strong tie to this place now—creatively and personally to the land, people, culture of incredible wine and food. Familiar because I grew up in nearby Healdsburg's wine country, so innately I recognize the feel, smell, color of the land and culture, but this is different. This isn't nostalgia. It feels new and significant to me as an artist.

Living, working, breathing here will stay with me. Inspire in absence and continued presence.

Stags' Leap Winery · 6150 Silverado Trail · Napa, CA 94558 · 1-800-395-2441
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