Breaking Through

by Richard Pierce Milner

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Breaking Through

1. New Mexico Memories (4:47) I was born and raised in Albuquerque. I wrote this piece while I was living in New York City and thinking of my home in New Mexico; the land, the wind, the mountains, the yellow cottonwood trees and walking along the Rio Grande.

2. San Cristobal de Las Casas (2:21) I had a dream that repeated exactly the same each week for about a month and a half. In it were images of a Spanish colonial town where many people wore colorful clothes. It was a misty place high up in the mountains. There were big churches with huge doors and very thick walls. I was there with friends or family, and the people invited us into their homes. Their floors were covered with long pine needles, which is not customary in New York or New Mexico. I awoke each time with a feeling of joy. When the dream repeated a few times I went searching for the place in bookstores. It seemed to be San Cristobal de Las Casas. But I didn’t want to leave my job in New York, so I wrote this piece, which I introduced as being about a place I dreamed of going to, but couldn’t get to.

3. Winter Daydreams (6:52) I wrote this just as fall was turning into winter. I played it often when I lived in Saranac Lake where summer seemed to last about two weeks. When the snow came it stayed. But we were close to Lake Placid and both towns lit their cross-country ski runs way into the night.

4. Breaking Through (5:42) I used to give free performances in hospitals. Often my audience members were in crisis. I remember looking over as I finished this piece and seeing a man sitting silently with tears streaming down his face. The music had given him a space where he was able to let all his fear and anxiety find release.

5. Storm on the San Augustine Plains (4:47) The San Augustine Plains lie due west of Socorro, New Mexico. They are a huge flat area ringed with hills and mountains. The sky can be completely clear, but then clouds gather quickly, the wind comes up strongly, the flying dust is suddenly followed by rain, not torrential, but well-spaced and somewhat gentle before the wind makes it hard. The lightening surrounds on three and sometimes all four sides. And then just as suddenly, it all blows over, you can see it moving past and off into the distance.

6. San Carlos Beach (3:38) My family and I have always had a relation with Mexico. I had my first encounter with the ocean as a five-year-old on the beach at Mazatlan. Later, in college, I went with friends to camp on the beaches near Guaymas at Bacochibampo Bay and San Carlos. San Carlos was empty then. I still remember the incredible colored rocks that made up the beach.

7. To The Moon (3:48) I think of how everyone in the world who can see, can see the moon and have it as their own personal experience or can we see it all together in groups, a visual equivalent of music.

8. Amsterdam Theme (3:32) This is one of my oldest pieces. I wrote it when I had a modern dance company and was traveling between Albuquerque, St. Louis, Chicago, Champagne-Urbana, Brooklyn, London and Amsterdam. I spent a year in Amsterdam and remember it as a magical place. I recently returned and immediately ran into my old friends.

9. A Far Longing (7:17) Places that I’ve loved have disappeared under concrete and asphalt, many of those I’ve loved have stayed behind, moved on or passed away. I long to see them again, to walk in those same places, to share that same gaze, that joke, that touch, that gesture. But time and distance has put them far away.

10. Come to Me (3:41) A love song of welcoming.


released June 1, 2010



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Richard Pierce Milner Albuquerque, New Mexico

Richard’s compositions have been broadcast nationally over NPR and performed at Lincoln Center. He has appeared in solo concerts at Carnegie, Merkin and Symphony Space in New York City, has written for the Martha Graham Dance Company, and has been an artist in residence at the University of Illinois, at Na Bolom in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico and at the Stedelijk Museum in Holland. ... more

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