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Artist looks to nature for inspiration

Kelly Silva

— After hearing Mary Martin Stockdale’s newest CD, “Trout Creek Lullaby,” nurses living on the East Coast called Stockdale to tell her the music contains healing qualities that are good for the soul.

Stockdale was inspired to write this CD with the help of the natural forms around the Yampa Valley and the unity created within her own family.

“You get a feeling of quietness out here,” said Stockdale, looking out to Trout Creek and the acres of land her house sits upon.

Now that her children are growing older Emily, 12, and Grace, 10 Stockdale said she has more time for creating new CDs and to be with the silence that surrounds her.

The music is about the aspiring nature that contains a healing quality, but Stockdale said the new CD also is about family and unity. She created a song about her two daughters and her husband.

“‘Carpenter’s Hands’ is about how important hands are the creativity with his hands, with his work and with mine,” Stockdale said.

For seven years Stockdale has lived in Steamboat with her family and teaches piano and vocals at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. However, she has taught piano for 25 years.

Stockdale began playing the piano at age 5 and wrote her first piece at age 6 about a horse running in the field.

“I had a strictly classical teacher and continued on my own because I wanted to vary my style,” Stockdale said.

She studied music at the University of Arizona and moved to the Front Range after college. Stockdale said she never pursued her studies in music because she didn’t want to limit herself. And following the rules just isn’t her style.

“I feel studying that specific puts you in a box. I’m really expansive,” Stockdale said. “I felt that would almost narrow me.”

Stockdale will play at the God Bless America concert Nov. 23 and debut two songs never heard before: one titled “Peace” the other “Hope.”

“The 9/11 tragedy has jolted us into another level of priorities,” Stockdale said. “We’re getting more internal.”

Stockdale said her first CD, “Portraits on the Piano,” is more about western history. But with titles such as “Sleeping Giant’s Dream” and “Ghost of the Yampa,” Stockdale has chosen her latest CD to reveal the beauty and mystique that surrounds Northwest Colorado.

Stockdale doesn’t sit down and write her music it simply comes to her.

“It isn’t a thought process. I can hear it, making it happen is another feeling,” Stockdale said. “I’m very humble with that.”

She hears a tune in her head, creates the feeling and visualizes. Then she just plays.

“Trout Creek Lullaby” is filled with order and disorder, stability and chaos, tension and resolution, life and death, she said.

“Trout Creek Lullaby,” the first song on the CD, is a symbol of life’s journey and the peaceful beauty of the creek finding nature at its best, she said.

Stockdale’s style jumps from classical to improvisational with a unique bass and treble that gives voice to the piano.

She spoke of the themes in her music how the female spirit and women’s strength, obstacles in life and appreciating nature has inspired her.

Stockdale was close friends with local dancer Amy Tumminello, who died of breast cancer April 7, 2000. Stockdale dedicated “Flowers for Amy” on this CD.

“I played for her when she danced at Perry-Mansfield,” Stockdale said.

Stockdale said she thinks her strengths on this CD are the melodies, the rhythms and the voicing most definitely the voicing of the piano on this instrumental disc.


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